Chapter 1: Choice

From the depths of the void they appeared.  Two beings, taking the form of a splash of pure light and darkness in constant contact, swirled forth towards the desolate world of Secoria.  Their purpose: to choose whether to save or destroy this world.  If they chose to save it, Secoria would be remade, into a world capable of mending itself from the horrors it had endured.  If it was unsalvageable, then Secoria would be obliterated from its space in the universe, no trace nor hint of it to be seen again.

These two beings raced towards the object of their mission, hoping beyond hope that Secoria would prove worthy of their cleansing power.  As they grew nearer, that hope was nearly snuffed out, as the ruined, smog covered world filled their gazes.  They decided to explore the surface, and get a sense of the people as well as the life present on Secoria.

Secoria once may have been a beautiful world, but it was not so now.  Where once lush forests and rushing rivers filled the landscape, only ruins now stood.  Remnants and memories of once proud civilizations were all that remained of the planet’s golden age.  The two beings investigated these ruins, as well as the planetary surface curiously, seeking what could have caused such rampant desolation.

Using their power, the two beings discovered that Secoria had been ruined because of extreme magical warfare between the denizens of the planet.  Not only between the sentient life forms intrinsic to Secoria, but between dangerous creatures and evil beings of great power that had once roamed freely.  Eventually, a powerful spell had been cast, the likes of which had never been seen before.  It was so powerful, that those who had cast it lost control, and the planet was poisoned, from the bright, natural life that once had resided on Secoria, to the death that now remained.

The creatures, good and evil, that had once populated Secoria, were changed irreparably.  Monsters, mutated creatures, roamed everywhere, in the beaches, forests, mountains, caves, and oceans.  Everywhere there were monsters.  These abominations spawned from the countless years of struggle, mutation was rampant, and new creatures were constantly being born.

A sense of hopelessness and despair pervaded the air, humans were hunted down by the overpowering monsters that populated Secoria.  The Secorians only survived by hiding, cowering in the dark away from the abounding horrors.

The Secorians were remarkably similar in body composition to the humans of Earth.  The only difference between the two species being that the Secorians, along with many of the other species inherent to their planet, were able to use magic.  However despite this ability, compared to many of the monsters, their ability was weak, and barely suitable for combat, let alone being able to actually bring down any monsters.

In the end, all the Secorians could do was hide, pray, and hope that they would not be found, and live another day.  In fact, due to the presence of the poison and radiation within the soil, few edible living plants could grow, and as such, the Secorians were forced to scavenge what scraps they could off of the dead carcasses that covered the ground from the countless battles taking place.

But despite all of the pain and degenerate hopelessness, a gritty will to survive pervaded the hearts of all.  And while there was evil abounding, from murder and theft, to anger and betrayal, there was courage and strength that still resounded.  Honor was not dead, albeit being rare, and there was kindness and compassion, born from the mutual struggle for survival.

The two beings observed, and marveled, for there was much more to be spoken of than they had originally thought.  They were quite surprised that the Secorians had survived for all these millennia, in fact it was a strike in their favor, their grit and will to live reflecting well in the metaphorical eyes of the two beings.  Their fears were slightly abated, and they began to plan with the goal in mind of giving this world a chance to survive.

These two beings, who were named Vilantir, the Light, and Ebonoir, the Dark, were of two sides of a coin.  The two were collectively known as the Nesaral, meaning “balance” in a long forgotten language.  Complete opposites in every definition of the term, but through this contrast, their decision making was flawless.  For Vilantir could see into the very souls of sentient life, deeming whether there truly was any good of substance.  Ebonoir could do the exact opposite, determining every inherent fault within those he searched.

As always, there was deep discussion between the two, often resulting in an argument over the merits and shortcomings of the life present on Secoria.

“I see much more good and right in the hearts of these Secorians than I had hoped for Ebonoir,” rejoiced Vilantir.

