Welp.. As many of you may know, I published 5 short books a couple of years ago right here on DarkMatters.org that wound up being incorporated in a quest added to Sacred 2 (Ancient Secrets) as a Christmas present to the community... It was fairly well recieved. There were a few people out there who had a few issues - that were resolved eventually to everyone's satisfaction in the final version that wound up in the game. (Note: the final volume of that series is still "coming soon". Seems it was accidentally left out of version 140.)
Anyhow... During those spirited discussions, a few other issues popped up - and a few seeds were planted. Those seeds finaly sprouted over the holidays when I had some spare time to muck about.
This story takes place some time after the fateful events in the final tome in the Ancient Secrets series. It ties the world of Ancaria then to the world of Ancaria in Sacred 2 and how things came to be in Sacred and Sacred Underworld. It, I hope, will answer a LOT of burning questions... Like how the dragons, who in the 4 of the 5 diaries were really, really bad guys, became good guys (well, as good as dragons can be, anyhow). What the heck happened to the Dwarves. For that matter, how did one lone survivor of the Dwarven race manage to escape his race's fate and wind up in Ancaria millenia later?
Thus far, I've drawn extensively from Sacred, Underworld and Sacred 2 lore and come up with a tale that, I hope will entertain. There will be many surprises, many old friends dropping in for a visit,
And now, without further adieu, the first installment of Sophia's Choice...
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Sophia, a first lieutenant of Maria’s Seraphim army, ran as fast as she could. Time was ticking away. Maria had been seriously injured,, perhaps for the last time. Sophia had heard whispers about what had happened. If the rumors were true, she didn’t have much time. She arrived at the Seraphim Island teleporter and shed most of her armor. It would just slow her down. She kept her sword. She would need that to get past the wild beasts and T-Energy mutants that were currently roaming around the island. She didn’t have time to play with them.
Sophia got the urgent summons half an hour previously, while she and her squad were in the midst of a battle with the demons that had infiltrated from the other realm. The last of the vile beasts was on its last leg when the messenger arrived at the site of the battle. The urgency of the messenger’s summons gave the squad the extra motivation to put a quick end to the monstrosity. A hail of Archangel’s Wrath put an end to the beast’s life.
She ran as fast as she could up the path that lead to the tower. The wildlife on the island seemed to sense that she had no time to waste and consequently retreated from her path. It was as if they too felt the shock of what happened and were grieving as well. As Sophia ran up the final path, she could see the stunned looks of her fellow Seraphim.
As Sophia arrived at the door to the tower, she was greeted by Manda, the physician tending Maria. The look on her face said it all – time was short. “Hail, Sophia!” said the doctor, “Hurry, her time is short.”
Sophia pushed past her. The sight that beheld her was anything but expected. The deep wounds to Maria’s midsection were beyond horrific. It was as if she was almost bitten in half. The figure under the blanket seemed shorter than Maria. But no, the wet spots where her feet should have been spoke volumes. Her legs were missing mid-shin, no doubt by the other side of the mouth of the creature that bit her.
It was a miracle that she was still alive. Even more amazing was the fact that she was as quiet as she was. With wounds as horrific as the ones Maria had, one would have thought the pain would be excruciating. No doubt this was due to Manda’s healing potions and pain killers.
Sophia took a step closer, even though she felt revulsion; the bile was pushing at the back of her throat, but she managed to hold it back.
“Come closer sister,” Maria silently whispered, “My time is short. There is one last task I must give you.” Sophia complied, forcing her attention only Maria’s face. The tears were streaming from both eyes. If nothing else, focusing her attention there seemed to make the bile settle back into its place.
“You’ve arrived just in time. I’m not sure I could have held out much longer,” Maria whispered. “Take my helmet and put it on.”
Sophia could scarcely believe what she was hearing. One simply didn’t put on Maria’s armor, let alone her helmet. It was sacrilege. Blasphemy! “No my queen! I can not!” she replied, slightly louder than perhaps was appropriate for the situation.
“Silence!” Maria exclaimed with a painful note. “My time is over. My final task is to make sure the Seraphim have a leader. You will need the helmet if you are to lead our sisterhood into the future.” A wave of pain went through the fallen Seraphim’s body, “I’ve chosen you to be my successor. In order to lead our sisterhood, you must have all of the knowledge and wisdom of the ancestors at your disposal.”
Sophia stood there for a moment, allowing her statements to sink in. “Why, my queen, was I chosen?” she asked quietly. “We all thought Lurinda was to be your choice.”
Maria groaned briefly and then said, “Lurinda is a good friend, and a great warrior, but she lacks much,” and promptly passed out.
Manda stepped in and put a hand on Sophia’s shoulder. “She will need some rest now. I will tend her in the meantime. Might I suggest a bath, something to eat and a nap while she gathers her strength?”
Sophia stood shocked at the physician’s suggestion – but then realized she had just been through several hours of combat and was covered from head to toe in the blood and gore and other nasty bits of her fallen victims. Not to mention she ran a great distance to get here, and no doubt had a bit of an odor of her own. By the Creator! What a way to present herself in front of the queen! Sophia merely nodded with a hint of embarrassment to the doctor and left the room.
