An ancient label given to those of great power by their kind.
Unrivaled beings who held life and death within the palm of their hands, supported by
iron wills capable of shaping the world itself.
As a phraene, she had only ever heard from the preserved ones of a different time.
Of a different world in which men and their kind coexisted, living side by side, feeding upon the ambrosia of the world together.
A paradise, that came to an abrupt end upon the emergence of those whom they would later call Destroyers.
Stories of men and women, fallen due to their greed and insatiable lust in the pursuit of power.
Beings, who consumed and destroyed everything in their paths, ultimately forcing the division of worlds.
And though it was now a different world and they could not be certain if the being that was waking is one as such, like a fallen star, it had descended upon their lands and taken a piece of their forest with it. Even now, its terrible power could still be felt emanating from its cocoon of light. Unfathomable and limitless, it was a power that even the old ones had never felt before.
“Elamara, I don’t feel good. We should go.”
Her sister whimpered from beside her, voice terrified and tearful.
“Wait.” She replied, watching as the cocoon shimmered and resonated with the powerful pressure now erupting from within.
“The Shii warned us. We’re going to be in trouble if he finds out.” Another terrified whisper, loud enough for her to hear but soft enough that she could almost tangibly feel the fear within.
“Can you be quiet, Ulamara? Something is definitely happening.” She replied, eyes locked onto the gorgeous light that continued to pulse from the cocoon.
For nine suns she had come to watch the object against the cautions of their Shii. And now, something was finally happening. She was not about to miss it.
“Ela, I’m scared!”
Turning to her sister, “If you’re scared then go. Even if they are a Destroyer, it’s not like they can see me.”
Seeing the look of worry on her twin sister’s face, “I’m fine. Look. I’m not scared.” Putting her hands to her waist, she puffed her chest out bravely. “See? Not even scared. And we’ve already warned everyone who came here, so no one’s going to get hurt.”
“I’m scared, Ela… and my chest… it- it’s starting again.”
“NNnn!!! You’re so annoying, Ula! Why did you even come?!” She exclaimed, seeing the sour look of creeping discomfort upon her sister’s expression.
Deathly curious but not willing to endanger her own sister, “Fine!” Taking Ulamara’s hand, she reached down and plucked a leaf from the small branch upon which they were standing.
Fanning it once in the air, the space before them distorted as a translucent breeze began circulating in its place.
Fanning it a second time, the breeze halted and a small portal slowly manifested before them as the leaf disintegrated into ashes.
“Let’s go then. You first.”
Stepping aside to allow her sister into the portal, she turned to take one last look at the cocoon.
It was shining even brighter than before.
“Uhg! Ela! My- my chest!”
The sensation of her sister’s hand suddenly collapsing to the ground forced her to quickly turned back around.
Her eyes widened upon spotting Ulamara writhing before her, hands clutched to her chest.
She cried out in panic, seeing the agony upon her sister’s face.
“E-Ela! It- It hurts!”
Ulamara cried back, barely able to voice her pain.
“H-hurry! Get in the- no…” Looking up from where her sister was laying, the portal she had created was also disappearing before them. “Help!!” She screamed out, hoping that those beyond would hear her.
“Someone help!!” And like a whisper, her voice held itself to the daunting silence of the forest as a tidal wave of mana crashed through them both.
Ulamara’s agonizing scream drowned out her thoughts and she instinctively turned her terrified eyes toward the origin of the overpowering surge.
Holding her sister in her arms, she could feel her own lips quivering in indescribable fear as she watched the cocoon crack, shattering into millions of beautiful pieces.
The warmth that had invaded the void of his subconscious flared like a turbulent storm around him. Hot but not burning, it continued to weave through his limbs and hair like a nostalgic flame, caressing his body carefully and protectively.
Opening his eyes, in contrast to the dark and empty void of the nightmare, the illusion of an empty world encased in pure white radiance settled upon him.
“Haaa…” Taking a deep and liberating breath, by his will, mana surged forth into all corners of his very being, strengthening his body.
“Master.” A disjointed yet familiar voice, it caused the white world around him to pulse and undulate as if filled with indefinable exhilaration and reverence.
Carefully stretching himself in the air so as not to miss the most minor of injuries that might have occurred during his slumber, he mindfully extended his legs downward and commanded his body to the ground.
“Vishan.” Speaking the spirit’s name, the world of light that had been surrounding him splintered into millions of particles and then converged into a fist sized orb of pure white before him. “Thank you.” He voiced as he took in their surroundings.
