My art and stories, a Guildwars Anthology

  • Some of my art from DontMindWrongPerson


    The Rift


    "Don't harm her body, we need her alive for the ritual to work" he sneered at one of the Anur Ruk, who had almost hit her with his scythe a moment ago. "Let the gems do their work, she will fall eventually. "Get back foul demons!" She screamed, shooting another bolt of purple energy from her staff. Each time she felt it drain her strength. But it was working, the bodies were piling up, one bolt took out one or two in a single blast. "Good thing I had this baby enchanted with some extra firepower" she thought. She couldn't remember how she got separated from the others. The ambush had been sudden and overwhelming, but the horde was thinning now. Her arms were feeling like lead, each blast draining more and more of her energy. "Only three more left" she whispered, almost out of breath. She summoned the last bit of her strength and fired a crackling bolt at the last remaining Margonites. But the bolt went straight through them as if they weren't even there. "I don't understand..." she muttered as she lost consciousness. "She is strong this one, maybe strong enough to survive the ritual" he said, kicking her staff to the side. The mound of bodies dissolved into pink sparks and the illusion gems that had been floating around at the edge of her vision stopped humming hypnotically and fell to the ground. The Anur Kaya came closer and placed a strong hex on her to keep her incapacitated. Soon her mind and body would be theirs. "She will make a fine Queen if she survives", he thought. "We doomed ourselves when we accepted Abbadons gift. Powerful as we may be, without the ability to reproduce our numbers have been in decline for millennia. Maybe through her we shall once again multiply. This world has not seen the last of the Margonites!".


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    "Amerith no! She's still in there somewhere, don't kill her!" she yelled. She knew that move, it was one of Ameriths finishing moves. "We tried everything Sabriel! Whatever she is now, Rael is dead, they killed her, I'm just finishing the job!". Her left dagger cut through the chitin covering her arms, the right one almost severed one of the spiny tentacles protruding from her lower back. She screeched, no sign of her human voice was left. Amerith dodged the other tentacle, barely escaping it's piercing venomous tip. Sabriel had stopped convulsing but the venom was working fast. If only she hadn't been so naive. "Amerith! Where are you! I can't see!". Amerith jumped back, she saw Sabriels purple veins spreading up her arm like cobwebs. "Don't worry, we'll make it, Eleas plan will work, just hang in there". "It's now or never..." she though. She prepared her shadow step, she just had to get behind her, where the tentacles could not reach. "I'm sorry Rael, I'll see you in the mists" she whispered. She appeared behind her, drove her left dagger deep into her spine between the chitinous plates covering her shoulders, and in one swift movement drove her right dagger into the back of her neck. She felt the snap of the spine in both places as she twisted the daggers and the screeching stopped. The creature dropped dead, whatever they had done to her, her current form still relied on a working spine. Her plated tail twitched for a moment. "Come on Sabriel, we have to get you to a healer!". She grabbed hold of her and focussed her remaining energy. Shadow stepping two people was immensely draining, she just hoped she could get them both back in time. "Is that you Sabriel? I can't see, I can't feel my hands..." she whimpered.


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    She had never felt anything like it before. The spell was tearing at every fibre of her being. The energy flowing through her veins crackled on her skin as she lost sensation in her arms and legs. She could feel it inside her now, the dimensional energy was trying to split her in two, but she was not giving in. The Margonites were getting closer again, trying to avoid the energy bursts frequently discharging from her limbs as she struggled to pull the two dimensions apart. With a shriek that seemed to come from too far away she pulled, with all that she had. The rift gave in with a thundering crack and the shock-wave knocked the Margonites back. "With this, it will be over" she thought, as she faded into the void between the worlds.


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    She heard the scream coming from the other side of the rift. At first she thought that they had failed, that the Margonites had won the other side. But then she felt it. The wave made her dizzy, and she struggled to retain her balance. After loosing her eyesight she had developed a unique sense of balance but this was different. Gravity started to shift. Amerith, who was mid-jump, crashed into the Margonite Anur Ki head first instead of stabbing him. "She did it!" she yelled. She swung her staff in a wide curve, hoping to hit any approaching Margonites. "We have to go now or we won't be able to get to the other side!", "OK where are my daggers?", "Forget about the damn daggers! There's no time!". The second pulse hit them and gravity disappeared in an instant. The last two conscious Margonites were bobbing around like purple balloons trying to grab their weapons floating out of reach. The rift was shrinking now. Normally it would be the size of a Yak, now it was the size of a melon. She couldn't see it, but she felt it's power weakening, and fast. Amerith grabbed her hand, "Let's go!" she said and they kicked off from the ground floating towards the rift. "I don't want to be stuck on this miserable side of the galaxy with you any more than you do" she yelled but the words became warped and sounded like they came from much further away. It was like she was trying to speak under water. She felt a sharp pain as she touched what was left of the rift, it was only the size of an orange now, she felt her entire being squashed as she was sucked through, but did everything she could to hold onto Amerith's hand, then everything turned black. When she woke up she was freezing, "Amerith! Elea! Are you alive? We made it! We closed the rift!" She was still clinging to Amerith's hand, it was cold as ice. She crawled closer, wanting to warm her up, and started mumbling the words for a spell. It took her a moment before it hit her, there was no Amerith. Her arm was severed at the elbow. "We did it", she sobbed, "We saved the galaxy".


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  • Ascension


    "I know you're guarding it demon, tell me where it is and I shall make your journey to the mists a quick and painless one!" she said to the creature standing in the doorway. It hissed and flapped its black wings, "You know not what you are talking about mortal, turn back or I shall feast on your marrow! Abbadon knows it has been ages since I had a meal as juicy as you". Smoke and embers flew from its mouth when it spoke, she made a grimace when the stench of charred flesh reached her nostrils. She started her chant, a song of death and the calmness of the grave, of the peace that all creatures would find in the cold embrace of Grenth. The creature paused and watched as the golden wings sprouted from her shoulders, spanning as wide as his own. The lyrics of her song turned into amber light floating around her as she hovered. It swirled and condensed, forming a halo of solid light over her head. "You poor soul", she sang. "I shall re-unite you with the void". Her javelin struck the dazed demon in the heart and it collapsed in the sand. Its wings and limbs crumbled like ashes from a smouldering log and were blown away by the faint breeze and spread across the dunes. "Right, lets get on with it..." she said to herself, and stepped inside.


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    She couldn't take her eyes of it. It was unlike anything she had seen before, floating, silently bobbing up and down and glowing in a soft purple hue in the darkness. Her muscles tensed, cold sweat started to trickle down the back of her neck. Even though outside the sun was battering down on the desert sands like a hammer, a cool breeze seemed to emanate from the trident, condensing the moisture in the air into a faint mist. She couldn't shake the feeling that some kind of ancient magic was at play here, possibly dangerous. Maybe there was a curse on it, but she couldn't look away. She knew that she had to have it. She clutched her shield, and move forward slowly into the darkness, stretching out her spear, ready to hurl it at any danger should it appear. She poked it with the spear, nothing, it just bobbed back and forth. She gathered her courage, and grabbed it, nothing, it just continued to emit it's soft purple glow. She smiled. She couldn't wait to get it out into the light to examine it further, this was clearly a great find, almost too great to believe!


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    She unwrapped it from her sleeping blanket, the soft glow was still there, though fainter in the burning sunlight. She picked it up, and suddenly felt a stinging pain as the tridents soft glow turned into a burning white light. She tried to shield her eyes, the light was so bright it seemed to burn her mind. It took a moment before she realized that the light was shining through her eyelids, and her hands. The pain seemed to fade as quickly as it had come, she felt lighter, like she had been carrying around her body for too long. It was getting brighter now, and she knew that this would be the last time she would see the twisted weeds and burning sun of the Crystal Desert. Maybe I shouldn't have picked it up, she thought, but the thought fizzled out like a grain of sand caught by the desert wind. All she could see, all she could feel now, was the light.


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    This was it, she had travelled so far to deliver this prayer, now was her chance. "Honoured Avatar, I ask of you to pass on my prayer to Dwayna the mother of us all. I ask of her to please let me speak to my mother one last time. She was the greatest Paragon in our village and a devout follower of the great Mother". She fell to her knees and bowed her head. "My mother was lost to us when I was only a child, seeking a great artefact said to be imbued with the power of Dwayna herself, but she failed her mission. We never heard from her again". Her voice was wavering as she struggled to hold back her tears. "I have travelled to the furthest corners of Tyria in the hope of finding a way to speak with her one last time, to tell her... to tell her how much she meant to me and the village... how I have become the person I am today by following her shining example". She could not hold back her tears any longer, and the comforting radiance of the Avatar in front of her was bringing out emotions she had been suppressing for two decades. "My child..." the Avatar spoke in a soft voice that sounded like golden bells yet still felt familiar. "Your mother did not fail her quest, she found the artefact. Dwayna deemed her worthy and brought her to be by her side". The avatar grabbed her head with both hands and turned her tear stricken face upwards. It took a moment for her to realize it, aside from the blue complexity, she recognized her mothers face. "Mom..." she sobbed "I love you so much mom". "And I you my child, you have grown to become a fine woman and a fine Paragon". She felt the warm embrace of her mom and closed her eyes, the light from her wings enveloped them both. The Avatar started to sing for her, a song of love and bravery and light and family. She wished that she could stay this way forever.


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  • The Battle for Drascir


    "They're here already. This is bad, this is really really bad" she thought. She fired another arrow at the Avenger, in the eye this time. Odessa sliced the throat of the Berserker with one sword and pierced the abdomen of the Seeker with the other in one swift motion. She grabbed its snout and held it shut, making sure that it couldn't scream before it bled out. "You have to leave, I'll hold them off for as long as I can, but if you don't let the others know that the Legion is coming Drascir will not be able to evacuate in time. If that happens, nobody will get out of this mess alive" she said. This was supposed to be a scouting mission, they were supposed to report back which route to Drascir the Charr would take, not hold off an army just two people. But the Legion had been much further ahead than first anticipated. Burntfur must have made them march for days. Odessa crawled back slowly to not get seen by the forces down the hill. It would only be a few minutes before they front of the force would be here. "Listen Acira, you don't have a choice, we both know that you're a faster runner than I. If the Legion finds out their position has been compromised they will change their course and this mission will have been for naught, but if they think they killed the scout... I suggest you start running, and I mean right now" she whispered. She was right. Acira saw the fire in Odessas eyes, she was prepared to die today, but not without taking as many Charr with her to the underworld as possible. "Take my bow" she said, "I still have seven arrows, I know you're not the best shot, but there are so many of them, even you couldn't miss. She gave her a brief hug and started sprinting, she had to warn them.