“That may be so, but these mortals…they stray far too easily from their decisions and so called oaths.  I find them to be flighty and at times extremely irritating.  Why, just now I saw a man go back on his promise to protect his very own family from harm in order to save his own miserable and sniveling self! And that’s just one example, countless more occur every minute we spend on this degenerate planet,” Ebonoir said, obviously annoyed and secretly saddened by the evil he saw.

“Ahhh, that may be so Ebonoir, but have all these millennia taught you nothing?  There will always be evil present within those we test, for that evil is the most base reason they need testing in the first place.  If there were no significant evil present within these Secorians hearts, they would have no need of our judgement.  It’s only logical,” Vilantir replied, amusement making itself known by faint pulses within his ethereal form.

“Bah! You and your logic, remember how that ‘logic’ turned that backwards planet of Earth forwards, then sideways, then completely upside down?  Forgive me if I am slightly skeptical after that tremendous failure,” Ebonoir retorts with contempt.

“However,” he continued derisively, “if what you say about their good is true, then what will we do about it this time?  Revean was an abject failure and Inglesmen not really any better, and those are only the most recent examples.  What do you propose, within your infinite and all knowing logic, oh great one, that we do to fix this mess up?”

“Well my melodramatic partner…you remember those RPG video games the humans were so fond of on that ‘so called muck up planet of Earth’?  I was thinking of turning Secoria into a world like that, to give the Secorians a fighting chance.”  Vilantir proposed, pride dripping from his voice in an overwhelming manner

“And why in all the multi-verse would we do tha-…ah…yes, I see, yes, it could work, and it would be oh so entertaining to watch the confusion and struggle.  I like this idea, my old friend,” Ebonoir replied, purring with excitement.

“So it is agreed then, my partner, to give this world of Secoria, and all its inhabitants, a second chance?” Vilantir asked, all traces of amusement and haughtiness gone from his voice.

“Let it be so, and I pray that this turns out well for these Secorians.” Ebonoir confirmed, a feeling of hope projecting itself from his voice.

“Then let us begin.” Vilantir said.

The idea proposed by Vilantir was, truly, an inspired idea.  For if the world was turned into an RPG, along with some other slight modifications, the Secorians would finally have the ability to fight back against their tormentors and breath life once again into their ruined planet.  This method was also ingenious because of its efficient use of power.  Oftentimes, the two would have to use massive quantities of power in order to physically reshape the planet, purging it of disease, or forming whole new ecosystems.  This method, on the other hand, required smaller amounts of power to transform the inhabitants of Secoria, and to eliminate the toxic environment that caused the rampant mutation.

As a general rule, it cost far more power to save a world than to destroy it.  This was because of the simple fact that ending Life was much easier than maintaining it.  Despite the fatigue and effort it cost them to save worlds, they accepted the burden gladly, for such was their duty, one they were born to do.  However, with the inception of this new idea proposed by Vilantir, it might become the catalyst for a completely new and improved form of world shaping, saving much of the power that they normally would have expended otherwise.

“It is surprising,” Ebonoir thought, “that the humans of Earth, a failed planet, would have given Vilantir such a novel idea. I hope that this succeeds, if not for the sake of the inhabitants of Secoria, but for Vilantir’s pride. Heavens know how proud he is.”

As one, the two age old partners readied themselves, for once they started, it would be unwise to stop.  And together they chanted their words of power, words filled with the strength, will, and purpose of two of the most powerful beings ever to receive the Breathe of Life.  As their power collected, swirls and arcs of energy began to run through their ethereal bodies.

And as they chanted, many strange happenings began to occur around them.  Time seemed to slow down to a crawl.  This was the first and arguably most important of the changes, allowing Vilantir and Ebonoir to enact the changes necessary in nary a second, instead of the comparatively massive amount of time it would take otherwise.  This was to smooth the transition for the people of Secoria, as well as ensure their safety, as they would be unable to move very far in that short amount of time, allowing the two beings to make their changes as they saw fit.

