The Chosen

The powers of the Chosen are growing, but so too grows the power of the Void. It is, and has ever been, unstoppable – even for the Maker. And now, the Void is more powerful than ever.
Only by uniting do the Chosen stand a chance against it. The powers of good and evil, light and darkness must come together as one. Divided, they all will die.
But first, they must reach the besieged city of Lock Core, where the Dark Army is spilling into their world. And during their journeys, they must learn that there are many paths to the city, but only one path will lead them to victory.
To follow the Maker’s path . . . it is the only way.
Though the path was paved for them ages ago, they must find it soon, else the Void reclaims all of creation.

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5. NATHALIA

 

 

 

 

Death . . . it was denied to her – as was life. 

She was adrift . . .

Her flesh had become like a dream, ethereal.  Only with focus was she able to take form, and even then she was but a silhouette of her former self -- a memory . . . a memory of flowing golden hair and eyes of grey and white.

Reality remained, but to her it had become meaningless -- nothing more than a blur; a collage of images warped by the stream of time.  She watched it fall before her, all of it inexorably sinking into oblivion.  She tried to follow it, longing to end it all and become one with the spiraling pit of light and darkness.  But the closer she came to it, the stronger the forces worked to repel her – both energies; light and darkness working as one to keep her away. 

She truly had nothing now, even the Void denied her.

Her friends, her family, her love; they were forbidden to her.  Even if she could reach out to them through the current of time, what would they think of her?  Would they condemn her as infected?  Call her Shal’in Ome?  Or would they see a monster -- the result of their own monstrous act?

Love . . .

It had only been an unattainable dream.  The moment she dared to believe it had finally been fulfilled, life itself was taken from her.  And because of her death – because he was the cause of it -- her lover had become such a dark stain on reality that, for the first time in her existence, she feared he could no longer be redeemed. 

Since the day she had found him half dead in the High Tower, she had always believed in him -- in his innocence, goodness, and strength -- even when he had not.  She had always believed he would one day prove himself a great man, and that only the infected would come to call him ‘Destroyer’.  And to the living, he would become a savior. 

But now . . .

Her love for him would be consumed, along with the rest of reality.  And in time, the dark stain would erase everything.  Even the pit of coalescing light and darkness would be no more.  Only darkness would remain . . . 

. . . and Nathalia.

She was damned to watch her lover put an end to reality.

And of course the Destroyer would be there as well.  In the end it would be just the two of them, together, but more alone than ever, forever drifting in the Void.  

“Unnerving isn’t it, sister?  To see reality this way,” a soft voice spoke, somehow breaking through the thunder and roar of reality’s death as it fell into the maelstrom of the Void.  Nathalia would have said the voice spoke in her mind – but she no longer had one.  It was more like the sound moved through her, vibrating her soul until it formed sound.

Soon after, the speaker materialized -- a lithe, adolescent form.  Her golden hair shimmered in and out of existence.   Her white pupils locked on Nathalia’s own, and seemed filled with sadness and sympathy.  She wore a dress, embroidered at the neck and sleeves with golden thorns.  The dress was as white as her skin, and with every motion, fabric and flesh blurred into one.  Where her feet should have been, there was only dress – trailing behind her like mist.

Her pointed ears, and white eyes made it plain she was an elf, cursed as was Nathalia.  But unlike Nathalia, she would forever remain a child. 

Imagined tears fell from Nathalia’s eyes.  How could one so young know the sadness of Shal’in Ome. . . and to succumb to the welcome of death through suicide?  It seemed unthinkable.   Suddenly her own suffering was insignificant to what the child must have endured . . . both in life and death.  To think, this child had a millennium of life before her, and she had willingly thrown it away.  What a horror her life must have been.  What the elf child must have lost.

“In the beginning we found it so as well.  But in time we learned . . .”

The being took a single step, yet somehow closed the distance between them – what seemed like twenty feet.  She was over a head shorter than Nathalia, but drifted upwards so they were at eye level.  Her white eyes appeared a mirror of Nathalia’s own.

“Who are you?”  Nathalia asked, discovering with a bit of concentration she could cause vibrations in the air, recreating the sound of her own voice.

“I am Carillign . . .”

The ghost-child hesitated, her body nearly vanishing altogether.

“. . .  or so I once was known.  Now, we are but Shal’in Ome.  And I am Carillign the Cursed.”

She solidified; her white flesh momentarily lifelike.

“Where am I, Carillign?  What happened to us?”

As far as we know, this place has no name.  In our time here, we have met few in this land, and even the most ancient of them knew but little.  We know only that we exist outside of reality, and that we have been forsaken.  The gift of Adros’ blood, which makes us immortal and immune to the Plague, becomes a curse when spilt by one’s own hands.  Now, we are death to the living, but ourselves unable to fully die.”

“Like the infected,” Nathalia cursed.

No.  Thank the Gods you are not like them.  You still control your soul, sister.  We can steal life, but we have no ‘hunger’ for it.  We are not slaves to our need to feed, like the Soulless. Forsaken we may be, but it can even be said our new home grants us a unique perspective.” 