Sophia made her way to the barracks and found her cot. A runner had gathered her armor from where she dropped it after leaving the portal. It had already been cleaned and neatly piled at the foot of her cot. She opened her footlocker and found a towel and some cleansing soap and made her way to the bathhouse. A quick glance in the mirror gave Sophia a bit of a shock as she almost didn’t recognize herself. She looked as if she had spent the day rolling around in a Kobold cesspit instead of vanquishing demons. Her odor wasn’t all that much better.
Only an elderly elven woman was in evidence at the bathhouse. It would seem everyone else was off holding vigil for Maria; understandable, given the situation. Blissfully, the attendant woman hadn’t recognized her – yet and didn’t make any fuss. Sophia realized this would be the last time she would have the luxury of having a bath here in the troop barracks so she decided to make the most of it.
She put the towel near the edge of the bathing tub and put the soap near it. She stuck her toe into the water as a test. She slipped into the warm and soothing water and sank into it up to her neck.
All manner of wild thoughts ran through her head. The events of the past few hours – the battle with the demons, the messenger’s frantic summons, the run to the tower, and of course, Maria’s bombshell naming her, Sophia, as the new leader of the Seraphim. What was Maria thinking? She picked up her soap and began scrubbing, removing the crud stuck to her skin. She put some soap in her hair after noticing there were a lot of bits of the same crud stuck in her auburn locks. She rinsed herself off and climbed out of the tub. It was good to be clean again.
She wrapped herself in her towel and made her way back to her cot. She put her head down on her pillow and fell into a fitful sleep. The soothing warmth of the bath took more out of her than she expected. Food and answers would have to wait.
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Sophia woke a short while later to a violent shaking. “Sophia! Wake up! You’re needed in the tower!” someone exclaimed. A runner stood over her Sophia shook the fog of sleep from her head and ran off when Sophia sat up. Light was filtering through the window. It was morning.
Reality came storming back with her return to wakefulness. Parts of what happened seemed to be components of a bad dream. Maria being bitten almost in half by what could only be a dragon, Part of her wished it was nothing more than just a nightmare, but there was her armor by the foot of her bed, complete with the fresh scars left on its hull by the demons she and her squad battled the previous day. She quickly got dressed in a clean uniform and ran out the door and down the path to the tower.
When she arrived, she had to push her way through the crowd of onlookers – Seraphim, Elves, Humans, some dwarves, lizardmen and a small contingent of Orcs. All had come to lend their support, prayers, and good wishes. No doubt, many were here to bear witness to what can only be considered a once in a lifetime experience – the changing of the Seraphim leadership. Something that had never happened in the entire chronicles of recorded Ancarian history.
When she finally got past the crowd and into the tower, she finally found Manda hovering over Maria. The look on her face said it all – the outlook was grim. The doctor stood up and walked over to Sophia when she caught sight of her.
“Her fever is high. She will not last much longer,” she said. “Few people know this about dragons, but their bite is highly toxic. Everyone worries about being burnt alive by their breath, but at least, that’s a quick death. A dragon’s bite is far more insidious,” she continued, “Dragons aren’t well known for dental hygiene. They chomp their prey, and bits get stuck in between their teeth. Those bits rot – and the result is a bite that is the most potent poison known to Ancarian science. The worst part – it’s a slow, excruciatingly painful death for which there is no cure.”
“Maria woke up a few moments ago and wanted to speak to you one final time,” the physician said. “Go quickly, while there’s still time.”
Sophia stepped closer to the cot where Maria’s nearly lifeless form lay. The Seraphim leader’s breath was even more ragged than it was the night before.
“I’m glad you came quickly. My time is very short,” gasped Maria. “I must tell you about the helmet before I pass. It’s more than it seems. It’s an ancient device - far older than anyone would realize.”
“It’s a recording device. It contains the sum total of the wisdom of the Seraphim going back to the dawn of our own creation.”
Maria paused a moment to let the implications sink into Sophia’s consciousness and to catch her breath. “It will tell you everything you need to know.” A wave of what seemed to be excruciating pain coursed through Maria’s frame.
Manda quickly moved closer to give Maria another sip of one of her pain killer potions, careful not to give her too much lest she put the wounded leader to sleep. A few moments later, Maria continued, “Seek Lurinda’s guidance. She can help you get acquainted with the helmet and how it works.”
Sophia tried to digest the sum total of what she just heard. She was overwhelmed by it all. The only thing that came out of her mouth was “Why me?”
Maria managed to force a weak smile to her lips with much effort. “Because, my sister, I’ve seen something within you. Your leadership skills are second to none. Your combat skills are excellent. You also have the patience of the Creator. You have the heart of a warrior and the mind of a diplomat.”
“I also foresee a great number of challenges coming ahead,” she continued. “Ancaria is changing. Maybe for the better, maybe for the worse. I trust you will make the right decisions to steer the world to a better future.”
A spasm shook through Maria and her body went still. Manda rushed over and checked for signs of life. She merely looked at Sophia and sadly shook her head. The first and only queen of the Seraphim passed away.
Edited by wolfie2kX, 10 February 2013 - 12:04 PM.