This method was favored due to certain…complications that had occurred about 8000 years ago right at the start of their career.  This incident involved millions on a planet dying when the Nesaral added flora that would make their planet more hospitable for its indigenous species.  Without the time stop, many of the beings were running around, terrified by the plethora of changes occurred to their planet.  Needless to say, millions died from being embedded within the many decidedly big forms of flora that were added to their planet.  Vilantir and Ebonoir were horrified and immediately thought up the method of slowing down time to complete their changes.  It proved marvelously effective and efficient, allowing them to make any and all changes apart from major terrain shifts without risk of injuring any of the life forms on the planets they transformed.

As the time shift was completed, Vilantir and Ebonoir readied themselves, for the brunt of their work was about to begin.  Within the effects of the time stop, they began to change the intrinsic laws relevant to the Secorians.  They changed their physical make-up, not directly, but merely giving them potential to become something more than they were.

They also designed many different races, though did not force any Secorian into changing into them, only designing the races so that the Secorians would have the option of turning into them later on.  The system was designed to take into account the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of each person, and give them three races to choose from based on their aptitude.  Some people would be able to stay in their base Secorian form as well, if the status quo was what they desired.

Most of the races designed were humanoid, to prevent too much shock from occurring when inevitably some of the people changed races.  Some of the races favored speed and agility, but suffered in strength, others favored magical combat, but lacked in health and durability.  In the end, the races were all just as balanced as the base Secorian form, which neither lacked nor excelled in any particular way.

They also added in areas called dungeons.  Dungeons were places where a set of monsters would spawn, usually within an enclosed area, and there would be Bosses Monsters, Elite Monsters, and loot to be found within.  Each dungeon was unique, having their own special rules and requirements to be taken into account when entering within.  Dungeons would be exceedingly dangerous, but their rewards would be well worth the risk, for items such as powerful weapons, skill tomes, and different forms of rare loot could be earned within.  A dungeon could only be cleared once the dungeon boss was defeated, and, after a set amount of time, which was different for each dungeon, the dungeon would ‘respawn’ so to speak, with its monsters and loot resetting themselves, and enabling new visitors to enter and try their luck.

The next changes they made were to the planetary laws that had been in place since Secoria’s birth.  The Nesaral put in new laws that gave each living being a status screen, the ability to use magic, the ability to use stat points, as well as increase them passively and through leveling up, and finally the addition of skills.  Vilantir wanted to add in the ability to respawn, but Ebonoir rejected the idea, saying that that would lead to overpopulation within a short amount of time, seeing as nobody would really die.

These modifications made influenced all forms of life on the planet, excepting non monstrous plants.  Ebonoir also suggested the idea of a quest and achievement system that could be used to gain rewards and skills.  Vilantir embraced this idea and so it was implemented.  The system used would allow any sentient creature to issue a quest, as well as to designate the rewards for completing the quest.

The achievement system was implemented as well, allowing those who were the pioneers of their different fields to gain great rewards for their accomplishments.  The achievements related to slaying certain amounts of monsters or completing a certain number of quests were added as well, though their rewards were greatly diminished.

Some of the final changes made by the Nesaral were geared towards the addition of titles and parties.  The party system was simple, it would allow several people to join together into a group that would share experience, loot, and quest rewards.  The maximum amount of people that could be in a party at one time was set to be six, as any more would decrease the experience rewards to be negligible.  Experience would be shared, when in a full party of six, by granting 10% of the experience from killing a monster to four of the party members, accounting for 40% of the total experience.  The remaining 60% would go to the two people who contributed the most cumulative damage to the monster, and the one who landed the killing blow.

Titles were a curious thing, instead of the customary classes being gained, titles earned were the true things that influenced a person’s ‘class’.  In fact, there were no classes to be gained, only titles.  Titles were rare, but incredibly powerful, granting the user buffs in certain stats and skill types, or even sometimes giving a person new types of stats and, only very rarely, granting new skills.  The stat gains obtained from titles were often very significant, pushing people into certain directions into which they should focus their attentions.  However, this did not mean that a Secorian who focused on magic would gain a title related to martial combat.  While this was not entirely impossible, it was unlikely, because titles were gained by your actions in the world, such as a magic-specked person gaining a title related to magic and sorcery.  Titles were designed to give advantages to the style of life each person chooses to follow.

