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  1. #1
    Senior Member NachyoChez's Avatar
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    Fanfic Contest: Preybird (End Of Days)

    Prologue

    In an unknown time and place lies a world, a world so far removed from reality and logic that any mortal would sooner gouge their eyes out than look over its surface. Blood red skies flow like water, currents of vivid purple clouds swirling about within. The air pressure is so great that it can crush a man in an instant and the winds hot enough to turn his remains to ash. The skies are home to constant lightning storms, energy arcing between the ground and the heavens in a brutal display of raw power.

    But for all the dangers the sky presents the surface is far deadlier, shifting in eternal torment as though suffering constant earthquakes. The surface splits and shatters in an instant leaving great chasms, but reforms just as quickly as the surface is once again pressed together. Mountains rise from the ground only to be toppled by the godly forces, and rivers of molten lava even hotter than the sky flow in random patterns, filling the chasms and crevices left behind by the turmoil. As if to complete the symphony of destruction, volcanoes constantly spew lava into the heavens in great gouts of death.

    And yet for all its turmoil it still houses life. But life here did not form from flesh and bone; instead it formed from energy. To survive the ground life floated above it, and to survive the crushing skies life has evolved without physical form. This world is home to beings of light, of raw power.

    It is home to Gods.

    Part One

    Zaladar stared out over the surface of Vorpus as the mountains in the distance rose and fell in an endless cycle of devastating renewal. The ground beneath him shattered; leaving a chasm so deep the bottom could not be seen. He was not concerned however, his ethereal form kept him safe as he hovered above it. To most, seeing the cataclysmic forces that Vorpus was constantly subjected to would push them to the very limits of their terror, but to his people it was just another day at home.

    To his right hovered his friend Xar, who was also scanning the horizon. The two of them have been given a mission, one of great import to their people and their world. Something had triggered a change in Vorpus, upsetting the world’s violent equilibrium. And they were tasked with finding the trigger. Zaladar hoped that it was not what his people feared it would be.

    “You’re worried about the prophecy aren’t you?” Xar asked.

    “Well, aren’t you?” Zaladar replied. “It talks about the death of our world. And these changes we’ve been feeling, they line up with what was predicted.”

    “I’m not assuming anything.” Xar replied as they started to float forward. They’d been looking for 2 whole cycles and Zaladar could tell Xar was beginning to think it was a futile search. “Besides, those prophecies are over 1000 megacycles old.”

    “So what’s your theory?” Zaladar asked, with a hint of frustration.

    Xar extended his ethereal arms. “Look around you, look at this place. Nothing stays the same. Ever. It’s just more upheaval that we’re feeling, more chaos.” His voice shifted slightly. “You’ve been to the Child Worlds?”

    Zaladar nodded. The Child Worlds were from another place, another dimension of reality. There were hundreds of them, all different and all inhabited by strange and wonderful creatures made of fur and flesh. Zaladar’s people had studied them for a long time, transporting themselves there by piggybacking along the fine energy strands that connected all things to Vorpus. It was an arduous journey and they could never stay long, but they had learned a lot about these other worlds. The name had come about from the belief that as all the worlds were connected to Vorpus it was the parent, and they were its children.

    “So you know that they’re not like this. No world is this chaotic.” As if to emphasise Xar’s statement a mountain sprung up in the distance.

    “They’re chaotic in other ways.” Zaladar retorted, referring to the near constant civil conflict on almost all the Child Worlds. Vorpus had none of that. The world itself was too dangerous to make it any more so with in-fighting.

    “Anyway, I’m hoping you’re right.” Zaladar sighed. “Come on, we’ll keep going. If we don’t find anything by the next cycle we’ll head back.”

    Zaladar and Xar returned their attentions to their surroundings. Around them it was the same wherever they looked, complete chaos. Lava flowed, the ground cracked and the skies boiled. Zaladar rapidly moved out of the way as a massive shard of rock punctured the sky where he had been only moments before. While they had no physical form the ground was electrically active, which meant it could hurt and disrupt them on contact. It was just another of Vorpus’ unique and deadly properties.

