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Old December 31st, 2017 (12:53 AM).
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of the Gods



You have been Chosen.

Since the beginning of time, the gods have looked down upon the mortal world, and observed its inhabitants. They often marveled at the determination and resourcefulness of the beings they had created, the humans, elves, and dwarves.

At times, they even found mortals who showed a glimmer of their own likeness. This pleased the gods, and as they discussed these special mortals whose deeds reflected that of their creators, it was decided that there would be an appropriate reward. Each of the gods selected beings that embodied the traits that pleased them, and bestowed upon them a boon, enhancing their abilities and skills. Each of these individuals was marked with a respective crest, which signified them as a champion of their divine patron. These individuals, empowered by their new blessings, went on to shape the world around them, making great names for themselves in the mortal world.

However, it was not long before an ancient evil rivaling the gods themselves arose, and began to corrupt the Chosen. Assembling a dark army of twisted Chosen, the malicious creature known to mortals only as "The Chained One", began to destroy everything the gods had created.

The remaining untainted banded together, fighting back against the Chained One's corruption. Of them, eight sacrificed their very lives to form a great seal that would forever vanquish the unimaginably powerful foe, the collective sacrifice of all of the champions saved their world, and sent a resounding message to their patrons.

A pact was formed amongst the gods. Each would select only one champion every one hundred years, or none, if the previous champion yet lived. Such power would not be allowed to roam unchecked as it had before.

And now, one year after the turn of the new century, eight new mortals have been chosen.



What does this mean?

The legend of the Chosen has grown faint in the minds of the public as time goes on. While some may still recall the hazy tale of the eight heroes, many may not, or perhaps simply dismiss them as myth.

One year ago, a strange mark appeared somewhere on your body. Your life has changed since then—you have skills and abilities that no one else like you has. This may be somewhat of a blessing and a curse, depending on the circumstances.

You've grown more accustomed to your newfound or enhanced abilities over the past year, whether keeping to them to yourselves or confiding in others. However, you have far from mastered them, or fully understanding them. Perhaps you've heard the tales of the chosen. Perhaps you only have suspicions. Perhaps you only consider your powers random chance.

Regardless of your choices and mentalities, one night, you drift off to sleep to find yourself in a vivid dream. A dream that will remain burned in your memory for some time to come.


As the hazy fog that clouds your vision clears, you find yourself in a small village at the base of a mountain. As you search your surroundings, you find not a soul around. A swinging wooden sign in the distance reads "Rimwick" in faded script. A thick mist covers all other features in a grey gloom.

Suddenly, the world shifts and the everything swirls before your eyes. After everything comes back into focus, you're standing atop the peak of a mountain, frigid winding enveloping you. In front of you is a large stone monolith, its blackened form looming over you.

A deep, guttural laughter slowly rises from all around you, which chills you more than the wind ever could. You feel a sense of dread crawl down your spine as the monument begins to glow a dark purple hue, as the laughter rises into a cacophonous roar.

Your eyes then snap open, your body drenched in sweat, but what you've seen felt all too real.



Even the most determined souls among you would have a hard time shrugging off a dream like this. There's only one way to find out what's happening to you—travelling to the small town of Rimwick, where you hope there might be answers.




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Old January 23rd, 2018 (12:54 PM). Edited January 31st, 2018 by Songbird.
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    Korona

    Chipping, carving, whittling away at a hunk of wood in her hands, a little elf worked by candlelight in her small, temporary hut, scribbling her occasional tired mutterings on a notepad by her chair. “Grow more crystal... maybe four... need another model...” When she finished, she gently set it down on the table beside a small collection of previous attempts, all of them a pair of wings in some form. A few were like birds, down to individual feathers, and others carved to look made of metal.

    Korona tried going into town. Really. She got a drink at the bar, stocked up on her medicines, overheard some of the talk of the residents. That's why she was back out in the woods in the first place. She'd been making herself at home; grew a modest treehouse below the Misty Glade's canopy, and set traps throughout the forest hoping maybe she'd catch a sight of whatever “monster” they'd all been talking about. Be it a ghastly shade or predator in new territory, Korona hadn't met a forest creature she couldn't subdue, and the pair of mauled corpses she found gave her easy reasons to stay out of town looking for it. Still, being in the vicinity of Rimwick did wonders. No more needless prophetic dreams, no voices in her head lasting into the next day. Hardly got any work done in the weeks before she left home.

