Helt Requiem

A Fish Out of Water (Finished)

My earliest memories are hazy. There was water and wetness but it wasn't until I met Asche that my things become clearer for me. She found me, on a beach, near death. Like a little pet, she took me home and kept me. Like sisters, we grew up together. 

It took years for me to finally learn that I was not Sivryan like Asche and our parents. She is part cat and I thought I was just part fish but that innocent thought was changed by careful instruction and tutelage. I am Altarin. Not just part fish but an entirely different species from Sivryan. It made sense. Sivryans have only one or two traits of the animals that are part of them. I had no such limitations. I essentially am a fish in human form. Fins, scales when wet…everything.

I wasn't sad when I learned I was Altarin. I was actually proud of my uniqueness, but I still didn't know who my parents were and to what sea I belonged. I figured that I would be able to find that knowledge out in time. Now, I would need to complete Death's request in order to find out.

My death was not anything spectacular. It was a failure, actually. In our youth, Asche and I had befriended Asura and Kai. Like me, Asche took them home with us and we became a family. A family that I would protect with my life. 

The Day started like any other, bright and cheerful. Asche, Coran and I left the house on an errand or two. Asura stayed home with one of her many little projects. We weren't gone very long and when we returned, something wasn't right. Asura was missing. Kai took off immediately, tracking a strange trail. Asche and I followed, flanking him to better search the area. Through the forest and over hills we searched. Topping a second rise, we looked into the valley below. What we saw made my blood run cold. Asura, bound by chains to a black obelisk, struggled to get free. A man in black robes postured before her, speaking in a tainted language. We reacted with all our speed but it wasn't fast enough. We had barely begun to move when a knife-blade flashed in the waning light, slicing through Asura's throat. Kai lost all control. He attacked the man who only smiled as he repelled it. I tried to run around him to make it to Asura. Surely there was something I could do for her. She couldn't die. Not here. It wouldn't be fair.

Kai engaged the man again but it was in vain. The fiend blasted a hole right through Kai's chest with magic and casually reached out to me as I came abreast of him. I don't know what he did but I did make it one more step. I was sucked into darkness.

…Darkness…swirling…lost…alone…

Where am I? I can't see anything. I can't feel anything. I can't speak. What?

Panic pulses through my heart, making it race. It creeps its way through my mind but I squelch it. I focus on calming the irrational fear like I had been taught. It would dull my senses if left unchecked.

Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. Now, open my eyes.

The darkness around me began to fade. I found myself standing, a stone hall coming into focus around me. Before me, a man. Eyes of piercing blue gazed down at me and then moved left as as if he scanned something. I looked where he did.

I gasped in surprise. I was not alone. Asche stood beside me with Asura and Kai. Others stood behind them. We were not a large group but it was a relief not to be alone.

"I am Death."

My gaze shifted back to the man. He was intimidating and I could easily believe he was who he said he was.

He continued to speak, something about all being equal and naked, which I realized I now was. The nakedness didn't bother me much. I had fins to cover those parts that most races' senses of modesty dictated should be covered in public. All I needed now was some water and I would be quite at home.

Death's sudden question demanded my attention. He wanted to know if we would agree to his offer, retrieve an item for him in exchange for a second chance at life. Of course! Who wouldn't want that chance? A little adventure wouldn't hurt either. Besides, if Asche was going to go, so would I. Who knows what sort of trouble she'd get herself into if I wasn't there to help get her out?

Agreement was apparently unanimous as we were all suddenly whisked away into the darkness. My sense of feeling returned first followed closely by sight and sound. We had been dropped into the shallows by a beach. Water! Warm and refreshing, I dropped to my knees and let a wave crash over my head. Asche! I jumped up and searched for her. There, not far from me. She stood taut and practically hissing as the water swirled around her hips. She was drenched. I took pity on her and waded over. Before she even knew what was happening, I grabbed her and tossed her onto the dry sand of the beach and went back to swimming. I assumed she landed on her feet. She usually does.

The others trickled out of the water one by one, intent on exploring where we were. I decided to stick to the water to see what I could find around the shore. My carefree mood soon fizzled into a sober alertness. There were no fish. No other signs of life in the water which is impossible. It's the source of ALL life. How could there be NO life? I swam a little farther but slowed to almost a stop. There was something, a subtle sense that was warning me. Danger. But from where? I couldn't see anything in any direction around me. I shook my head and back paddled. Not worth finding out. I flipped around and sped back to shore. These waters were unfriendly. I'd feel better taking my chances on shore with the rest.

