Tales of Aion - Infiltration - Chapter Three
August 31, 2009
Tales of Aion - Five-part Fictional Story - # 3
Tales of Aion
is a five-part fictional story written by Michael Lafferty at GameZone. It
traces the stories of two characters, one Elyos and one Asmodian as they move
through the world and into a battlefield where the races collide.. It is a
personal journey for each – Esala’ayni, the Elyos ranger, and Korasai, the
Asmodian spiritmaster – from their re-awakening in the world to their acceptance
of who they are and what their place is in the torn land.
The first story centers on Esala’ayni as she begins to realize what and who she truly is, with each step in the land of Poeta revealing more and more about her nature and her place in the Elyos society. The second story takes on the tale of an Asmodian and his paths and thoughts through his ascension to Daeva. Story three continues the path woven by Esala'ayni.
Chapter 3 – Infiltration
With each passing day, this war with Asmodae makes less sense. I do not truly know if I felt this way before or whether my time in Poeta has opened my eyes anew. But it seems to have little meaning. And now, it seems, we are not content to fight in the Abyss, but instead we are using rifts that have started to appear to enter their lands and to slowly kill them off. When will it all end? When there is only one race left in the shattered ruins of what was once a glorious homeworld? If that is the case, what will be gained and more importantly, what will be lost?
Esala’ayni closed the diary, and then placed it into the lock box, shutting it and turning the key to seal in the book. This would, in turn, be stored in her private bank vault. Some thoughts were best not spoken aloud, but still, there was a degree of solace in writing them down.
It was almost time to go.
Since her return to the ranks of the Daevas, the orders had come fast and furious, each task building on her work, her skill with the bow and blades guiding the path she was taking. And now this – an infiltration order into Asmodae to seek out a deputy brigadier general and to convince him to return to the flow of Aether with his men. The lands of the Asmodians were something she did not expect to see, at least so soon, and there was trepidation in her heart over this quest.
Still, she was a servant of her people, a servant of Seraphim Lords and she was honor-bound to serve. Everything about was a reminder of that, from the brightly-colored armor she wore to the wings that were summoned to give her flight. And yet, something inside sensed that this was somehow wrong and not the way it was meant to be. Too much anger, too much pain, and the war was the constant that seemed to be driving deeper into her convictions.
Her wings sprouted and she ascended the cove to the Eltnen Fortress complex, her mind drifting from the waterfalls and gentle stream of the valley below. She knew that a rift had appeared, a link between Elysea and Asmodae. It would not be open for long and she needed to set out soon to catch it. The rifts were anomalies, a further indication that the world was out of balance.
After the diary was stored in the vaults of the suspended fortress tower, she set out on her assignment. In the dimness of the early morn, she glided down into the Manduri Forest and then ran south, through the tunnel cut through the rock and onto the desert near the Ruberein Wasteland. The Wasteland was a treacherous place with beasts that would readily attack unwary travelers. Esala’ayni was anything but unwary. Asmodian raiders had been spotted in the area recently, so even as she ran, her bow was in hand and ready for trouble.
The morning sunrise brought out the start of the heat that was quickly absorbed by the sands of the desert and sent back up in shimmering waves. Still, she kept on, skirting wide the area the drakes called home and then turning west to track along a short rock wall. On the plateau above the sandy floor she saw the blue glow and knew it to be the rift. She scaled the rocks and approached the rift, feeling the hum and energy cast off by the portal, dancing across her skin, creating a tingling sensation.
Esala’ayni readied her blades; there was no telling what she might find on the other side when she materialized somewhere in Asmodae. Then she stepped into the rift.
There was a swirl of colors that quickly went completely black, and then, as though walking through mist toward a distant object, the world on the other side of the rift began to form. At first the colors were hazy and muted, but with each passing second they become more vibrant, in sharper focus and alive.
She was prepared for the world to be vastly different – this was, after all, Asmodae. But in actuality, it was not much different than the place she had just left behind. The time of day seemed to have changed, though, from mid-morning to dusk, but other than that …
Her briefing told her this was the Salintus Rise, an arching plateau of rocks that perched the gate high above more desert and the oases about which some of the indigenous Asmodae tribes made their homes. She had been told to skirt the tribes and to try to leave no trace of her presence behind.
She ran up a rise and then launched herself off the cliff, a sheer 300-foot drop for one who was not gifted with the talents of a Daeva. Her wings appeared, caught an updraft and lifted her up. She could feel the coolness of different air currents above the desert floor, the tip of a pin feather taking her lower into warmer layers, then catching a thermal and lifting higher again.