    “You're back,” she realized, finally noticing a change in the hut's sole window a few feet ahead of her as she reached for her next untouched carving block. On the mossy wooden sill sat a bird of prey, a large hawk preening its muted brown feathers. One of its amber eyes was engraved with a glowing insignia—a sign her control spell was still in place.

    The elf wondered what time it was, but with the cover of trees and no clocks in her little shack, the only answer she could get was the hawk's gestures at being asked whether or not it was still day. She wondered what the hawk saw, from the outside looking in. A bed on one side made of furs; a lit candle and plate atop a metal box next to it with dried meat; a table and chair (not to mention her clothes) covered in the copious leftovers of her frequent self-indulgent activities even though she originally came with some semblance of purpose. She was getting off track. Hawks didn't think that much. It was probably eyeing the meat. It was in the window because she sent it out two days ago. At least by her count. She slept twice, not counting naps.

    “Did you find the girl?” It gave an affirmative nod in response, and she gave it some of the meat as thanks. “Nn. Good job. Please keep an eye on the area. Come back if you see anything unusual.” Under Korona's orders, the raptor hopped off its perch and took off, leaving her alone once more. Her search for any monsters so far has been fruitless, but even so she wanted to see it through before she changed plans. Returning to her whittling, Korona told herself, “I'll give it another day.”
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    Old January 31st, 2018 (6:28 PM).
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    Quest Quest is offline
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    Helem Marlowe
    Ylena’s Chosen
    Beginnings & Complications

    Woodlands surrounded Helem as he made his way through the deep underbrush, stray sunbeams barely making their way through the treetops to illuminate the forest floor. It had already been several days since he left the previous town and Rimwick was, he assumed, just around the corner.

    Well, if that corner was a seemingly endless forest filled with thick shrubbery, wild animals and not a single beaten path to follow. Helem was given a map of the region, but the only reliable sense of direction available to him was his intuition, and it wasn't proving as reliable as he hoped it would be. The little sunlight he got at least helped him figure east and west, but Helem wasn't sure how long he'd been trying to get through the woods since he started this morning. The place was called the Misty Glade according to the map; he'd passed at least three clearings fitting the description, and the forest itself got denser the longer he walked.

    “What is this, eight now?” he asked himself, one foot pressing against soft dirt and grass. Helem slowly moved it back to harder ground, and gave an obvious trap a good nudge with his spear. He had to put some surprising strength into it, as it only gave way after a more powerful thrust. Judging by the force needed, most people would have been able to pass over unharmed. Maybe ten feet down and fifteen wide, going so far as building around the trees instead of simply removing them, a pitfall lay in front of him, every surface covered by plants equipped with what he guessed were venomous thorns. “And they're getting more dangerous. Must be close to Rimwick by now.”

    Helem took a safe route around the pit, walking along the edge; he kept along when he saw his tracks from the other side, and could no longer see the pitfall but a few seconds later. The traps were meant for something, and by their size, he knew he didn’t want to be around when they finally worked.

    Despite this, Helem continued to move steadily through the forest. At the moment, the only immediate danger was the numerous traps that filled the area. As long as he managed to avoid them, he’d at least be able to defend himself.

    The walk was disturbed by the muted sound of footsteps from behind; though Helem prepared his spear, he kept moving regardless until his attacker dived in a flash of brown fur. It was a beast, quadruped and unhesitant to go for Helem's neck. So he bent down, and slammed the butt of the spear into its belly, pulling it up over his head and pitching it into the trees. Two more came out of the woodwork during the commotion, as well. Wolves. He wasn't given any chance to think of a strategy before they both rushed him, and his body started running on instinct.

    “I don't want to hurt you guys,” he claimed as he slammed his spear into the soil below, using it as a stable standing pole to kick away the wolves, the force of his entire body behind his feet. When he landed he finished, “But I need to get through here.”

    Helem smoothly slid his polearm from the dirt, flourishing it around his body. In his assertion of dominance, he cleanly smacked the first wolf again without even looking, nailing it in the side when it charged at his back. It took it as an intimidation tactic and signal to retreat, running off with its tail between its legs, but the other two weren't so quick on the uptake, flanking him and springing at either side.

