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Hm? What is this? A lizard? There's something weird about it. It looks funny. Why are its eyes yellow? Is it... It's crying! But a lizard crying? What in the world is going on? There must be something wrong with it. Wait a second. Let me get a bit closer. Is that... is that blood? Ug. What's that smell? It's horrid. Urg. I feel sick. No, stay back there. Don't come down here, Dmetr. Something's weird. I don't like it. We need to get out of here.

-- Ban, at Fare Caolan

 

War. It's been coming steadily. I can feel it as I gaze at the at the setting sun. Something far to the south is building strength. But then, so will I. I'm no longer hesitating. I decided that needed to get as big as I could as soon as possible. And by big, I meant my forces. I needed more people at my back. The only way to do that is to expand, open more rifts to strange places no matter the danger involved.

War is coming. Of that, I have no doubt. There have been little signs. The gwisin was the first real sign, like the first snow of winter coming much too early. He wasn't the last. This month has been war, only it was just the beginning of something that is frightening.

It's not just the things I consider little now, like the increasingly frequent eira attacks. Two days ago alone, there were four separate waves that invaded my territory. They had been attacking consistently as far back as when Namena appeared, only they would get lost and subsequently most often fall in the lava pits. I hardly noticed them until one of them managed to break through almost all the way to Harbor. They've been learning. If only it had just that.

I look down. My hand trembles. Too often. Too often I've taken lives now. A disaster. I clench my fist. It wasn't just the eira that I pierce through with projectiles. It was the lives of those things, and of my own.

The first came through shortly after I planted my next dimensional ice tree, not long after Namena left--the first step of gathering more under my cause. It was little. A small, almost fox-like thing with sandy fur and large, bat like ears. I only had a glimpse at it as it entered before it launched itself at my face. A projectile later, it was writhing on the ground with a hole through its lungs. It was then I got a good glimpse at it. It was frothing at the mouth, bleeding from its eyes and ears and nose. A strange smell wafted up from its flesh. It was sweet, like roasted almonds, but sickening so with hints of rotting plum. I gagged. Even my sliver fish wouldn't get near it, and they're carrion eaters. I cremated it in lava and cut off the connection to that ice tree. It swiftly withered.

That was just the beginning, though. It happened with the next ice tree. A deer like creature stumbled through within the hour after I created it. It was beautiful. Pure white with horns that looked like branching coral, only on closer look, it was missing a leg, dripping puddles of putrid black blood. It turned and looked straight at me, yellow pupils glowing with a sickly light. I watched as a slow tear of blood dribbled over its eyelid. Then, it charged, flying straight into the projectile I launched. It too, was similarly cremated, and the connection to the tree severed. I got the feeling that something was deliberately sending them through, but I was determined to carry on with my plan. If I didn't, it was obvious that I would stagnate.

The next one that appeared was a flying creature. It appeared a week later, and it didn't even come from one of my dimensional trees. It flew in straight from the sky, scattering drops of blood as it flew, drops that stung and ate right through my ice skin when they landed on me. I felt instantly when many of my plants withered and died. A full twenty of my snowdrop dragons died when their homes were smothered in the stuff. Seeing this, I knew I couldn't let any of my creatures go near it.

I launched my most potent, most damaging projectiles while running after it. The bird was large, its wingspan almost three times as long as Ah'm. It's form was sleek and slippery, and more often than not, it would shift slightly so that my projectiles would slide off, scraping along its skin before flying into the distance. It was frustrating. Every single second it was aloft it would scatter more and more of its damaging blood across my domain, destroying plants and animals and even my wards.

Frantically, I created a weave of |ice silk| and launched it into the air right before driving the bird into it with projectiles. It still managed to dodge the projectiles before it was tangled in the net over my desert island. In the brief second before it broke free, my vent lord reached up, breaking through the ice dome over the desert. The vent lord slammed a tentacle onto the bird's back, sending it straight through the dome, and into the sands below. A massive plume of dust and sand rushed into the air as I launched myself after the bird using |ice manipulation|.

When I landed in front of it, it was already on the brink of dying. It looked much more progressed than the other monsters that had entered my domain. What I had thought was a slick hide was disintegrating, steaming, raw and goopy skin. Bone peeked through in several places. A large swath of skin was burnt from the vent lord's tentacle. My poor vent lord didn't come out unharmed either. Where he had touched the bird, his skin had begun to slip off. I hurriedly helped him burn the area. The result didn't look much better, but at least his skin was no longer melting off his bones--or rather--cartilage.