The final thing that was modified was the method of restoring the planet.  Ebonoir brought this to Vilantir’s attention, who, in his excitement at the new system they were using, had quite forgotten that the planet was in dire need of repair.  They removed the magical radiation that had infected much of the planet.  The two created certain monsters that were many steps above in power and intelligence when compared to the others.  These would be the Legendary Monsters of the world, and would hold the key to Secoria’s salvation.  There were 7 of these beasts, and each one would drop a part of a key that was necessary in fully restoring Secoria.

With all of these changes in place, the Nesaral stepped back from their work, and were satisfied.

“Are your final modifications complete, Ebonoir?” Vilantir inquired.

“I think these people have been ready for a long time for something good, Vilantir,” replied Ebonoir morosely, “But yes, I believe all of the preparations are complete.  Let us unleash the changes, and see if these people really have what it takes to bring restoration to the destruction they have caused.”

“There’s no going back, old friend, once we begin, you know that right?” questioned Vilantir, a touch of nervousness evident in his voice.

“Yes, I am, in fact, aware of the ancient rules that we have happened to live by for over 8000 years Vilantir,” retorted Ebonoir sarcastically.

“But, what if this fails…the blame will fall upon me, for it was my method we are using…” trailed Vilantir uncertainly.

“If it fails, Vilantir, then I will stand beside you and we will face it together, as we have always done, and always will do,” Ebonoir pronounced, unwavering determination evident in his voice.

“Ha, your loyalty is as steady as always I see Ebonoir,” Vilantir chuckled.

“You would do the same for me, even if your ridiculous pride does not allow you to confirm it,” Ebonoir gently rebuked, “However, despite your understandable doubts, I think these people will surprise us both.  Looking past their dark points, I see a solid foundation of stubborn pig headedness inherent within them; almost criminal amounts of it in fact.  It is the reason they have survived this long in this deplorable state.  I believe they will pull through, regardless of difficulty, unfamiliarity, and ignorance.”

“Thank you, Ebonoir…I believe only one thing remains, and that is to choose who shall receive the prophecy,” Vilantir said.

“Ah yes, a matter of the utmost importance.  Our decision will shape Secoria, for better or for worse I do not know.  But what I do know is that we must decide with the greatest of caution.  For the person we would choose will receive a great destiny, one that could tip the scales in favor or against Secoria,” Ebonoir mused.

“Yes, I agree.  The one we choose should be someone who embodies the qualities of those who are good and those who are…not so good.  He needs to know both sides.  I think someone who is righteous, but struggles with their inner demons…yes, yes, that would work.  Ha! What do you think Ebonoir?” Vilantir asked excitedly.

“Pah! You think yourself so brilliant don’t you?…Hmph, never mind; I should be used to your theatrics after all this time.  Yes, yes it is a good idea.  Get those smug lights out of your form!  I swear you do that just to irritate me.  Now, the only question is how to find someone that meets those very high standards of yours.  Someone who tries to do right, but sometimes does wrong, someone with both Light and Dark within their hearts, someone of two faces, of two hearts, but one who is true.  A real enigma you ask for Vilantir, one I fear we shall not find,” Ebonoir murmured, doubt present within his mind.

“However difficult it may be, we must find one such as we have described, for a lesser man, one who is mostly good, or mostly bad, will eventually fall, either to his own softness, or to the lure of power.  No, it will take one who is equal, both in good and bad, in light and dark, to handle the power we would bestow him.  And if we cannot find one such as we are looking for, then we shall not choose one at all.  For the power we would hand him would set Secoria on an even darker path than the one it treads now.  However, if we can find one, who looks past his own human lust for power, his own mortality, and past his own darkness, however helpful it may be to him, then Secoria will have a chance at a better brighter future,” Vilantir spoke, reverence and hope evident within his voice.

