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The Soul Shrine

Post by Nighthand » Wed Apr 20, 2005 3:47 am

(Reposting for accessibility sake. This post originally posted Jul 26 2003, 05:46 PM)

After Nighthand completed his quest with Angelus, he decided he needed to be alone for a time, to reflect upon his new ‘life’. So, he turned for solitude to the very source of his need: The Game.

The first thing he did was visit the shops. He didn’t want to go into a field totally unprepared. He was going solo this time. He didn’t have anyone to help him out of a jam. Then he made his trip to the chaos gate.

For a moment he stood in place, watching the chaos gate in its serene spin. The runes inscribed on its surface shimmered and spun, circling the gate in their own little orbits. Finally, he took a deep breath, and interfaced with the gate.

Input Keywords

Soul's Eternal Cry

The gate interface chimed in acknowledgement, and the golden chaos rings surrounded him. With a slight sense of vertigo, he was moved to the field he had chosen.

The first thing he did upon arriving at the field was check it’s stats.

Level 1 Wooden Forest Field

Hmm… only a level one. No challenge. But then, a challenge isn’t what I came here for. It’s just a quiet place to rest and think.

Instead of randomly traipsing around in the forest, Nighthand opted for taking the path the had started on. It was little more than a trail of chopped grasses and broken twigs, but he could follow it. And follow it he did.

After some time spent walking, Nighthand grew concerned. I know this is a level one field, but shouldn’t there be at least one portal?

Curious, and even a little afraid, Nighthand walked on. He was afraid that this was a hacked field. He would not stand a chance against a hacker; not alone.

He realized that even though he had entered The World expecting to be a loner, he had come to rely on his friends. Armina, the cheerful girl. Nall, the fearless leader. Gingitsune, the Powerful Wavemistress. Ramza, his first contact here. Hijinx, the joker. Kayin, the newly hacked person. Asgard, the wanted man. Even the newcomers, Rayo, Ruri, Tokki, Vera, and Kodel. All of them were his friends.

(OOC: mods, before you get upset at the choice of keywords, I made them up because this is going to be a very unique field. Just wait and see what I mean. Trust me on this.)

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Post by Nighthand » Wed Apr 20, 2005 3:49 am

(This post originally posted Jul 26 2003, 10:47 PM)

He thought back to his life in the real world. Not that the term had any meaning any more. The game is now his ‘real world’.

All through his life, he had been a loner. An outcast. He was different, more focused on the past. He had yearned for magic and swords all his life. When the opportunity came to get into The World, he had jumped on it. It was just like he had always wanted his life to be like.

And now his life was The World.

Some people, back in his old life, had the will to associate with him. But most never even tried. But here, in the game, friends came to him. People he would never have met, never have talked to, came to him.

In more ways than one, the game was better than his old life.

Nighthand was shocked back into ‘reality’ by an unexpected noise. He listened hard, trying to spot it again.

There. That was it. A bird. A bird was chirping.

It was a new experience for him. Never before in his adventures had there been birds in a field. His fear of a hacker grew.

The sound now identified, Nighthand continued walking.

The next time he stopped, it was because of another strange thing.

Covering the ground in from of him was a structure. It was unlike anything he had seem before in the game.

Made out of marble and granite, it was a large plaza. It was roughly fifty yards in diameter, in a circular shape. The floor was checkered red and blue marble. Around the edges, twelve statues stood. He walked to each in turn.

The first showed a man in a medium weight suit of armor. At his hip was a katana. There was no inscription, but Nighthand could tell he was a powerful Heavy Blade.

Next in the circle was a female. She too wore medium armor, but her sword was drawn. It was a heavy claymore, by the looks of it. She was a Blademaster.

Continuing around the circle was another man. He held a long shaft in his hand, pointing inwards at an angle. On the tip was a mean looking blade, curved backwards. He was a Long Arm.

The fourth statue was of a young woman. She wore light armor, but held a weapon as long as the one on the previous statue. Hers was tipped by a large battle axe blade. She was a Heavy Axe.

Fifth around the plaza was another man. He too wore light armor. There were hooks one either side of his belt, both empty. Held in each hand was a three-pronged dagger, the blade forged to look like a thunderbolt. He was a Twin Blade.

Next in line was female. She wore a long flowing robe, and carried a staff. The staff was topped with the symbol for infinity, the sideways eight. She was a Wavemistress.

The seventh statue was another female. Her armor set was almost identical to that of the first statue. Strapped to her back was a sheath with a huge sword in it. She was a Heavy Blade.

