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Insomniak

H*E*X*E*N part 3

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H*E*X*E*N part 3

Paria’s Story:

Part One: The Arrival

Seven Years. You wondered why you had joined in the first place. Perhaps it was because you were dragged to church by your fanatical parents for years without question, lest should they think you were ungrateful. Besides, the bible was strictly enforced by the clerics, and any general questioning of the church would usually result in a mass heretic hunt. But in recent years you had begun to start thinking for yourself, something that might make you wind up impaled someday. Of course you kept your thoughts to yourself, but in two years you would have to take the examination for priesthood, and they would be able to tell if you were pure or not.

Winnowing Hall was the often considered the Last Outpost by most of the students at the seminary, but those few who were selected to study and meditate there often went on to become great poets, thinkers,and statesmen. This may have been the case before the Triad had put a stranglehold on most creative thought, but still, this place was rich in history. You had worked quite hard to get here, and you were not going to let it go to waste now.

The Hall itself was carved into the walls of the quarry used to build the nearby village of Winnowing. Its central feature was it’s magnificent stained glass ceiling, depicting epic scenes from the Bible. In the very center was the portal for the graduating students, now guarded by a metal cage. To the east, west, and north, there were three stained glass alcoves, each showing the three classes of the general population of Cronos: Warrior, Mage, and Cleric.
The pictures were actually doors, and behind them were the dormitories for students sent to study here, and other facilities such as the kitchen, library, and Bishop’s sanctum. To the south was the main door and two large fireplaces, used to heat the hall. Outside the hall was the entryway, which had a fountain and benches. About 5 metres away to the southeast was the old Armory and watch tower, used in the second war against the Eastern Armies. It was now being used as a place of meditation, and students could often be seen sitting on the battlements. On the other side of the walls, the main bell tower could be seen, and right of it, the cave of relics. Escape from the Winnowing retreat was impossible; the top rim of the quarry was 50 feet above, and the only exits were the barred portal in the center and the private one in the bishop’ s sanctum.

You were sitting on one of the stone benches surrounding the fountain when it happened. It was after dinner, and most of the students had gone off to their dormitories or somewhere else to relax. You had chosen to work on some sketches of the trees. Above, a storm was forming, blue clouds and thunder in the distance. The air was electrical, and the wind was starting to pick up, blowing your papers and charcoal pencils away. You scramble over to pick them up, and you gather them up into your pack. You can hear a strange sound, like crackling electricity. You look up and see a few yards ahead the air beginning to distort, bend and warp as the storm grows closer. Blue flashes appear around it, and a vortex begins to form. The blue flashes continue and grow, and two black forms begin to materialize before you. They are tall, about 9 feet, and look like two humans riding green Chaos Serpents. They are holding tall staffs in their hands, and are cloaked in bright red robes, hiding their faces. One has a thin, frail body and glowing green eyes. The other is more muscular, and has glowing blue eyes. Incredible, No one has ever been able to tame these giant beasts. Whoever these people are, they must wield great power. You bow down on your hands and knees and start to pray. The thin one on the left notices you and speaks in a booming deep voice.

“Who are you?”

“Parias, sir” you squeak. He stares at you, and points his bulky staff in your direction. You can feel yourself being picked up into midair and being thrown across the field. The green eyed rider begins to lurch towards you, and barks out a command.

“Fetch your master, peon!”

You get up and run to the hall doors. looking behind you, the blue eyed rider has disappeared, and the green eyed one is following you.



Part Two: Leaving


His name was Korax, one of the last of the Serpent Riders. He had come from a dimension called “The Void”, and empty barren planet without an atmosphere. That was the scariest thing about Korax; he didn’t breath. He was one of the three surviving members of his race. though others had been killed off by a great disaster which he wouldn’t speak about. He was incredibly powerful. A few weeks after his arrival, he was brought before the Triad. Zedek, General of the Legion, was impressed with his abilities to wield weapons and his control over the Chaos Serpent. Menelkir, chief Mage of the Arcanum, was enlightened by this new wizard; they could both communicate with each other on the psychic level. The only one opposed to him was His Holiness, Traductus. When the pope questioned Korax and declared that he was a blasphemy, Korax used his powers to lift him up and slam him against the walls.

Since you were the first human on this world to see Him, you were held in high regard compared to the other pages. The bishop had received a message a few weeks ago, saying that you were to be sent to the Great Cathedral effective immediately. You didn’t even have time to pack your bags, only a bible, pack of food, and a extra cloak. The bishop took you behind a stained glass portrait of The Warrior, one of the three heroes the Bible described would help free the world during the Apocalypse. Behind the glass was a narrow staircase, leading into a metal and stone room, benches on the sides. The Bishop pulls a switch on the wall, and eight huge stone doors open, revealing his private study. He goes up to a large painting and presses some sort of switch. The painting slides up, and a small room is revealed. There is a portal smoldering away on the floor, and the Bishop turns to you.


