Beyond Dominia: The Role Playing Mill: Soulbind
By Elrohir (Elrohir) on Sunday, June 17, 2001 - 07:59 pm:
May 13, 795 - TR ***
Muttering arcane words she could barely recall, Aerlin felt the heat increase within her before carefully discharging it into the stone walls of the cave. The air gradually accepted this radiant energy and also grew warm. While her comfort increased, she grew quite exhausted from these exertions, unaccustumed to the use of magic. Aerlin nodded drowsily off.
Sage watched her through vacant eyes. They were not so vacant as she had supposed, nor was he rendered mindless due to the storms ravaging Phaema. Cognizance had never left him. He was testing her. The world needed people strong of faith and power for the terrible burden it was to face ahead. The snow was a test. His mindlessness was a test. No formal training could move fast enough to teach her what she needed to know. Only necessity would breed in her the trust of her powers she required, and the skill to use it effectively.
He was also afraid. What had they unleashed with Shadow? He had Fatestop now, and Sage Advisor did not know to what extent such power could be used. After all, Solice, Kiara, and Cylthyn were dead, and Ley...Sage did not know what had happened to Arcanus Goss, the Ley Druid. He perhaps was the last hope of the world and he did not know if he had the strength.
They could not hide here forever. Though he might be the last hope, he had others he could rely on. If Arasus could be found, he might know a way to stop Shadow. The five bastions were also available, though he had no idea if Shadow's defeat could be enacted through their use or participation. Burdened as he was, Sage Advisor felt fate's grip as others had experienced before him. Would he live, or die?
Aerlin awoke with a start, the setting sun blazing into the cave entrance, where muddy puddles remained of the mounds of snow. Booted footprints led outside, and Sage Advisor was gone. She stretched, and took the path to see where it might end.
Their cave was nestled high up in the Dragonbacks, though she didn't know, couldn't know, where exactly they were. Growing up as she had in the City of Solitude, in sight of jagged, craggy mountains, these would, for lack of better terminology, be considered peaceful and somehow less majestic, but no less imposing. The land dropped away as a cliff not thirty feet from the cave's entrance, and there she saw Sage Advisor leaning over his staff, gazing away into the distance.
He appeared odd, different than she could recall. His skin had a waxen look to it, gray in color. Aerlin had the distinct impression that stone was softer, yet his skin yielded slighty to her touch.
"Sage...?" she asked. Wind silently whipped his hair, but she got no other reply. Frustrated tears came unbidden to her eyes. What did he want with her? Gazing at the object of his focus, she stared into the blood-red sun, what half of it remained visible over the horizon. The sun, the setting sun...
What are you trying to tell me? she screamed inwardly. "Damn it, Sage."
He turned then, looking at her, through her, if she thought it possible. If anyone had gazed at her hidden thoughts before, Sage was doing it, and she felt naked before him.
"Stop it!" She sobbed. "Please, just leave me alone..." Her energy and willpower was sapped to its breaking point.
"I'm sorry, Aerlin, for what I must do," he replied. He gripped her arms and stared into her, through her, around her, within her. She screamed.
"My name is Joel. People have known me as Sage Advisor for so long that it has become my name now. But I was young once. Impressionable. Trainable. Malleable. I had time to be trained, and when I learned to walk the planes, my powers and knowledge grew by leaps and bounds.
"My dear Aerlin, we do not live in a time where the proper training can be administered. I had hoped to teach your brother, but circumstance has taken a prize pupil from me. Jaron is a great young man, and holds much potential. You do as well. I am sorry you did not know your real father. It might have made things easier. Most likely not.
"I am forced to seek aid wherever I can, Aerlin. Shadow is a threat I cannot oppose alone. You must aid me. I give you my true name in hopes that you will trust me. For what I am about to do something that cannot be undone, and I will do it with or without your blessing. I am a desperate man in a desperate situation. I regret that I have but one life to give for my folly, and it certainly won't be enough.
"You grew up in a time bubble in the City of Solitude. You have never known a man's touch before. Everyone's spirit changes with that experience, but I know yours has not. Because of this, I can transfer a great deal of my knowledge and skill with magic, to you, so that we shall have twice the power I alone possess.
"Forgive me what I must do."
Dark purple clouds danced in the heavens above their cave once Sage Advisor activated the spell. Both bodies went limp, carried up into the sky by the force of mana alone. Immediately, Sage Advisor sensed something wrong, horribly, terrifyingly wrong. His essence was being stripped from him, not duplicated and transferred as he had been expecting. The mana surged through him He could feel himself being lost, torn apart strand by agonizing strand.
Realization came like a sledgehammer, crushing his hopes like a fragile crystal figurine.