The next statue was male. As Nighthand expected, he held a broadsword up at the ready. He was the perfect figure of a male Blademaster.

The ninth statue was female. Wearing very heavy armor, and carrying a large scythe, she was the female counterpart to the third statue. She was the female Long Arm.

Number ten was another male. He too was wearing heavy armor. In his hands was a long-shafted axe. He was obviously the male Heavy Axeman.

The eleventh statue was female. She held nothing in her hands, but there were two long knives hooked to her belt. The female Twin Blade, of course.

Upon gazing at the final statue, Nighthand gasped.

He was dressed in long robes, much like those that Ramza habitually wore. In his hand was a long wand made out of crystal.

It was a perfect likeness of the man who had followed Nighthand, appearing to him twice before.

It was Kiltran.

(OOC: if you don’t know about Kiltran, check the main site, in the adventure just before the Banshaku. At least, I think that’s where it is… I’m not sure.)

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Post by Nighthand » Wed Apr 20, 2005 3:52 am

(This post originally posted Jul 28 2003, 03:49 PM)

Nighthand couldn’t begin to interperate the meaning of the statue, so he turned. His gaze led him to the center of the plaza.

In the center was a fountain. It was old, but the water coming from it was still clear and cool. The centerpiece, however, was what caught his eye.

It was larger than the other statues, though it bore a certain resemblance to them all. Nighthand could not tell if it was male or female, but it had long hair hanging down over it’s shoulders. Its arms were out to the sides, palms out, fingers splayed. But perhaps the most remarkable thing of all was it’s wings. It had six wings, all protruding from it’s back. They looked like the wings Balmung had when Nighthand first saw him in Mac Anu. Underneath the statue, on the pedestal, was an inscription.

~~~The creators of the game made the world, but not the people. They created the Seraph, and it used the world created for it as a playground. The creators realized this, and found that this was not what they wanted. But since the Seraph was such a beautiful creature, they decided not to delete it. Instead, they added to it’s program. This addition caused the Seraph to realize the problems that it had caused. It realized that there was no way that people could live here with it’s play. So it divided.

It split itself into twelve characters. Six were male, six were female. All had a portion of the Seraph’s power. These characters became both the first players of the game, and the template for those who came after. Those twelve are commemorated in this plaza.

It is uncertain, but legend has it that the Seraph program still exists somewhere in the game. The creators loved it too much to completely get rid of it. The twelve original warriors programs still run, helping those that need help. Their names are here, and here alone.~~~

Gott, male Heavy Blade
Zeit, Male Blademaster
Maken, Male Long Arm
Sero, Male Twin Blade
Core, Male Heavy Axe
Kiltran, Male Wavemaster
Kara, Female Long Arm
Kish, Female Heavy Axe
Nera, Female Twin Blade
Arla, Female Wavemaster
Iyal, Female Heavy Blade
Litea, Female Blademaster

The list of names ended there.

Nighthand stood for a moment, contemplating.

So. I am modeled after Gott. Who’s name lives on in every dungeon. And I was twice in need of help on such a level that one of these…people…came to me. Makes you wonder…

He walked to the other side of the fountain. The path continued on from the plaza, so he continued to follow it. As he went on, the path gradually grew wider, and went from simple packed earth to actual cobblestones. In a bit of magnificent programming, it actually felt like it had been smoothed down by decades of use.

Eventually, he began seeing signs that the road was not the only bit of civilization left here. At first there were only small mounds on either side of the street. As he progressed, however, they grew larger and taller. They eventually took form, showing that they were once the foundations for buildings. These grew steadily newer in construction, and soon Nighthand was walking down a street of a town.

It grew so realistic that Nighthand could believe that there were once people living here. Though there was nothing on any website, manual or anything that mentioned such a place. He closed his eyes. It was almost as if he could hear the people, still going about their business…

His eyes snapped open. Around him, people moved. In and out of buildings, on down the road. Just like a city in the real world. He tried to talk to one of them, but he didn’t even look at Nighthand. He walked on. Nighthand stepped in front of one, figuring that he would have to at least acknowledge his presence, but the person walked on. Right through Nighthand.

Then he realized. None of this was real. The people were somehow memories that were left here, in a program seldom run.

Suddenly, the street was empty again. He paused, wondering what had triggered the vision.

“Oh, it wasn’t real in any case. I guess it doesn’t matter.” He said to himself.

“You believe that?” came a voice from behind him.