“Here, boy, three gold coins. When you come out, turn around and climb out. Go to the village and give the coins to the ferryman. He’ll take you upriver to Prime City, where the cathedral is. Also, this.” He reaches into his robes and pulls out a relic. It’s a small model of a castle tower. “ Take it, i’m not sure what it does, but it should prove useful”

You hardly get to say thank you to your mentor and friend for 3 years now before you are whisked away into the portal. Behind, you can hear him whisper “God speed, boy”

You are now overlooking the entire retreat. You follow the Bishop’s instructions, and climb out of the alcove and walk towards the village.


Part Three: The Great Heresy

The Cathedral is surrounded by a huge wall, over 50 feet high and 10 feet thick. The only way in is by a teleporter. The guards escort you to it, and you pass through.

The exit room overlooks one of the cathedral’s courtyards. Another set of guards escort you to the stone lifts and take you down. It’s just like you remember from your first day here. At the bottom, a priest greets you in the midday sun.

“So you are Parias, the first one to meet this...Korax, eh? Come this way, His holiness is expecting you.”

You go past the huge stone battlements, through the main doors, and around the wall. A mass is underway, and the great hall is packed with students, monks, and local civilians. You must have arrived at the end of the service; the pope is climbing down from the pulpit at the front and the congregation is beginning to separate. The pope makes his way towards you, and for the first time ever, you see him up close. He is wearing shiny, silver armor covered in biblical symbols. He also has leather boots and a deep blue cape. His removes his helmet and puts out his hand.

“ Welcome, my child.”

Those three words alone almost bring you to tears. You shake his hand and feel tears start to flow in your eyes. This is the pope! you can’t be seen breaking down before we him. You try to apologize, but your voice cracks. The man releases his grip on your hand and asks you to join him for lunch.

You walk across the now empty hall and towards a dark stairwell. You go down and down again on a lift. At the bottom is an upright teleportal.

“now i must warn you my child, this monastery is a place of absolute silence. No words must be spoken, ever! Consider it a test of your faith.”

The lunch is simple, but filling. Loaves of bread, a thin rabbit stew, and some red wine. The only other people here are some priests with their students. The pope snaps his fingers, breaking the sounds of eating from the others, and they all clear out of the room.

“Tell me all you know about Korax.” His Holiness demands.

“Sir, i thought this was a place of silence...” you stutter.

“TELL ME WHAT YOU KNOW, BOY!” The man yells, shattering the silence of the room. You obey, and tell him everything that happened on that fateful day when he materialized. The pope seems unimpressed with your story, but decides to let it go. The gets up from the table and beckons for you to follow. He goes through a door, makes a right, and goes through a revolving door. There is an empty pool here.

“How loyal are you to your faith, boy?” he asks, a strange expression on his face now.

“Sir, I..” You start.

“Shut up boy, this is a test of faith. Get in the pool, now! If you are truly loyal to me, then the pool will fill with water, but if you are a traitor to me, then it will fill with lava.”

You reluctantly climb in, and begin to pray.

Lava.

You begin to back away into the corner, far from the drain in the middle where the molten sulfur is bubbling out; it’s orange glow luminating Traductus’s face, his eyes glowing a evil shade of red. The truth hits you like a ton of bricks:

The Pope has turned evil.

Desperate, you grab the castle relic out of your cloak and squeeze it hard. It glows a deep purple and vanishes. You feel stronger, and leap out of the pool in the nick of time. Looking at yourself, you realize the icon’s true power: invisibility!

The insane pope looks around for you, his eyes squinting in the lava’s glow. You suddenly reappear behind him and kick him into the lava.
Wasting no time, you make a mad dash for the crate room, where the return teleporter is. You dive through and arrive back in the main cathedral.

Five guards are waiting in the exit room. Two of them grab you by the arms and shackle you. The teleporter hums, and a figure comes through. It’s Traductus, his robes burnt, his armor partially melted, and his skin scorched. The other three guards bow down in respect and fear, while the ones holding you avert their eyes.

“You honestly thought I hadn’t planned ahead, in case you escaped from my test? you poor pitiful fool!” His voice deeper now. Dismissing the five guards, he lifts you by your robe and hauls you onto the lift and up the stairs. At the top, a guard shoves a wet, oily cloth over nose and mouth. Shapes begin to blur, sounds get mixed up, and lights flicker.

Suddenly, blackness.



Part Four: The New God.

Stone walls are the first thing your fingers feel, then the freezing air, numbing the clammy skin under your shackles. Your eyes slowly open, and a green shape giving off heat is what you see.

