((This is continuing material for my character's brief short story for the Black Desert Origin Story Contest. Found at: http://www.tenaciousgamers.com/index.php?threads/black-desert-origin-story-contest.7315/ Please be advised that I will be adding content as it comes to me and will make every effort to signal when I feel it is "done". I decided to continue as it seems a few Tenacious readers enjoyed my character's short story! Thank you! You are welcome to comment below this post your thoughts! Please enjoy! 2/27/16: I have updated with a chapter that captures the days before where the story takes play in the contest version of the story. This sets it up for present day, which I will be adding once I feel I have "experienced" enough material. Stay tuned for more later on!)) ACT I The Silence of a Kingdom The pitch black was seemingly infinite. I remember... I remember the alleyways, the scarcely lit passages through the city—the labyrinthine streets both high and low. Valencia was a city like no other, unmatched in both beauty and mystery. Every dark crevasse had a story, every brick in each house and street had seen something unspeakable, unfathomable. The people—at least the people that had any measurable sort of wealth—whether small or grand had the distinct privilege of shelter; homes. Most homes were constructed of a thick, petrified stone which the first Children of the Desert lay almost a millennia ago. The important part is not the shelter but the stone, it protected everyone inside its walls from everything; even the vestiges of sound. A street poet on a hot summer day put it thus, "On a long Summer's Day—we toil through stone and sand finding little solace but the tombs of our shelter against burning lava raining from the sky. But heed this call, the darkness outside, after such hurried twilight, is the Terror in mortal bones for which escape from its grasp is inside advantaged hollow tombs. For surest listen to its ring, it is silent terror which awaits fools of the night and the misfortune of the frail." Most souls unfortunate enough to call these streets home, had the unenviable position of searching through the silence for shelter, when there was none. Often, the screech of disembodied sounds rose upward suddenly and disappeared entirely like the clang of steel against stone; instantly without trace. It was terror that befell everyone, all creatures learned to live in silence, to ignore the horror beyond. This was my home, where I learned to treat the darkness like death, unafraid of its meaning and yet afraid of its suddenness. It was here that I made my first encounter with the creatures of darkness, the harbingers of doom. What I ignored back then was something that I understood firmly after I became captive to the ancient dark. It was the lesson that darkness always surrounds the world, enveloping and crushing ever so slowly. It is those pure of hearts that avoid being crushed entirely by the awe of this ancient specter. It was as the poet had said, though at night, when I became acquainted with my destiny. The nights in Valencia took hold like a snail racing across the algae after a rainstorm. However, at its height, the utter silence spoke more truths than the uttering of a faithful to his or her God. It was shortly after this time that I heard the wail of wind and peering before me a mist forming appendages. Its red eyes glowed in the thick darkness surrounding, lighting only an orb of space around it. Yet, it was bright enough to ignite the hue in my own red—a red that resembled primordial fire. We locked gazes, it and I—and in seconds made a pact as ancient as time and yet almost seemly of a time before—time. My throat hurt. I had screamed as it locked its gaze with mine, though in the unfathomable anomaly, nothing escaped the dark space around the creature and I. The ground shook below me and strange energy coursed through my body like molten fire through a crucible. Before I knew it, the mist was gone and the red had passed. The crickets chirped once more, the air still, and the darkness again shrouded the street. I dropped to my knees and heaved before slumping over against the wall beside the street's alley. I closed my eyes and saw my name emblazoned in fire and fell into quiet slumber. ᛇᚨᚲᛁᚨ An Ancient Pact The sky wept fire and the world was overrun in flames. Beyond, civilization began its plunge into the dark unknown. Amidst the inferno and devastation were the harbingers of doom, the black spirits. Serendia, home of the ancestors of the Children of the Desert, ceased to exist overnight. The people, though now only few, escaped the cataclysm brought forth on their world by an ancient evil. Together, those few, suffered for 300 years until they found a land crossed by two rivers. It is here where Valencia began. However, during this endless pilgrimage, the ancient pact was formed. Though she may not remember it, her existence spans centuries dating back to the fall of the greatest civilization mankind had ever seen—so long ago... I can recall how lucid it was, my dream. I honestly cannot say for certain if this was a dream or a living nightmare. This vision, this orchestra of pictures in my mind, flashed and wailed the sounds of lives horrifically departing our plane of existence. Somehow, I feel like I was actually there, though the dream did not show what the onlooker was. However, my vision focused on a young girl settled on her knees as she wept tears of blood—staining the ground beneath her. All at once, the blood began to glow a deep crimson hue—forming shapes and letters I cannot understand. The ground shook violently amongst the chaos and a deep ebon mist emerged from the cracks in the earth beneath her. A figure emerged from the mist, forming the shape of the creature I had come face to face with only stages