I'm still not sure how it could fly. It looked like it was about to fall to pieces right there. It's baleful eye locked onto me, and it struggled to attack, snapping its jaws so hard that, to my horror, the lower jaw broke off and slid down its melting skin. Its eye began slipping out of its socket as it cocked its head at me in a mix of confusion and resentment.

"Don't look at me like that. I didn't do this to you." The words slipped out of my mouth when the last light of life faded from its eyes. It slumped into a steaming pile of rotting flesh. I turned away in disgust, but something caught my attention in the corner of my eye. A wisp or something seemed to slip out of the bird's empty eye socket. I grabbed at it, trapping it within the ice of my hand. I studied it with a frown.

The thing was almost completely black. A worm, eyeless, with a mouth that seemed to take up more and more of its body the longer I looked at it. It drew the world in through that gaping hole. No... there was an eye. Deep deep inside its circular mouth, surrounded on all sided by thin jagged teeth that would latch on and never let go. A single eye, pink with a black center. It glared at me hard through the ice. I felt myself being sucked in by its stare. It gave a shriek that reverberated through me, shaking me to my core, waking me up. Quickly, I detached my hand, balling it up thick and hard before flinging it from me. I breathed heavily, staring at nothing for a long time.

I gulp as the sun touches the horizon. The memory of it haunts me. It's there. Deep deep below the earth where I buried it, the worm, still looking as if any second it will dissipate into fleeting wisps of smoke even as it sits frozen within the ball of ice. It's not alone either. In that subterranean room, shelves line the walls, each containing rows and rows of frozen worms of infection.

The days following, the number of diseased animals, animals infected by this devouring worm, the rate at which they flung themselves into my domain only increased each passing day. Strange animals. Ones that come from below, from above, from without, even forcing themselves through dimensional trees already long withered and slipping through the tenuous connections I have with the outside world. They come as mice, as birds, as hulking muscled fishes, as numerous eira, all eventually disintegrating at my doorstep and leaving behind a disgusting worm.

They don't die, the worms. Every time an infected died, I'd retrieve the worm. Within three weeks, I've collected more than a hundred of them. I've tried killing them in almost every way I can think of. Stabbing them, drowning them in water, acid, lava, smoking them with toxic gasses, suffocating them with wax, nothing works. Ice only stops them from moving. So, I freeze them, and shove them into that room.

My friends, my monsters, they can't touch them. I won't let them. The disease, it permeates. And slowly, it begins to come from within as well as without. A week and a half ago, I hadn't been careful enough. I had forgotten the first two, the fox and the deer.

When the waves of eira first started, I was able to influence several into joining my domain. It made me happy. They no longer looked to harried, so flustered and angry. They looked more at peace, more joyful. The ones I couldn't influence, I let them leave if they fled. Most did. It was a comfort that I didn't have to kill all of them. It was a poor choice. The following waves that attacked changed. I noticed one, then maybe two rabid ones within the attacking ice beings, jittery, unfocused, and increasingly short-tempered. Then, with ever new attack, there were more, and more, and more until this last one, there were but three who could be considered sane. Only now do I realize that one I let go must have been infected.

They always knew where to find me. I don't know how, but I was growing desperate. It was getting harder to hold them back when their numbers are constantly growing. The infection progression isn't always the same either. Some monsters seem to be able to hold out longer against the bodily disintegration than others.

Yesterday was the worst. I shudder. The eira's attack coincided with a rabid vent lord's. It was so much bigger than mine, coming from somewhere even more north than me, and it destroyed my domain. My golems couldn't get close. Even ones made of granite were blasted to pieces or even melted from the intense heat. So, I made more. I made so may. I tried to flood it with golems made from all different types of material. I screamed. I yelled. I cried as they were crushed to pieces along with anything else in its path.

The vent lord's roar rattles through me as the sun sinks lower. The memory is still fresh. I clench my teeth. A mirage of the monster appears before me, its glowing tentacles flailing about, flinging golems in every direction, crashing into mountains and sending them tumbling. It screams again, the sound shakes the air. I launch a massive swarm of projectiles at it. They lodge deep before melting out the holes. Its single remaining eye swivels to stare at me, completely enraged. They other was torn out by my own vent lord, in a struggle that left him slumped to the side just seconds before. He was the only thing holding the monster back, a loosing fight, since the monster dwarfed him.

The vent lord launches an a tentacle towards me. It comes rushing down like a meteor, inevitable, like death descending. I raise pillars of ice to slow its descent, changing its angle to barely miss me as it slams into the ice. It breaks through to the seafloor and delves deep into the earth. Sea water rushes into the air from the after shocks, spraying everything within the surrounding area. Almost instantly, it begins to freeze in the frigid air. The vent lord stiffens under the frost.

