The Deep Dark has fallen.
The wood creaked as the string tensed, the arrow was pulled as far as it could go. My hands slowly stopped shaking as I took a deep breath and zoomed into my prey.
The war ended.
I let go of the arrow, the tensile strength from the string silently snapped; all the built-up tension sent it flying in an instant burst of energy. It zipped past the trees and foliage, the wind caused it to wobble midair as it hit the animal’s fur with a dull sound. A yelp of pain came from the small critter falling to its side shortly thereafter.
The elves emerged victorious; the dark elves of the Deep Dark are no more.
I shook my head and perched the bow behind my back. My fingers had stopped aching from the bowstring after the callus built up from hunting and food scavenging. I placed my hand on the white tree bark, its surface staining the palm of my hand with its pale dust. I ignored it and dropped down from the tree branch I was sitting on.
The white grass and damp dirt cushioned my fall as I landed on my legs, the shock traveled through my bones with a dull pain that quickly subsided. I dusted my hands off, trying to get rid of the white dust, a constant reminder of the things that happened. A sigh left me as I walked through the tall grass, eventually reaching the prey I had just hunted. I reached my hand and grabbed it by its tails.
A small critter. I never knew what they were called but their beady eyes, sharp ears, and quick reflexes always made them a pain to catch. The most defining features were two bushy tails and its orange fur that was currently pale like snow. As I took in a breath, a cough caught in my throat from the ashen dust.
The once dark and rich forest had been painted white, the remains of the Deep Dark forever staining the surroundings of what was once my home. Perhaps it was time to… leave this place? I asked myself before turning around and heading back to my makeshift hideout. In spite of the constant white and lack of greenery, the sun shone just as brilliantly as it did that day.
I tracked my steps back with a slight buzz in my ears. It felt as if it was yesterday when the war horns went off and the forest was set ablaze. It lasted for a while, but thankfully just yesterday the ash had finally stopped raining. Things were… looking up. Life was about silver-linings, as they said.
As I passed by the thick plants that were covered in ash, I couldn’t help but take a look around. Parts of the forest were still thick and full of life, though a large chunk of it was stained white. What remained of the wildlife were the small animals I killed with my bow for food, though…
I looked at my meal for today as it lifelessly dangled from my hand.
They weren’t native to the Deep Dark. Most of the local wildlife was in the form of plants that no longer existed — erased by the fires. The little animal species that once inhabited here migrated as soon as the fires of war occurred, probably scared of what had happened. Perhaps war cries had an effect too. It was a very loud day, though I didn’t know exactly what caused it.
After a few minutes of pondering over trivial things, I finally arrived at my destination; in an ashen field of dirt and white, a tree stump stood charred but sturdy. It was tall in comparison to the other trees that had been burnt, its carved out windows hadn’t lost shape and its door was still serviceable, even if it was slightly burnt.
I tried to get as much ash off from me as I could before entering my home. Cleaning the inside was quite troublesome, but having a clean bed and facilities was worth it, anything to distract my mind from the burden. The insides were neat, clean table and kitchen, relatively clean floor and somewhat clean wardrobe. I placed my bow and its quiver next to the door and the animal I had caught on the kitchen table for preparation.
I yanked the arrow out and grabbed a nearby knife, carefully running its edge through its fur, just like my parents had taught me. Just like my mother had carefully told me to… I bit my lip as I sliced the animal’s skin off, the leftover ash and blood staining my hands. The sight of the two materials pulled my heart-strings.
Slowly detach and divide. Just like they… I sniffled as tears built up in my eyes, unable to keep cutting the animal.
“Mother, father… I miss you…” I croaked, as I looked through one of the windows. The once boisterous village was nothing but an ashen land. “They killed everyone…” The village chief, the drunk uncles… It was all gone.
Us, Dark elves were supposedly going against the will of nature; with our rather “aggressive” instinctual nature and the fact that we tended to favor and breed exotic plants. That was their excuse, though. If I was asked who was the one going against the greater will, it was definitely the elves. All of them.
I stared at the table for what felt like an eternity reminiscing of what was once my home. There was only one feeling that I had leftover from the entire thing. Bitterness. I wanted revenge and yet… I was just a single Dark elf. Possibly the last one alive. All I had was a single bow I could salvage from the fire and some arrows. I wasn’t a warrior, I never fought anything I… In the end I couldn’t even help in the war.