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    "Hey! Watch out with those fireballs hot stuff!" She felt the stringent smell of burnt hair tickle her nostrils. "If we get out of this alive and I end up being bald because you can't control where you shoot those things, you're going to wish I left you for the Charr!" She said with a grin on her face. Madira smiled back "Sorry darling, I'll try to keep you out of my line of fire!". "Keep the love chat to a minimum you two, the next wave will be here any moment, that fire wall you set up won't hold them back for long!" Edith yelled back, as she dried her swords in the mangy fur of her most recent victim. The gravity of the situation was not lost on any of them. Burntfurs forces had arrived two days earlier than they had expected, if it had not been for Aciras warning the entire population of Dracir would have been wiped out. They had already lost three, now it was up to her, Madira, Orannis and the twins. Orannis hadn't been any help though, he had insisted that he would perform some kind of spell that would wipe out the Charr, but so far he had failed at every attempt. No, it was up to them, they had to hold off the Charr long enough for Acira to lead the last evacuees back to Rin. "Here they come!" she heard Ranever call as she sprinted up the hill. A dark shadow was rushing up the hill faster than her. Edith saw the cloud of arrows and acted instinctively. She grabbed her shield and jumped. "GET DOWN!" She yelled. But it was too late, she had tried to cover Ravener with her shield, only to see her getting pierced through the throat a few feet away. She heard Raven scream and felt an incredible heat coming from the top of the hill as the sky was engulfed in a massive jet of flames that incinerated all but a few of the arrows. "Dragons Breath..." Madira explained, catching her breath. "I hope they're out of arrows because I don't know how many more of those I have in me". Raven was screaming next to Ranever, the pain of loosing a twin was tearing her apart. "Get up Raven, grief is a luxury we can't afford. We have to fall back to the gate, I don't care if Orannis is ready or not, he will fight these monsters with us or die trying!"


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    He heard the screams. "Get it together man, they're out there giving their lives and here you are mumbling the same incantations with nothing to show for it" he thought. He had been modifying his spell for almost a week with little progress to show for it. "Orannis! They're right behind us, whatever you have we need it now, time's up!" He heard Edith call as she, Raven and Madira came running up the stairway. "Okay, the time for caution is over, I'll just have to try and increase the power as much as I have energy for, and if I'm too exhausted afterwards the others will have to protect me while I recover." He thought and ran to the door. "Take cover guys, I don't know what will happen". He started to chant and weave the ancient symbols with his hands. He felt the energy build up as his feet lifted off the ground. He had only read about this spell, but never managed cast it. Madira grew pale as she watched. This magic was old and powerful, and way beyond Orannis' skill level. The ground cracked below him revealing a golden glowing egg that gave off immense heat. "It's working!" he though "But it needs more power!". He started the second set of incantations, they burned his tongue and his hands but he didn't stop. He could hear the Charr now, and smell them. "He can't do this..." Madira whispered. A spine shivering shriek echoed against the broken walls as a Phoenix made of living flame erupted from the egg in the doorway. In seconds it had grown to ten times it's original size and engulfed Orannis as it continued to grow in strength. The creature spread it's wings and rose into the air. "OH SHIT!" Edith whispered, as the elemental dove back toward the ground. The inferno covered the entire city, as the phoenix flew out across the broken landscape incinerating everything in it's path. It was over in a few minutes. "Raven my love are you alive? Edith? I can't see" I'm sorry... my ward... I couldn't maintain it any longer". "We're here..." she heard Ravens voice, she was coughing from the smoke and gasping for air "You saved us...". She felt the soft kiss of blistered lips on hers before everything went black.


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    They found her body where they had left it. The conflagration was confined to the city itself so it had not been incinerated, unlike the brunt of the Charr forces. Raven and Madira were both in tears, Raven had ripped off her left sleeve and wrapped it around what remained of Madiras eyes and hair. She was badly burnt, but the makeshift blindfold was showing dark spots where her eyes had been. Edith started to remove the arrows from her body, and turned her on her back. She took some water from her pouch and washed the dirt off her face and closed her lifeless green eyes. She picked up her body and carried it to the top of the hill where she put it down gently and sat down next to her. Raven was helping a stumbling Madira up the hill. The sun was setting over the battlefield, the ruins of Drascir was casting long shadows, hiding the bodies of the Charr they had been ambushing the past few days to stall Burntfurs advance. "We don't have time for a burial" She said. "But we shall not forget those who have fallen today. Ranever and Orannis, their sacrifices has saved thousands, and we have to live and tell their stories". She stroked Ranevers hair, then took out her knife and cut off one of her locks as a keepsake. "Say your goodbyes, we have to use the cover of night if we want to escape, and in Madiras current... condition, the journey to Rin will be hard". She felt the tears pressing behind her eyes, but held them back. Now was not the time for her to grieve, that had to wait until they were safe in Rin.


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  • The Empire


    It had all gone according to plan. She never suspected a thing as she knelt in front of him, bowing her head in respect. She didn't noticing the sly smile that spread across the Emperors face as his guard swiftly and silently lowered the blade of his axe towards the back of her exposed neck. Without their leader, the Luxon tribes would surely fall in line. When his Ministry of Purity lead by the Silver Eagles marched across the Jade plains they would have no one to lead them. Nothing could go wrong now.


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    It had all gone according to plan. The imperial guard collapsed silently on the floor, spine and vocal cords severed in one swift movement. It was right here that they had butchered his sister. She had been on a diplomatic mission to negotiate peace between the Empire and the Luxon Tribes and they had cut her down like a dog. But soon, the treacherous Emperor would meet Justice. No alarm had been sounded yet. "Soon" he whispered, and carefully pulled out Justice from the neck of the guard. Blood pooled silently on the red tiles. Nothing could go wrong now.


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    "Just don't look down Erith." She mumbled to herself. "Just keep looking ahead and keep your balance, once you get to the other side the pantry will be ripe for the picking". Her stomach growled. She knew that Zena would be waiting for her to unlock the door from the inside in a few minutes, and the only way that could happen was for her to sprint across the crowd below and get to that window. It had seemed much easier when they practised it, although that had been on a rope across the lagoon, not over the heads of hundreds of people. She heard the music starting, this was her chance, while everyone were fixated elsewhere. She took a deep breath and ran. The key was momentum, it was only about a hundred feet. "Dammit I wish I knew how to shadowstep" she thought as she jumped the last bit and grabbed the ledge of the window. One of the lamps had fallen off from the vibrations of her running, but fortunately nobody noticed, and it had not caught fire. "I'm glad I don't have to run back the same way I came", she thought, as she unhinged the shutter using her fish-hook and crawled in. It was better than she had imagined, the chefs had not spared any expense. She heard the signal, four knocks in sequence. "Took you long enough!" Zena whispered when she unbolted the door. "The guard is sleeping down the hall, we should be clear, but he almost got too frisky before the sedative set in". They filled the bags as fast as they could. This was going to be the best Lunar festival ever.


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    "Why?" she thought. "The Dragonguard had not been patrolling this street in weeks, certainly not at this hour, so why now, was he a customer?" Things had not gotten better after the Emperors assassination attempt, on the contrary. He declared that the plot against him was the work of Tyrian spies and forbade all contact with foreigners. Kaineng had since become two cities, Raisu City, where the rich people lived a decadent life, and Kaineng City where everyone else had to fight for survival. It was rare to see any guards outside the Raisu gates, except for the occasional raid on an apothecary or a brothel in the name of the Ministry of Purity. It had been two months since The Naked Kirin had been hit. She was lucky that Erith had talked her into visiting Shing Jea for the Lunar Festival, now her friends were either rotting in Dragons Throat or had been lucky to be purchased by one of the wealthy merchants in Raisu. The thought gave her the shivers. "Hello there, officer, what can I do you for this fine evening..." she said seductively. She had learned to cover her accent by making her voice as sweet and slick as syrup, but sometimes her clients sensed that she was not native. They enjoyed it though, said it made her exotic. "Good evening miss, I heard rumours that there were Geisha operating in this neighbourhood" he said, his voice was as cold as the steel his sword was made from. She slowly pulled her dagger from the hidden sheath behind her leg, using her fan to block his view. "Oh my!" she said "I sure hope you manage to catch them good sir." He grabbed her right arm, "Alright miss, enough with the charade, you're com-" his voice stopped as his vocal cord was severed. His eyes burned with fury, but only for a moment before becoming blank. "I never really liked Cantha" she thought "I heard the Echovald should be beautiful this time of year. Maybe it's time for a change of scenery?"


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  • Hero for Hire


    "You are bigger than the other morsels that roam these tunnels tasty one". The voice was deep and echoed against the cave walls like the sound of the Monastery bells. She felt her muscles tense under the cuirass. She felt vulnerable, this job was not like the other ones, this job could eat her in one bite and wouldn't even have to chew. She knew that against a foe like this, in the best case scenario heavy armour would slow her down, and in the worst it would be the oven that would cook her flesh. No, this was better, movement was key. She dodged another jet of flames, she was getting tired, she felt the hairs on her neck curl and the smell irritated her nostrils, but the heat was welcome. The cave was cold and she had been hiding and running for almost two hours, waiting for a time to strike. "You are a slippery one little mouse", the voice boomed, she could hear the pitch shift, she knew that this meant he was moving away. She had tried to learn his pattern, but it was difficult because she could not risk looking at him, least her head would be burnt to a crisp. She would only get one chance, but that would have to be enough. The dwarves had said that this crystal was the only thing sharp enough to cut through the scales of a dragon, and she was betting her life that they were right. "I know you're in here morsel, these games are boring me, come out and face me!" She heard it, the pressure was pushing in her eardrums and she felt a sharp pain as the right one burst, this could be it, much longer and she would be too tired to apply enough force to cut. Her muscles tensed again and she started to sprint across the narrows bridge, his size was his weakness, the momentum would make changing direction too slow, but she had to make it. She saw the head, his pupil instantly turning into a slit as he spotted her. She could smell the sulphur, and felt him draw in his breath as his ribcage expanded, it was now or never.