That moment, a rabid eira attacks me, latching onto my arm with a mouth full of razor teeth. My arm throbs. The mana within distorts, blackening as it travels back towards my core. I cut of my connection and sever the arm. The eira stumbles back and spits it out, then launches itself at me once more. I impale it with a projectile. The vent lord trembles. Chunks of ice break off it and fall to the ground with a crash. I see one of my own recently acquired eira about to be crushed by falling ice. I sweep it to the side, but fail to see a rabid eira sink its teeth into my eira's neck. I scream in anger and send a piece of ice through its skull.

I feel my connection with my eira waver as black spidery lines crawl from the bite. Within seconds, she begins frothing at the mouth. Tears of blood spill from her eyes, ears, and nose as she shrieks in pain. The bite mark bulges and squirms. Something wriggles towards her heart. Her head tilts back and lolls, swerving to look at me in despair. A hand reaches out towards me, a plea for help. I reach out toward her, trying to make my way through the maze of jutting ice as fast as I can. The vent lord shudders again. Sending out another wave of falling ice. Everywhere around me is chaos as my monsters battle against the invading infected, but I keep my eyes trained on her.

"Hold on!" I scream. I am almost to her.

Her hand slips and falls, completely separating from her body and lands with a squelch. She looks down at it in confusion, touching her bleeding stump. She lifts up her bloody hand, sniffs it, then licks it. I freeze, mere feet from her. She looks at me, a yellow glint in her eyes, and grins. I launch myself backwards the moment she rushes me, right as a massive tentacle slams down at the spot I once stood. She is buried underneath.

I grit my teeth and swallow the scream in my throat, launching projectiles at the vent lord. He's shaken off all the ice and is moving again. I dodge another tentacle as I feel more of my connections disappear. Some from death, some from the black, creeping, infectious distortions. It ripples disgustingly through my connection before it disappears. I shiver.

I scream and launch wave after wave of projectiles. At this point, my mana is becoming dangerously low as I lift and drop a slab of granite on the vent lord's head. It wobbles and sweeps a tentacle towards me. It breaks through the many ice walls I hurriedly fling up and slams into my side. The air rushes out of my lungs and I feel my ice creak ominously. I am flung in the side of one of the few mountains still standing, sinking in a good inch. I hang there for a second before my body falls to the ground. An eira pounces on me, but I slam it into the mountain face with a wall of ice.

I stand groggily, and stare at the vent lord. It wobbles as well. The disintegration is beginning to take effect. A tentacle slips and falls to the ground with a thud. I scream and launch projectiles at it as more and more pieces of it slough off. Frustration wells up within me as it slumps to the ground. It's only a hill of flesh now, but I had nothing to do with its death. I scream at the sky. Where am I to get revenge?

I go around stomping out all the remaining rampaging rabid eira, though most by now have become puddles as well. Then, I go about capturing the fleeing worms before they can do more damage. The one from the vent lord was massive, as big as my arm. It wriggled and writhed before I finally managed to freeze it solid. From the piles of bodies I manage to find one, but not the other I am looking for.

With a heavy heart, I climb to the top of the only remaining mountain. It stands only half as tall as it used to. I deactivate every single one of my auras. The world grows calm as my influence retracts and settles down into this dimension. The cold slowly creeps in. I sit for a full three hours doing nothing, only watching the sun rise and set.

It's dark now.

A single day. It's too short. The sun rises and dies in only three hours. It's too close to resembling a fleeting life. I clench my hand again. Can I even hold anything in them? Can I protect anything? Or does everything I touch really die?

Blue notifications hover in the edge of my vision, but I wave them off. Instead, I look out over my domain. What am I left with? A single mountain surrounded by a wasteland of ruins, bodies, and too much ice. Harbor and my desert are long gone. My vent lord died in his last exchange with the monster. I didn't even get around to naming him yet. I raise my hand and part the ice under him.

"You were so brave. That'll be your name. So long, Brave. Safe journey to the River of Souls." He slips into the sea. I similarly bury the bodies all around me, shuddering whenever I came across one of my original sliver fish. My hand at my side clenches even harder when I come to Oroesi. I didn't even see how he died.

"Oroesi." My voice chokes up. "Oroesi. You--" I lift my head and scream at the sky before falling in heaving sobs. An hour later, I had nothing left in me. The tears had run dry and shudders only crossed my body every once in a while.

