“To fall so foolishly, how did it come to this?” Zeran muttered to himself while trying to prop himself up. Through his veins now flowed poison blocking any kind of magic rendering Archmage virtually powerless. He quickly tried thinking of events that led to his downfall this day.
Zeran Silvarium was a great mage. He had lived for over three millennia amassing amazing fortune and power. He fought a number of threats, including Demon Lords and Gods, survived and prevailed each time to bring piece and prosperity to the lands of man. He persevered through numerous challenges saving those he loved, bringing his friends and family with him wherever he went. And now he was lying on the floor, powerless and helpless, while his young new wife was looking down at him, with a malicious smile believing herself to be the victor.
He remembered now. For 500 years there were no wars. Evil has perished from this world, leaving behind a pure and wonderful lands, with inhabitants able to enjoy and live happily. At first he was cautious believing that evil would return one day or another, but after 200 years of quiet he decided to retire to his homeland and devote himself to research. He built a grand tower higher than any mountain reaching far above clouds a beacon to his greatness. Such self-indulgence he though of it, but there was no one to protest, it’s not like he used slaves or robbed someone of money. Plus, he deserved such a small trinket for himself.
And so he secluded himself within with his family living close occasionally taking a wife from somewhere within the world. Around him from a small village grew a massive city representing power and purity. He would overlook from his tower over the world helping those in need and securing peace. And he researched trying to learn more mysteries of magic creating new spells or uncovering secrets. He had no clear goal, he only thought of happiness for his people regardless of blood ties.
And like that he became blind, forgetting that if there are people, evil may blossom within their hearts. It was the first lesson he learned in his adventuring days, yet one he easily forgot. And it cost him everything.
Firstly, it was his new wife, one of descendants of his close friend to whom he never had any blood ties. At first glance, he fell in love with such great beauty. Enamoured by her, he immediately brought her into the family. He thought they would live happily, but she had other plans. Slowly she began abusing her newfound power over others. ‘Realm-masters wife’ she was, being able to do pretty much anything she wanted. But hew tastes couldn’t be sated by riches or magic she was given. She began craving more. Zeran knew nothing of it just staying in his laboratory experimenting, he missed first signs of distress within his kingdom.
Then, most of his servants were replaced, cutting his ties to the outside world. He didn’t notice it as news given to him were always peaceful. Now he wouldn’t hear of of atrocities his wife or her brother committed. He rarely emerged from the top of the tower and when he did, he was told that everything was just as before. All his contacts with the outside were limited, so he would remain ignorant. Not that there was a real limit, he could if he wanted look anywhere within his realms but there just was no reason to because of 500 years of peace.
Lastly, his beloved granddaughter who lived with him, learned of Zeran’s new wife’s abuse of power and wished to tell him so, but she was taken away by wife’s brother as a “gift”. Only after his “little flower”, didn’t come to visit him for a while and he couldn’t find her anywhere, when he began to to suspect something. But by then it was too late. His wife poisoned Zeran’s drink, her brother brought massive armies and lead march on Zeran’s tower, slaughtering or taking hostage everyone on the way to it.
And now there they were in Zeran’s chamber, with Ilian, his wife, and Malgern, her brother, standing in front of a fallen Archmage, grinning their teeth and tasting victory. The only other person that Zeran knew was his head maid, who led Malgern’s forces through tower to the chamber. She was wearing some ragged clothes, with bruises and blood over her. Zeran knew, that she had to go through a lot of unpleasant experiences because of the duo in front of him. He tried standing, casting spells or even reaching for a blade, but he couldn’t.
“Don’t bother dear, the concoction I poured in your drink is the most powerful poison within this realm. Even such demigod like you can’t resist it’s effects…” Illian began her victorious speech, but Archmage no longer listened to her.
With what remained of his power he turned to head maid. Seeing this she rushed to him and wiped blood from his face.
“I’m sorry, I could do nothing. They forced me here” she began to cry while tending to her master.
“Don’t worry, there was nothing you could do. It’s my fault that it all happened this way. I failed my people”
“No master, it’s the people who failed you” she cried, still having bloody rag in her hand.
Zeran mustered his strength and caught her hand.
“Tell me, how many are left within this tower?”
Looking at her with calm and loving gaze he murmured to her “I am sorry Karra”
She quickly composed herself and gave a quick reply “It’s ok master, I am ready”
Then, he let go of her hand and fell to the floor. For what he was going to do next, he needed all his power. He could no longer cast magic, no matter how powerful or small, but there was something else he could do. Through the years of researching himself, he learned of the immortal part of him, his soul, which was a powerhouse of energy. It’s power dwarfed any god or man in this realm. Within each person was such a thing, yet no one knew it. It was unknown art and as of this day, it was to remain unknown.