    As they moved ever onward a distinct glow made itself evident in the distance, visible even through the violent lightning storms which plagued Vorpus. As they got closer Zaladar could tell what they were seeing was not a natural part of this world. His people were extremely attuned to their surrounds; it had evolved as a survival mechanism. This glow felt wrong, foreign, and he could tell Xar was thinking the same thing. As they got closer he could see it for what it really was, and for the first time Zaladar felt true terror.

    The glow was originating from a roughly circular light easily three times Zaladar’s height. It swirled with all shades of blues and purples, like a whirlpool suspended in mid-air. Surrounding it was the ground that had been violently shattered and tossed upward as a by-product of its creation. They hovered unnaturally in the air, circling the light as though containing it. Zaladar had never seen anything like it before, but he instantly knew what it was. The prophecies had come to pass.

    The Shadow Gates had arrived.

    Part Two

    “Enough!” Xanthar roared, bringing the furore to an abrupt end. Zaladar looked around at the congregation before returning his attentions to their leader. Since the discovery of the Shadow Gate 20 cycles ago his people had fallen into panic. The prophecy had come true and now the very fate of their world hung in the balance. And to make matters worse four more Gates had been discovered since then. “Elementalis, what have you learnt?”

    Elementalis half floated/half slithered through the congregation to float beside Xanthar. He was Vorpus’ most celebrated researcher, having made more trips to the Child Worlds than any other. He was possessed of a near infinite knowledge of the worlds, their inhabitants, languages, customs and just about everything else.

    “As you all know, the arrival of the Shadow Gates is meant to signify the death of our world.” Elementalis began, “But we never knew how. Well, now we do.”

    He paused for a moment. “All the Child Worlds are connected to Vorpus by thin strands of energy, energy we have exploited in the past to allow us to travel to and from them. The energy flows both ways, allowing equilibrium of sorts to be maintained. However the Shadow Gates have changed all that.”

    “How?” Xanthar asked.

    “The Shadow Gates are powered by Vorpus, my Lord. Those thin tendrils have expanded to allow enough energy to flow from our world to power them. What this means is that there is no more equilibrium. The Shadow Gates are draining Vorpus dry.”

    The crowd murmured, and the fear and panic was palpable.

    “Does this mean that all the Shadow Gates are pointing here?” Zaladar asked.

    Elementalis shook his head. “No, we are merely the power source. All of the Shadow Gates have the same end point, but it is not Vorpus. It’s Balor.”

    “The human world?” Xanthar exclaimed.

    Elementalis nodded. “Yes. Something strange is happening on Balor. Now, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but Balor has always been harder to travel to as the energy current is not quite as strong as the other worlds. I could never figure out why, but it’s now evident that somehow Balor has been storing tiny fragments of energy. Over time this energy has taken on a physical crystalline form, and I think the Shadow Gates have been awoken because of it.”

    “So if we destroy these… Shadow Crystals…. we can close the Gates?” Xar called out.

    “It is a possibility. There is something else. As these Crystals are storing energy native to Vorpus, I believe we can harness them to return the energy safely to our world.” Elementalis replied. “And that may have the same effect in closing the Gates. I fear simply destroying the Crystals would cause a catastrophic release of energy which may even destroy Balor, and the flow on effect would threaten any world connected to it.”

    “Then we must venture to Balor. We can use the Shadow Gates to arrive en masse and restore equilibrium.” Xanthar said.

    “Unfortunately it will not be as easy as that my Lord.” Elementalis said. “For all its dangers, Vorpus and its unique properties help maintain us. While we can maintain ourselves on the Child Worlds for a short length of time, longer periods will cause our forms to dissipate."

    “So what is your suggestion?” Xanthar asked.