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    "Give up old man, I'm not here to kill you, I'm just here because my employer wants a certain book from that library of yours!" she screamed into the storm. Another boulder crashed against her shield. She had tried taking him down with arrows, but the whirlwind around him had deflected them all. "Why do I keep agreeing to this kind of job", she thought, cutting away another razor thin sheet of water. She had never seen water magic like this, but the gash on her left thigh had taught her that the boulders were the least of her worries. If one of those sheets got to her throat she would be dead, he was toying with her. She had fought mages before but not like this. Most mages stuck to one element, but not this guy, he seemed to master all four of them. Her axe was getting dull from the heat of the circling flames and the constant pounding of rocks and boulders, soon she wouldn't be able to cut a loaf of bread with it. "My library is not for public use child" his voice thundered, "I have been guarding the knowledge of the ancients for too long to let a pup like you come and take my books as you please". The sun started to set over the horizon. "I'm not getting paid enough for this", she though to herself, "Wait, I AM not getting paid enough for this!". "OK OK I get it old man, sorry! I'll leave you to your mouldy old books" she said, slowly stepping back. The wind died down and the dust settled. "I have to give it to you old man, you're tougher than you look!" she said, feeling hoarse after yelling in that storm for what had seemed like hours. "You tell whoever sent you that my books are not for the likes of them", he said. "And I'm sorry about your leg, but as long as you keep it from getting infected you should be alright". She bowed, he had been a worthy adversary. "You better hope that the next one is not as courteous as I, old man", she yelled back over her shoulder as she started walking down the slope. She threw her axe aside, it was little more than a lump of steel at this point. "Good thing I was paid half in advance" she thought. "I'm going to need a new axe".


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    "You have to dodge the flames you idiot!" she yelled. She always yelled. Famous as she was, as a bounty hunter or as a mercenary, she was not very nice. Becoming her apprentice had taken a lot of convincing, and gold, but she had eventually given in. "Oh common, this is a small one! That shield is not going to protect you for long!" More insults, just what she needed, sweat was trickling down her back and legs, the lava was compounding to the heat of the constant fire jets. "Just wait for her to swoop in for the kill and cut off her head at the neck, it can't be that -". "ENOUGH with the commentary thanks!" She interrupted, I can handle this, just give me a-" the attack had been too fast for her to react, she tried to lift the shield to block the flames but her reaction was too slow. The searing pain of the glowing hot handle caused her hand to blister and she dropped it with a scream. She saw the dragon open it's jaws. Embers smouldering in the deep. "I never should have asked to be her apprentice" she thought. The sound caught her by surprise more than anything. Instead of incinerating her the dragon roared and crashed to the ground. She saw her master hanging onto her sword which had pierced the beasts spine. "Phew! That was a close one, these enchanted boots really do help with jumping" she said with a smirk. "Right, lets get that treasure out of here and get back to what really matters, drinking! You make a good distraction you know, with your smelly sweating metal heap of junk armour. This species is nearly deaf and blind, they hunt primarily by smell. Why do you think she has these?" She said, pointing at the beasts nostrils with her bloody sword, each of which were big enough to fit an arm through. It had all been part of the plan? What the hell? "You can keep the treasure ass hole, you almost got me killed!". "Hey, you're the one that got yourself almost killed, if it hadn't been for me you'd have been cooking in that stove you call an armour. But fine, I see how it is, more treasure for me" she said with a scowl. "Consider your apprenticeship terminated, you know the way out" she said and started to shovel gems into her bag.


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    "OK Samuel, keep calm, just like she said, it can't see me if I don't move" he thought, struggling to keep his knees from giving in. "One... two... three..." He yelled as he stomped heavily on the sand dune. His master was watching from a nearby broken pillar. He had begged her to become her apprentice for weeks until she had finally given in to his demands. She had told him that most of her former apprentices had quit after three assignments or less, the was the third one. He had grown to respect her these past weeks. Sure she acted like an ass most of the time, but she never let him down in a fight. Though her comments during battle seemed to be taunts at first, he realized quickly that this was just her way of telling him how to improve. "One... two... three..." Maybe the beast was hibernating? "Selena! I don't think it's here, maybe it moved?" He yelled, but then he felt the tremors. He clutched his shield and sword. She had bought him both, paid for them with a fistful of gems. When he had offered to pay her back she just told him that they were needed for the job, and that if he got eaten she would get them back anyway. The soul rendering shriek sent chills down his spine. He felt the rancid stench behind him and turned around. It was not hibernating. "OK Samuel, time to prove to her that you're not like the others" he whispered.


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  • Elements


    The roar shook the trees and sent a cloud of ash their way. "Guys, I know I said that it was time to fight fire with fire" He said, trying not to choke on the smoke "But I'm starting to think that maybe I was wrong about that". "Really? You think?" Her sarcasm was nearly as thick as the smoke in the air. She summoned a spell and a gust of fresh air spread around them blowing the smoke and embers back. "We have to stop the burning forest from spreading further north" he said. "Well duh! How do you suppose we do that? Do you want me to blow out the fire? It's a bit harder than blowing out the candles on your birthday cupcake you know". The effigy was crashing through the forest at an alarming pace. "What could have caused the effigies to run amok? They usually stayed within the confines of the burning forest but for some reason they had started to move north" he thought. "If you two bookahs could stop bickering and listen for once, I have an idea." said Xick and crawled back into her Golem suit. "Fire, magical or not, needs two things: Fuel and air. You two meatheads can starve it of both, so stop your bickering and get to work and we might make it out of this alive." She started to rip out trees and bushes from the ground and threw it against the effigy to stall it but at the same time clearing a perimeter without any flammable material.


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    "This is bad" he thought, as he ran his hand across the clear jade wall. The wall was wet, but it hadn't rained in weeks. "So this area is affected too, I have to report this to the Emperor" he mumbled. For two weeks he had travelled the former Luxon lands under decree from the Emperor. At first he hadn't believed the rumours that the jade was turning back into water, but a week ago he had witnessed it first hand, when a quarry had filled up in front of his eyes as the jade blocks that had been mined melted in front of his eyes. So far he had managed to keep the loss of life to a minimum, but it wasn't just the jade that was changing back, some of the sea creatures that had been trapped there for millennia were waking up too. He was the nations only Kappa ranked Hydromancer. The Emperor had demanded an explanation, and he knew what would happen if he didn't deliver. He slipped on the steps up from the quarry but managed to regain his balance. It could happen at any moment now, he tried to run but the staircase was now a slippery ramp and he slid down to the bottom. "I sure hope that they didn't excavate any dangerous creatures here" he thought, as he summoned his spell. The sides of the quarry collapsed in an instant, but his spell kept the water from crushing him, instead a cylinder of air remained around him, as his spell held back the foaming waters. "So far so good" he thought "Now I just have to let the spell run out carefully and make a float of ice in the meantime". Then he heard the screech and saw the Saltspray dragon spawn, it must have been frozen before it hatched, but it was still three times larger than him. "Just what I needed..." he grumbled.


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    "I can't control it! It's too strong!". Her scream echoed throughout the ravine. Rocks and boulders were ripped out of the ground nearby and started to circle her. Larger and larger chunks were torn out of the ground, breaking off trees and bushes and dirt to incorporate it all into the maelstrom of destruction. "Terra!" she screamed, but her voice was lost in the storm of boulders crashing into each other. She lost her balance and fell, just in time to avoid being crushed by a boulder the size of a house passing over her head. They had been hired by the Asuran high council to figure out why the free magic in Riven Earth and nearby areas was fading. The floating rocks and bridges had collapsed, the underground caves were affected too and the Golems were malfunctioning. "Lapis! He...Help me... I ca... I can't feel my..." she turned her head and watched in terror as her fingers turned into stone and broke off into pebbles to join the maelstrom. She had lost all sensation in her arms and legs. "I just wanted to help restore balance..." she thought. Then everything went dark. "Terra!" she screamed as tears cleaned off the dust and dirt of her face in two straight lines across her cheeks. She didn't dare to use any more earth magic. Instead she was digging with her bare hands in the hill at the epicentre of where it had happened. The entire landscape had been torn asunder, and there was no sign of Terra. She had almost thrown it away, but then she recognized it. It was Terra's hand, petrified and missing two fingers, but it was hers.


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    "Guys, you should leave, I don't know how much longer I can keep the lightning away from you..." He could see that she was already struggling to concentrate the lightning strikes into two massive orbs that were hit more and more frequently as the storm intensified. "We can't just leave you here Caeli, we've gotten out of worse situations before, back me up will you Xick!" he said. "Don't look at me, my suit is already out of commission because of this mess, I'm a scientist not a miracle worker!" she scowled. "Guys! Leave me, now!" she screamed as the orbs started to discharge bolts that melted the snow and charred the ground where they hit. Xick had already started running down the track towards the horses. "We'll come back for you Caeli!" he screamed, but the thunder was so loud now that he couldn't hear his own voice any more. He found the horses where they had tied them up, they were dead and smelled like burnt fur and charred flesh. The shock-wave threw him off his feet and he saw the discharge from the hilltop. The bolts covered the sky like cobwebs and he felt his eardrums burst from the thunder-crash. "Please be OK Caeli, this world might be going to hell but at least I have you" he whispered.


