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You awaken to find yourself in a dark hallway, surrounded by gray walls and with no other way to go except forward. There is a icyness that embraces your body and soul, one that seems to have been there for days. As you continue down the bleak corridor, you begin to see a bright light to guide you from the darkness. You move closer and closer, picking up the pace as the light grew and warmth began to flow into your body. Finally, you reach the end of the hallway and into the light, only to find yourself in a large, circular library. At the center, you see two comfortable red linen chairs next to a fireplace. Suddenly, you hear a voice in your head and the room surrounding you. "Ah...you have finally arrived, I see. Please...please sit down. We have much to discuss, you and I." You do not know who was talking, but you decide to do as the voice said, since you had nowhere to go anyway. You make your way for the chair and sit down, sinking into its warm embrace. After a couple of moments, a eerie form appears from the fireplace, slowly transforming into a human-like shape. You watch, transfixed, as a figure is made, and the form becomes a fully physical being. In front of you stood a rather tall humanoid, wearing soft-looking white clothing, and a large wide-brimmed silver hat on its head. Its beard flows down its chest like a translucent stream of mercury, and its skin as dark as coal. You realize that the being before you is a male, and watch him with a mix of curiosity and suspicion. He gives you a disarming smile to set you at ease, and sits down himself after setting aside a glorious crystalline scepter. After a few quiet moments, he finally begins to speak. "I am glad you made it...many do not know how to reach this sanctuary of mine. Oh, but where are my manners...? My name is Azrial. Azrial, the Weaver. As for why you are here, and who I am, I will explain shortly. Right now, you are in a transference between lives, and so I must prepare you for what you will see. Tell me...do you remember Kaltara?" You shake your head, wondering why he asked such a question. Azrial chuckled to himself, nodding. "Yes...I assumed as much. Of course, I cannot blame you, for it is a land of great mystery and beauty that so few outside of it will ever see. Now, for some answers that will ease your troubled mind. The reason you are here, is because you are dead. You have passed on from your previous life, and are now moving on to the next. Do not be alarmed, for this happens to every creature who dies. Who I am...it is a complicated story, and one I will tell you if you request it." You nod a bit shakily, for you have been caught off-guard by the revelation that you are dead, and now wish to know what this mysterious creature had to say. Azrial's hand glowed with a soft white light, as a small book flew over to him and settled on his lap. However, he did not open it; he did not have to in order to tell this story. "I was born into the world long ago, when it was barbaric and young. Back then, there was almost no sentient life, and everything was made by the seven primal energies of the world. It was created by the same being who created me, Pharaxmas. He gave me, and my five other siblings life. Underneath him, we grew and grew, until it was time to perfect the world we were put on. My father, brothers, sisters, and I each represented the elements that fueled the earth, and thus used our natural talents to create much of what you'll see in this world today. This creation went on for seven days, until we had created the start of a perfect world. Phoebus, at the end of the creation, said that we must make a few more things in order for life to flourish...and they were the races of mortal kind.. Each of us put our own power and that of the world into these new life forms, so that they would keep everything balanced. My brother Regriel created the Orcs, Kazziel the Elves. My sisters also made their own races; Lenariel forged the Baraki, Tavriel the Dwarves, and Sabriel the Hikarri with some aid from me. Then at last, I created my own race...the one which you would know as Mankind; humanity. On their completion, life began to swell across the globe, and we had finally finished what we were made to do." You sat in silence during the whole speech, taking in the words Azrial had spoken, a flurry of questions swirling inside your head. Azrial took in a deep breath, and sighed. "...While we were the parents of a whole new world, my siblings and I simply weren't satisfied. Our father, Pharaxmas, disappeared shortly after the Creation, and we did not know what to do with ourselves. Eventually, we decided to have children of our own. Taking pieces of ourselves and copying them, we created several creatures whom embodied our spirits. Regriel created the dragons, Sabriel created the sea serpents, Kazziel created the griffons, Tavriel created a golem of nature, Lenariel created the dire wolves, and I created the Nephilar. While my siblings created their children in massive numbers, I only made three...for three were all that I needed. Their names were Miralla, Daellar, and Caltir, and I loved them more than anything else in the world. Each of them bore pieces of myself; Miralla had my heart, Daellar my mind, and Caltir obtained my spirit. Unfortunately, none of those forementioned children exist anymore...they were wiped out after the first Cataclysm." You looked at Azrial with an incredulous expression. Based on what he explained, you determined that he was a God of some sort; was he your God? What race were you? You could not determine whether to believe him or not, so you concluded to keep listening. Azrial gives you a knowing glance, a slight smirk on his lips, and he began again. "As with all great things...they all must come to an end. My time on that world was coming to a close, and I would soon have to say farewell to all of my children. My other siblings and I were being drained of our life energies in order to sustain the world; in order to prevent our demise, we created a new source of energy for the world to use: the Ascending Lights. However, the damage done was irreversible, and one by one we faded from the living world until I was the only one remaining. With my last breaths, I realized the Lights would need