He spun, his sword drawn and ready. But then he put his sword away. The source of the voice was a little girl, dressed in green, with sapphire blue hair and eyes.

“Well, are you really?” he said.

“No. We were.”

“What happened?”

“The Game.”

“What do you mean?”

“This. The World was not meant to be a game. It was made to be a simulated reality. But for some reason the program was altered, and it became what you now call the World. But what you see around you here is all that’s left of what it was meant to be.

“For you see, a group of people decided to use the game for it’s original intent. They formed a small reality here. A few of them had enough hacking skills to create this special field. The people tracked down the original sixteen, and brought them here. To make sure they were never disturbed.

“But it came to an end. The sixteen lost to something, and players began to come. One by one, the inhabitants fled the city, until none remained. The society collapsed.”

Nighthand stood passively during this, listening. It all seemed a little stranger than it should be, coming from a little girl. He said nothing.

“Do you believe in your soul?” the girl asked.

“What? Yes, I believe the soul exists.”

“Do you believe in your soul?”

Nighthand paused.

“Yes.”

“Then come this way.”

The girl walked off, down a side street Nighthand hadn’t noticed until then.

Soon, the buildings were gone, and they were in the middle of the forest. They came to a clearing, and stopped.

In the center of the clearing was a building, a hallway leading down. Underground.

“This is the Soul Shrine. Enter, if you truly believe.”

Nighthand turned, to thank the girl, but she was nowhere to be found.

“Thank you, little girl.” He whispered to the wind. Then he prepared himself to enter the depths.

(OOC: don’t get the wrong idea. The girl is not Aura. She is merely a fragment of the program left over from its glory days. Now, it’s getting interesting, no?)

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Post by Nighthand » Wed Apr 20, 2005 3:53 am

(This post originally posted Jul 29 2003, 11:34 AM)

Nighthand walked to the doorway. The walls on either side were heavily carved, etchings of random images. Nothing of any import, so he proceeded into the darkness.

The walls, the deeper he went, began to glow softly. Not enough to live by, but enough to make out most of the corridor. And corridor it was, stretching down and down, into the earth.

Finally, the corridor ended in a small chamber. In the center of the room was a pedestal. On the pedestal was a circular slab of rock. Inset in the rock were six jewels. Each glowed it’s own unearthly color. Opposite the entrance was the archway leading on, but it was blocked by another stone slab. This one was too large to move. There was nothing but a blank face. The rest of the room was bare.

Suddenly, an image appeared. It was a likeness of one of the statues outside in the plaza. It was Gott, the heavy blade.

“Name the jewels. If you don’t name them all correctly, you will lose. Each jewel has two names. The penalty of loss is ejection from the game. You will be booted off the server and logged out.”

At first, this didn’t sound much like a penalty. But then, Nighthand thought, my body isn’t available. Where would I be if I was ejected. I can’t afford to find out.

Nighthand walked over to the jeweled slab. Reaching out, he touched a jewel. He could feel the power contained inside. He picked it up.

Underneath it was a pin. It was connected to the jewel, even made out of the jewel. Nighthand supposed this would be to write with. He walked to the slab on the other side of the room.

As he approached, the light shining from the jewel in his hand focused on to one spot. That was where he was to write. Using the jewel as a pen, he wrote.

Ruem
Water

And slid the jewel into place below the words. There was a click. He returned to get the next jewel.

Vak
Fire

The next.

Rai
Thunder

And again

Ani
Darkness

Juk
Nature

Gan
Earth

As he slid the final jewel into place, the click was louder. The six gemstones pulsed, and flared. The words he had written merged, and stretched into on long line to the center. Then each gem drew a line in one direction, connecting it to the gem clockwise from it. Now all connected, they began to rotate around the central axis.

They spun, faster and faster, until they were just a disk of light. There was a sharp crack, and the stone slab exploded into a cloud of dust. Nighthand covered his face, waiting for the dust to settle. When the air had cleared, the gemstones were back where he had found them, and the way ahead was clear. He moved on.

In the next room, there was a rack of weapons. There were six weapons, all lined up against the wall. In the center was a wheel, the spokes were carved hands.

The people that appeared in this room were all six of the female characters. They all stood on a spoke of the wheel. None had their weapons.

“Give us our weapons.” They said as one.

Nighthand first inspected the hands. They were identical. The only thing that was different between them was a pair of letters on each wrist. He looked up, but the people images had disappeared. He went to the rack of weapons.

Hmm… one hand had DK written on it. What weapon could that be…

DK. Drawn Katana? He looked, but there was no katana. One out.