"It's cold," I say. A little head nudges me. I jerk. "Niko?" I whirl around. It isn't Niko, though. A little snowdrop dragon stares me in the face. She makes a little creening sound.

"Haha." I give a weak laugh. "You're not Niko. Have you seen Timp? I can't find Timp. You're still alive, so..." I shudder. "No. Timp. She's dead. I can't feel her anymore. You're the only one left. You're so little I didn't notice you until now. It's only you and Niko left. Only you, me, and Niko where ever he is. I hope he's safe. Come over here. It's too cold for you." I guide the snowdrop dragon into my arms, and wake up the cooling lava running through my veins. Slowly, both me and the dragon begin to warm up.

"What should I do, little dragon?" I say. The dragon cooes. "So, you don't know either. I've really been bumbling about, huh. I don't suppose I can do that any longer. It's funny 'cause I keep telling myself. When will I ever learn?" We watched as a star streaked across the sky. In the east, the sky brightened as the moon began to rise. My gaze shifts again to Oroesi. A lump forms in my throat.

"Why are you there when I need you?" I ask. "You're my comfort budy, right? I suppose I must put on a brave face now, though, since you're gone. Let me give you a proper send off, at least. Goodbye, Oroesi--" My words choke in my throat once more. "Find happiness." I split the ice and let him sink into the sea. I let out a breath of air. The bodies are all gone now, laid to rest in the ocean.

My thoughts turn back to the worms. They're frightening. They corrupt not just the body, but the soul as well, turns it dark and murky. That soul doesn't go back to the River of Souls, either, but then, it doesn't seem to be ripped to shreds and swallowed by something either like I've seen before. In the end, those murky souls just float away somewhere to wander. It's horrify to watch that darkness creep upon the soul.

My only comfort is that my monsters, the ones that were killed before they could be infected, all drifted up to the River of Souls. The souls of the infected monsters I killed as well. Only those who died from the infection wandered to far off places. They seemed lost. I had a feeling that vengeful and dark feelings would well up if they died somewhere besides my domain. The small dragon shook me out of my dark thoughts. Hunger drifted through our connection.

"You're hungry? After all this? Haha, that's right. Life does go on like that. How long has it been since I've been hungry? Since before coming to this world, right?"

I concentrate and form a seed out of ice. I plant it and concentrate my aura on it. It grows into a flowering rose sagebrush. The flowers swiftly drop off and fruit grows in its place. The dragon dashes for the fruit, burying her face deep within its red, sticky flesh.

"You like that, huh. You're face is completely red now." I smile a little while watching her. "I suppose you need a name. How 'bout Rosehip? Since you like them so much." A blue screen flashes into view, but I ignore it. I'm not in the mood to figure out what it says.

Down below, a shrill screech sounds. I look over the edge. An eira with crazed eyes rams into the mountain and growls at us. I slam a slab of ice on top of it and send its corpse into the ocean.

"This is going to be a normal thing now, huh. I guess I'll have to get used to it." I sigh. Standing up, I slowly stretch myself out. "Well, I can't baby myself any longer. Rosehip, shall we get to it? I think I've figured it out."

I grab ahold of the mountain with |elemental manipulation|, flooding it with my influence and mana. Slowly, it becomes malleable in my hands. The obsidian begins to flow as if molten. A blue screen pops up. I push it aside and continue molding the mountain. Slowly, a shape begins to surface. Arms, long and muscled, hanging to the ground. Legs, short and stout, thick like tree trunks compared to the arms. A dense torso, hunched but intimidating. Wide shoulders, and a thick ropey back. A round face set on a short neck. Big, haunting, baleful eyes stared out from under jutting eyebrows.

I sigh and take a break, several hours having passed. Rosehip has long since fallen asleep. I make myself a hood and place her inside so that she'll always be with me. An hour later, I have enough mana and mental capacity to begin again. I take a deep breath. The empty landscape catches my eye.

"It's okay. This isn't like how it used to be. I'm not alone. Let's do this." I form a fierce mouth filled with jagged teeth under a stunted nose and a long, flexible tail extending from the back. It curls several times around the waist. I graft on thick claws of granite to hang at the end of its arms, and line a thick layer of alternating plates of granite on its arms, chest, and back to form armor. I pull spikes of granite to pull out of its back, and a covering over its head to form a helmet.