While his enemy continued her victorious speech, he concentrated within himself reaching towards something within. After a few minutes he felt a thread at the edge of his perception. Slowly he pulled on it, knowing what was about to happen next. A magic circle unfolded within himself releasing the power. Once again he lifted his head and whispered “Good bye” to a women close to him.
At next moment he exploded. Enormous power came rushing from within, filling the chamber in flames and consuming everything around. It didn’t stop and pushed on, destroying the tower and everyone within. Massive flash of light could be seen miles away, and deafening sound could be heard few moment after. Explosion could be called ‘Nuclear’, but there was no radiation or any such danger hidden within. It was born of massive power within archmage’s soul, used to burn away the sin born of his ignorance. He was dead but so were his enemies. He left this world as pure as he could.
What was left of his soul, with tens of thousands of others rushed from this world to another. There they met a torrent of many other souls and together with them swirled around in a massive whirlpool of infinite many other souls. The was nothing left of Zeran’s consciousness, he couldn’t observe nor remember what was happening. But even such a great mage as he would be astounded by the sight before him. The whirlpool was grand, massive, gigantic, titanic… no words could truly describe it. It was the biggest thing in existence. Every soul of every being, once it reached the end of it’s life came here, to purify it’s essence, leaving behind memories and experiences it encountered through life and to carry on living again, in some other place. Of course, great beings could rip souls could out of it, but to ordinary humans it was an imminent thing that could not be avoided. The grandeur of such place would drive anyone insane and even Gods avoided it and only came when in dire need.
For many millennia the souls swirled here out of place and time with no limits and bounds endlessly circling the great eye of the whirlpool only getting closer to purification. Although may be only few moments have passed, no one would be sure in such a place as this. A small light that used to be Zeran Silvarium began to glow. Around it appeared circles and diagrams, runes and words. This continued for a while, until it began to vibrate, violently like a beast trying to escape its cage, thrashing about but still circling the eye of the storm. Then it changed its trajectory, and flew away going somewhere… else.
A lonely soul floated within void. It was nowhere, in space between worlds flying without direction. The time didn’t pass here and distance also didn’t matter so after ‘some’ time the soul reached it’s destination. Touching a light within void, the soul was sucked into the world and became part of it. As it was going deeper, it swirled around a whirlpool but this time, it wasn’t as massive as the one before. Much smaller number of souls, in tens of thousands swirled here. They were here not to be purified, but to be transformed into shape that needed to live here. All but one soul were white, pure and translucent. But the one soul had colour and texture, it wasn’t pure, but when it entered middle of the whirlpool, it still changed. Whatever it was before got repressed and hidden deep within and over the top was painted something new and entirely different. If it was red before now it was grey, spiky turned smooth and hard turned soft. Then the soul slowly floated and became part of this world.
Beyond human perception there was a crack in reality. Only those gifted in arcane arts or those with a certain ‘power’ could see such crack. But whatever came through could be seen by everyone. Tiny wisps – small pockets of light, barely sentient, came through and floated around the crack. Once they became part of the world they did nothing, having no thoughts or direction but flew around the crack. Their existence was barely noticeable, as their incorporeal bodies could not be eaten and energy hidden within was too miniscule for any mage to notice. Regardless of that fact, there were few people who often came to this location to hone their skills. Groups of students often came to practise their magecraft and swordsmanship on somewhat small and mobile targets. It required quiet a bit of finesse to hit a tiny target like a wisp. And the number of these light spirits never dwindled, they soon returned as if they never had their form destroyed.
Amongst these spirits was one, whose interior was not of normal faded grey colour. No one noticed when it first appeared, but every time his existence has been destroyed and reformed within the crack, the grey colour on his soul faded, revealing what was behind. It would be hard to accurately tell how much time has passed since his appearance, because spirit was not sentient until the colour from his previous life came through the greyness, and no one from outside could distinguish him from any other. Regardless, at some point consciousness formed very similar to one that soul within the wisp had before. Firstly, it just observed everything around it, then, regaining it’s memories it began to think.
‘Alive? Am I… Alive?’ thoughts slowly formed within the mind of the wisp.
Becoming familiar with it’s surroundings and with it’s memories, wisp soon realised what it has been before and what happened to me.
‘It was success. Rebirth really happened. My research paid off’.
Rebirth. Reincarnation. Beginning anew. That was the goal of an archmage whose name once was Zeran Silvarium. Grown tired of all the power and status he aquired, he wished to start a new life as a normal man and enjoy his time being acquainted with ladies and drinking through his days. Not that he was restricted from doing so, but such things as bar fight and quarrels with others, which he enjoyed so much in his adventuring days no longer happened. No one would dare to lift his fist against ‘Uniter of the realm’ or ‘Demigod Zeran’.