I looked at my hands that were riddled with calluses and slight cuts. I had to learn how to survive. The first days alone were a struggle, and yet. I wanted revenge? Against a whole race? It was impossible. I closed my eyes and gritted my teeth, all I had to do was stay alive. Stay alive for the sake of my parents, for the sake of my race. I took a deep breath and opened my eyes wide in an attempt to stop the tears from flowing.
My thoughts were interrupted by a voice, its source unknown, and along with it came light. A white light; illuminating my entire home simply through the window. It was blinding and all-powerful.
I blinked, expecting to see an ashen landscape devoid of life, but all I could see was the light. What? I took a few more blinks before realizing that it was completely futile, and shortly after I went outside to see what was the cause of the phenomenon. The door opened with a creak, and in the distant horizon there it was.
A bright pillar of light, tall enough to reach the sky and beyond it. The clouds split from its might and the forest trembled subtly, the birds flew high and the animals shrieked. I felt as if I was watching the whole world be in pain or protest against it. Had the elves enraged the World Tree? I felt slight hope amidst the nonsense. They had used fire against nature, breaking one of the golden rules. If it was the anger of the World Tree, the anger of nature itself, perhaps…
The pillar of light began to expand as it swallowed trees and animals, the earth rumbled with much more strength than before. And that’s when it clicked for me. It was coming closer. My heart skipped a beat as I went inside, grabbed my bow and quiver, knife and tool belt before breaking into a sprint. The sounds grew louder by the second, and for the second time in my life I wished I had been born a warrior, for I knew the light would reach me sooner than later.
A village maiden, that’s who I was— My leather boot slipped on the ashen ground, I landed on my butt, and the light reached me. My whole vision became nothing but a white expanse as I flinched expecting danger, but no pain came. Instead a voice resounded everywhere and nowhere at the same time, it was uncaring and unfeeling, no difference in its cadence. It simply informed.
[Your world: Foresia has reached Equilibrium at the same time as four other worlds. Requirements for a ‘Great Equilibrium’ event have been met. May the strongest world conquer the new lands or may all of them reach an Equilibrium.]
[Remember, this is a golden opportunity. A Great Equilibrium is an opportunity to ascend your world.]
My mind paused as I tried to make sense of what the voice had just said, but it was interrupted once again.
[Class F World: Earth has been chosen as the base world]
[Class E World: Foresia has been grafted to Earth]
[Class F World: Loa has been grafted…
[Class E World: Ragna…
The voice listed four worlds. Was this— The voice of the World Tree? Above the World Tree, something… higher. God? I had no idea, once again; the voice resumed.
[Foresia: Total Races 31…
It began to list the races of the planet as well as the different types of elves, though it seemed to skip some plants that I was aware of and certain insects. I waited with bated breath and when it came to my race I felt confused.
Deep Dark Elves total: 0
I protested upon hearing the voice. I was alive. But my words went nowhere, and my movements didn’t do anything. The voice continued listing races for a few seconds before it stopped once again.
[A new Class D world is being created: Estimated time: 7D]
When the voice finished, I felt my legs touch the ground, its damp softness familiar to me. I had to open my eyes once again only to be greeted by a great expanse of green forest. But before I could make sense of anything that was happening the voice resounded, this time in my head accompanied by the dialogue in written form.
[You’re classified as an Invader representing the world of Foresia. As an invader of a new land you must claim territory and turn it into part of your world. Cooperation between those of the same world is highly-advised.
While this new world forms and undergoes Voting Interference, a skirmish space mimicking the environment will be generated for the denizens of the worlds. Advantages acquired during this period are permanent.
May fate choose your planet as the victor or may Equilibrium be reached.]
A myriad of strange screeches from animals I had never heard before entered my ears. Within my vision that was still enveloped in white, at the very top in contrasting words I managed to read something.
[Incubation Period: 6 days 23 hours 59 minutes]
Time was counting down. I was an invader, in the words of God. My mind tried to make different conjectures but everything arrived at the same thing. I wasn’t a warrior, and I didn’t have the strength to do anything or even seek revenge. There was only one thing I had to do in this… The only thing I could do in this foreign place was…
But if things were different. I grit my teeth hearing the distant cries of beasts. Then…
I would make them pay the price for taking everything away from me. The white faded, I felt the damp grass beneath my feet as an expansive sea of trees filled my vision. Part of me didn’t want to believe what was happening, but for some strange reason I was compelled to believe in what the words of God were saying. I gripped my bow and quiver. For now it was time to survive.