———————————————————————————————————————

Amidst all of the turmoil, one man, soon to be chosen, tried to save the lives of his people, through the taking of another.  This man, Dendrus Cell, was one of a small settlement of about 100 people living in the trees, struggling to survive amidst many of the monsters that were indigenous to the forest.  The settlement, which was named Althbear’s Legacy, was one, like the majority of all other settlements, that was on constant alert for danger, as monster attacks often occurred to which they had no method of retaliation.

Dendrus’ role within the village was one of a hunter/gatherer.  He was trained in rudimentary combat and foraging techniques.  The greatest skill that hunters of his village possessed, however, was the ability to run and hide from the deadly predators that hungrily lurked in the lush foliage of the forest. In fact, most days, the hunters would encounter no living thing other than creatures that could rip them apart with such minimal effort it was laughable.

Hunters were equipped with a spear tipped with a tooth from an animal called a Shimmering Lynx, whose prized carcasses provided more than just food for Dendrus’ village.  Their hides, claws, bones, everything was put to use.  Hunters were also provided with a small knife, which was carved from the tusks of a large creature called an Inpean Boar.  The tusks were scavenged from the corpses of these boars, of which they were plentiful, since predators found them a delectable treat when compared to many of the others creatures of the forest.

Dendrus’ day had started off relatively normally.  He followed his familiar routine of waking up, and having a tiny breakfast of some dry, tough jerky.  He then joined his fellow hunters and ventured out into the forest in search of game they could handle, ever keeping a watchful eye out for any larger, more dangerous beasts.  While hunting for more mobile prey, keen eyes would keep watch for any edible plants.  Unfortunately, few were found, but would be harvested and brought back to the village along with any game that was killed.  It was a rare treat to ever find an edible plant, because most were mutated and not edible.  What edible plants that populated the forest were consumed voraciously by its herbivorous inhabitants.

After their dinner, which was travel food consisting of dried meat, and the occasional vegetable, they would journey back to their village.  This was the schedule the hunters followed daily.  The only time their rhythm was broken was when monsters attacked the village before they headed out, or if they were forced to evade predators while hunting.  Occasionally, they would have to run for a few days, trying to lose their pursuers and avoid leading them back to Althbear’s Legacy.

Although Dendrus’ day began with nothing that would cause him alarm, the quiet of the morning would soon be shattered, and the world would forever be changed.

“Good morning, Dendrus!” greeted Aisha, a small, willowy old woman with grey hair streaked with brown, who spent her days mending clothes for the different village members.

“Good morning Aisha!  How’s that foot of yours doing today? Is it getting any better?” Dendrus inquired.

Aisha’s left foot had recently been injured while fleeing from the monsters that had raided their village.  The village normally dealt with such things by climbing the tallest trees surrounding their village, since most monsters were too heavy to reach them.  Aisha, who was strong despite her old age, was still able climb the trees.  If she lacked the strength to do so, she would be left behind, for on Secoria, an unwritten rule reigned to help oneself, and if you could not help yourself, then you would die.  Laziness was abhorred, and considered the greatest of sins.

However on that day, just over a week ago now, she had been drawing water from a stream that ran close to their village when the monsters attacked.  She had reached the tree and began to climb up, but, near the top, she slipped, and landed on a lower branch awkwardly, badly twisting her left ankle.  Fortunately for her, she was high enough in the tree to avoid being eaten by any of the monsters that were attempting to scale the trees.

“Ah, you’re so sweet to ask.  My ankle is feeling much better, and I should be able to climb just fine in a couple of more days.  Now, is there anything you need mended, dear?” She asked, a glint of kindness in her eyes.

“No, no, I just wanted to check how you were doing before I headed out to hunt with the others,” Dendrus replied.

“Oh, thank you for checking in, just let me know if you need any of your clothes repaired.  Say….” she began mischievously, “you haven’t happened to have finally caught the eye of any of the girls around have you?” she teased.