Stepping out of the water, Asche accosted me. She was distraught. The giant in our group was tearing off tree branches to try to make himself some clothes. I comforted her Sivryan sense of life preservation as best I could as I highly doubted I could stop him from continuing if he wanted. He'd most likely swat me out of the way like a fly. Luckily Kai came back just then with a distraction, news that there was a ladder and a cave. We all followed him and climbed up. There were very few items in the cave entrance. I didn't have any particular use for an old tent but the big guy suggested we could make clothes out of it. I shrugged off the suggestion, leaving it and my portion of the material for someone else who would feel more comfortable covered. I was fine. Kai was anxious to explore farther so I trailed after him. The others did too.

A brief, dark hallway lead to a closed door. Curiously, we opened it and peered in. Nothing. Pitch black. Even my natural low-light vision couldn't see anything. Thank Jolene Kai could and did produce a ball of light. We would have walked right off a ledge without it. Literally. There was a gaping hole in the middle of the room. The only way around were small ledges to the right and left of the door. Kai chose to go left first. I'm glad it wasn't me because he found a decomposing body. Poor guy. Kai, not the body. I don't know if he'd ever seen a dead body before he and Asura came to live with us but I had learned over the last five years that he was a very sheltered young man and a part of me wanted to protect that cute little innocence of his. He may have seen more bodies then I had thought because this one didn't faze him. Not one bit. He probably didn't even bat an eye. He just came back to us and then headed right. The kid baffles me at times.

The goblin girl dashed into the room next, probably in a hurry to find loot. I hear goblins like that sort of thing. I guess I'd find out first hand if it was true. She apparently decided that Kai was in her way because she went left. I could barely see her since Kai's light was to the right but it looked like she triggered something in the floor that sent spikes shooting out of the wall. The spikes retracted after a moment. Must have been how our friend on the floor had died. I didn't see what the goblin did next to make it to the other side because I was up next. Being spiked didn't appeal to me so I followed Kai to the right.

There was a barrel in the corner of the ledge before the ledge turned left, leading us to the door on the other side. I wanted to open it but when I reached for it, there was a hiss and a shudder above me. I hesitated. I hesitated a long time. Asche came up behind me and wanted to help me move the barrel out from under whatever the darkness above concealed. I hesitated long enough that the human man came upon us. He didn't wait for us as he opened the barrel and removed it's items. I was a little miffed but I couldn't fault him. I was the one who…hesitated. I shrugged and moved down the ledge to the left and onto the other side. I didn't get the chance to look at the intricate door puzzle because Kai and a few of the others were already trying to figure it out. I ended up dozing a little as I sat off to the side, out of the way. I hoped things would get a little more interesting on the other side of that door.

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Prologue Session Review
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After 5 years together in a Sivryan Cat community in Sivrya, Asche the Sivryan Cat, Pyry the adopted Altarin, and Kaicoran and Asuratea the fey-children, stumbled across a dark magician building an obelisk in the feywood.  The magician captured and killed Asura, and the others were killed in the attempted rescue.

Mithia the Alaryan Priestess and Kane the Arcadian Monk met amidst the news of tragic murders in the Temple of Light in Illidia.  A man in dark robes unleashed demons on the city that were quickly dispatched by the army, but not before twelve others had died, including Mithia, Kane, and their friends.

Ohmer the half-giant, and Cretincreight Sniffersnaff von Winkle the goblin, were studying together in the great stone library of Sanctuary, the same where Ohmer first caught her trying to light fire to the library, when tremors from a nearby mountain fissure caused a collapse of the building. Despite Ohmer's best efforts, they were crushed under the weight of the second floor.

 

 

Death met them all in the dark stone of Nighthall.  He said, "In death all are equal. No money, standing, or property. No title, dignity, skill.  Empty, naked, and penniless you go to the void.  But in deprived absence purpose is complete, life is meaningful, and rest obtained.  And sometimes, new life grows where once was barren."

Death then offered them a choice.  Accept their fate and move on to the unknown beyond, or take the test of the Requiem, retrieve what was his, do good on the way, and if they were successful, then they would have a second chance to right the wrongs they left behind.  A second chance at life.  

Each of them took the contract.  Still devoid of possessions of any kind, they are now faced with a beach, a cave,

and their first trial.

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The Beginning
The story of Ohm, the Half-Giant

I am not…good…with speaking. Not…eloquent.

I like to read. And to write. But…not fast.

I will try to tell my story well. Thank you for…listening.

My friend is called Snaff.

No…not a good place to start. Hmm…

As you can see, I am…small. For a half-giant. Other half-giants did not want me in…the quarry.