Dual Knives? Again he looked. The twin blade weapon caught his eye. Dual Knives. He brought the weapons over and placed them in the palm of the hand. It closed around them. He had the first right. Now for the second.

Now that he knew the way to do it, it was almost no problem. EM, Elemental Magician, the wavemaster. AM, Axe Master, the Heavy Axe. PM, Pikeman, the Long Arm. MS, Master Swordsman, or Blademaster. And finally, LS, Large Sword, Heavy Blade.

Once all of the hands had their weapons, the arms lifted, revealing a passage further into the earth. He descended.

As he went, he thought.

This isn’t so much a Soul test. More of an intelligence test. Nothing here had anything to do with my soul… I wonder what’s next.

The room he came upon next was very large. More of a cavern than a room. In the very center was a huge statue of the Seraph. Made of solid rock, it looked ancient.

This time it was Kiltran who appeared. He simple said one word.

“Win.”

Then the images of all sixteen appeared. One by one they fly into the statue. One in the left arm, one in the right. One in each wing, of the six on it’s back. One in each leg, left and right. One in the head, and three into the torso. That left only two, the male and female Long Arms. They turned into living energy, and merged. They formed a long spear, the size that the Seraph would use.

As the energy infused the statue, it took on a more fleshy tone. It became flesh. It can to life.

And if Kiltran was true, he had to defeat it.

He had no idea where to begin.

(OOC: well? Getting excited yet? Intrigued? Where does the soul come in? read on, my friends, and find out.)

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Post by Nighthand » Wed Apr 20, 2005 3:55 am

(This post originally posted Jul 29 2003, 11:32 PM)

The Seraph advanced. Nighthand had underestimated the size of the room. It was even larger, and so was the statue. It towered over him.

How can I hope to win against this?

He decided to try a few attacks. He ran to the statues gigantic leg, and put all his strength into a slash at the ankle.

His sword stopped, and rebounded sending a shock through his arms. It was as if the thing was still made of stone. He jumped, already charging his sword with fire. At the apex of his jump, she shouted.

“Vak Drive!”

he came down in a powerful chop on the foot. Upon impact, his sword again stopped. His blow was powerful enough to crack a guardian in half, but it didn’t even chip the Seraph. His arms cracked, sending wave after wave of searing pain into him. Than, as if that wasn’t enough, the fire energy was repulsed by the Seraph, going back into him.

That is not what you want extra energy to do. Especially if it’s fire.

It was a blinding pain. His entire body felt burned, like his blood was on fire. He collapsed on the ground, unable to move.

He cast a repth spell on himself. It dulled the pain some, but not enough to make it gone. It was just slightly less painful than unbearable. He raised his sword again.

The Seraph looked down on him. There was no expression on it’s face, but it was as if it pitied him. He looked away. It brought it’s spear down at Nighthand. He raised his sword to block, and it was knocked out of his hands. The spear struck him, sending him crashing into the wall. His sword lay at his feet.

Repthing himself again, he recovered his sword. He had to find a weak spot, and fast.

The Seraph turned, to see the results of its attack. It still had that pitying look to its face. It was maddening. And Nighthand had nothing available to him that could help.

Again and again, the Seraph rebounded his attacks, sending him flying each time. It grew increasingly harder to stand.

After another attack, again failing, Nighthand just couldn’t get up. He just lay on the ground, praying for a swift death. He had no more sp for repth, nothing to recover him. He was prepared. Prepared to face the end.

He struggled to stand. If he was going to die, he didn’t want to do it on his face. He wanted to see the final blow. With leaden arms, he lifted his sword, to block the final strike.

The strike came. There was no hesitation. Nighthand blocked it with his blade. The sword shattered, and the spear crashed into his body. He could feel ribs breaking, puncturing organs.

The Seraph was too powerful. There was no way to win. He had come here to die.

He resigned himself to death. After all he had been through, this was it. No one would know. None of his friends would know where he had gone, what had happened. He would die, and the rest would live. Soon he would fade from memory, and be left forever lost.

His friends. He wouldn’t even have the chance to say goodbye to his friends. He would never see them again. His friends in the real world were also lost. His father. He wouls never be able to see his father again.

As Nighthand’s thoughts spiraled downward, the Seraph stood, silently watching him. It was almost is if it was reading his thoughts.

His friends.

HIS Friends

His FRIENDS!!

Nighthand felt an energy grow inside him. He felt it mending his bones, healing his limbs. He stood, healed and ready again. Except for one thing.

His sword lay shattered on the ground.