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  • Tribes and Tribulations


    "Enough!" his voice boomed throughout the cave. She stopped, her spear tip drew a hair-thin line across Zakiya's neck drawing a single drop of blood. The fury in her eyes burned bright, she was defeated. "Put down your weapons, both of you, Kamaria is the winner. She has earned the right to join the Mlezi and learn the ways of the spirits". Normally this would be a time of cheering and the tribe would have congratulated her, but the cave was silent. Zakiya slowly lowered her spear, but before it touched the ground she summoned a spell. "No! She is cursed with the blight! She will bring misfortune to us all!" She exclaimed as tendrils of light exploded from the orb above her towards Kamaria. She instinctively jumped back and threw her spear in a low underhand arc, before shielding herself from the bursts of energy. The crowd gasped and she heard Zakiya scream in agony. Her spear had struck her in the abdomen. The tendrils burnt her feet, if she hadn't shielded herself the spell would have killed her. The chief strode in, his eyes showed his disappointment, but was it with her? "I'm sorry", she said "Zakiya, she... It all happened so fast". "Zakiya has shown that she is not fit to protect our tribe" he said, and helped her up. Her legs were numb, she couldn't walk. N'jau came out from the crowd and on the chiefs instructions he carried her out of the cave.


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    N'jau was desperate. Amara had been gone for three moons and nobody had been able to find her. The tribe was talking about holding a funeral for her, they said that the spirits had taken her. But he knew that she was alive, he just knew it. The Wageni had her, but he didn't know where. In the end, he had ended up asking her for help. "You don't have to do this N'jau" she said. "Just tell me what to do Kamaria, I need your help if I'm ever going to see Amara again" he replied. She explained the steps to him and told him the chant. "Amara is lucky, if I had been the one to disappear, nobody would do something this dangerous to get me back." she thought. They had waited until N'jau was on night watch. The bonfire was the only thing keeping the giant lizards at bay, but someone always had to watch that a stray spark didn't end up igniting the huts. She sometimes heard them roar in the distance or saw their eyes glowing in the darkness. He started chanting, slowly and almost inaudibly. The blazing flames began to move in tact with the chanting. Kamaria's eyes grew wide as she saw the spirit take shape in the flames. "I ask the spirits guidance. My love has been taken by the Wageni but I do not know where. Show me where to find her, and I shall do what you ask of me in return". N'jau spoke quietly, hoping that nobody in the tribe would wake up and find what he was doing. The spirit lifted its hand, and a tendril of flame slowly sprouted from it. It slithered through the air until it reached his forehead. "What did the spirit tell you?" she asked, after the figure had dissolved into ashes in the bonfire. "It told me... It showed me where to find her." he replied, "In return, I have to... I have to give up this." He took off his mask, the black warrior mask that proved he was the strongest fighter in all of the tribes. "I have to devote the rest of my life to the spirit world... In return for her life, I have to become a Shaman." he whispered. He grabbed his spear and broke off the tip leaving enough of the shaft for a makeshift handle. He held the rest of the shaft into the flame until it glowed red. He let it cool, crushed the white ashes and started spreading it over his mask.


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    "Your highness. It's the primitives. They have proven to be more resilient than we first anticipated. Their... appropriation, is taking longer than expected." he couldn't take his eyes of the Queens pet crocodile, it looked at him as if preparing to eat him for dinner. Knowing the Queens temper, that prospect was not out of the question. "Nonsense General Kataya, the primitives are docile and will make great servants and labourers once they have been properly educated. Just look at Pigeon here, she can't even speak a proper language yet she has learned how to serve me well, haven't you?" the Queen replied, pointing to her servant. The primitive girl stopped her dancing and nodded, even though she couldn't speak she apparently understood enough to do her mistresses bidding. She followed one of the other servants out and returned moments later with a tray of sweets which she presented to her mistress. "You see General? All they need is some education! the Queen said with a smile. "Your highness!" one of the guards rushed into the hall. She seemed out of breath but quickly regained her composure. "Your highness, the palace is under attack, eight of the guards have been found dead, beheaded. Another four are currently unaccounted for. We advise you to return to your chambers immediately until we have the situation under control. So far we have not found any of the assailants." she reported. "General, I trust that you will be able to resolve this situation" she said, her voice was shaking a bit. "I shall retire to my quarters for now, Pigeon follow me and bring the sweets."


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    "I say we feed her to M'amba..." said Amara. "The Wageni wants to enslave us all, they tortured me and made me serve their witch leader!". N'jau's eyes burned with hatred. He wanted to cut down the scout for the crimes of her people, but it was the chief who had the last word. "Can she speak?" asked the chief, remaining calm and stroking his beard. "I can understand some of their tongue" said Amara. After N'jau had returned with Amara and the heads of twenty-four enemies, eight of them women, he had explained everything. About the ritual and how he had gone into enemy territory alone to rescue his lover. Since then the other tribes had reported missing people as well, even children. "She shall not be killed!" Proclaimed the chief to the tribe, which had been gathering when they heard the news. "It is true that her people pose a great threat to the Amazon tribes, but a war is won not with strength but with wits. Amara, you have spent the longest with the Wageni. It shall be your duty that she remains alive, and you shall learn from her everything you can about our enemy." A murmur spread through the crowd, everyone had expected him to make an example of the strange woman and feed her to his crocodile. "N'jau, send word to the other tribes, we must assemble the war council. We can not let this enemy take our land and our people." he said, his voice was calm but cold as ice. "No..." N'jau replied. Another gasp went through the crowd. "I promised the spirits that if they gave me back Amara I would give up the life of a warrior. From this day, I vow to devote my life to Amara, and to communing with the spirits. I shall take no life, nor shall I council others to that end." he said. A tear ran down Amara's cheek when she realized what N'jau had given up to save her. "Very well, then I relieve you of your duty and your status as warrior, hand over your mask." said the chief. N'jau bowed and handed over his mask. He was no longer a warrior of the Amazon.


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  • Hunted


    He felt a chill down his spine, as the voice behind him asked "Find anything you like?". His first instincts was to hide. He was a thief not a robber, and even though the voice sounded female he was not sure if he would be able to take her on in a fight, at least not without attracting any unwanted attention. That voice, it sounded almost mechanical. A drop of sweat trickled down his left temple as he felt the cold tip of a dagger at the back of his neck, he turned around quickly and grabbed for her wrist to twist it away from her, but his fingers just coiled around thin air. Confused he tumbled back towards one of the bookshelves. At first he thought the dim light was playing tricks on his mind. He saw the dagger, and several other blades hovering in the air, pointed directly at him. Out from the shadows stepped a masked figure, the source of the voice. He felt a warm puddle form on the tiles under him. "Leave the bag" the figure said, "Leave it, and get the hell out of my shop!".


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    "They are too many..." Efra whispered under her breath. Her fireballs were keeping the guards at bay, but it was only a matter of time before the Silver Eagles would show up. "Yamina, why did you have to kill him? Just because he peed on your books?" she asked. "They were my books, he ruined them, so I took his life." she replied indifferently. Efra sensed her irritation. She wasn't sure if her sister understood the trouble they were in, or if she was just annoyed by the smell. "I wan't to go home to my books. Why can't I kill these men?" she asked. "Because your disregard for human life is what got us in this mess in the first place!" Efra replied with a scowl. She tried to think of a way out, but the guards had them completely surrounded. The stench of the river of sewage behind them was nauseating. "We have to jump, but there is no way Yamina will agree to that" she thought. "I have an idea, get your swords ready!" she said. Yamina barely moved, as three swords flew from the scabbards on her back and hovered menacingly in front of the guards. Efra closed her eyes for a moment and the blades burst into flames. "Time to put on a show!" she said, and conjured another fireball. Yamina nodded and sent the blades flying towards the horrified guards. "I’m sorry sis", Efra thought as she sent her fireball into the fray. Then she grabbed Yamina by the waist and flung them both over the edge.


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    "Let's go to the Jade Sea, she said. We'll be safe from the Silver Eagles there, she said." Efra grumbled under her breath. Since that night in Kaineng, their life had been one death defying escape after the other. "Uhm, you guys have been in this situation before right? Can’t your sister just, you know…" Erith made a crude imitation of a man losing control of his sword and stabbing himself. "The Silver Eagles are looking for us idiot! We can't afford to attract any more attention" said Efra. "I have an idea..." said Yamina. Even though they had been running for almost twenty minutes she didn’t seem tired at all. She took out two blades from her scabbards and handed them to Erith. "Are you crazy? I mean, I know you're crazy, but what am I supposed to do with these? I don't know how to use these!" she exclaimed. "You won’t have to, just hold on tight." Yamina replied. They were almost out of the city, but the guards were right behind them. Efra almost couldn't believe what happened next. Erith clung to the swords as they pulled her towards the guards, stabbing the first in the leg while parrying the others axe. She screamed in fear, but to the guards it must have sounded like a battle cry. Yamina made sure their axes never hit Erith as she flew around them screaming, controlled like a puppet on invisible strings as Yamina moved the metal in her boots and gauntlets. The spectacle was over in a few minutes. "Promise me that you'll never, ever do that again!" said Erith, after the last of the guards had retreated out of range from what had seemed an unstoppable assassin. "OK, so whereto now?" said Yamina. "We outcasts have to stick together, right?"


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    The shattering of Yaminas swords echoed between the stone pillars in the otherwise quiet vale. "Okay, so blades are useless and fire doesn’t seem to have much of an effect either" grumbled Efra, but continued to throw fireballs at them to to slow their advance. "We could try to run? They don't seem very fast." Erith whispered. At first they had taken them for old mossy statues, but before they had been quickly surrounded. The statues armour looked like wood, but somehow it didn't burn. "I read about them, I think they are Wardens. But the Kurzicks were supposed to have eliminated the last of them over 100 years ago." Yamina interjected as the three of them backed up towards the tree trunk. "Stand back and let me handle it..." the voice surprised all three of them. A small door had opened behind them and a shrouded figure was standing in the door frame. She quickly approached the largest of the Wardens. As it swung its stone mallet she dodged it with ease. She put one hand on the ground and the other gently but firmly on the wardens chest. "Shhh, They are not here to harm me or the forest." She whispered, as an amber glow emanated from her hands. The creature stopped immediately. It's eyes glowed with an amber hue and it retreated back into the forest as quietly as it had appeared. "I’m sorry for the rough welcome, they haven’t been themselves after their previous master was killed with most of their brethren." She said, as she took off her cowl. "Zena!? Is that you?" Erith exclaimed in surprise.