    He knew they were out for blood, so he responded in kind; he caught the first attack with a twist of his torso, shoving his forearm into its open mouth and dragging it along with him, and to the other he cut along its chest with the head of his spear, dodging its body as it flew past. Getting the creatures off him for a few free seconds to breathe, Helem unlocked the bracer protecting his arm, now moderately pierced by the wolf's jaw. He was bleeding, but nothing he couldn't handle.

    The one he injured was alive, managing to gather itself and growl as menacingly as it could. He didn't realize it until after it was too late—the growling wasn't to scare him, but for the noise. He turned to check on its partner when it was already in the air and less than a second from contact. Its claws jabbed into his leather chestpiece and Helem fell back into the bushes, gripping his spear tight and bringing it against his body. The wolf snapped for his neck, much too close for comfort as he stopped it with the spear's shaft against its throat. Helem gave the wolf a mighty shove, flipping it to the side and climbing to his feet in the same motion. The original wolf he had scared off before had returned, trading places with the one that had wounds to lick.

    He kept deflecting their swipes and leaps for the next few minutes, and with every strike they landed he fought back harder. They grew tired; he grew angry. Shaking from excitement, a body covered in scrapes and shallow bites through his light armor, Helem finally ended the assault with a well-placed slam, a sickening snap echoing over and over in his head as one of the wolves fell limp from the neck down. But he was undeterred. He brandished his spear to face the only animal left in his field of view, casting a stone-cold glare that drove it off.

    Even after he couldn't hear its steps anymore he held his pose for a bit longer, but his breathing steadied, and Helem eventually loosened and allowed himself to rest. He sat down and removed one of his greaves, splotches of blood and a not-insignificant amount of sweat setting into the leather. It ached, and he needed to get to a clinic, but it didn't immobilize him yet. He pulled some clean cloth from his meager supplies and tightened it around his more outstanding wounds before he re-equipped himself, resolving to reach Rimwick as soon as possible.

    Helem remained wary of his surrounding as he made his way through an increasingly dense thicket, looking for the slightest signs of nearby danger, but after dealing with the wolves the fauna felt mostly absent. Only the noises they made in the distance reminded him they were there. With time the boundless forest began to open up, bringing him into a dark clearing, much of its area covered by a large shadow from above.

    “I didn’t really expect that,” Helem said, awestruck by the treehouse that towered over him. It was man-made, to be sure, but also seemed to grow seamlessly out of the trees. Had it been night already, Helem would’ve likely missed it. Even with his spear, it was out of his reach. Examining the area, he found handholds leading up a couple of the tree trunks, and vines hung from above. No clear paths made their way in and out of the clearing, but he doubted the place was abandoned. “Is there anyone up there?” he called, cupping his hands around his mouth to make it louder for anyone who might have been inside.

    There wasn’t an answer that came from within the house itself, but moments later he heard the rustling of leaves nearby. Turning his head with his body and spear following, Helem found himself face to face with a pair of medium-sized wildcats. Their tufted ears stood high as they kept their eyes on him. They didn’t seem as aggressive as the last predators he encountered, but Helem was unable to read them. If he tried to run, the cats would easily catch him. If he stood his ground, there was far from a guarantee they would be intimidated.

    He decided to act slowly, keeping his front facing the animals as he backed towards the tree nearest him. He held one hand steadily over his spear, holding the other out to grab for the handholds that made their way up the tree. The wildcats paced around to corner him properly, stopping with him as he got a grip. They didn’t move as Helem grabbed another hold and made his way up. With his injuries and at the rate he climbed, it would’ve have been easy for the pair to just kill him, yet they remained still.

    Helem kept his eyes on them as much as he could as he climbed, only stopping to breathe about three quarters of the way up. He caught himself when he finished the climb, stumbling out onto the porch of the house. He propped himself up with one hand against the outer wall, asking, “Why... would someone make a house... this high up... in the forest? There's what's probably a perfectly good town a few miles away.”

    Then he looked down back at the wildcats. They were sitting on the forest floor below, still watching him patiently. “And why did they let me up here?” He took a moment before fully regaining his composure. Flowers and other potted plants sat outside upon the deck, their colors vibrant in comparison to the wood that made up the rest of the outside. A single window was placed along the outside wall looking in, and the light from outside didn’t make any meaningful impact on the darkness that was inside.