After another break, a large elongated shield comes next, made completely of granite, along with also a massive broadsword almost as tall as the statue is. I line the edges of the broadsword and shield with hardened obsidian and embed a skeleton of granite. I breathe in and focus my mind for this next part. Slow, and steady, I draw curling runes along the statue's skin. These runes were for {rune of currant}, and they swirled and curled in on themselves like rolling banks of fog. They crept up the arms from the claws, rolling over the shoulders and meeting in a swirling mass just under the shoulder blades. I drew them up and over the collar-bone and down to the pit of the stomach where they spread down the legs and around to the back.

Searching the sea bed, I find what I'm looking for, chalk from underwater chalk beds. I have to wait a couple of hours for it to dry, though, as it rests by a pool of lava I draw up from below. While it does, I harden the statue and imbue it with |aura of protection|, |aura of the lost|, and |aura of souls|. A faint presence wells up within the statue. The chest seems to rise and fall like a giant within a deep slumber, alive, but somehow still immovable.

I draw the swirling carvings of {rune of currant} over the head and face, but I also overlay them with {rune of wolfberry}, for the senses. Sharp jagged lines form this rune. In a way, they are harder to draw than the rarer, curling form of {rune of currant}. They feel alive in the way that lightning was wild. They form a mass form right at the edge of the brow, arching down sharply and pooling especially within the eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. They shoot down further from there, traveling in straight lines down the arms and legs to the extremities. I imbue them with mana, and they slowly brighten to a dull green, pulsing slightly.

I dust the other carvings with dry chalk and also flood them with mana. They gradually light up with a green glow like a river traveling down a dry riverbed. The swirling carvings somehow made the whole statue look more indistinct, rippling with an unseen energy. A blue screen pops up once more in the corner of my vision.

"Good," I say, dismissing the blue screen. "Sorry, I couldn't carve you better. But, in a way. It makes you look stronger, rougher, more primordial, or something. Haha. You'll be Dial from now on. Well, how do you feel about this new world, Sentinel?"

The whole statue creaks and groans as it stands to its full height. I have to be careful not to fall off its head as it stretches for the first time. It gives an experimental swing of its sword, unfurling its tail from around its waist to give it balance, then opens its mouth and gives an earthshaking roar that echoes for miles.

"So," I grin. "We think alike."

A hot, molten feeling for a while now has been rising up within me. It condenses into a tight ball, roiling and seething, before cooling rapidly. It sits in the center of my chest, radiating an intense cold. I am chilled to the bone with anger. A cold, quite, dense, anger.

And, like the statue, I too give a roar.

Status Menu
Name: Haven [Locked]--Dial* Race: Legendary Dungeon Level: 31* Attribute: Green
Health: 342/452 (8/min)* Mana: 367/936 (10/min)* State: Normal
Biomes: 3 Floors: ?%Ξ] Named Monsters: 3
Monsters: 0 Animals: 229 Plants: 500+
[Ξ]
Path Points: 155
Paths: {Beginner VI (0/30)} {Ingenuity IV (20/100)}* {Valiant II (43/220)}* {Defender VI (0/100)}* {Architect II (95/100)}* {Strategist III (30/95)}* {Survivor II (30/50)}* {Destroyer I (55/100)* {Failure III (14/30)}*
Skills:  [Ambient Aura IX]* [Gardener VI]* [Karma IV]* [Natural Projectile VII]* [Core Teleportation] [Epithet] [Elemental Manipulation X] [Biome Creation] [Fluid Floors] [Golem Creation] [Loyalty] [Tranquility] [Warding V]* [Forewarn III]* [Mana Absorption] [Standstill III]* [Cooking II][Purity]*
Achievements: |Ingenuity!| |Powerful!| |Dauntless!| |Against the Odds!| |Crack Shot!| |Breeder!| |Safe Guard!| |Creator of Wonders!| |Leader!| |Besieged!|* |Bloody!|* |Fall of a Domain!|*
Causes:  Against the World»| -- 5
[Ξ]
Auras: |Aura of Light| |Aura of Warmth| |Aura of Fury| |Aura of Souls| |Aura of Protection| |Aura of the Lost| |Calming Aura| |Aura of the Seed| |Aura of #*(&@|*
Fire: Main, Magma,  Water: Main, Ice, Acid, Earth: Main, PlantsMineralsMetal, Wax, Chalk,Jade,Diamond, Air: Main, Toxic Gas

 

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A note from koallary

Cool guys! 1,000 follower! That's a first in my whole life honestly. What should I do to celebrate?

 

Sorry, it took me longer than I thought to get this out. School has been pretty hectic. I had a pretty intense midterm last week. Bleh. Hope you guys are doing well. ^^


About the author

koallary

Bio: I'd rather live in Katsgat.

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