Only two weeks ago it seemed as if all hope was lost, and now The Citadel is rebuilding. I’ve been so busy the past few days I haven’t had time to write. I’m a member of the Panov now, along with Zayn, Ulfgar, and Gonsun, a group of people who used to be slayers under me. My head is spinning, let me try to recount what happened.
Halfway from The Citadel to Coldrock, we camped for the night. Gonsun and I were keeping watch when a large, furry mammal resembling a giant hamster wandered into our camp. We were unsure of it, as it made no moves to attack and we did not want to start a conflict. It wandered into Julius’s tent. We followed it and managed to catch up to it just in time to see it hook its claws around Julius’s clothing, and begin to perform…actions, upon him.
Because it wasn’t actually killing him. (And frankly, it was Julius) We just left it alone.
The next morning, during the night, both Zayn and Ulfgar claimed to have had visions given to them by a strange ethereal voice. First, they had been led in the direction of a “cave” showing them where to go, and second, they had seen inside the mind of Schem Grevhton, who had led an expedition to Majak and gained some kind of terrible power. With nothing else to go off of, we decided to follow them to this supposed cave. However, before we left, Laelis and WAR showed up at our campsite. Laelis looked much the same. But something had happened to WAR. Whereas once he had been a machine that looked no more malicious than any other, he was now covered in a black ethereal substance. His voice had become strange, and as we talked to him we learned what had happened to the town of Coldrock…he had killed them. All of them. And had somehow absorbed their souls. Voices came out of his mouth that belonged to other people. I didn’t feel safe around him anymore, for good reason. But I uneasily reminded myself that he was on our side. I didn’t have to trust him, but he was on our side.
We kept moving north, to where this cave supposedly was, and passed by the town of Coldrock. Some time during the day, WAR demonstrated his ability to “eat” by absorbing the soul of a disabled Elk. It was disturbing, to say the very least. In addition, the entire time we traveled, the rest of the group was greatly abusing Julius. I almost felt sorry for him…almost.
When we reached the “cave” there was a period of silence. It was a wall of solid rock. We had led a group of 70 orphans to a solid wall of rock. However, as if hearing a voice in his mind, Zayn wandered up to the wall and placed his hand against it. It passed through. Gonsun decided that he would sprint full speed at the wall because…well, I don’t know why. He ended up crashing into the wall and suffered minor injuries, which he healed with magic. Zayn managed to pass the rest of the way through the wall, and it disappeared. Everyone could follow now.
The tunnel we entered was smooth on all sides, and seemed to have perfect lighting from a source that we couldn’t see. As we went along, we heard strange whispers and voices grow progressively louder. When we reached the end we saw a gulf with a rocky outcropping bridge. The bottom was obscured by what looked like a mass of white energy. As the rock bridge seemed to be held up by nothing, we were cautious about walking across it, so we sent Julius first. He survived, and the rest of us progressed, other than the children, who were so large of a mass that we had to leave them behind.
The voices grew loud enough that we could speak to them, they were The Spirits. And they still had a contempt for us, as they did for all humans. This cave was a magical place, where they all had the capability to communicate, and they did not like us being here. They spoke of a traitor, of one of them who had turned away, and it was then that someone looking exactly like the Revered Maiden appeared. She told us that she was not the maiden, but was actually the Spirit who had occupied her body, Nádej, the Spirit of Hope. She then told us the truth of the maiden, who she was and how she was made. It was a fusion between a young woman and Nádej, and the process was painful. The reason why she…or the Spirit, as I assume they don’t have genders…was considered a traitor was because she loved the humans, rather than hating them like the other Spirits did. She told us that human ambition is what separates us from other races, and that no other race is capable of doing such things as destroying Spirits to suit its own desires, and that, truth be told, the Spirits hate us because they fear us. This ambition, however, is the exact reason why Nádej only has love for us.
And our only hope was to convince the other Spirits to love us too.
We spoke to the Spirits, but they seemed beyond convincing. They were great and powerful beings, and would not be moved by simple words. So Nádej gave us one final gift: she showed the vision of Schem Grevhton to them. At once, there was a powerful scream from every Spirit. He had discovered how to eat Spirits and absorb their power, and he intended to do it. It was true, he was going to wipe out the entirety of existence just to win his petty war.
With no other choice, The Spirits decided to help us. First, one of them offered to give all of its power to convey messages to creatures across Zverak, and did so. Others told us of Priscus Primoris, and how he had escaped from The Citadel and dug a gigantic tunnel from it to Svatyne. In between Svatyne and The Citadel, he had built a massive fortress where he had taken in Slabi and was paying them generously for their services. He had created new forms of technology, and was building a massive alliance. Everyone would start from there, and march on to The Citadel.
Before we left, however, WAR called out one of the Spirits, one he announced as his father. He asked for food, for something to eat, but the father Spirit, something representing either war or destruction, told him that he could not offer it, as despite everything, he was a spirit, and he could not destroy other spirits.
With this determined, we left the Spirit cave, and ventured south and to the west, to reach Stahlwerk, Priscus’s fortress.