a guardian, or else they would be used wrongly, and so I left the knowledge of the Ascending Lights to my sons and daughter, so that they would keep guard over them after I died. Not only did they take up the mantel of protecting the Lights...but they also took up the mantels of leaders. During their reign, the humans I created grew to incredible sizes in population, and my children served them all as kings and queen. In Kaltara, where this all began, it was known as the Age of Creation, and rightfully so. Each of my children began to resent each other, until they finally showed outright hatred. My middle child, Daellar, was perhaps the worst among them for this. He hated his sister Miralla, and his hatred soon led to the first war on the face of Kaltara. Uniting his kingdom of Rai'zan, he invaded Havara, my daughter's kingdom, in order to obtain its wealth. The horrible fighting continued for five years, until on the war's fifth anniversary, my daughter's army and people vanished. When Daellar discovered this, he rushed his forces all the way to Havara's capital, Ximara. Upon arriving, they found Miralla as the glorious city's only inhabitant. Out of the anger and spite he had for her, Daellar ordered her capture...and execution. Before her death, however, she said she had sent her two heirs over the Skywall Mountains into the lands beyond, and hoped that one day they will return for what is theirs by birthright. Even I am uncertain who these two children are...but if I were to guess, they'd be a powerful couple of demi-gods." Azrial laughed to himself at the last statement, but there was a deep sorrow within his eyes. You drew several conclusions as to who these grandchildren were, but kept them to yourself. Azrial set the book he had aside and gazed intently at you before speaking once more. "That is the end to my story...but the beginning of a whole other story. After the death of my daughter, Kaltara went through a great change, and has been through more suffering than many other lands would ever feel. My son Daellar enjoyed the wealth he obtained from Havara for a long while, but by then his hatred for his brother Caltir resurfaced as well. Then, Rai'zan and Sanguire broke out into a war with one another as well. In this battle, magic was forged into weaponry...and became one of the most brutal conflicts in existence. Daellar, in the hopes of swiftly defeating Caltir, searched for the Ascending Lights. For centuries, he wondered, while Caltir refused to use the Lights, honoring my wishes. Eventually, Daellar found the artifacts that I helped create...and tried to use them to wipe Sanguir off the map. Of course, he did not know of the trap that was set to trigger on activation of such dangerous magic. The Lights tried to reverse the magic, to shut themselves off. To my despair...my son fought with their power, and in the end causing his own death, and the deaths of many others. A powerful explosion went off from the battle of wills, and it left the whole world shaking from the disaster. It set off a cataclysm of apocalyptic proportions, changing the landscape in Kaltara and beyond forever. Out of the ashes, several city-states and small nations appeared, and began fighting over the land that the kingdoms of Rai'zan and Sanguir used to possess. For one hundred years, they fought among themselves...while an even darker threat loomed. The explosion that was created formed a large crater and pit, and deep within these holes, evil creatures started to manifest, monsters of nightmare and horror. Apparently, the magic in that part of the land had become tainted, and the very elements themselves started to become twisted. Like a swarm of locusts, the monsters climbed out of this place, now refered to as the Bleakness, and devoured the land. The weaker nations close to the Bleakness were destroyed in a manner of days, and the stronger ones on the verge of collapse; all hope seemed lost. However, out of the darkness came a small light, created by the Mage known as Tyre. After witnessing the destruction these evil creatures caused, he gathered the strongest Mages and Sages in all of Kaltara, and united the remaining nations together under a single banner, forming the Covenant of Ten. United, this war coalition punched through the disorganized creatures, pushing back the monstrous horde and regaining the lands that were lost. After many years of fighting, they finally arrived upon the doorstep of the insidious Pit of Nightmares, located in the center of the Bleakness. Tyre and six of his strongest Mages went alone into the Darkness, and met face to face with the worst creature of all: My son, Daellar, now refered to as Sharlan the Specter by mortals everywhere. He had been forever transformed, both in body and soul. Together, Tyre and his allies defeated the Specter, and imprisoned him beneath the Pit of Nightmares with the Ascending Lights. On returning back to the heartland of Kaltara, Tyre gathered the greatest minds and warriors in Kaltara to form the Wardens of the Seals, an organization whose sole duty was to prevent the release of Sharlan, and to be ready for when he eventually breaks free from his prison." When Azrial was finished, he summoned a book over to the table in front of you, labeled: "The Stygian War". You stare at it curiously, then at Azrial, who nodded in the direction of the book. You pick it up, and begin to read the words inside... "...in the year ---- Kaltaran society was at its highest state in several thousand years. It was a time of invention, science, and ingenuity. Populations and technological advances seemed to increase every day, and everything seemed right with their world, or so it would seem. The Wardens at this time became primarily a collection of world leaders who were great Mages and Sages, using their power and wisdom to guide the inhabitants in peace and prosperity. However, they had forgotten entirely the horrors of the Specter and his monstrous hordes, and this ignorance of their very birth led to their destruction. In search of a new source of power greater than that which the Ascending Lights provided, a pair of Wardens created a great magical drill to mine the font of magic...they were too late to discover that the power was that of the Specter, and that they had just opened his tomb. Out from the