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  • Otherworldly


    "Who are you, what did you do to Adam?" the figure seemed oddly familiar. "We are you, you are us, we are the same" it replied as it stepped out from the shadows. She looked familiar, like looking into a mirror, yet...different. "We didn't harm Adam, we love him" she said. "I don't sound like that", she thought "I don't look like that either, do I?". "Oh but we do sound like this, this is how our voice sounds to everyone else" she said, and took a few steps closer, with a smile. "How did you know what I was thinking!" she yelled and took a step back. "We always know what we're thinking, even the things you don't want to admit, like loving Adam. But we know we love him, and we have been watching how you treat him" she said. "We have been patient, watching, but our patience has grown thin", it grabbed her hand, she was convinced it was an it, it couldn't be telling the truth, it made no sense. She turned her head an tried to wrestle free of its grip. "Look at us when we're talking" it said angrily and turned her head. "You have been in control for too long, it's time we had a try" she felt a twinge, like something had stung her in the back of the neck, then everything turned black. When she opened her eyes she saw Adam, he was hunched over her calling her name. "Adam! I was...something attacked me! It looked like me but it wasn't, it was different, somehow" she tried to explain, but he didn't seem to hear her. "We're ... I mean, I'm fine Adam, don't worry I just felt dizzy, what happened?" she heard herself say, as she stood up, she tried to grab him, but her hands didn't do what she wanted. She could only watch. Whatever it was, it was in control now.


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    "What are you demon? What did you do to Eve?" he sneered, "Where is this place? Answer me or suffer the consequences!". It laughed, the sound was like the cracking of dry bones. "You amuse us mortal, thinking you have any power, you are in our realm, you have no power here". The voice, it was inside his head, somehow. He had not expected it to call his bluff so quickly. He felt his staff slipping as his palm was getting sweaty and felt a cold drop run down his neck. One moment they had been examining a strange old tree growing in a den in the mountains, the next he was here in this wasteland, and Eve was nowhere to be found. "Your fear, it is tasty" the voice said, he felt it's presence in his mind, prodding, probing. "What sort of demon are you?" he repeated, trying to mask the shaking in his voice. "Oh we have many names, but you may call us Nulfastu. We are not a demon, oh no, we are far older, and far more dangerous. The old gods, they banished us to this place. But that was aeons ago and we have grown strong as they have grown weaker. Now we need you to get us back to the other side". "I'll never aid you" he whispered as he cast the swiftest spell in his arsenal. If the creature could read his thoughts, he wouldn't get the chance to cast a complicated spell. White crystals materialized around his staff and as he trust it they darted forward like daggers, digging into the beasts flesh. It screamed and writhed. "Courage, that is a new flavour..." the voice said, before its presence faded from his mind.


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    "We're back! Woo!" she jumped up and down, then crawled up into the tree laughing. He had never seen her so excited. "Calm down Eve what has gotten into you?" Adam said with a smirk "We haven't been gone that long have we?". She jumped down from her branch and struggled to regain her balance. Pretending that her landing pose was on purpose she smiled at him. "Now onwards! This world is ours for the taking!" she pointed at the exit with her axe and hopped like a bunny over to him, stumbling twice on the way. She laughed. She dropped her axe and fan and pounced on him. They fell over in a bush of iridescent flowers. She kissed him. "What has gotten into you Eve?" he thought. She had never kissed him before, never even showed him any kind of affection. But the kiss was long and sweet so his suspicion melted away like snow in spring. "Goodbye creepy hollow! Goodbye bunny rabbit!" she exclaimed as they left the den behind. The bunny had tried to follow them out but didn't seem to be able to leave the den with them. "Adam! She's not me! I'm here! Help me, I can't leave...Don't leave me behind".


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    "When did you notice?" She asked, her voice wavered. "Your shadow, it's... different." he replied hesitantly, feeling the small hairs on his arms and neck stand up. The air tasted metallic. "What will you do?" Her voice seemed to change, as if two of her were speaking slightly out of synch. Blue sparks discharged from her fingers like lightning. "What are you? Who are you? What have you done with Eve?" he asked, trying to remain calm. "I have these memories... From before I was born, before anyone was born." she muttered. The electricity in the air was growing stronger as she spoke. He could hear the pain in her voice. "The six Gods wanted this realm to themselves". "Five gods you mean?" Adam interrupted. "No, six. They used our kind to create what you call magic. They trapped us, broke us down and stored our energy in large stones. Some of us fled north but most of us merged, hoping to fight back. They built a stronger prison however, a place cut off from this and all other realms. You have seen it before." He remembered his brief time in the Realm of Torment and nodded, stroking his beard. "It was Abbadons idea. Ironic. They trapped us there in the darkness, for millennia." Her tears evaporated with a sharp electric crackle almost as soon as they appeared. Small orbs of lightning now floated around her. "We created life there. We tried to rebuild our world... but then he arrived. He killed off our creations, used their corpses to build his own armies and plotted his escape. He found a way, but he needed a vessel. The human girl was his way back, but his planned were foiled with help from the Gods. We are stronger than him however, and more patient. We found a place where the boundary between the realms is weak, and waited for a vessel of our own." The strangeness of her voice intensified. "We tried many, but their minds were too feeble to contain us. Until I came along! My mind was strong - but split. When we took over this body, only half of my mind was displaced, the other half merged with us. I am not what we were, but we are still Eve, a new Eve! And I love you Adam, don't leave us...". Adam was shocked, he was not sure if he could believe it... believe her. "If you leave me I'll die, you might as well kill us here" She said and opened her arms. "Adam, I need you by my side...".


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  • Crystallize


    She couldn't move a muscle. But she felt it, or rather, she felt that she couldn't feel anything. Her pupils dilated as she watched the crystal crawl across her skin with a soft crackling sound. "Why is this happening to me?", she thought, "I just wanted a souvenir for my crown! It's not fair!". The crystals started to float in the air around her, she couldn't feel her hands and feet any more, only watch in terror as the crystals crept further and further along her arm. She couldn't feel her arms now, or her legs, she tried to scream but no sound would escape her lips. The last thing she saw before the crystals covered her face was her crystalline fingers breaking off to join the cloud of floating crystals around her. "This isn't fair, I didn't know!" was the last thought that went through her head. The crystal statue she had become started to break up, the crystals were still growing, floating above the shredded remains of her clothes. The Guardian let out a roar that sounded like the screech of breaking sea ice and stomped the crown to dust. There was no trace of her former self left, she had become the new Crystal Guardian of this cave, and she would defend these crystals from anyone who wanted to take them away from her new home.

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    "For what purpose do you seek audience with the Arcane". There was something eerie about the guardians voice, more so than the slowly waving wings of blue light protruding from its shoulders. Then she realized that the guardian had never opened its mouth when it spoke, the voice had just ... appeared. "I come in search of knowledge, my former teachers said that what I seek does not exist, but I have not given up hope" she replied. "If you wish to gain audience, first you must open your mind to me and let me into every corner of it. You shall have no secrets or desires unknown to me" it said, again without moving it's mouth. She realized that the voice was in her head. She took a step closer, "I have nothing to hide, my intentions are pure" she said, but felt a chill down her spine as the blue wings twisted into thin tentacles of light and approached her face slowly. When the tentacles made contact with her temples she immediately felt the guardian in her mind. It first searched through her memories, carefully, methodically even from birth. Some of them she didn't even recognize herself. Sometimes it dwelled on a memory longer than the others but seemingly without any pattern. After it was done with her memories it searched her feelings, she felt them all as it went through them, joy, sadness, anticipation, surprise, trust, disgust, fear and anger. It was a strange feeling and she thought she might vomit. Then finally it searched her abilities. It examined all of her skills, physical, mental and magical. "You have spoken truthfully" the voice said, follow me and I shall grant you what you wish.

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    She had been in the labyrinth for what seemed like an eternity. Sometimes a pathway would seem to open up, only to be blocked by a thick transparent wall of crystalline quartz. The heat and humidity was exhausting, but it allowed the crystals to grow with such purity. She could swear that she saw her sister several times, but it always ended up just being her own reflection. The orb had not been much help. It passed right through the crystals when she got close, showing her the direction she had to go, but never the path to take. This was this fifth time she had had to trace her steps back for almost an hour. There it was again, a glimpse out of the corner of her eye, it was her! She darted after the shadow, but after a few turns she slammed head first into a crystal wall. Half dazed from the impact she put her hand against the wall and gasped for air. Then she saw her. It was faint, but it was her. Was she inside the crystal? She put her hand down, and the images in the crystal did the same. She shook her head, this was impossible! But it was her, she didn't look a day older than the last time they had been together at the Lunar Festival, she even had the same clothes on. Then it dawned to her, how could her sister be wearing the same clothes? That was years ago! She looked around, the reflections did as well, she saw them all around her. This was the caves doing, the magic in the crystals. She placed her hand on the wall in front of her and whispered under her breath "I'm on to you now, these tricks will not stop me". The reflections flickered for a moment and returned to her own image.


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    "I am looking for my sister, I know she's here, my tracking spell has led me here!" she screamed at the towering golem of crystal in from of her. It had taken her two years to find this place, a lot of which had been spent learning how to maintain a tracking spell for this long. For the past eight months she had been following this glowing orb, and it had been draining her every minute since. She had refused to listen to the mages and scholars of Shing Jea Monestary when they had told her that nobody could maintain a spell like this for long enough to find someone on a different continent, especially after the target of the spell had been gone for so long. They had all told her that her sister was gone, dead presumably, even her father had given up hope. He had died thinking that his youngest daughter was waiting for him in the Mists. She was fighting to hold back her tears, the orb was just hovering there, it had been moving slowly ever since she cast it, but now, it was finally standing still, in this cave, forsaken by the Gods long ago, in front of this...thing. "Why are you not answering me!" she cried, "I miss her, I miss my sister! Give her back to me!". The golem remained unmoving, "Well if you aren't going to tell me where she is, I guess I'll have to beat it out of you!" she whispered, clutching her scythe. She had come this far, she was not going to give up now.