    “Simple my Lord.” Elementalis smiled. “We take Vorpus with us.”

  2. #2
    Senior Member NachyoChez's Avatar
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    ---------

    “You’re mad.” Zaladar said sternly to Elementalis as they hovered in front of the Shadow Gate. “The ground is dangerous, and you expect me to what… wear it?”

    “Yes.” Elementalis replied simply. “Watch.”

    Concentrating, Elementalis released a burst of energy into the ground, shattering the surface around him. Tiny tendrils of energy then spread out from his body, connecting him with the fragments and dragging them toward him. Soon he was a hybrid of the physical and the ethereal, the ground a part of him, and he a part of it.

    “Remember the surface of Vorpus is only dangerous because there’s a lot of it. In small fragments it can protect our forms, providing a feedback loop that keeps our energy contained.” He pointed upward with his now stone covered hand. “Just as it does for the Shadow Gates.”

    “Doesn’t that hurt?” Zaladar asked.

    “It tickles a bit.” Elementalis smiled, though with the rock fragment now concealing his face you couldn’t tell. “Your turn.”

    Zaladar did the same as Elementalis, shattering the ground then dragging it toward him. Each time his energy tendrils collected another fragment he could feel himself anchoring to the rock. It was an odd sensation but Elementalis was right, it wasn’t painful. Before long he too had a natural suit of armor. Looking down at his now physical hands Zaladar felt different, almost more powerful.

    “I could get used to this.” Zaladar said. “So, how come you chose me to accompany you on this little mission?”

    “You’ve volunteered for every exploration mission in the last megacycle. And you are a fighting spirit, unlike most on Vorpus. They cringe and flee, you don’t. That’s what we need.”

    “These Shadow Gates scare me as much as the next Vorpan.” Zaladar replied.

    “Yes, but you are here, facing them. They’re not.”

    Zaladar looked up at the gigantic well of energy that would take drag them through space and time. It dwarfed them, crackling with energy stolen from their world. And until this Gate and all the ones like it were closed, they would continue to drain and eventually destroy Vorpus.

    “Let’s go.”


    Part Three

    Green was a colour Zaladar was entirely unused to.

    The Shadow Gate had transported the two Vorpans to the edge of a forest. The sky was a tranquil blue and in the distance mountains could be seen on the horizon. They were mountains that had no doubt stood tall for thousands of megacycles, unlike the ones on his world which were lucky to last a few moments. The ground was stable as well, and Zaladar apprehensively lowered himself towards it. He fully expected a jolt of pain as he landed but instead the ground succumb to him, his ethereal form singeing and blackening the green grass.

    Elementalis did not land however, instead content to float a bodies length above the ground. He tilted his armoured head slightly as he looked around.

    “So….” Zaladar began. “What now? We just wander around, looking for these Shadow Crystals? The locals won’t take long to notice us.”

    “Indeed. In fact...” Elementalis replied, pointing into the distance. “I’d say it won’t take long at all.”

    Up ahead Zaladar could see a small congregation of humans approach, all equipped with the tools of war so common to the Child Worlds, armour, swords, shields. Whether by chance or design it seemed they had arrived at the Shadow Gate at the same time as the two Vorpans. Zaladar could tell that Elementalis was taking in every movement and detail, storing it in his near inexhaustible bank of knowledge. The humans did not share his curiosity.

    “Monsters! Destroy them!” One of them shouted. Clad in more ornate armour and wearing a cape, he was obviously the leader of this group. His men lunged forward, seeking to bring the Vorpans low. Zaladar was not so much afraid as amused, and raising his hand he unleashed a defensive lightning storm to knock them back and show off his power.

    Elementalis launched his attack as well, releasing a trio of Sparks from his body. Sparks were semi-sentient constructs linked to the mind of the Vorpan who created them, and the three of them shot forward without pause. As the Sparks were all of one mind they fought together in perfect unison, each one covering the other and strengthening the whole. Completely outmatched it wasn’t long before the humans fled rather than face certain death.