Far from the dark and rotting forests that he had descended upon that evening, a verdant garden had sprouted up around them.
Thick patches of grass that was as tall as his waist littered the clearing alongside colorful flowers that bloomed in all assortments of shapes and sizes. Even small saplings and bushes that had no place in such a garden existed within the chaos, giving the clearing a disorderly feel.
Looking down at himself, his clothes had disappeared alongside his rucksack and everything within it. All the money he had been carrying, his xeberite sword, his utensils, the meticulously drawn map that he had been using thus far, even the communication rings that he had created. The only objects that he could still feel around him, were the three shards of the Nyzacus mirrors that he had been carrying around.
“There Is No Greater Purpose.” The orb pulsed, its voice vibrating visibly through the air in colorful refractions.
Taking his eyes away from their surroundings and his mind from the fact that all his belongings had vanished along with his sword, “How long?” He questioned, reeling in his senses and memories as recollections of the pain that evening slowly returned, reminding him of the outburst of uncontrollable power that he had unleashed upon his vicinity at the time.
“Nine Days and ten nights.” A succinct answer from the spirit as if it had been expecting such an inquiry.
Blatantly ignoring the emergence of a small curious creature that had begun prowling cautiously around them both, his eyes quietly leveled upon the luxuriant clearing of lush vegetation once again. “Nine…” He echoed as a bout of anger slowly crept upon his mind and mana continued to revitalized his body.
The torrent of power that day as Hasen pulled the ethereal darkness of Lagus into the lavender plane of existence, compounded by Feziel’s subsequent unsealing and fortification of the city in order to withstand Hasen’s might. In unison with a darker and more sinister element that had been biding its time within his very memories, the mental ambush had shattered the thin veneer of control upon his unsuspecting mind.
He clenched his fists, recalling just how close he had come to being consumed by the ghosts of his past once again.
“Forgive Us, Master.”
Taken aback at the apology, “There is nothing to apologize for.” Kaidus replied, bringing up his fists. “It was my own weakness that forced us into this situation.”
Releasing the pointless anger, he closed his eyes and refocused his mind.
Like looking through a window, the incorporeal realm of Lagus manifested before his mind’s eyes.
Though an infinite plane of existence comparable to that of the stars in the sky, at a mere thought, the presence of his three wayward spirits immediately surged before him.
Taking a deep breath, their essences burst through the re-establish link that had been severed by the nightmare and coursed into his body, revitalizing it even more as his will continued forth upon them.
With a quick verification of their positions, without so much as another thought, he released the connection once again.
As if it had been waiting for a chance to strike, “GUaaarrRR! RaaAUR!” The sound of a condescending growl, followed by a sudden burst of familiar mana whipped forth at him from behind.
Without waiting for Vishan’s interference, he swiftly blocked the attack with a mana barrier and turned around to greet his aggressor. “You’ve been waiting quite patiently… what are you?” He questioned, flinging the thick vine that had been coming at him back at the creature.
“GAuu?!” The small feline snapped in surprise before quickly leaping a considerable distance away.
With its posture firmly on all four, it suddenly lifted its head and arched its back. “GRRRAAUURR!” And roared, sending a powerful shockwave outward.
The coat of fine emerald green fur upon it glistened mesmerizingly as the shock washed through its body and then began glowing.
The grounds whereupon it stood suddenly burst into life with thousands of roots.
Pushing the small creature upward like a sovereign by its subjects, the roots began merging around the feline, eventually extending outward into long gaping arms of intertwining roots and vines. Coiling together and strengthening itself, large gargantuan fists dragged themselves out of the ground and the mass slowly uprooted itself as makeshift legs emerged with thick trunk-like vines.
Before long, an enormous root golem stood towering before him with the small feline at its core.
“Insolent.” The light crackled irately at the beast and quickly moved in between them.
But, “Vishan.” At his word, the light spirit halted itself and immediately dissipated. Unfazed by the abomination before him, Kaidus stepped forth.
Though he had been uncertain before, he could now feel his own mana surging within the small beast. Looking at it, it was neither angry nor bloodthirsty, but anxious. “You wish to test me with my own strength?” He voiced and extended his right arm forward. “Come.”
The emerald green feline hollered from within and in contrast to its size, the golem instantly rushed forth. On all four like an animal with its gigantic arms clawing at the earth to propel itself forward, it shot at him like a moving boulder.