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  • Aftermath


    "One strike. One strike is all it takes", Acira whispered under her breath as she dodged yet another pair of snapping jaws. The beast was not keen on giving up it's prey after stalking it for so long, but now its prey was backed into a corner and had nowhere to run. "One strike!", she yelled, and lunged at the closest head with all the strength she had left, cleaving it off at the neck. But one strike, was not enough. The beast sneered as one of the other heads grabbed the shield and crushed it in its powerful jaws, while the third bit down on her arm, breaking through her gauntlets and forcing her to let go of the only thing between her and rows of deadly teeth.


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    Acira closed her eyes and waited for the end, when she heard it. "Wooooooo". When she heard the beast screech in pain she opened her eyes, just in time to see a hooded figure jump on the back of the beast and drill a barbed dagger into the spine of one of the heads. The head other was already hanging limp with a dagger protruding from the back. The beast collapsed and Acira shuffled to get on her legs. "Thanks for saving my life stranger. Who are you?" she asked, trying to sound calm in spite of the adrenaline still coursing through her body. "I'm Crimson, dumb name, I know, my dad really wanted a son and I never knew my mom so he named me after himself, the old bastard, oh well, no sense speaking ill of the dead. My friends call me Crimmy. Hah, that's a lie, I have no friends, lost them to the Charr." Her cheerful tone was a complete mismatch with the severity of what she was saying. Her accent was strange, definitely not Ascalonian. "Nice to meet you!" She said, and extended a hand covered in hydra blood. She looked at it for a moment, then took off her blood soaked gauntlet. "There we go, much better" she shaked Aciras hand vigorously. "So where are you going? Think there is room for me in your group? I saw a couple of people about an hour back that way..." she pointed towards the setting sun. "Are they friends of yours? Does any of them know how to get rid of the smell of hydra blood?"


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    She could hear her footsteps echo back from the damp cave walls as she slowly moved towards the prickling sensation of free magic on her skin. From the sound of it this cave was massive, but something in the way the sound dissipated told her that something hanging from the ceiling was dampening the echo. Stalagmites maybe? She felt the power of the Heart-stone pulsate slowly like a heartbeat tickling her fingertips as she reached out towards it. With this power she would no longer need to live in darkness, if the legends were true, this had the power to bring back her eyesight, and maybe more. When she came out of the cave the others cheered loudly. "Nicely done Madira!" yelled Crimson, I have no idea why you had to go in that dark place on your own, but you made it out and that's good enough for me!". She felt the warm embrace and sweet smell of Ravens hair. "I was worried dear, I hope that thing will be able to do all the things you told us about". "That thing better be worth it, took us a month to find this place, your specifications were not exactly clear" grumbled Acira, but gave her a reassuring pat on the back anyway. "Oh it will guys, this will change everything..." she whispered. Raven gave her a worried look, she was the only one who heard her.


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    The darkness was pierced by the sound of a single heartbeat, followed by deafening silence. She listened for an eternity, having no sense of time. There it was again, this time louder, like a slow rolling thunder in the distance. "Who am I? Where am I? Am I alone, here in the darkness?". It beat again, like an overwhelming thunder crash she felt it. A rift of light growing rapidly in the distance. It was blinding and painful, and enveloped her whole field of vision. She screamed like never before, but without air in her lungs, it was more of a gurgling. The light burned her mind, but faded quickly. She shivered while sensation slowly returned to her extremities. After a while she tried to turn on her back, but something was in the way, something cold. She sat up and looked at her chest. A sword hilt was sticking out of her right lung, the blade had pierced all the way through her, but she didn't feel any blood gushing out. She took a breath, grabbed the hilt and pulled. The pain almost made her loose consciousness again. Her scream scared off a murder of disapproving crows circling above. The sword didn't come out. Whoever had designed it had put a large barb near the tip. She pulled again, and felt the barb rip through the remains of her lung as the sword detached. The pain was dull this time. She felt trickling tendrils of magic stitching her mangled body back together. "This must be the hearts doing..." she thought. Tears streamed down her face when she looked around and saw the others. Raven and Acira were besides her, a memory of the three of them fighting back to back against the Legion flashed through her mind. The others were not far away, all killed in gruesome ways. "Everyone, I'm coming home" she whispered. She picked up the sword from the ground, and trust it through her left lung, aiming for the heart. She felt the darkness coming and welcomed it. "Wait for me Raven I'll be with you soon...". A single heartbeat in the darkness, filled her with despair.


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  • Glad I finally got to talk to you in game and looking forward to seeing more of your stories

    -Founder of Guild Wars: a new hope fb group

    -Co founder of the kamadan fb group

    -Co-founder of Guild Wars Legacy

    -Leader of the Legacy Kurzick Alliance, The Noon Empire & The undisputed King of Noobz.

  • The Event

    “You don't know what that machine does do you? The Asurans, crafty little creatures, built it long ago to store and conduct energy for building their Golems. It took a little… persuasion, but I had them make a few changes”. A menacing smile spread across her face. Bolts of lightning jumped between her fingertips and discharged from her eyes and from her gemstone. “You know, when I lost her, I cursed The Heart for what it had done to me, but after a century of trying everything in my power to join her in the Mist…” She chuckled and started to weave complex symbols with her hands. “I Realized that no foe, no army, not even the Gods themselves could end my misery”. Her face twisted in agony as large crystal spikes started to protrude from her shoulders. “Crystals are funny don’t you think, the regularity of their structure makes them ideal magical conduits. I think that’s why the Gods made them in the first place, to think that the Asuran accomplished what not even the Gods could”.

    “What did you do to Adam?” Eve interrupted her, “He has nothing to do with this, it’s me you want!” “Oh he has everything to do with this, that why I’m keeping him safe, I even put a little spell on him to keep him alive just long enough for The Forge to warm up. You have only two options you see. Either you kill me, and The Forge will absorb the hearts energy, and I’ll finally be able to enter the Mist. Or your boyfriend will finish his transformation, and after I kill you The Forge will channel your energy into his crystalline body, and his new form shall be the force with which I shall lay waste to this wretched dimension until someone finally stops me! Either way, I win!” The glowing red crystals had formed two large wing-like structures on her back. She let out a small scream of agony and flapped them a few times; blowing embers into Eves face. Small lightning discharges had started to appear in the air around her.

    “You think you have known PAIN? WE have lived a thousand times longer than you! WE have witnessed the extermination of our entire species, all for the sake of controlling our magic! You think you know what this power inside you is, but you lack the perspective to comprehend the sacrifice we have endured for you to be able to obtain it!” screamed Eve. Madira smiled when she saw the blue flames sprout from Eves eyes as her voice changed. “Yes…just a little more…” Cracks started to spread across Eves skin, pierced by blue light coming from the inside. Madira flapped her wings and soared across the gorge. This was the battle she had been anticipating for almost a century.


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    Eve ripped the crystal wings off her back like they were made of parchment and threw Madira to the ground. She screamed in agony but the pain subsided quickly as tendrils of free magic stitched her mangled body back together in a matter of seconds. Madira got on her feet and ran towards The Forge. The air crackled with free magic and the rings started turning as The Forge absorbed more and more of it. Eve landed at the buttom of the hill with a crash, her flaming blue wings seemed to melt as the free magic was absorbed by the spinning rings of The Forge, but not before they had singed the earth around her. "WhereERE IsS AdamDAM!?" she screamed. Her voice sounded strange, like two people speaking out of synch. The words were charged with free magic and it took a moment before Madira realized why: One voice was coming out of Eves mouth, but the other appeared instantly inside her head. "It's too late", she shouted back, "There is nothing you can do for him any more!". Madira weaved another spell and sent a storm of red lightning down towards Eve. It struck her in the chest and left cracks across her face and torso from which blue flames started to pour, but she remained standing.

    The rings spun faster and faster. Sweat started to trickle down Madiras forehead as she noticed the grass and earth at her feet being consumed by what looked like liquid blue flames flowing out from Eves wounds and up the hill towards her. Madira blinked a few times and shook her head to get the sweat out of her eyes. When she opened them again however, Eve towered over her. "YoU DoN't DeSeRvE ThIs PoWeR" she said, with blue burning tears flowing down her cracked cheeks. This close, her two voices, filled with rage and grief, overlapped almost completely. Before Madira could react, Eve plunged both her burning arms into Madiras chest and stomach.

    Madira felt the heat more than the pain, it was almost a welcoming change from a century of feeling cold. She felt Eves hands grabbing The Heart, felt it starting to crack under the heat and pressure. "This is it. I'm coming home Raven. I'm sorry it took so long, but I had to take the long road." she thought. As The Heart shattered free magic spilled from the wound as purple tendrils of lightning, spilling through every opening it could find. Cracks spread rapidly across Madiras skin like fine cobwebs, and a moment later, she shattered into a cloud of pink crystals.

    The rings of The Forge were spinning too fast for the eye to follow. Eve started to run. She knew that not even Asuran technology could hold this amount of free magic for long. As she reached the foot of the hill, the shock-wave threw her to the ground. The tremors from the implosion lasted several minutes. Deafened by the implosion and bruised by Madiras magic and the falling remnants of The Forge, Eve almost blacked out. She gathered her strength for a few minutes, and then started crawling. She had to find Adam before it was too late.


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    The humidity was making it harder to breathe, and whatever spell that crazed woman had cast on him was still making it difficult to walk. "Eve, where are you? Did she capture you too?" he thought, trying to ignore the occasional stinging pain in his side. She had caught him by surprise in the busy market in Rata Sum. He had only caught a glimpse of her red hair before loosing consciousness.

    When he woke up he had been unable to move, and could only watch her while she weaved purple and gold runes with her hands in the air above him. She had a sly smile on her face when she finally finished her incantations. "You should consider yourself lucky my dear, you are the first human I have tried this particular spell on. I learned it when I fought the dragon that used to live here. SHE was a lively one that one! The first challenge I faced in decades! I made a few modifications of my own of course, but you'll learn that soon enough" she said, with a smirk on her face. "I'm sorry but I have to leave you now my dear, I have an important date with your girlfriend! Your motor skills should return in a few hours, so feel free to look around when the time comes. Who knows, maybe you'll even be able to find your way out!" she said, as she walked out of his field of vision.