before. It was the same. Its eyes were a vivid red—a red far beyond ancient. It spoke a language I did not understand, almost grinning in delight at the ruin left in its wake. The girl screamed; grasping her head—long Stygian locks flowing down her shoulders. It was then that the figure cackled, reveling in the suffering of the girl. Ultimately, she looked at it with fear and began to sing lowly whilst etching runes onto the dirt beneath her. Seeing this, the shadow began to panic and displayed clear displeasure at her actions. I cannot understand her hymn but the tone resonated a deep melancholy—like a profound sadness of intangible magnitude amplified by all the loss enclosing around her. Instantly, the figure growled as the runes the girl etched on the ground began to forge onto its forehead—glowing for a time before solidifying into stone. But the figure's grin returned shortly after, it bared its teeth and nodded to the girl as it slowly receded into nothingness. In the world beyond, beams of light erupted from the girl and countless dozens of people caught in the chaos emerged. Together, they gathered with little but the clothing on their backs and moved from the blaze. The procession was quiet as they left view, one by one until the last—the girl who wept crimson tears. As her visage evaporated, I could see the strands on her hair—one by one, begin to turn bright silver until she was gone. When I awoke, the light danced into my eyes—as dawn had come. Carefully, I rose to my feet and looked at the sun—my silver hair blowing in the air from a light wind. And I wept—wept without knowing why. Where the Girl in White Slumbers Winter, Year 223 of the Elion Calendar Ice gathered at times, though rarely, in Valencia during the winter. With it usually came a period of diminished crop return and an increase in street muggings—frequently due to the homeless becoming desperate. Because of this, it was common practice for the guard in Valencia to bolster street patrols—especially after dusk. It was no matter of exaggeration to say that the streets were full with homeless children around my age. We really only had each other during tough times because the populace treated all children often worse than common rodents. However, I was usually on my own because most of the street rats were often spooked by the color of my eyes—which I had long since stopped trying to dispute. I did, for reasons unknown to me, have someone I admired by the name of Reika. For a long time, I tried to push the thought of her friendship away because I knew it would make her lot in life more difficult. I also already had a hard time feeding myself and knew that getting too close to Reika would mean I would have another mouth to feed. From what I could tell, Reika was a year or two younger than me and she looked up to me like an older sister. I didn't know how to handle this at first but one day I stopped fighting it and allowed her to stick to me. Reika was, well, quite scrawny for a girl her age—more malnourished than me at the time. Her eyes were a bright blueish-green that resembled dioptase emeralds and her hair was an unusual Titian shade of red. In many ways, this made us a great pair because we stuck out very easily—at worst it got us into more trouble. I remember the frequent times when I would steal a bag of apples from a merchant and the next moment we were both easily spotted in the crowd. It made for troublesome hunting but we made it work. Reika was the cute and quiet-type of girl, which made her a wonderful decoy. By the time spring came, we had managed to grow some meat on our bones. I had made the choice of trying to steal a fishing pole to make an attempt at catching some carp from the canals that were carved into the city. I really wanted to give Reika a better life—until I lost track of her after sunset one day. I searched the dark streets that night for hours but found little trace of Reika. For an entire month—I searched for Reika but never did find her. I whimpered in the dark alleys many nights because I couldn't find a single trace of Reika. I missed her—immensely. This ushered a period where I completely lost hope and my health and drive to find sustenance waned. By the time father had found me, I had lost much of the mass that I had gained with Reika. In the ensuring weeks and months, I had become needy for attention and had become lonely—nearly losing any hope of surviving. I had grown quite desperate and weak by the time I chose to make an attempt to mug the man that would become my father. That too, I failed to do. The fight by then had left me and I made little effort to resist the home that father offered me. I latched onto him and felt so safe that I never let go. That day, I left Valencia behind for the first and last time—keeping Reika's memory tightly locked inside my battered heart. A Sweet Reunion and the Influence to Conquer Hearts Calpheon was nothing like Valencia. Its towering spires, the green, blue, and red hues permeated this metropolitan like nothing I had ever gazed my eyes on. This place—this stronghold was the seat of more than just some tyrant king and his minions—it was the home of the West. It has been hypothesized by lesser known scholars that Calpheon is also a product of the great fire that reduced the Ancient Serendian civilization. The more I read from the ancient tomes at the college's library, this theory became more plausible to me. The thought was amazing, to think that Valencian and Calpheonian bloodlines could have begun at the same episode of calamity. This gave me hope that perhaps someday, our people would be united—together again like times far long past. Every day I grew stronger and more hopeful than the previous day. My duties and training at the Holy College came first but after that came my desire for