“Ha…um, no I have not, just like the last 1000 times you’ve asked me, Aisha,” Dendrus stammered, blushing slightly, though whether out of shame or embarrassment it could not be known.  Secretly, a look of anger and annoyance clouded over Dendrus’ countenance, fading as soon as it appeared.

She really needs to stop!  She’s just doing that to annoy me. Urgh! Mmmmm, calm down, it’s not right to get angry.  She’s just teasing me…but she’s got a point though, I’m not exactly good-looking…I guess I’ll just have to hope someone likes me for my personality, not for my features.

All these thoughts whirred through Dendrus’ head, and he dismissed them, deeming them unimportant at the time.  However, he did have a point, though he was not as deplorably ugly as he made himself out to be.  At age 24 he was just over 6 feet tall, a fact which he appreciated immeasurably, for in his mind, it would not do to be bad looking and short.  He had longish jet black hair, which always seemed to be in some sort of disarray.  He had green eyes flecked with amber and extremely pale skin, a sharp contrast to the predominantly tan, blond, blue-eyed members of Althbear’s Legacy.

“Oh, well I’m sure it’ll happen sometime, don’t fret, everyone finds someone, Dendrus.” Aisha encouraged him.  She rather liked the young man, despite what people whispered about him and his inner demons.  She had in fact noticed the expression of anger cross his face, which was why she stopped teasing him.

“Yeah, that’s true, well, I’ll be off now, stay off your leg, you need to let it heal,” Dendrus said, distracted still with his smoldering anger.

Within Althbear’s Legacy, everyone was accepted, because everyone was needed.  However, Secorian pettiness still prevailed, and differences of any kind were treated with suspicion, however slight, and mistrust.  One of the main sources of contention were Dendrus’ occasional bout of violent anger.  It was not really Dendrus’ fault, it was how he was made.  He tried to do the right thing, but nobody is perfect, and sometimes he messed up.  It was the same with everyone else, the only difference was that his mistakes were slightly more public than the others.  Despite his imperfections, Dendrus did try to do the right thing, even when it was the last thing he wanted to do, but despites this, the rumors of his darker side still persisted, and he questioned if he would be allowed to stay if we was even slightly less skillful of a hunter.

The rumors had begun after he had gotten into an altercation with another boy at the age of 11.  The boy had insulted his mother in a very unseemly fashion, provoking a response of rage and indignation within Dendrus.  Unable to control himself, Dendrus had beaten the boy within an inch of his life, and so the rumors had begun.  Now, at the age of 24, the rumors were less abundant, most likely due to his high hunter status, but they still persisted, with a new rumor appearing every few months.  Some of the gossip was founded on truth, for Dendrus could not always control himself.  Some of the rumors, however, were baseless, and they made Dendrus angry because he did not know who was spreading them.

Dendrus was one of the top three hunters in Althbear’s Legacy, out of the 35 that went out every day into the trees.  He was especially skilled with the knives that the hunters were given, so much so that he was granted another one, often wielding a dagger in both hands.

As Dendrus neared the group of waiting hunters, of which about 20 had arrived already, a deep and terrible roar emanated from the far side of the village.  The roar persisted for a seemingly endless amount of time, and when it finally died down, silence rained in the village.  And then everyone, from the oldest man to the smallest child sprinted for the trees, climbing, higher, as high as they could go, to escape the certain death that waited them on the ground floor.

The hunters, in opposition to everyone else, ran towards the source of the roar, to stall it until everyone else had reached safety, then, and only then, could they make their escape to the trees.  None of the hunters ran for safety, for if they did, after, if anyone survived, they would be cast out of the village for shirking their duties.  It was a harsh punishment, but the hunters had been made to understand that their job was to provide food and protection for the members of Althbear’s Legacy.  It was the same for any villager, fail too many times or shirk your duties, and you were cast out of the village, deemed as dead weight.  In fact, this rule was so engrained in the hearts and minds that they considered it better to die than to be cast out and alone against the horrors of the forest.  If you had nothing to give, than the village had nothing to offer.  Such was the world they lived in.