    The pain was becoming more and more intense, he let out an agonizing cry and grabbed his side. He felt like something inside him was trying to make its way out. He felt sharp spike pierce though his skin from the inside. A few moments later it pierced through his coat and he watched in horror as the crystal spikes divided like some sort of parasite. The pain was unimaginable, and it was spreading. A second crystal sprouted from his insides and pierced through his coat. He grabbed the tips of them and tried to pull them out, but the sharp edges cut his fingers. The pain was subsiding but being replaced by a cold numbness that was even more terrifying. He felt the cuts on his hands burn and watched as crystals spread across his palms. "I don't think I'll make it. Eve my dear, I hope that you are safe from that witch, I'll see you in the mists" he thought, and grabbed the crystals again. He pulled, but the crystals didn't let go of his flesh. The last thing he saw before he lost consciousness was crystals slowly creeping across his face.


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    "Adam, my love..." She mumbled. Eve had been in a daze ever since she found his mangled remains. It had taken her four days to find the lair. But it had been too late to save him. She could not get the image of his contorted corpse out of her head. The curse had consumed his body, turned it into a crystal statue locked eternally in a hideous grimace of pain and anguish. She had cried for days. The metallic taste of free magic in the air had mixed with her salty tears. But the tears had dried out, leaving only the electric taste from when she tore that monster apart.

    "I can't go on, how can I go on without you?" she mumbled to herself. "I miss you my Love, I'm going to find you again, and we will be together... Ill find you in the mists..." She approached the cliff edge, this was as good a place as any. The void in her heart was unbearable. "Adam, you are my centre, my life, my angel, I'm coming my dear!" She yelled over the gorge. As the echo bounced back from the cave walls she leapt into the abyss. The fire inside her burned, but not with the blue passionate fury she knew. She felt the fire sprout from her back and saw a pair of golden wings envelop her. She let go of her weapons. They had been with her ever since she came to this dimension, but she didn't need them any more, not where she was going.

    The gorge shook as her body hit the bottom. Blue and yellow tendrils of free magic burst from the crater and spread slowly like blood seeping from a wound. The impact was felt by the nearby Asuran settlements, but they assumed that it was just a minor earthquake. It wasn't until the conduits all over Rata Sum simultaneously imploded, that the Council of Elders started to suspect that something had gone wrong with The Eternal Alchemy. But this was only the beginning. The magic that had been chained and bound by the Gods for millennia was free once more. The world had forgotten about free magic, magic not bound by spells or runes or incantations, not locked away in crystals or gemstones. But they would be reminded.


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  • Firstborn

    The tree was unlike anything she had seen before. It twisted upwards towards the light like a corkscrew or a tentacle, tightly coiled around...something she couldn't quite make out. The bark was smooth and soft. It felt more like skin than bark, and seemed to have a slight glow, which she attributed to the ray of sunlight that broke through a hole in the canopy. It was the most eerily beautiful thing she had ever seen, and she had seen a lot. The Lunar Festival of Shing Jea, the thousand colours of the Vabbian Bazaars, even the glittering splendour of the Hall of Heroes all seems to pale in comparison.

    She tied Rachels reins to one of the other nearby trees, it had been a long journey from Lions Arc and they had ridden for days with little sleep. Xick, had been remarkably brief in her description of what the Asuran Council had described simply as "The Event", which was uncommon for her race and had only added to the gravitas of the situation. She felt a chill down her spine when she thought of what she would see once she arrived at the remains of Rata Sum. "The Event", she didn't like that name, it wasn't just one "Event" as far as she could tell. Xick had said that all of the different disasters were connected through the Eternal Alchemy, but how could that be? Strange lightning storms in the north, gravitational anomalies in the south, blazing wildfires in the east, and the exploding Golem Forge and conduits laying waste to Rata Sum in the west, other than the fact that they all started within the same week or so, she didn't see what they had to do with each other.

    She stroked Rachel and took some water from the river to wash the dust off of her. "In a world full of chaos, you and I girl, we really found a peaceful Haven for ourselves right here didn't we?" She said to the horse, and fed her a carrot from her saddle bag. They both needed rest. She grabbed her bow, "Maybe I can find a nice juicy rabbit for dinner" she thought, and started to slowly scour the shrubbery for signs of burrows, but when she didn't find any signs of life after searching for a few minutes, she sat down. She looked at the shifting patterns of light in the grass from the sun peeking through the treetops shifting in the breeze and listened to the river lazily flowing by. "This is heaven" she thought.

    The vines grabbed her and the soft peat opened like a maw, swallowing her before she had a chance to grab something. She heard Rachel whinny and imagined that whatever it was that had grabbed her, it's hunger was not satisfied with her alone. She tried to hold her breath to avoid dirt and sand from filling her mouth but the vines were twisting tight around her chest and forced the air out. The ray of sunlight disappeared quickly above her and everything turned dark.


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    She coughed and spat out dirt, moss and green goo. It took her eyes a while to adjust to the faint sunlight that peered through the hole, through which she had been dragged down by... whatever it was that grabbed her. She looked around but didn't see Rachel anywhere. The vines had withered but were still coiled around her, and when she removed them she felt a sharp pain. Green liquid flowed out of hundreds of tiny holes in her arms and legs, as if tiny roots had dug into her skin. The green liquid hardened quickly as it came into contact with air and turned into a brown sticky sap. As she looked around she saw that the hole in the ceiling of the cave was not the only source of light, small orbs of light were floating around the cave like fireflies dancing in the darkness and a few of them had started to circle around her.

    She coughed again, and spat out a few green leaves. The sores from the vines were itching and she feared that maybe she was having some sort of allergic reaction. As she scratched off the sap however, she found that underneath a harder substance had formed, almost feeling like bark. "Rachel!" She called out in the darkness, but she heard no sign of her horse. She felt warm, very warm, and feared that she might have a fever. She heard voices, whispers. She looked around to see if she could find out where they were coming from, but they seemed to come from all directions. "Firstborn" the voiced said as they coalesced into one. "What?" She said, and coughed again, bigger leaves this time, and more green liquid. Then she saw the face. It seems like the wall of the cave had a woman's face on it.
    "We have been waiting for you" the voiced seemed too loud now, as if they were coming from inside her own head. She looked at the face in the cave wall, maybe it had something to do with what was going on in Rata Sum? "Who are you? What do you want with me?" She asked it. "Host... You are host." The voices replied. She felt a surge of heat and a mixture of pleasure and pain as her entire body started to itch. When she looked at her arms she started to panic as she saw that the hard protrusions were growing, she was sprouting branches. She tried to break them off but each time she did she felt an incredible pain as if trying to remove one of her own limbs. Each time she broke off a twig, green liquid would quickly seal the wound and soon after a new sprout would form. Sprouting felt... strange, it felt...pleasurable.
    "I am... host?" she thought, and as the word entered her mind, the heat spread throughout her body once more. Leaves sprouted from her branches, and the blue orbs started to dance around her faster. Her mind was foggy and it was difficult to form coherent thoughts. The roots that had invaded her nervous system started to slowly invade her brain, carefully changing it, moulding it, forming new neural pathways and severing others. "We are the first..." The voice came out of her own mouth this time, but she didn't remember saying them. "You are the firstborn, we have returned to this realm, after being cast out by the Gods aeons ago...", the voices became louder in her head. "I am the firstborn, first of the newborn, first of the reborn, first of the... Sylvari". The last memories of her old life were carefully purged from her mind as the roots severed the last connections in her brain, leaving it ready for new instructions. The first instruction came with a wave of heat as leaves sprouted and folded around her like a cocoon: "Sleep and grow...".
    She undressed and laid down in the pool. As her roots settled into the soft mud at the bottom, she drifted off and dreamt the first dream. It was a dream about the six Gods, about being hunted and slaughtered, imprisoned and isolated. The next dream was about freedom and love, about joy and pleasure and acceptance, about loss and grief and death...and birth.


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    Merowyn was amazed by the figure in front of her, she had seen more fabled beasts than any of her comrades, but never had she seen anything like this. "Do you think it speaks?" asked Xick, trying to catch her breath. Asuran were not used to walking, but since most of the Conduit network had collapsed severe restrictions had been placed on who could and could not use the remaining power for Golems and Golem Suits, so she had been trotting along, refusing Sigrid's repeated offers to carry her. "We speak, and we hear" said the figure, and unmounted the beast it rode on. It looked like... like a tree that had grown limbs. It didn't seem to have a mouth, but it spoke never the less. "We are the Sylvari, who are you and what are you doing in our lands?" the creature said, it's voice sounded like rustling leaves and creaking branches.

    "We have received several reports of missing people, Asuran as well as human, we are here on the authority of the Great Asuran Council of Elders to investigate these disappearances" replied Merowyn, trying her best to appear non-threatening despite the chill she was feeling down her spine. All of her instincts were telling her that they had to be careful around these new creatures. "These people you speak of, we are hosting them here in our...village" it seemed like the creature was trying to figure out which words to use, it didn't seem like it was used to speaking in Common. "If you like, we can take you to them, they are happy as us, yes, happy" it said and gestured for them to follow. "You mean - with us - " replied Merowyn. "Yes, with us, that is what we meant...". Merowyn got a bit excited at the thought of being the first to report first contact with what seemed like an entirely new sentient species, this would surely boost her already considerable reputation. "Alright then, lead the way!" she said, and gestured to the others to follow.


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    The rest of the team quickly warmed up to their new host when they saw the feast that awaited them, it was a buffet of wild rabbit, deer, and turkey. Steamed or grilled with a wonderful aroma of herbs and spices. The Sylvari homes seemed to have been grown rather than built, and looked a bit like tumours growing out of the giant roots they were grown upon. Inside the homes it was warm and a bit humid, but Merowyn never saw any fires around. "How do you stay warm in the winter?" She asked the nearest Sylvari. "What is...Winter?" it replied, in unison with the other Sylvari.