    Helem knocked on the door, slightly opening to reveal the inside of the building. Like before, no answer came. He took a moment before taking a step forward. His eyes took some time to adjust, but he found the place to be more than a little bit of a mess. Wood carvings in the shape of wings covered the table, some birdlike and others not so much. Some pieces appeared to be made of metal despite clearly being wood models, only resembling the others in size and shape.

    Next to a pile of furs, which Helem assumed was there to act as a bed, sat what appeared to be a brassy metal box about two feet tall and just as wide. He would have called it plain had it not been for the faint blue glow that radiated from its edges.

    He quietly stepped closer in a cautious attempt to investigate, perplexed. Helem's hand inched toward whatever was in that container, and was interrupted the instant before he could lay a finger on it. His feet slipped—no, they were pulled right out from under him before he even realized it—and he barely got his arms in a guarded position to keep his face from leaving a mark on the floor. He didn't get time to recover and see what grabbed him either, as in a single swift jerk his entire body flew out of the treehouse window, the windowsill connecting with a particularly uncomfortable spot on his elbow along the way.

    In the brief moment of inhuman clarity granted during his flight, Helem thought whatever caught him would send him all the way back to where he started. But the moment passed without any long-distance flinging to be had, and he wasn't sure he wanted to find out why. After an unceremonious pause where his body was upright, Helem was promptly hung upside-down by his feet, dangling helplessly just shy of being able to touch that porch he was on minutes ago. Clutching his elbow, the arm in its entirety uselessly numb, he curled his body enough to see the tool of his captor: one of the healthy green vines that had been drooping down from the trees, and it looked to be turning into solid wood to lock him in place. His spear fell away from him in the house, as well, so he couldn't try to cut at it and fall to a likely painful freedom.

    Not that it would help.

    Helem submitted himself to his fate, returning to a relatively prone state, and waited for whatever was going to happen next.

    Then a voice questioned, “Why were you in my home?” It was a woman's, soft and whispery as if tired, although he could hear it perfectly well. He turned to the source, and felt he was quite right. A feminine figure loosely cloaked in pale brown and green, standing at the edge of the clearing and practically blending into the forest. In one arm she carried a basket full of small game—dead, of course; the other was outstretched with a satchel over the shoulder, and she had some sort of magical glow pulsing in one of her eyes.

    Helem blinked as he took a moment to process the situation. He had met many mages, young and old, during his travels, yet standing before him in the western woods of Virona where none but beasts lived was a woman younger than him, and she was painfully proficient. Not only that, but Helem never met a mage that cast magic without going through a catalyst.

    Magical mysteries aside, there was something in her persistent gaze that Helem just couldn't figure out, but she didn't give him the chance to try. “I'll ask you again: what are you doing here? The people of Rimwick wouldn't come this far.”

    Helem, knocked back into reality, stammered, “I-I was making my way towards Rimwick. I was heading there on business when I got sidetracked by all the traps in the area.” Helem took a second to think. She was probably the one who planted all of those things. “I fought off some wolves, but when I made it this far these cats cornered me.” Helem became silent when he looked at the aforementioned cats on the ground, and at that point he really had no need to enter the actual house. Climbing the tree was sufficient to escape the beasts below, but his curiosity had gotten the better of him. Helem grimaced as a piercing pain shot up his arm, interrupting his thoughts.

    Along his forearm sat a large bruise that he had likely received from his crash into the windowsill, the fuzzy feeling in his arm finally wearing off. It was certainly broken, but there was no way for him to determine if he had severed an artery or received any other form of internal bleeding. And he wasn't about to play doctor. It was all he could do to simply hold his arm tighter to his body to make sure it moved as little as possible.

    “Stay still.” Clenching his arm, teeth and a few other things, Helem wasn't paying much attention, but he guessed he wasn't going to die right away. It gave him some degree of comfort as the vine holding him returned to its fleshy form, lowering him to the ground and propping him up against the trunk below the woman's treehouse. Helem got a glimpse of the two cats that were acting as guardians, both sitting patiently and watching him as the mage approached—he assumed they belonged to her from her dismissing them.

