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Part II: The Void

Meanwhile, the question of exactly what these soulglasses did to the beasts they vanquished remained unanswered -- but not for long. A few weeks after the soulglasses appeared, a vast tear in the fabric of space was discovered in one section of the eastern forest. Exiles wandering too near to this ripture found their life leeched from them in the space of a few heartbeats, then fell and were drawn into a vast area of darkness: the Void. Nothing moved in this cold, empty place; no sound was heard save the cries of the fallen. As they lay there by the dozens, wondering whether there were any hope of rescue other than departing this plane of existence, they saw the corpses of beasts appear beside them. Some of these beasts had wandered dumbly into the tears, but others had been orbed by exiles who boasted of their deeds over the sunstone. Exiles on whom soulglasses were used in the Arena also found themselves drawn into the Void. A small portion of the mystery surrounding the soulglasses was solved, but many more questions remained. Who created the soulglasses, and why? What caused these terrible tears in space? Most importantly, could they be stopped?

Another area of the eastern forest, and then the old cemetery, were the next to be lost to riptures. The situation looked grim, as no one saw any way to stop the encroaching Darkness. Finally a new ripture, in the north forest, was discovered before it had opened fully. Only those exiles who touched it directly were taken into it and fell in the Void. Exiles rushed to the north forest, but their examination of the ripture was hampered by the many undine surrounding it. Before much could be learned the tear opened completely, and the area was lost.

Exiles became more vigilant with the realization that riptures first appeared in a weaker state. Thereafter, every ripture was discovered while still immature. The next one opened in the Greymyr village near where the Greymyr Chief stands. Again, most exiles who touched the tear were sent to the Void, but by chance a healer stumbled against it holding one of the new, darker blue moonstones. She discovered that the ripture drew her spirit from her, as though it were being healed, although when her spirit became too weak she too fell into the Void.

Painful trial and error with the next two riptures taught us much about how to "heal" them. A visit from the always inscrutable Astral Spark was also informative, and helped to confirm what many had guessed. Healers using dark blue moonstones weaken the darkness behind the ripture by healing it, but they must not allow their spirit to drop too far, lest they fall to the Void. Patience and caution are far more important than healing speed or strength of spirit. Each time someone falls to an immature ripture, the darkness is strengthened, as nearby apprentice mystics can feel in the currents of the world. Hordes of powerful undine converge on the tears, and so fighters must protect the healers working on the ripture, and still more healers and mystics must keep those fighters healthy and their balance boosted. Furthermore, earthquakes plague the area, adding to the injury and confusion. Detailed and emotional accounts of two relatively early "ripture battles," one successful and one not, have been recorded elsewhere.

These terrible riptures spread over our land over the course of several months, a new one forming nearly every day. Twenty-six battles were fought to close them, with many joyous successes and still more heartbreaking failures. As we gained in experience and knowledge, the battles grew more difficult, almost as though our unknown enemy were also developing better weapons to use against us. Foremost among these were the Revours, terrible skeletal undine much like small, pale Abyssal Hunters in appearance and strength. So powerful were the Revours that soon we settled upon a Pyrrhic strategy in our fights: rather than try to defeat the Revours, Greater Wraiths, and other foul monsters that came upon us, we called upon brave fighters to simply surround the healers at the riptures and allow themselves to fall, creating an impenetrable barrier of bodies.

Indeed, the most valuable lesson learned during the war was that of cooperation. Every exile had an important role to play in the last, desperate battles. Fighters were needed to fend off as many of the undine as possible, allowing healers to reach the ripture safely. Healers were needed not only to close the ripture, but also to support the fighters. Apprentice mystics also helped the fighters, as well as providing encouraging status reports on the ripture. And anyone, of any class or level or training, could be a critical brick in the protective wall of bodies. Without the courage of those who sacrificed themselves in this way we would not have had a chance.

It is perhaps appropriate here to list all those areas of our islands that were eventually consumed by the tears in the fabric of space, that none may forget their terrible legacy. Some of these names have since changed, in the chaos of the rebirth of the world, but they were formerly known thus: Lower south beach. North beach. Both halves of the Greymyr village. Three sections of the north forest. Five sections of the east forest. Three areas of the marsh. The mid-south forest. The old cemetery. The peaceful Centaurs' island. The main Arachnoid cavern. The Queen Chamber in the myrm hive. Both sections of the eastern fields. And finally, Puddleby itself.

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Page last modified on March 12, 2009, at 10:35 AM