learning. For this, I earned a reputation for my zeal in all things combat and knowledge. It was not long before the other Valkyries and the scholars that studied at the grand library began referring to me as the Sovereign the Sword and Tome. I paid little mind and continued with my objectives—unceasingly. This did, however, add to other annoyances that I cared most of all to ignore—courting. It was the pursuit of many men and astonishingly—other Valkyries towards me that made it especially bothersome keeping to my charge. I wanted none of it. Unfortunately, ignoring them never made much of any good. In some ways, the pursers were emboldened by my aloofness. One such day, I was chased down Market Street—on my way to the nobles' district for home. Half a dozen young men, all nobles, jockeyed against each other running after me like I was some type of prey. The thought made me even more irate. Violence came to mind at flashes of irrationality but I feared it would cause more trouble than it was going to solve. Unfortunately for them, there were few people in Calpheon that could challenge me to a foot race. Well—they couldn't as by the time they made it to the bridge linking the districts, I had already bolted up the hill street for home. Almost automatically and with effortless precision, I dug the door key out, inserted the opener, and kicked the door open—flying forward a second before the door reverberated back and slammed shut. I embraced father tightly and ran up a flight of stairs to plunge silently into bed. On second thought—they also called me "Elu", short for "Elusive". The next morning, I was awoken by the bustle of the carriages passing through the street. Suffice it to say, every family had at least one carriage—which made the streets a busy affair early in the morning and on afternoons. I personally preferred to walk around the city—feeling it would preserve my humility and keep me undisturbed from my quest. Exiting the door, I beamed a smile and waved to father. In true aloof fashion, my legs ignited into action and stormed down the street only to be swiped by a carriage. Tumbling backward, I landed hard on my bottom and sighed for a moment in pain. What I saw after my whimpering, eyes shooting straight—incredulously, was Reika—fully grown, elegant, beautiful, and alive. My eyes widened and I babbled for several moments, my index finger shaking—pointing at her. I screamed out at the top of my lungs, holding little energy or force of bronchi back, "REIKA!" Her gaze locked with mine and she twisted her head for a moment—confused. Just about the time I stopped wailing into the air, it dawned on her and she leaped out suddenly of her carriage and tackled me like a shrike striking a rodent. I surrounded her in my arms and squeezed tightly, losing all sensation a moment after as the tears rushed hurriedly down my cheeks. We both cried loudly, causing such a commotion that half of the peers lined up to see the spectacle. I ignored them. For a while, we looked at each other in silence, our eyes and cheeks red from the sweet droplets. After about five minutes of silence, I darted out for her hand and quickly pulled her upright—tugging her quickly down the hill—towards the nobility's shared veranda near the river that cut through the city. Standing beside the railing, the river flowing silently beneath, I reached out my hand out to Reika's cheek and caressed it—still quizzical. I smiled and spoke, "Reika—you have no idea how long I searched for you. I suffered—for years. I'd... lost hope..." She placed her left hand on mine, still firmly on her cheek and replied grimly, "I was taken by some unsavory men. I was—sold into slavery. They probably thought I would make well in a brothel for criminals. Luckily, I avoided that fate but I had to fight for years until I found my way of escape. I'm—so, so sorry—Saki." She broke into tears and fell on her knees, weeping silently with her head slumped down. I edged onto my knees and pulled her close, gritting my teeth—trying to avoid breaking into lament once more. Gathering my inner strength, I smiled and cupped her face. "No, no, no—no. I'm the one that's sorry. I should have kept a closer eye on you. I was a terrible big sister—so blind and silly. I thought I was going to make a means for us to catch our own food, alone. I should have never..." I breathed deeply, closing my eyes for a moment and clutched her tightly before continuing again. "But—but that's all in the past now. You're here now and I'm here now. Rei, we—we are going to move on from this—together." A single tear rolled down her cheek and dropped on the edge of my hand. She smiled and sniffed, forcing back the tears. "I think you'll be proud, Saki. I turned the tables on my fate and found my way to you. It was tough but I persevered and was strong right up to this very moment." I chuckled inside, muffling the sound somewhat as I pulled her back up and embraced her tightly while I kissed her forehead—the rays of the sun gently falling on my face—breaking through the clouds like a beam of radiance. She wrapped her arms around my waist and latched on tightly. "I'm so proud, Rei. So, so proud of you..." ACT II Bloodstains from Another Time A letter had come. A never-ending war was about to begin. At first, the letter's content shocked me. It was not simply Valencia at fault for unleashing the Black Death. Anyone with keen sense who was paying attention to the politics surrounding the blight could tell this was no ordinary contagion that any single nation would spawn. Nevertheless, I opened the letter and carefully read the orders put forth to me. "Today, this year of Elion 235, Glorious King Dahad Serric declares war on Valencia, as such the Alliance will begin full perpetration to face the progenitors of the blight. All vassals, members of the numerous