Immediately his hopes sank again. He finally realized the hopelessness of his situation. He was going to die, without even the chance to defend himself.

He was going to die.

Thus resigned, he walked to the Seraph. It still stood, calmly watching him. He looked up at it, and spread out his arms to the side.

“Kill me, Seraph. I cannot win against you. I am resigned to my fate. Kill me.”

There was a long moment, then the Seraph raised its spear. It swung down in a sideways slash. Arms still spread, Nighthand prepared for the impact that would take his life.

He felt the spear touch his side. But he felt no pain. He opened his eyes.

The spear had gone by. It had passed through his body, causing no damage, no pain.

He was still alive.

He looked up at the Seraph. It shook its head, and took a step backwards, so it was in the center of the room. The spirits of the sixteen left it, and it returned to stone once again. The sixteen gathered in a circle around him. One by one they spoke, all saying parts of the same passage, making it seem as if there was only one person talking.

“You have searched your soul, and come up with the reason you still live. The Seraph cannot claim the life of one who knows this. The Seraph congratulates you. You have won. Here.”

One of the people came forward. He presented Nighthand’s Magnifier to him, whole and in one piece.

“From this point on, your weapon will never break, no matter what weapon you choose to have. This is part of the Seraphs power. It has granted this power to you.”

The sixteen disappeared, and Nighthand looked around. There was a doorway on the pedestal the Seraph stood on. Nighthand walked to it, and the gate opened as he approached. Nighthand stepped through and found himself on the outside. He was back where he had started from, outside the Soul Shrine.

(OOC: but wait! There’s more! The next post will be the final one. What is the exciting conclusion? Find out on the next episode of: The Soul Shrine!)

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Post by Nighthand » Wed Apr 20, 2005 3:56 am

(This post originally posted Jul 31 2003, 04:08 PM)

The little girl appeared again.

“You have found your meaning. Now, come with me.”

I followed her along a virtually invisible path, and we soon re-emerged in the city. At the end of the street, our obvious destination, was some kind of alter. We soon were up next to it.

“This is the Altar of the Seraph. The Seraph decided that it should one day be reborn, and added a subroutine to its parts, the sixteen. They created this altar. If ever a player recovers a part of the Seraphs powers, this field will be opened for them. They are guided to this altar, and the power is copied. Place you hand upon the stone.”

Nighthand reached out and unhesitatingly placed his hand on the cool stone. He felt suddenly full, then back to normal. The altar started glowing a bit, and then faded.

“The power of Indestructible is now returned.”

“How many have been restored?”

“One.”

“So I am the only one to ever recover one of the Seraphs powers?”

“Yes.”

Nighthand thought for another moment.

“What will happen when the Seraphs powers are all returned?”

“The Seraph will be returned to us. It will see the state of The World, and leave to create its own. The residual effects of its powers will be removed. The World will remain intact, but without the benefit of the Seraph or the Sixteen.”

“What if they are not?”

“Over the past year, the sixteen have been gaining power. If they are not removed from this world through the return of the Seraph, they will soon have too much power. Then one of several things can happen. The World could reject them, and crash without the proper removal. Or, they could run wild, and cause havoc in the system and outside of it the likes of which has not been seen on this world. Or worse, the hackers that have invaded could take control of them and become unstoppable.”

Upon mention of the hackers, Nighthand made up his mind.

“How many more powers are there?”

“Fifteen. There is one for each of the sixteen.”

“I will find them and return them. The hackers must not be allowed to have this power.”

For the first time since Nighthand had met her, the girl looked as if she was something more than a recording. She met his eyes. For a moment Nighthand gazed into those sapphire blue orbs, then she lowered them, closing them at the same time.

“Thank you.” She whispered.

Before Nighthand could reply, she shimmered and faded into a mere outline of her former self. The outline began to glow, and it stretched into the air, turning into a beam of light. Then she was gone.

Nighthand looked around him, but there was nothing else to do. So he entered his menu, and logged out of the field.

(OOC: nice, huh? I would have had the Seraph see the state of The World and decide to renew it, freeing it of all corruption, but that would defeat the entire purpose of the role-play we have going, and I don’t want to do that. I like it here too much. But I did set up a residual quest for me to do whenever I’m in subs. In fact, I may start working on it now so it’s ready when I next come… maybe. BTW mods, it’s now done.)




(Rayo's 'grade' post, posted Jul 31 2003, 05:21 PM:

Well...good job Nighthand!

(sorry but you know we can't reward because of main))

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