She nodded her own golden curls at the vortex.

“Eventually you will learn to read the ‘stream’, and when you do, the path of those you left behind will become clear.”

One such path was already all too plain to see.

“By looking in, we can see what the living, and even the dead, cannot.  We can see the end.”

Nearby, another elf child shimmered into existence, female as well, though shorter and thinner than the first.  They were obviously sisters.  Expect for their difference in size, the pair of girls could have passed for twins.

“For some time we watched it – the end,” the newcomer said.  “Many souls came and went, came and went.  Like a pattern that seemed to repeat itself for all time.  No matter what occurred, the pattern remained the same – new life born, another link in the chain, but the end . . .”

“Was never the same,” another voice spoke, lighter than the others, yet so powerful Nathalia’s imagined body shook.  “It . . . evolves.”

It took a great deal of her willpower to quiet her form, and try to focus her ‘vision’ on the latest elf child.  Before she could compose herself, she felt something soft on her right hand; a touch so gentle and calming it instantly filled her with peace.  Nathalia saw a delicate little hand gripping her own.  It was milky white, and though it was soft, the hand seemed solid and real – not like her own ghostly flesh.  The cherubic bald--headed elf was no taller than her hip, and had eyes so wide and white just to look upon them vibrated her soul.

“It was then we realized . . . the Void was alive,” the small, elf child continued.  “And since the birth of time it has been changing . . . but changing into what, we did not know.”

“We watched as it continued evolve, wondering what it sought to become,” the middle child said.  “We delved deeper into the ‘stream’, and it became clear to us . . .”

“It was becoming an abomination,” youngest child interjected.  “Guided by the hand of chaos, it entered our reality.  Where it went, the barrier between life and death dissolved.”

“The Plague . . .,” Nathalia replied.

The sisters nodded as one.

“The ‘stream’ itself, was corrupted, reversing its flow.” Carillign said.

Nathalia saw it now.  Not all of the darkness was consumed.  Some made it out -- black threads creeping back up the stream.

“Death should be objective; neither good nor bad, merely adaptable to completing its purpose: an end to the living,” the eldest child continued. 

“But it adapted to the Plague,” the smallest child said.  “Becoming more than it was ever meant to be – pure evil.”

Nathalia took the child’s hand and gripped it tightly; desperate to hold on to something real.

“We saw the coming of an end to it all . . . all of creation.  We thought surely in the end reality would die,” the middle child said.

“We see far . . .” the children said, their three voices echoing one another.

“But the end of time is farther still,” the smallest child said.  “At some point, reality will cease to be.  If we fail to stop the spread of chaos, that point in time will come soon.  And it will be because of him.”

The child’s hand dissolved, slipping from Nathalia’s grip like smoke, then reformed, pointing to a section of the ‘stream’.

Nathalia dreaded to look, fearing the obvious conclusion – that Alec was now her enemy.  But the child showed her a new enemy; one she would have feared to face even at her boldest moment of life.  Wherever Alec went, reality crumbled.  Wherever this being went, reality was infected.  It didn’t just devour it, it possessed it.

“There is but one path,” the smallest child said.  “We have seen that path, and the one who can stop the chaos . . . and the one who can heal it.”

It was as the elder child had said; she could read the stream now, and the path of those she loved became suddenly clear.  The children were right; there was only one who could stop the spread of corruption that was the latest incarnation of the Void.

Nathalia had been right too.

Alec dealt annihilation in droves, but only to the Dead Worlds. 

Alec was a great man.

But if he was to become a savior, he would need help.

Nathalia could also see that his own destructive path was on a direct collision course with the avatar of the Void.

‘Looks like I’ll be saving your ass once more, Alec.’

Her thoughts turned to such a riotous laughter that two of the ghostly elf children appeared startled, and faded away.  The littlest one stayed, giving Nathalia a smile that was every bit as honest and innocent as a true elf child.

“If he is to have a chance he will need the girl.”

“Emily . . .”

She saw it . . . the one who could heal . . . and she knew what she had to do.

“You can return, but beware; you will be death to them,” the elf child said, as if reading her thoughts.

“Not to her.”

She saw Emily through her new ‘unique’ perspective.  She had always known the girl was powerful, but could never have imagined her true potential.

“No,” the elf child said, looking at Emily’s lifeline with obvious admiration.  “Not to her.  Only the Abomination is death to her . . . if he cannot stop it.”

Nathalia grew somber, her body rigid and poised as if she once more faced a field of opponents – orchid blades in her hands.  And for a moment they were, flickering with a silver light.  But she quickly sent them away . . . she had other weapons now.

“I won’t fail,” Nathalia said, glaring at the timeline.  “I died to save them once . . . no matter what hell I’m in, I would gladly do it again.  If I have to give my soul to save them, then so be it.”

“So be it . . .” the elf child said, still smiling as she faded away . . .

Nathalia became death, and she too faded away, her soul flowing back into the stream of reality.

 

 

 

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