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Tales of Aion - The Despair of Innocence - Chapter One

August 17, 2009

Tales of Aion - Five Part Fictional Story - # 1

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 the battlefield where the races collide – otherwise known as the Abyss. 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 Despair of Innocence

She stood very still, the sun warming her upturned face, the smells of the forest strong in the air about her. Even with her eyes closed, she could still see the fingers of sunlight reaching down through the trees – soft golden shafts of light that seemed to take the hurry from the world, bathing it in sun-blessed beauty, while bringing a vibrancy to the forest’s colors.

She was Esala’ayni, daughter of the clouds, a Daeva of the Elyos, a warrior born to battle. There was no escaping that now, not even here, not even while the mental wall between the innocence of rebirth into the land of Poeta and awareness of her past slowly crumbled. Even now, in this perfectly still moment, the forest about her – the woodland home of Lord Daminu, eldest among the Elim, the tree folk – echoed the worries of the world, of Elysea. The creeping taint that was blocked from her mind when she first awoke here was now evident, and the turn of recent events made her only too aware of the role she was being called to play. But if she tried really hard, shunned those thoughts from her mind, just for a moment, she was like a child again, seeing the world for the first time.

But those illusions had been shattered in her first meeting with Lord Daminu, when the ancient tree had sensed something more within her than the mercenary she appeared to be. It had asked her to touch its bark and in the flash of that moment memories had been pulled from her clouded mind, memories that spoke of a darker time, and a winged warrior confident upon the fields of battle. It was a first taste, one that left her uncertain if she truly wanted to know more. There was a type of comfort in not knowing; there was also despair for what, and who, was left behind.

Here in Poeta, she was a mercenary, running errands for local farmers, scrapping for a living like the rest. Still … there was something more, she was something more, and even the brief glimpse that Lord Daminu had given her – though it had both frightened and thrilled her – called to her from the edges of her darkened memories. The frightening part was the blind obedience she felt within herself, although the war raging about her, on the broken sky-mounted plains of the Abyss, was thrilling to behold.

It took effort to shut out that brief glimpse into her past, so vivid in her mind with the sounds of a battle remembered ringing about her as strong, white wings guided her through the turmoil. She stilled her mind, content to return to the non-memories for perhaps her final time, to be still and simply to listen to the forest.

She heard the song that the breeze carried along, trickling through the leaves on the trees, tangling deep into her light blond hair, and, again, stirring at her buried memories. There was sadness within the melody, an emotion she could feel deep within her. She knew the world was shattered, a lesser creation than it once was, but still there was profound beauty in Elysea, beauty that existed far from the chaos above.

And yet …

Her crystal blue eyes looked across the forest, seeing not only the present but turning to the events of days past. Creatures once gentle were running wild, attacking without cause. Farms were overrun and even the elders of the forest moaned with pain in their deep slumber as long-time enemies advance and assaulted the woods. The taint was everywhere, even to eyes innocent only hours before, but eyes growing deeper in knowledge.

She closed her eyes and listened to the song of the breeze …

So soft the wind whispers the world’s deep pain
Caressing like the mist of a summer rain
Despair and hope entwined in this simple refrain
With innocence lost, the warrior will rise again

She knew the word that was her essence – Daeva – and even as she let it off her lips in a sigh, she felt the twitch of shoulder muscles. She remembered her wings; they were not an aesthetic harness, but every bit a part of her as her arms – wide, feathered, white, powerful. Her shoulders twitched again, as though willing the wings to appear, to push her from the confines of the world and into the sky above.

While that would not happen, the feeling invoked something else – a dream-like memory flooded over her waking mind. Another place in the abyss, not the ruins of Karamatis, but another battlefield entered her mind. The battle was fully engaged, red sunlight glinting off armor, the acrid smell of magic filling the air, the screams of the triumphant and the dying intermingled.

The Asmodians were pressing hard, the sky darkened by the mass of their black wings. Esala’ayni stood there, watching the valiant Elyos force push back in both the air and on the ground when a new wave of Asmodians landed in a flanking maneuver and came at the legion – led by a huge, muscled Asmodian Archon. His one-handed sword swept aside one member of the legion and he viciously set upon another. The Elyos’ sword came up in defense, only to be hammered away. The Asmodian was pummeling the Elyos to the ground, the defenses of the latter getting weaker with each pounding blow.

Esala’ayni knew what would follow. She had seen it before. The Asmodian’s shield was strapped to its left forearm, leaving the left hand free to grip the hilt of the sword to add two-handed power to a final devastating downward blow.

Her bow came up, string taut as the arrow begged for release. She held her breath. The arms were still moving upward when the arrow hissed away from her bow. Just as both of the Archon’s arms reached their apex above his head, the arrow found its berth, burying itself deep into the left armpit. He staggered back, howling in pain, black-feathered wings flapping hard to retain balance. The red, glowing eyes of the Asmodian looked in her direction; the Archon emitted another roar and charged. She could have fitted another arrow and fired again, but she wanted to see the look on his face up close as she finished him. The bow was quickly tucked away and her matched swords – gifts from a brigadier general of the legions – were pulled from their crossed resting places across her back. The rasp of steel was loud, the swords clamoring for the taste of Asmodian blood. In her left hand was the blue-tinged sword Saffire, her right held the reddish Shyrrasol. A smiled curled her lips while her eyes flared with anticipation. She met the charge of the Asmodian with one of her own.

The Asmodian’s blade cut towards her, aided by the momentum of his charge. Esala’ayni was ready for that and countered with both blades, turning her body slightly to the left to meet the attack. The clash of steel on steel cut across the battlefield like thunder. Shyrrasol took the momentum from the Asmodian blade and then swung backward, slicing into the chest armor of the Archon. Saffire followed, lower, across the belly even as Esala’ayni spun to her right. The dance of her blades had begun.

She stopped with her back to the Asmodian, then lunged backward, tips of blades leading, driving them into the chest of the enemy. Saffire and Shyrrasol were yanked free as Esala’ayni spun back to the left. Her head twisted so her eyes could mark the course for each blade for her finishing attacks. Saffire bit down first, sheering muscles in the sword arm of the Asmodian. Shyrrasol found the throat.

The Asmodian stepped back, stood but a second longer, eyes wide, almost disbelieving, then they glazed over and the Asmodian warrior toppled to the ground.

She heard her voice raise up, screaming primal in victory. The sound was intended for her fellow Elyos, to spur them on, to …

The memory went black, leaving Esala’ayni blinking in the sunlight forest.

It was who she was, she knew that. It was the path of her life, her devotion to the Seraphim Lords, her duty to Aion. To deny it would be a lie. This forest, this gentle and wonderful place, was not meant for her. Her duty was elsewhere, and it was time to return to it.


 

***
These five stories are based on the intellectual property that is Aion. While this story uses that world as a backdrop, it is not meant to reflect either gameplay or storylines within the massively multiplayer online world. Some of the images used within this five-part story have been taken from the game and modified to suit the illustrative purposes of this story. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.

 

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