Breach, as it was soon called, poured the Nightspawn of the past and the Bleakness along with it. It was during this time that the first Nightchildren began to arise...along with thirteen of the world's greatest Wardens, who later became known as the Heartless. What followed was a great conflict known as the Stygian War, which decimated the mortal realm and finally ended when Silvan Stargazer, leader of the forces of Light and the Wardens, led a team of skilled Mages into the Breach in order to seal the Specter and his minions away once more. As is known, Silvan (known as the Lightbinder), successfully banished the Specter to his prison, along with the Heartless...but the seal was imperfect, and came with seven seals of which had been lost to the flows of time. As retaliation for his imprisonment, the Specter placed his wicked taint on the Ascending Light of Astral magic...and drove the Mages of the world insane. Silvan and his companions who went to the Breach were the first to succumb to the madness of the taint, and eventually all of the practicing Mages fell. In their insanity, the Mages used their power to create mountains from plains, seas from deserts, annihilate entire cities...this Mage Cataclysm went on for nearly one hundred years until the death of the last Mage. The event later became known as 'Silvan's Folly', and prevented his ascendence to Saintdom. The inter-year period of the Cataclysm is disorganized, and few facts are known on this matter; thus, this tome is incomplete." You close the book after reading the summary, and you begin to look at Azrial with a new sense of dread. However, more questions kept going through your mind: 'Why is he showing me this?' 'What does he want with me?' 'How does this have anything to do with me?'. You ask the first question, and he smiled gently. "Well, it is because I do believe you will be connected to Kaltara's salvation through fate, young one. You see...I can see the strings of destiny tied onto you. However, I cannot say in what way you are connected to it all. Also, I am unsure as to whether you will be born in the time of need once more, or afterwards. Although, I will say this: you are linked to far more than you believe...and you may be the one to prevent the world's destruction. One question you may ask is 'Why me?"...well, I cannot answer that, for I do not control the tides of destiny, I just connect them as I see fit. There is one more book you need to read...one that is as important as the other." Another book drifted over to the table, resting on top of the previous one. The title was in a fancy form of writing, and said "The History of the Dragoran Empire". You pick it up and begin to read the first chapter. "...Before our glorious empire was created, Kaltara was in a state of conflict. Civil wars, bloody successions, and petty national rivalries divided the land, with Lumen'dor being the only sanctuary from the fighting. Despite the chaos, one nation still flourished. Located on the western shore of Kaltara, our great mother kingdom of Dragora grew from the land that used to belong to the mythical Rai'zan of old. A new king had been raised, one with the ambition to unite the world under one ruler. We know him as the First Emperor, but he was known back then as Ashmire Drake. Once a simple peasant, he was chosen by fate to rise to power and lead the Dragoran nation to glory. Among us, he was courageous, kind, and selfless, while his enemies knew him to be crafty, strong, and ruthless. For years he amassed his armies, waiting for the right time to begin his impending invasion. With his allies at his back, he conquered many of the nations to the east with ease by using either force or persuasion. By the end of his conquests, nearly all of Kaltara belonged to him, and he was crowned High King. It was then that he turned his attention onto Lumen'dor, last bastion of the Wardens. Growing up to have severe distrust in anything that has to do with magic, he knew he had to destroy the Wardens if he was to make the land perfect. The siege lasted ten years until his death from a crippling poison. Seeking vengeance for the death of his father, the eldest of Ashmire's sons, Beryllan, led a final assault against Lumen'dor and broke through the enchanted walls. Once inside, the treacherous Wardens were slaughtered until the Archwarden at the time, the Lady Aerysia, surrendered and was executed for the use of forbidden Astral magic and the crime of slaying Ashmire Drake. Once Lumen'dor was torn to the ground, Beryllan returned to the mountain stronghold of Ashen Gate and named himself Emperor of Kaltara. At the end of his reign, each speck of land was under Imperial rule." You place the book down, somehow knowing that it was all you needed to read, and you look up to see Azrial with his back turned toward you, gazing intently into the unnatural fire. "...so now you know what you must know. I have given this information to you so that you can forge your own destiny. In Kaltara's current era, Mages are suppressed and controlled...they are despised for their natural affinity to magic, and they struggle to prevent any magical contact so that they could live. It is truly a miserable time...but perhaps you, or someone like you, can fix it." Azrial turns to you and gazes deep into your eyes. You could feel him penetrating to the very depths of your spirit, reading it. After a moment, Azrial nodded and smiled. "I see now that I made the right choice. Go, now...go and become a part of the world once more. I will be watching, and guiding, you and all that are like you." You'd feel yourself get lighter and lighter, your vision slowly turning dark, and as you begin to return to the living world you hear Azrial's final whisper resound in your mind countless times: "...do not forget who you are, or who you will be, Child of Fate. Whether you be of the Darkness or the Light, know this; that there is never an end...only another beginning." It is with those last few words that you feel yourself fade away entirely, enveloped in a wet warmth. A light shines in your vision, leading the way out of the tunnel of darkness in which you had laid in.You feel yourself dragged out into the world once more...the only sounds reaching your ears being that of your very own cries as the light welcomes you into your new life.