Knight orders, and conscripts of the Calpheon Expeditionary Forces are to commence full mobilization and are hereby ordered to report to their superiors at each respective headquarters upon receiving this notice. Full mobilization is to complete by the end of the fortnight henceforth. Please be advised, any parties addressed in this declaration are bound by royal rite. As such, defectors or evaders will be found, title and rank stripped, lands forfeited, and respective judgment found upon the offending parties through trial—penalty of death encouraged." I read the document twice and laid it down on the desk beside. Sighing silently, I walked over to the window and watched the street outside as it rained lightly—the sky dark-blue and swollen with cloud cover. "This reminds me of a time, long past." Some children outside were dancing in circles in the rain, as it poured down upon the world—their mothers frantically goading them to get back inside. I smiled and turned around, looking at the message that had come. I knew that Reika and father would find this as shock and take the news harshly. Walking over to the desk, I sat down on the golden fleece-lined chair and pulled on a drawer's handle to retrieve a long piece of parchment. I reached for a quill and began to write a letter to Reika. "To Reika: I found you in the fault lines, amongst a world so cold. Searing in pain, I peered out to you dancing cheerfully in the pouring rain. Do you remember? This is where we first met. I remember at the time being intrigued—wondering how you could find the rain so enjoyable when the rest of the world was silently huddled in doors, sans the poor souls like us that had no shelter to call our own. I remember walking over to you and asking you why you were dancing and you replied, "For fun!," smiling with such an innocent spark in your eyes that I was taken aback. Looking back at this moment, this was the first time in my life that I found someone that sparked interest to me. How could she be happy? I pulled you close over time, to find out what was going on in your mind. I think that I desperately wanted you to come down and ease my pain. At the time, I did not realize the innate connection I longed for. Smiling and dancing, braving such a harsh world, you kept running circles through my brain. Until this day, you have continued to inspire such awe in me, because I always felt you were so much more stronger than I ever was. I believe that with time, you will be able to continue braving this world, even if it is without me. I have been summoned for war, a task that no life should have to endure—spilling blood for country. Alas, I am tasked with defending Calpheon from disaster and I feel it my duty to find some form of expelling the blight from this world. It occurs to me that sacrifice could be my fate in this encounter. I make peace with it, even as I know this will strike you so and without painless result. I find no giddy emotion in going to war with my birthplace, as I never bore it any ill will, through all the hardship I faced. I have come to terms with the sacrifice that I am to make and I say that it does not strike me as it does the other Valkyries. We are taught to take our duty of sacrifice with honor and even relish it as it is our ultimate fate. I hold no such false thoughts in my head. My desire is based purely on being an instrument of the greater good, a contrast to the aforementioned Elonian rite. Though I have long since stopped believing in the numerous unseen Gods, I am grateful to the joyous time and happenstance of life as it is daily of which I have had the honor to have shared with you. To that end, I wish to express to you how happy your company has made me and I feel as though I could have asked for little more in such a short but eventful life. I wish you to learn that I have always loved you—from the moment I saw you dance in the rain. There has never been another soul in this wide-world that I have felt such longing for. I hope that you will find that I will always be with you, through the pain, the harshness of life, the joyful times, and the sorrow. Rei, please live a long and happy life. Ensure that my memory will not fade easily with the passage of time. I hope to set this world ablaze if at least once, protecting the very air you breathe and life you lead. I will never forget. With love, Sakia de Sun'raheal First Centurion, Trina Knights" I firmly pressed the letter against my chest and held it there for several moments before stamping the violet wax with the crest of the Black Dragon. Letter in hand, I made my way down the stairs and to the door. Opening the door, I waved to the house messenger and imparted a command to him. "This letter, ensure that it is received by no such other soul than Lady Reika Volaire. Please make haste and avoid detours." He nodded, silently, taking the letter and trotting off down the street. I closed the door behind me and hurried to the armory. The room was filled with all manner of weapons and armor, gilded instruments of war. My armor was the most visible, a polished silver that lit room with bright rays of light. With little haste, I ensured each piece lined my body—one by one forming the bulwark for war. Turning to a painting of father, I knelt before the altar—bearing the family sword. The Sun'raheal clan's icon was this sword, ensuring the wielders continued its history etched into history as noblesse de cloche—a depreciated noble charge from a former period. Lifting the sword from its spot, I gazed at the numerous runes etched onto the body of the blade—the antiquity still shining. In the end, clad in armor, I made for the door, closing it behind me. Outside, it was still raining, still storming the omen of things to come. I locked the door behind me and made for my quest across the world.