Moving his extended hand into a claw stance, he pointed all five fingers at the colossus. “Pierce.”
At his command, five rays of pure white lights tore into the golem, shattering and splitting apart the mass of moving roots as he twist his hand in midair.
“GRaaar!?!” As if crying out at the suddenly destruction of its extended self, the cat quickly abandoned its decaying husk and lurched into the air. Spinning forward like a vortex, thin vine-like tails emerged from its back and shot outward like razor whips.
Sucking in a deep breath, he immediately strengthened his arm with mana and changed his claw stance into a palm stance.
Easily evading the unrelenting ends of the cat’s tails as they spun down for his head, he instantly pressed his right foot forward and braced himself as his infused palm shot out at the beast before it could hit the ground.
Catching it by its side in the air, his thrust forcefully dug into the creature and sent it careening back against the foliage, leaving a small trail of uprooted and displaced plants in its wake.
“Now tell me… what did I do to incur this ire?” The words weaved themselves through the air as he calmly made his way toward the beast, bypassing a circle of dead vines that was already there by the time he woke up.
Beaten and while looking quite frightened, instead of submitting, “Grrr… GArrrr!” The small beast growled again and placed an unstable front paw forward as if to stand it’s ground.
A playful guardian flashed before his eyes, its menacing but proud posture all too similar to what he had just seen.
“I do not remember granting one such as yourself the privilege of my essence nor can I recall ever seeing you before, but… you do remind me of something… of someone else.”
“Grrrrr… Raaur!!” Another roar.
Though weaker than before, the shock rippled through the ground and ruptured the growth around the small beast, summoning another wave of roots and vines upward. This time instead of unifying into a golem, they rushed to the creature’s aid and began twisting protectively into a barrier of wooden spikes before it.
“You still wish to continue?” Slowing his steps to a halt, he stared at the recoiling beast.
It was undoubtedly as powerful as Zeeke, Zorin’s overseer, but there was something else about the creature before him. A presence of regality, a sense of comprehensive will and intuitiveness that easily overshadows the free spirited guardian.
A piece of the wooden barrier suddenly erupted, shooting forth its spike at him and barely missing his right cheek by a finger’s width.
“Hmm… Very well. Then I shall not stand on ceremony.”
Closing his eyes, he willed it, and power began rushing through every fiber of his being as the ground trembled beneath his feet.
Ulamara had always been extremely sensitive ever since she could remember. To their kind, mana was life itself, but to her sister, it was like poison. And the thicker the concentration, the stronger of an effect it had. Seeing her sister now and sensing it herself, she could no longer deny the being before them after witnessing its transformation.
With hair of silver glowing even more brilliantly than Anah’thela, the Phrae goddess of night herself and a gaze that could tear the world asunder, the entity before them could only be a Destroyer made flesh. From its body, power oozed forth like an untapped wellspring, rippling through the forest in waves of bright shadows and illuminating all it touched.
Even though they were already on the edge of the clearing, every breath that she could take suffocated her. Every strand of light she gleamed as they pass, blinded her. And every instinct within her body screamed at her, reaffirming that the stories from the preserved ones had not merely been tales, but warnings. Even now, without ever knowing or having felt it, the power that was completely overwhelming her could only be described as ancient… even primal.
Before her very eyes, was a being who commanded both life and death as easily as others breathed.
“I’m so sorry, Ula.” She sniffled, her words existing only in silence as she looked down upon her sister.
Face contorted in fear and pain, Ulamara had thankfully gone unconscious due to the excruciating burden upon her body even before the Destroyer took on his true form. And now she too, could feel the pain of her chest being ripped out. “I just wanted to prove to the others that I can be brave. I didn’t know this was going to happen.” She cried, feeling her strength being sucked out from her body.
In the distance, the Hirces of nature was now cowering before the Destroyer’s new appearance. As the Destroyer approached, the feline’s emerald green fur began radiating with a bright light and then without so much as a growl of resistance, the nature spirit’s presence completely vanished.
What did not stop however, was the crushing power that continued to exude from the Destroyer.
“Stop. Please.” She begged, witnessing the color upon her sister’s face draining as Ulamara’s essences continued to vanish.
“Please…” She pled as her own essences coiled and merged into the ever flowing will that continued to dominate all it touches.
“PLEASE! You’re killing my SISTER!!!” She screamed as the unbearable pain in her chest burst forth.