    She left her supplies next to her as she kneeled in front of him. The woman gingerly laid her fingertips against his bruised skin, hand barely revealed underneath her cloak, and started talking to him in the same soft voice as the pain faded away in rolling waves, though his arm was no less broken. “Bone fracture near the elbow; muscle tissue pierced by fragments; but no nerve damage. And you were already injured. I'm sorry.”

    The mage’s gentle touch surprised the young man as any hostility that he thought she showed disappeared completely. Maybe she was calm the entire time and he couldn’t tell. “Well, I was sort of in the wrong place,” he said, finding himself relaxing in turn. “The one who should be apologizing is me. You were merely protecting your home.” There was honestly no other way to look at the situation, though the broken appendage may have been a bit extreme. His eyes shifted from the bruised arm and back towards the woman. “Don’t feel too bad about it, alright?”

    Unfortunately for him, his apology appeared to fall on deaf ears as she proceeded with her work. She warned him, “This might sting,” only giving him a few more seconds to brace himself. She used her free hand to lift his arm and straighten it, but that's not the part that hurt. No, what “stung” came immediately after, and provided Helem with age’s worth of excruciating pain.

    At first it was pinpricks, like there was something burrowing deep into his arm, then once it reached the bone it spread throughout the entire limb in an instant. He struggled not to double over—tried to vocalize the feeling that his arm was being melted, dissolving from the inside out, but no sound could escape his lips. Helem tried to look at the woman's face through a watery veil, and she was focused entirely on his injury, paying him no mind. Tracing along her left iris was the glowing ring he noticed earlier, but he still couldn't find any magical focus. Maybe he just wasn't looking hard enough, what with the anguish and all.

    The suffering he endured was something no human should have been made to. He could hardly remember to breathe until it was over, let alone writhe in agony, and he nearly passed out multiple times through the process. But when all was said and done and Helem recovered, his arm looked brand new and felt even better. She even took care of the injuries the wolf pack incurred when his brain tuned out to get through it. She did in ten minutes what would have taken weeks, if not longer, to heal naturally, and seeing a girl not much younger than him accomplish it made Helem question how powerful mages could really be.

    “Hm? What is it?” And before he knew it, she caught him vacantly staring at her svelte frame as she grabbed the satchel and basket she'd brought back with her. The magical glow had long since faded, but the orange light of sunset breaking through the forest canopy above gave the woman and the deep blues and greens of the Misty Glade's varied plantlife an ethereal sensation that left him speechless once more.

    “I’m just, ah…” Helem took a little more time to think. There were a lot of things he could have said, and a lot of things he still had to process. Ever since he cut his way into the forest, his day got stranger and stranger with every step. It all felt like it was coming together, as though he should have known it was going to happen, but he didn't know how to explain it in words.

    “If you're going to Rimwick, head northwest of here. There's a path that starts half a mile in that can take you the rest of the way.” She addressed a bird in the area, and had it retrieve the spear he dropped in her house.

    Her directions registering in his head, Helem considered why he was out here in the first place. In the end he concluded that nothing was going to get any easier, much less an explanation. ”I want to express my thanks. You were willing to heal me despite only knowing that I broke into your home. It means a great deal to me.”

    Helem stood from the dirt, feeling about as revitalized as his arm. He bowed his head in respect, and greeted his assumed-assailant-turned-healer with a smile and an open hand. “My name is Helem. Thank you very much for your help. It's a pleasure to meet you.”

    “Korona,” the woman replied. She removed the hood of her cloak, messy, mossy green hair shifting to a light blonde like camouflage being removed, and met his grip with her own. Helem didn't remember seeing anything resembling an expression out of her since he first encountered her, and he still didn't catch one now, but he felt a little less distant from her gaze.

    The mage soon left Helem to his journey, bringing down a vine to carry her back up to her home in the trees, and looking at her from behind gave Helem a short-lived start. He spotted pointed, downturned ears poking just out of her hair as she lifted her hood back over her head.

    “Stay safe on your way to Rimwick,” she told him. “Don't be the next body I find out here.”

    He wasn't given a chance to ask anything, and in no time at all it was only him, his spear and his thoughts again. He took what little information he had to heart, double-checked the direction he needed to go in, and set off with far more questions in one day than he needed.

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