    All of them bar one.

    The human that stood his ground was not dressed like the others. He wore a heavy robe with a cowl that obscured most of his face. He was not particularly tall but Zaladar could feel the energy coursing through him. The human raised his hands and lightning bolts shot forward at the two Vorpans, connecting instantly. The lightning disrupted Zaladar for a split second, though his stone armour absorbed most of the impact. Slightly annoyed now Zaladar returned fire, his blast so immense in its magnitude that the skies cracked and the nearby trees buckled. The blast hit the human square in the chest, disintegrating him in an instant.

    “That was a bit much, wasn’t it?” Elementalis said sternly, looking over at the smoking ash that was the human mage.

    “He was a threat.” Zaladar replied simply.

    Elementalis nodded, before a shimmer of light caught his attention from the ash pile. “What’s that?” He asked, pointing at the object.

    Zaladar bent down over the mage’s remains and had a look. Sitting in the ash and perfectly unharmed was a small greenish crystal. Grasping it in a stone hand, Zaladar held it up so they could both look at it. “Is this?”

    “I think it is, yes.” Elementalis said with obvious excitement. It was a Shadow Crystal, the energy of their world given physical form. “That’s incredible. We need to get this back to Vorpus and see if we can safely extract the energy from it.”

    Zaladar nodded agreement, and the pair turned to head back through the Shadow Gate. But standing in their way was a diminutive, elderly human male. He wore the trappings of a beggar and his wizened old face was framed by a lengthy white beard. He looked frail and pitiful, yet something about him hinted at great power.

    “Good, you’re here.” He said simply, extending his hand in a gesture of friendship. “Come, there is much to do, and very little time to do it.”


    Part Four

    Zaladar and Elementalis just stared at the old man, who they realised had no fear of the two Vorpans.

    “Come.” He reiterated, taking a couple of steps forward. “I need to discuss something of great importance.”

    “Who does this human think he is?” Zaladar asked Elementalis, who simply shrugged.

    “My name is Derek.” The man responded, causing Zaladar some surprise. It seemed he understood the Vorpan language quite easily. No doubt he was being assisted through magical means. “And I know why you are here, you seek the Shadow Crystals.”

    “How do you…” Elementalis began, speaking in the common tongue of Balor.

    “Everyone who comes through the Shadow Gates seek the Shadow Crystals.” Derek said simply. “It’s not a difficult assumption. But most come seeking to exploit them. You on the other hand have a nobler goal. Your world is dying, and you are trying to save it.”

    “You seem to know a lot, old man.” Zaladar replied sternly, though his speech wasn’t as fluent as Elementalis. “My question is how?”

    “I see more than just what these two eyes show me.” He responded cryptically. “Besides, it is the truth is it not?”

    The two Vorpans exchanged glances then simply nodded.

    “Good. Now that is out of the way, we can get down to business.”

    “Speak quickly.” Elementalis stated. “We have little time as it is.”

    Derek exhaled. “As I mentioned before, you are not the only ones seeking the Shadow Crystals. The populations of all the worlds are descending on Balor to take a piece of the prize. Most seek them for power. However there is so much more at stake. Even more than the death of your world.”

    “Such as?”

    Derek’s eyes narrowed. “The death of everything.” He paused for a moment before continuing. “Something has caused Balor to act as an energy reservoir, trapping and storing latent energy, forming Shadow Crystals. The problem is as more Shadow Crystals are formed and they become more densely populated, they grow unstable.”

    “They’re reaching a critical mass.” Elementalis said.

    “Exactly. And should they rupture and explode, Balor and all worlds connected via the Shadow Gates will be obliterated.” Derek looked up at Elementalis. “But you already knew that.”

    “I had theorized.” Elementalis replied. “So, what help can you offer us?”