As Dendrus and the other hunters arrived at the eastern outskirts of the village, what they saw shocked them.  Severed limbs, dead bodies, and blood were scattered everywhere, never before had any of the hunters, Dendrus included, witnessed such a scene of devastation.  Normally the efficiency of the villagers in escaping was flawless.  This efficiency came from knowing the capabilities of the local creatures and how to best avoid and escape them.

That this much death occurred meant only one thing, that something new had arrived within their forest, something unprecedented, something undocumented, uncatalogued, and that meant only one thing, a lot more people were going to die.

Normally, when faced with a monster attack, the hunters arrived at the scene to see a relatively familiar creature, whose capabilities, tendencies, and abilities were well known.  In this situation, however, the hunters were rushing blindly into a situation where they knew nothing about their opponent.  Despite this daunting prospect, none ran.  For they were hardened to death, and had lived in fear for most of their lives.

Dendrus and the others slowed their approach, and witnessed a horrifying, yet inspiring scene.  They six of saw their brothers, desperately trying to hold of an insidious looking creature.  It was roughly 12 feet tall when it stretched to its full height.  However most of the time, it hunched over at around 7 feet tall.  It was a kaleidoscope of greens and blacks, the colors undulating over its body in an almost mesmerizing pattern.  It had four arms, each with hands that were tipped with razor sharp claws that looked capable of dismembering a person with a single swipe.  It stood on inverted hind legs, that looked capable of extreme speed..  It had a tail, no two – three tails, each wielding a club like ball at the end.  They were whipping back and forth with extreme speed, batting away weapons attacking from behind as if it could sense them, which maybe it could.  Its head was adorned with sleek looking protrusions, not quite hair, but not quite limbs, hanging down below its shoulders.  Completing the eerie picture, two solid, dark purple eyes brimmed with a large amount of animalistic intelligence and cunning.  It was a magnificent creature.  Its sleek elegance betraying the danger inherent within its body.

Six hunters engaged the creature, holding it off as many villagers were trying to escape the scene.  Initially, the hunters seemed to gain ground, but then the creature blurred, impaling a mother and her son on its claws.  It emitted a harsh sound, almost akin to laughter.  The hunters, which included Bradock, their leader, just stood in grim silence, having already witnessed the overwhelming speed of the creature.

Dendrus had barely even seen the creature, and wondered how it was possible to defend aginst such a creature.  He quickly emerged from his own dark thoughts, the intensity of the situation clearing his mind.  The old anger that resided within him surged forth, however it was not black, evil anger, but righteous rage that burst forth from within him.  He was filled with a desire to end this abomination as he witnessed it watching the two villagers impaled on his second left arm’s claws.

It’s enjoying this! This monster, it HAS to DIE!!

“Dendrus, get the men over here, we have to hold this creature back to give the villagers time to escape!” Bradock commanded, urging Dendrus and his men over.

“Right…Let’s go men, for death and honor!” Dendrus roared, his vision almost red with anger.

There were only a few villagers left fleeing the scene, most of them injured or aiding the injured.  The hunters formed into a ragged semicircle, half surrounding the creature and cutting off its route to the villagers.  The five hunters and Bradock were all wounded to some degree, a testament to their efforts to hold the creature back.  No one asked where the other four hunters were, the evidence to their whereabouts strewn all across the forest floor and along the walls of the houses nearby.

The creature reared back, and gave an expression, almost akin to a grin, amused by the feeble efforts to hold it back.  It crouched, preparing the charge, and a fear fueled silence pervaded the battlefield.  As the creature reached the apex of its crouch, preparing to spring forward, time seemed to stand still for Dendrus, and as moment seemed to stretch, he noticed that everyone else had stopped moving, too.  In fact, they stopped moving entirely!  Even the blood trickling down a wound on Bradock’s neck had frozen its movement.