But I liked the library. The men there were kind. They gave me books to read. I loved the letters. The shapes. One day I tried to make them myself. The scholars…liked…what I did. They asked me to be a scribe. I made the…very big books. I made designs. Colors. Gold…leaf even. It took time but…it made me happy.

I started when I was only a child. Sixteen years old. I think it was. That was thirty-five years ago. But I am still…young. For…a half-giant.

In the library I learned. Of the mind—the psi. Of…magic. Magic…takes its time. It must be pondered. To open the mind to that magic…is to see what is and is not. It goes…deeper. Deeper than the rocks. The trees. The rivers and oceans. It is…everywhere. In…everything. In the corpus and in the astra. It is beyond…physical things.

I spent…a long time. Learning. Other half-giants did not visit the library. It was…lonely.

One day I met my friend. Snaff. But…she was not my friend then. She tried…to burn some of my books. Goblins…like to burn things…

…I am sorry. That was…unkind to say. They are an ancient race. Many are good. Snaff is good. Young people…of any race…do silly things.

I caught her. By the ears. She did not want me to…turn her in. We made a deal. She would help me. With the books. Keeping them organized. I have…trouble. With the lower shelves.

I like Snaff. She says…I am slow. But we are friends.

We were in the library when…it fell. The ground shook. People. Screaming. All my books. Falling. The walls falling…

…I am sorry. It…makes me so…sad…

The building started to collapse. I could not find Snaff. I was…frightened. Then. A loud crack. Darkness. Pain. It took…time. To die.

Then, no more pain. Quiet. Nothing. But…I was still…myself. I awoke. A black place. Cold. There were…others there. Like shadows. And a man. He had…blue eyes. He was…strange. 

He needed something. If we helped, we could…live again. I said yes. I want to rebuild. The others said yes as well.

And then, we were in water. I was me. The water was…cold. But to feel. I was…glad.

And Snaff was there, too. Not hurt. Anymore. That…also made me glad.

It was a pretty place. But I didn't have clothes. I…did not want to offend anyone. But one of the others was sad when I broke the tree. She was very pretty. I…did not want to make her sad. I did not break any more trees. But I did want clothes. Not just branches.

One of the others…found a cave. He is like her. A Fey, I believe. But I have only seen them in books. There is an Alaryan, too. And an Altarin. And a big man. And something else. Not…a shifter. I think. But she has ears. Like…a cat. I wanted to touch them, but…that would not be polite.

Their auras are bright. Colors…swirl in and out. As if…all of what they are has not been…made. 

All of us went into the cave. We did not know what to expect. But at least it was dark. I…still wanted clothes. The others…did not seem so…bothered.

Eventually, we found a room. It was not a nice place. But no one was hurt. Still…in that room I realized that our task…would be dangerous. And long. It made me uneasy. But…that might have been because…I still had no clothes.

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I Dream in Shadows
Kaicoran Dawn

I dream in shadows. Shades of grey and black carry my spirit to realms where light and dark are blurred and intertwined.

I am a shadow among shadows.

 

Free at last. This is your home.

 

Yet this is not home. How can shadow have meaning without a light to cast it? I search for my light but there is only a swirling mist and the dark.

 

She is not here little shade… Why do you seek her?

 

My dark spirit flies through the endless void yet finds no variation in the dimness. I do not fear the dark. I am the dark. But I fear for her; and she fears much. What meaning does my shadow have if she does not illuminate its form?

I fly faster only to find the dark thicken and swallow up the variations of grey churning in the mist. I can no longer distinguish my shadow from the void; the definition of my spirit also swallowed up in the vast sameness of the swirling expanse.

I am the void.

 

Now it is complete.

 

Suddenly I see the earth laid out before me. Lands and oceans bathed in light covered with peoples of all kinds. I see our old home and I swallow it in the void. Our new home with Asche and Pyry I devour. All is consumed in the dark and I hunger for more. Mountains and valleys are absorbed into the endless mist, then continents and oceans. All creatures and living things enter the darkness to be one with the void and join in the sameness it brings.

All things are equal in the dark.

I swallow the world and am left yet again with an infinite span of swirling blackness; yet I hunger still…

 

My eyes open and I wake to the sound of Sister’s soft footfalls in the grass outside. She was dancing to a song the wind played through its long slender blades while she hummed along with it a soft melody. I knew the dance. She would often call for me to dance along with her but my feet would fall out of rhythm and disturb the wind; I prefer to watch instead.

The dreams are more frequent now. I do not know what to make of them, but Sister comforts me and chases away the void that clings to my spirit when I wake.

 

Stepping outside I see her turn mid-dance and smile. The void flees and I am whole once more.

It is a new day. She is the light, and I am her Shadow.

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