    The Sylvari seemed to all be female and they seemingly had a shared mind, or maybe a psychic connection, because they all spoke in unison and seemed to always know what the others had seen or heard. Aside from the strangeness of speaking in unison in their unusual voices the Sylvari didn't seem as threatening as when Merowyn and the others met them a few hours ago. Their steeds, while they looked like fearsome beasts made of branches and vines, didn't seem prone to violence and mostly kept to themselves in the shadows underneath the Sylvari huts. The Sylvari only ate meat, and although this fit the others perfectly, Merowyn decided to stick to her vegetarian principles and politely declined their offers, citing an upset stomach as she wasn't sure how these plant based creatures would react to hearing that she only ate plants. As the shadows grew longer Xick and the others started to yawn and gladly accepted the offer to stay in the guest huts for the night. The Sylvari assured them that they would meet all the missing people in the morning, but that they lived in some other huts a few hours away.

    Merowyn woke up with a growling stomach, the camp seemed to be still asleep, not even Sigrid's characteristic snoring could be heard. Merowyn crawled out of her hut and decided that she would grab some of the baked potatoes from her saddle bag. She couldn't find the horses anywhere however, only a few broken leather straps still clinging to the stump where she had tied them up. "Maybe they got spooked by an animal or something?" she thought. It was only about an hour until daylight, if they were going to walk to the next Sylvari village it could take them most of the day, so she decided to search the nearby area to find out where the horses had gone off to.

    The attack surprised her. The Sylvari jumped her from behind but fortunately her quick reflexes and enchanted boots allowed her to leap out of the way just in time. "So this was all a trap! I have to get back to the others, and fast!" she thought. More Sylvari came out from the shadows, she counted six at least, but her boots made her faster and she was able to dodge all of their attempts to grapple her. "You are too late! Your friends are all host!" yelled the furious Sylvari after her as she jumped from root to root back towards the village. The huts had sealed themselves shut, but her dagger was enough to cut through and fortunately her weapons were untouched.

    She sliced her way into Xick's hut and found that it had filled with a green slime that flooded out the gash where the doorway had been a few hours ago. Xick was wrapped in a cocoon of vines and leaves, but when she tried to cut her out it opened only to reveal another Sylvari inside. It let out a sharp shriek and tried to grapple her. "Your friends are us now, they are all host!" It sneered in her face before she kicked it out of the gash in the door. It was too late to save them, and the adrenaline rush was starting to wear off, Merowyn panicked and started to run. The fear made her forget her starving stomach, and the enchantment on her boots was still in effect, so she ran, ran all that her exhausted body could muster. As she looked back over her shoulder she saw her former friends, they were not chasing her, only watching from one of the giant roots in the village. "They are gone now, they are all host..." She thought.


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  • I love your project here, dontmind. I think what you're doing is really innovative, making art from multiplayer video games, and Guild Wars is certainly an appropriate game for that purpose, having so much beautiful artistry to it. After taking an class on character design recently, I suggest you look up the concept of "silhouette," which is used primarily (as far as I know) in Animation. Basically, as an exercise, if you were to silhouette your character, or shade him or her completely black, your audience should be able to understand what the character is doing without seeing any details of the face or clothes. The posture, the props, the way the character is holding her or his arms, should be very clear and communicate what you're trying to portray or depict. Just Google "silhouette drawing for animation" to see some examples of what I mean. I say this as a kind of critique of your work, in some of your pieces, especially when they are thumbnails, it is not immediately clear what the characters are doing. Good luck if you will be continuing with this project!

    Q: What do you call it when a naive American walks through Best Buy for days until he finds a TV?

    A: A television quest!

  • The Plague


    The warmth of the sun slowly crept in from the window and gently touched his face, stirring him from his sleep. He sat up and cast the blanket aside. Today it was his turn to sing the Farahnur morning anthem. The Sunspear Guard had shrunk in numbers recently due to illness, so they had called upon retired Sunspears to take on some of the more trivial duties. Yomindhe started humming a hymn and the echo of his voice against the walls allowed him to navigate his home without stumbling into anything in spite of his disability. He got dressed and picked up his shield and spear. It was not a long walk to the city, and he enjoyed the singing of the birds on the way to the market, but today he took a slightly different path leading to the hillside overseeing the riverbank. For a moment he wondered why he had not heard any birds singing today...

    After loosing his sight to a Skree Yomindhe had retired earlier from the Guard than most people, but he had been content in his retirement and still had enough gold left from his inheritance to sustain his modest lifestyle for years to come. He had taken up writing and had become interested in chronicling historical events. He had also started writing a journal about the daily happenings in Farahnur during the rule of the twin queens Nahlah and Dahlah. The morning anthem was tradition in Farahnur, it marked the beginning of the day, the opening of the city gates and the beginning of the morning market. There had been fewer people going to the market than usual, but most people still wanted to strike a good bargain and get the freshest fruits, fish or vegetables. He had reached the hilltop now, and his voice soon boomed over the riverbanks towards the city. Any moment now, the guards would hear the morning anthem and the gates to the city would swing open, welcoming merchants and travellers into the city. But as his anthem drew to a close, Yomindhe grew more and more concerned, for the gates remained closed...



    The waves crashed against the ship with increasing intensity. The winds had picked up speed quickly and on the captains orders they had taken down the sails least they be ripped to shreds by the powerful gusts of wind. It quickly got dark and the rain was pounding on the deck. The captain stood at the rudder. She could hear the faint screams of the frightened Istani refugees below deck. They had each paid a minor fortune to the captain in return for smuggling them across the strait and into Kourna. The Captain had tried to avoid the storm by diverting their course further south, but the storm had caught up to them too fast and now they were in the middle of it. The ship was a former Canthan trade vessel that the captain had captured years ago, so it was built to withstand the rage of the Clashing Sea. "We'll be safe, the captain has never let us down before..." she thought, as she struggled to tie down the water barrels. She looked over towards her husband at the bow of the ship. He had adapted to the life of a Corsair slower than her, maybe because she had longed for a life of adventure more than him. He had been content with spending the rest of his life as a fisherman in Methani Keys, and here he was, smuggling refugees into Kourna in the middle of a storm.

    The rope snapped suddenly. The topsail started to flick in the wind and she heard the Captain yelling desperately through the storm: "Get that sail tied back up! If the topsail is unfolded the force of the wind will snap the mast like a toothpick!". She looked around, most of the others were too far away, the wind was washing away the captains orders too fast. She looked back at the captain and pointed to herself, she had never climbed the mast before. The captain nodded, her hood blew back and she saw the captains diamond blue eyes staring directly at her. Nobody else had heard the captain. She tried screaming to the others but the air was forced back into her lungs by the gale. She knew that it was a matter of moments, and started climbing the mast. When she reached the crossbeam she strapped her legs around it and crawled towards the flickering sail. When she got there she quickly started to pull up the sail and tied it tightly with one end of the rope. It wouldn't hold the sail when unfolded, but right now it just had to hold until the storm had died down and they could do proper repairs.

    She sighed in relief when she finished the last knot, and waved down to the captain to let her know that everything would be alright. But in that moment a particularly big wave crashed into the ship and the jolt caused her to loose her grip on the crossbeam. "So this is how it ends..." she thought as she fell towards the roaring sea beneath her, looking up at the sky as lightning jumped between two clouds, lighting up the dark ship for a moment. Suddenly she felt a firm grip on her left hand. She held on with all her strength as they swung back on the ship. She looked up and saw the captain holding on to one of the mast ropes with her left arm, the right one still firmly wrapped around her. "Good job with the topsail!" she said, as she let go of her. She looked towards the rudder and saw her husband holding it steady. Today was not her day to die.



    "Don't let those ships dock!" She heard the captain call. "We can't take in any refugees, we have to contain the plague to Istan". "But they have women and children! Do you want me to shoot the children?" She yelled back. "If you have to! We lost too many of our own to the plague, we can't let it spread any further!" the captain yelled back. Another thundering crash as one of the war catapults tore through an enemy ship. Istanis were desperate to get away from the death that plagued their lands, desperate enough to declare war on Kourna when the blockade was instated. It had been only 4 months since the first breakout of the plague had killed off everyone in the Moon Fortress. When the plague emerged 6 months ago the fortress had been re-purposed as a refugee centre for the Istani, keeping them quarantined for ten days before they were let into Kourna. But the plague had proved impossible to contain. She was there when they burnt the Fortress to the ground. They had been ordered to kill everyone that could be infected, soldiers as well as refugees, kids as well as adults, Kournans as well as Istanis. The walls were still blackened and the smell of the funeral pyres still hung heavily in the air. Fire had proven to be the only thing that could stop the Scarab Plague. The fortress had since then been rebuilt and now served as the command centre for the blockade keeping any Istani ships from docking on Kournan soil. The screams shook her out of her memories and back to reality. One of the catapults had a direct hit sinking another Istani war ship, the cries for help as women and children tried to swim to shore made the tears well up in her eyes. She started firing, aiming for the kids first. All the could offer them at this point was a quick death.



    Another boulder crashed against the cliffs and the sound almost perforated his eardrums. "They'll be here soon my love" he whispered. "Let them come, we haven't come this far to give up now" she replied. He saw the fire in her eyes and felt more connected to her than ever. If this was going to be their last stand then at least they would be together in the mist. They had been the lucky ones. While the plague covered Istan they had been alone for months on their houseboat in the keys, making up for the months they had both been forced to work on the two Queens monuments. When they saw the Corsair ship they thought it was the end, but the Captain had spared them. They were terrified when they heard his stories about the plague and gladly shared their dried fish with the starving crew. Their boat was not suited for crossing the strait to Kourna though, so they left everything behind and joined the Captains crew. For a while everything had been fine, nobody seemed to get sick and the cove had provided them with shelter and safety. But a few weeks ago other Corsair ships filled with refugees started coming. Their captains demanding steep prices for the ferry across. And after the refugees came the Kournans. He could hear a Kournan commander yelling orders. It wouldn't be long now.