The air was a mixture of light winds, uplifting thermals and still pockets and forced her to ground, startling the wildlife. When possible, she used her fleetness of foot to run from predators. After all, a dead body was a certain marker that a stronger force had come through the area and if the Asmodian patrols were intelligent – and she had no doubt they were – then a trail of dead bodies heading away from the rift would lead to only one conclusion, and a full-scale hunt would begin.
Her path was north, then east through a canyon and past a Kentaric village, home to huge bestial creatures that seemed social enough in each other’s company but greeted outsiders with fury and the reaching claws of death.
Topping a rise, she finally saw the marker that would turn her toward her final destination. A huge fortress sat above two rock columns, high above the desert, anchored by chains whose links were the size of an average Elyos. She could see the fluttering green outlines of creatures more ethereal than tangible. They were the guardians of the tower. Turning west, she ran quickly and soon a wide winding path appeared that would take her up onto the mountainside and to the Fortress of Sorrow. This was her destination.
Esala’ayni started up the path and then froze, the way was guarded by Elyos spirits, warriors and legionaires, each menacing enough, but with faces that reflected a deep sorrow. One approached her, and she remained still, her left hand tightening its grip on her bow. The spirit looked at her briefly and then moved past. It was the way with all the spirits – a quick glance and then moving along patrol routes. In this place of the dead, she was welcomed, it seemed.
She found Deputy Brigade General Lamipedon at the top of the fortress. As she approached, the ghostly eyes of the long-dead Elyos looked at her and then almost seemed startled by what he saw.
”Arieluma Daeva!” he finally said, in greeting. “It has been an eternity since we’ve seen another Elyos. You’re a welcomed sight after all the Asmodians who come up here to harass us.”
As quickly as possible, Esala’ayni told him that his mission and that of his men, was over and it was time to return to the ethereal, to the Aether.
Lamipedon shook his head, dismissing the idea of leaving. Yes, it was good that their long wait was concluded, but the duty of the Elyos, even as spirits, remained in the Fortress.
Confusion was on Esala’ayni’s face. Lamipedon’s countenance softened. His voice was somber and he began to speak. “We were stationed here, the Legion of Storm, an Elyos guard in this desolate part of Asmodae. When trouble came, we thought we were prepared, but we underestimated the strength of our enemies. They came with deadly might, fire and steel, wave after crushing wave. Our barriers withstood the first onslaughts, but they were too great in number. And then, Commander Deltras, standing among those at the forefront of our defenses, yelling to us all to defend for the sake of Elysea, was struck. He fell but rose again, his tunic stained with his blood but his spirit strong and his heart stronger. For Elysea, he yelled and we answered with every weapon at our disposable – arrow, steel and magic; our countenances grim and determined. But the voice that called forth our courage was silenced in the next assault. Commander Deltras fell and our meager defenses were overwhelmed.
“Those left standing were too few to resist. We were told to lay down our arms and we had no choice but to comply. But the enemy was not sated by this gesture. ‘Kneel,’ we were told, ‘kneel and swear fealty to your conquerors.’ That we would not do. That would dishonor our heroic commander, it would dishonor Elysea, and it would dishonor our duties as Daevas. For our disobedience, we were massacred, the last of our defense joining Deltras in death. But death could not hold us long. We were of the spirit realm, but we would not leave this place where Deltras’ honor, were the courage of our commander shone forth as a beacon. And so we stay on, to guard and honor the place where Deltras fell.”
Esala’ayni felt her heart breaking; this was true love and loyalty – nobility and courage intertwined.
“There must be something I can do,” she said.
“There is,” Lamipedon said. “We can leave but only if first we pay a final tribute to Deltras.”
The spirit commander produced Elyos fireworks. “Go to the valley below, to the fortress there, and set off these fireworks as our homage to Deltras. We cannot leave this place; we are bound here. But you are not of the Aether and you can do this for us … please.”
How could she refuse? Their devotion to their commander was profound; even in death they remained loyal. And then it occurred to her that the heart and soul of the shattered world of Aion was not in the strength of arms, but in the love and hope and honor of the races.
As she set off, she realized that to pay tribute to Deltras was to pay tribute to all those fallen in the war that pitted one race against another – those on both sides of the conflict. Certainly the war would not end any time soon, but what were they fighting for? There was beauty and wonder in Asmodae, as much as there was in Elysea. What was it that set the Asmodians and Elyos against each other? Where was the source of the hatred truly to be found? And what was the point of ascending to the rank of Daeva if all it meant was to be able to kill with more proficiency?
She tossed those questions from her mind. For now, she focused on the task at hand, but once back in Eltnen Fortress, she vowed to set aside some time to try to reason this all out.
Previous chapters in the story:
The second story in the five-part series views the world from the perspective of an Asmodian spiritmaster named Korasai.