A Chaos serpent is staring you right in the face! It lets off a bloodcurdling scream, and lurches away from you. towards another blurry figure...

“Things are not at all well for my people.” a massive, dark voice utters. “My younger counterpart in the dimension of Earth has been killed by a lowly elf. It is the decision of me and my brother, Edolon, that we should not attempt to take the dimension by force again. D’sparil was given that task but, as usual, he failed. No matter! We need a third member for our triad to replace him.”

Your eyes have not fully recovered, and you are still slightly overcome by the poison, but you can see four more figures talking amongst the pillars here.

“Sir!” The closest one barks. “I have thousands of troops on standby, any number of them would be instantly willing to volunteer to assist you as a third Serpent Rider.”

“No, Zedek, none of your troops are worthy enough to take on the duties this position requires. I have other plans for them; to turn them from week human to stronger, more reliable Ettins.” The voice booms again.

Another voice pipes up, this time you recognize it as Traductus. “My lord, I would have an assistant for you, but he has proven himself unworthy. However, I have many capable priests who would...”

“Silence, you ungrateful swine! You’re just lucky that I gave the power of Unlife! Otherwise you would have died in that lava pool! Your priests will come to me when I want them to!”

Another figure begins to speak, this one in a blue cloak. “Korax, I have been training a young student of mine in the dark arts as you have instructed me. He is strong, loyal, and powerful. I believe he would be what you are looking for.” His raspy voice somewhat familiar.

The tall, red cloaked figure comes over to the final shadowy blur. They utter some words in a language you can’t understand, then they leave.

Traductus walks over to you and kneels down to talk to you.

“Well boy, now you’ve done it. You lack of faith has cost me the respect of the great Korax!” He stands up and kicks you in the ribs. Rolling over, you look up at him

“How could you? Your faith? The faith of others? An entire religion, all turned over to this blasphemy? All for your own personal gain.” You spit at his face.

Another swift kick follows. “I didn’t do it for myself!” He says, wiping the bloody spit from his cheek. “ I did it for this Him! Korax! He can improve this world, end the wars. So what if it costs us our freedom and religion? It’s worth it! Those who will not bow before him will be killed in his name!”

Your rage has grown past the breaking point. The man who was supposed to represent everything good with religion has given into the dark side. If you ever had any lack of faith, it has been transformed into a reason to fight for your religion! Your anger is so extreme now you break your shackles and run towards some stairs, down them, and towards a portal.

Part 5: The Plan

You’re drenched in peat, semiconscious, and floating in a pool of water. A tall man walks towards you, wearing robes with mystic symbols on it...

“Welcome to the Seven Portals” He says, helping you out of the pool. “We saw you being dragged to the Bright Crucible by Traductus. What did he want?”

“It was awful” your voice chokes and stutters from the cold water. “He’s turned evil! Korax has a hold on their mind! They’re planning an invasion. Hide me, I beg you!”

“There there, my boy. The infidel has no hold on the us ot these portals. We are the immortal Keepers of the Gates. Korax cannot defeat us. You ask for asylum, we shall grant it. Come.” he leads you towards a great stone lift. you get on and rise.

There is the sound of a teleportal coming from below. the deep, demonic voice of Korax starts up, seeming to continue a previous conversation.

“...cannot believe your stupidity! Letting him get away! No matter. Now that your souls are mine, I shall become more powerful than ever! This body is starting to get old, decompose. Tonight I shall merge my essence with that of my Chaos Serpent. now, on to my castle!” He casts a spell on the portal he just came out of, and the company disappears, Korax’s evil laughter echoing through the stone walls

You ride down the lift again and meet the guardian at the bottom. He leads you across the compound and across a gorge via a magic bridge. At the top is a large wooden teleportal.

“This teleportal leads to the Shadow Wood. There you can go to the temple, if it’s still there. Ask the preist there if you can go to the Hypostyle. Hide there under the guise of a student. If Korax’s forces attack, flee to your old monastery, Winnowing Hall.”

So many questions. How does a man who has never left this building know about places miles away? How did he know about your monastery? You want to ask, but you are pushed into the glowing red door.

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Ok, the story is pretty interesting, but there ARE a few things:
Firstly, make sure that you maintain the writing in the past tense - only shift to present tense if the story takes a special sort of twist - like if you are describing a hallucination or a dream.
There was a place in this story where you confusingly shifted back and forth between the past and the present tense - don't do that.

Another thing is how Parias suddenly breaks his shackles - how is that possible? I would be more willing to believe that if it were the fighter (because my interpretation of HeXen's fighters is that they use the magic to strenghten their physical strenght and prowess beyond that of a normal human).

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Awesome story, Insom! Very well written, except, as dsm says, the shift to first person is a little abrupt.
However, all in all, a very fine attempt to capture the story behind HeXen.

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