    “An alliance. There are many other armies here already from other Shadow worlds, as humans call them. By working together we can reclaim the Shadow Crystals and prevent them destroying us all.”

    “And the Shadow Gates?” Zaladar said, pointing upward. “What about them? They’re bleeding our world dry.”

    “The Gates are simply the result of energy build-up from the Shadow Crystals. As more form they need more energy for fuel, and the Gates are the result of that energy gravitating toward them. If we separate and safely release the energy from the Shadow Crystals the Gates will simply close.”

    “And what do you get out of it?” Zaladar pressed.

    “My world lives.” Derek replied.

    The trio were silent for a few moments, pondering the gravity of what lay ahead. Finally Elementalis spoke up. “We shall speak to our leaders about your proposal, human…Derek. We shall return within a cycle with an answer.”

    Derek simply nodded. “I’ll be waiting.”

  3. #3
    Senior Member NachyoChez's Avatar
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    ---------

    Derek opened the door to his tenement and stepped inside, gently closing the door behind him. As he walked into the lounge room he sent a small flicker of magical fire from his fingertips to light the lone candle in the room, bathing it in a gentle orange light. Heading over to the single chair in the room he sat down gently. Despite his skills in magic, he could only do so much to ease the symptoms of old age and his bones ached for their first rest in almost two days.

    “The Elementals will join your cause.” Derek called out once he had gotten comfortable.

    “Excellent.” A voice responded from one of the many shadows in the room. “What did you tell them?”

    “What they wanted to hear. That we would work to save their world and would safely expend the Crystals’ energy to prevent extinction.”

    “It is a partial truth.”

    “The best lies always are. I did omit the details of what you planned to do with the energy that is recovered.”

    “It would not do for them to know at this point.”

    Derek nodded. “So what now?”

    “We have made great progress, almost all the major Shadow worlds have been coerced into joining the cause. Now is the time for the second stage of the plan.” The voice said.

    “It is time for war.”

  4. #4
    DP Visionary Mongoosey's Avatar
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    Master story telling from my fanfic fav Preybird.
    "I'll have you know I have the reflexes of a cat, and the speed of a mongoose"

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  5. #5
    Senior Member Jo3yb0i's Avatar
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    I knew it he was behind this all along
    "Try and try until you die...or succeed...whichever comes first"

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  6. #6
    Senior Member Veles's Avatar
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    Ofc its Zaladar and electric fellowship
    Great as always. Always fun to know other peoples vision of characters.

    Design Team Leader

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    “Let the future tell the truth, and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I have really worked, is mine”
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  7. #7
    Senior Member aNIMaL's Avatar
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    This was mind-blowing...an idea of where the Elementals came from...good work! Really good!
    No animals were harmed in the making of this sig... I tried, but that damn monkey was way too fast.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member XanteseZerylliom's Avatar
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    Glad to see that Zal and Elementalis aren't just bizarre monsters without intellect. Great job on an interesting read. Will be fun to see where this goes!
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  9. #9
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    Even though I'm tired and can barely keep my eyes open that drew me in.

    Very nicely done!

  10. #10
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    Interesting! Very interesting, indeed! While reading, I'm having a mental image of Elementalis half-floating and half-slithering.

    As with other good books I read, I imagine the dialogues through voice-overs. Imagine Xanthar shouting "Enough!" (voice of James Earl Jones), And Chris Hemsworth doing the voice of Zaladar, while Gollum's doing the voice-over for Elementalis in a not so sinister manner.

    Now, for my 2 cents:
    A few comments on grammar and some choice of words, but these should easily be picked up by proof readers. Linear, as expected of a short story, but opens up a lot of possibilities - could be a prequel, part of the story or a parallel book. Good ending to have your readers wonder - when's the next book going to be released? Let them feel the agony of waiting for the next release... lol.

    Overall, I'd personally give this a very high rating! Good job, sir!

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