It was at that point Dendrus knew something was wrong, for he could still move, but nobody else, including the creature, could.  Little did he know that everyone else, including the creature were undergoing a similar phenomenon, though when his surviving comrades recanted their stories, they would be much different from his own.

He walked a step forward and ran into an invisible barrier.  He tried going backwards and sideways, but a similar event occurred each time.  He began to become confused and slightly afraid, the anger that was clouding his mind faded.  Just as he was about to scream for help, two voices emanated in his head.

“You have been chosen, young one, to receive great power.  Power enough to save a few of the lives of your fellow villagers, who would all otherwise perish.  However, this power comes with a cost, one of pain, sacrifice, and duty.  Should you accept, you will experience a journey that has never been experienced before.  You will fight gods, slay demons, and become a hero to many.  However, you will experience pain, loss, and rejection in multitudes.  You will face moral decisions that will expose parts of you that you may wish to have kept hidden.  This power, should you choose to accept it, will change you, tear you apart, and piece you back together, maybe not for the better.  But through it, the lives of millions of your people, the Secorians, will be saved.  Do you wish to receive this power, or do you wish to reject it? My partner, Vilantir, and I ask you, do you wish to become the Savior of Secoria?”

Prologue

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Prologue

From desolation, it appears.  From nothing, it grows.
From weakness, into strength.  From Darkness, into Light.
Formless, it begins, yet with Form does it end.
A mind of right, and yet filled with wrong.
For the world plunged in chaos, hope remains.
In one of two faces, trust must be placed.

And one who is Light, deceives us all.
And one who is Dark, begins to fall.
A fruitless duel, which never ceases.
All the while, the world splits in two,
Ever growing towards its doom.

Only those with a heart of two.
May mend the world back into one.
But in the end when peril is faced,
One heart shall be false, and one will be true.

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A recording of events long past, of fantastical adventure, of perilous danger, and of devastating choice.  A recording of a struggle surpassing all.  A recording of the grit and will to survive of one thrust into circumstances far beyond him.  A recording requested by him who is above all, to aid those who come after.  A recording for those who are afraid, lost, and alone, for those who are ignorant, for those who hold potential above any others.  A recording of prophecy and power, a recording of the most powerful being ever to exist.

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Our story begins on a world wracked with grief, a dying world.  One tortured by war and rent with strife.  Famine, disease, and despair are rampant, infecting the hearts of all.  With its resources depleted, and its resources sundered, the once proud planet of Secoria lies in ruins.  Its remaining population divided and broken, fighting over the remaining scraps of food, resources, and shelter.

The surface of Secoria is a barren wasteland, its once proud and wonderful lands now desolate, with deadly creatures roaming the lands, consumed in an endless cycle of killing.  These creatures traverse the many ruins dotting the surface, the only remnants of advanced civilizations that were consumed by the apocalypse.

The skies are constantly filled with ash, poison, smoke, and other, fouler things.  The light of the sun is only clearly seen a few times per year.  What light that does filter through the smog illuminates only enough to reveal the bleak hopelessness that this planet is eternally plunged in.

What sentient life remains huddles in the dark, struggling to survive, eating only from the scavenged remains of conflicts between terrible monsters.  Little hope remains, and people live their days out, suffering.

And yet, within all of this darkness, hope remains, in the form of two beings coming to Secoria.  These two beings, angels, as they might have been called, were of two sides of a coin.  One full of darkness, and wrong, the other full of light, and goodness.  Despite their differences, they both were laden with purpose, to deem whether this world was worth saving, or destroying.

Our story begins with their choice.  The choice of whether to scour this world clean, or become its saviors.  The choice of whether to sunder all Life, however pitiful, or renew it.  The choice of whether Secoria passes into myth, or becomes a place of wonder. This is a story of new beginnings, of a tale long past, of courage and cowardice, of honor and depravity, of love and hate.  This is the story of Dendrus Cell.

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