Now his dream was realised. He spent years, inscribing magical formations into his very soul and now he knew it was not all in vain. He became so ecstatic at the though of his success, that he didn’t see a number of problems he was presented with.
As small light was enjoying thoughts of his success, from some distance away a group of adolescents made their way closer, slashing wisps with swords and piercing their tiny forms with magical spells. Wisp, whose former name was Zeran didn’t notice them for some time. When he did, his heart, or what he had in it’s place sunk.
‘Foolish. 3 millennia made me so foolish. How could I forget such a simple thing and arrogantly go forth with my plans without making sure of everything being in its place. I knew there was something I had forgotten.’
Small light spirit was dismayed by one simple fact – he was reborn not within his own realm, but in a foreign and alien world. How did he know this you ask? Simple. Within his own realm there were
no beast-kin or any non-human beings. And here, before him was a pair of humanoids that looked reminiscent of a dog and a cat. Because he encountered something he never seen before set his train of thoughts in the right direction, swiftly leading him to conclusion that made him curse himself.
‘Idiot. Damned old fart. No wonder some pesky little things overpowered you and brought you down…’ he thought to himself.
While he cursed himself, the group slowly drew closer, extinguishing many of lights spirits. They were quiet diligent in their task, because they knew that if you slay enough beings, even such insignificant things as these, you still could get increase in power. As they made their way towards certain wisp’s position, he noticed them and began observing them. One curious thing he immediately noticed were small lights coming from slain spirits and entering their bodies. As he tried concentrating his vision, he slowly penetrated mortal flesh of the group not far from him and saw what was hidden deep within them. He now could easily see their souls, the torrents of lights of magnificent power encased within tiny shells of flesh and blood. This was something that Zeran had to meditate and use a lot of his power in previous life, but here it was easily done through little focus. This delighted former archmage, because now he could make great advancement in his research. With such thoughts he noticed something he didn’t see before – around the torrents of power were swirling some additional orbs of similar lights and souls of people burned brighter each time orbs came close to touching it. Also, the lights he saw before were entering bodies of these people and coming towards orbs and made them bigger by a tiny, barely noticeable amount. This was very curios to Zeran, who observed such a phenomenon for a first time.
Having spent enough time looking at a curious group before him, he decided to reach out to them. Only he made no sound and couldn’t move his hands. He had no lips or tongue and no hands. This was the first time he noticed his new form. If it was not for the fact he only barely regained consciousness and not for the group of adventurers before him, he would have figured such a detail much faster. This piece of information shocked him as it was perhaps the most important think he needed to know. Once Zeran learned the truth about his form, despair came over him.
You see, in his own realm Zeran learned of such things as wisps and other incorporeal beings and there were some facts that were same amongst majority of them. Firstly, it was nearly impossible for their inner reserves of energy to grow beyond what they had upon creation, and wisps had smallest pools of energy amongst all. Secondly, such things were virtually immortal, as long as conduits, through which they entered the world remained. A crack in reality nearby was one such conduit, making conscious wisp unable to carry on to next life, regardless of his actions, as he would just be reformed and ejected here again. To sum it up, his situation was pitiable, as he now faced spending the rest of eternity neither being able to escape nor to grow strong.
As he reflected on the possibility of spending the rest of eternity in this form, the group of youngsters came closer, once again attracting his attention. He turned to face them only to realise that he could see in every direction at once at all times. The mages in the group now grew tired of casting spells, and instead chatted amongst themselves. Swordsmen still carried on their magnificent task of eradicating evil in the form of tiny speckles of light.
One of the swordsmen came towards sentient wisp and aimed his sword in preparation for a swing. As he performed marvellous swing at a wisp, it moved out of the way, dodging the sword. Seeing this, swordsman once again tried hitting the wisp, only to miss once more. With such result, he turned towards one of the girls behind him and shouted few words to her. While words themselves were foreign to Zeran, he understood their meaning through telepathy,
“Mil, you seem to be in luck today. This one is lively enough for you”
Hearing such words, a girl from the group of mages instantly lit up and ran towards Zeran and swordsman. With a happy expression she came very close a wisp and reached out her hand towards it. Zeran felt a slight pull from her hand, and deciding to resist, he flew away.
“Yes, yes!” the girl exclaimed with excitement. Hearing this, the rest of the group stopped what they were doing and came close to the girl.
“Well finally, out little Mil is going to have a bound spirit.” the other swordsman directed words towards her. “I’ve grown a little tired coming here every day for a month”