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Chapter 1-15


CHAPTER 1: The assent

Chapter one.  Glacial Terror


The alchemist stared up at the glacier and sighed.  Several people from his order had died attempting this; if he died, another would take his place. Rubbing his hands together as the icy wind bit into his face, he slowly started to ascend. Progress was slow, but he managed to keep pace. As the day passed, the sun's rays shone through the ancient ice, giving off a blueish glow.  Removing his glove, he touched the smooth surface, smiling.  Taking his blade, he chipped a piece of ice and tasted it.  This old ice was all that remained untainted from before the world died.  The ice tasted clean and without pollutants.  This new sensation filled him with resolve, and he continued on. 


On top of the mountain was said to have the old ruins that the locals called the oracle. His order believed there was enough evidence of its existence to risk sending people out to find it.  The order was small, so losing his brothers on this mountain had cost them dearly. The Alchemist’s only records of the Oracle were old and confusing.  It was either some spring of magic welling to the surface.  Or one of the remaining mechanical abominations that still stalked the earth.  Either way, it was his order's last hope of finding answers. The old bindings that kept the world in check were beginning to fail. 


So much knowledge had been lost, and his order was the last caretaker of the world's knowledge. In desperation, they had looked for other groups in hopes of aligning themselves, but all that had been fruitless. They could see what was happening to the world, and it appeared no one else could, so the order had sent out its members one after another in a vain attempt to reach the Oracle. 


When his time came, he had set out.  The journey had taken weeks, and his sense of unease grew with the sight of the mountains in the distance. On the final day, the settlement at the glacier's base appeared. As he walked into the settlement, the people kept their distance. The people would have been easily missed if one had not paid attention.  They blended into their surroundings with their painted skin, the pale blue color of the ice. They were a very secretive people, making a living harvesting and selling the clean ice above to those wealthy enough to buy it. They had the last reserve of anything still clean and untainted. To the foolish, they all looked malnourished and weak. But the Alchemist could see their hidden hardiness.  Living here and resisting outside forces had made them tough and formidable.  But even these strange mountain people had shied away from an Alchemist.


Chewing on a piece of dried meat, the Alchemist sighed. Three long days and sleepless nights were starting to take their toll. Since leaving the settlement, he could not risk sleeping. But resting wasn’t an option for fear of freezing to death or being taken by the darkness that lived in the deep crevices.  He had seen them in the distance a time or two, and they filled him with absolute terror. The creatures were like fluid smoke sliding out of the darkness and engulfing its victim. The screams could be heard easily as the victims were slowly digested.  In the chronicles he had read in preparation, he had briefly mentioned the creatures. But the critical part was that the creature's name had been ripped out. Names had power, and there were those that could harvest such power.  


Suddenly, the terrain became much steeper and more treacherous.  It was a maddening several hours of going a short distance, then losing his footing and sliding back.  Eventually, as the sun rose, he used his last reserve of energy. One last push-up, and he summited, collapsing in the snow.


CHAPTER 2: Spectral Meating

CHAPTER 2.  In the shadowed heart of the ancient ruins, the priest of the elder creatures stood, his presence a solitary beacon amidst the crumbling stones. With whispered incantations and outstretched hands, he drew upon the arcane energies that slumbered in the forgotten depths. The air thrummed with a palpable power, crackling with an eldritch fervor as the priest wove his magic.


As the final syllables resonated through the desolate expanse, a rift in reality tore open, revealing a portal to another realm. Through it, the priest stepped, leaving behind the world of man for the mysteries that awaited beyond. The realm he entered was a nexus of swirling energies, where spectral currents coalesced, and shadows danced with a life of their own.


Guided by the arcane whispers, the priest ventured deeper, seeking the spirit of the crossroads, a fabled entity known to hold the keys to forbidden knowledge. In the ethereal twilight, he encountered the spirit, its form a shimmering enigma, at the convergence of unseen paths. With reverence and caution, the priest beseeched the spirit for the coveted insight he sought.


With the spirit's cryptic blessing, the priest turned to face the return journey, now fraught with even greater peril. He navigated through winding tunnels, their walls pulsing with an otherworldly energy. The air grew thick with the scent of ancient earth, and the distant echoes of forgotten whispers seemed to beckon him further into the labyrinthine depths.


With unwavering resolve, the priest pressed on, each step a deliberate stride toward the distant ruins on the mountain's pinnacle. The tunnels twisted and turned, their passages a maze of shadows and secrets. Yet, guided by the knowledge bestowed upon him, the priest emerged once more into the light. The power of the crossroads was now bound within him, a force that would shape the fate of worlds.



CHAPTER 3:  In the somber expanse of his existence, the priest was abruptly wrenched back, a violent expulsion from an unknown realm. His body crumpled, lungs gasping for precious breath, only to meet the merciless embrace of the unyielding ground. Immobilized and forsaken, he became a captive audience to the savage onslaught of the elder things, grotesque apparitions that defied sanity itself. Their forms, grotesque and twisted, materialized in nightmarish splendor, etching indelible horror into the fibers of his being.


Paralyzed, the priest lay ensnared, his senses inundated by the suffocating presence of these abominable entities. They moved with a silent malevolence, assembling in the stygian recesses, forging their unholy pact with unerring purpose. It was a diabolic choreography, a dark symphony that resonated through the void. The priest's gaze was held captive by the nightmarish tableau that unfolded before him. Time seemed to stretch infinitely, a spectral tether binding him to this profane theater.


Through the interminable night, the priest's consciousness teetered on the precipice of madness; his very soul ensnared in the sordid dance of eldritch horrors. The dawn, that savior herald of light, was his only salvation, promising to sear away the malevolence that clung to his senses. With each tentative ray, the sun became his avenger, a celestial sword that rent the darkness asunder, banishing the grotesque specters that had sought to shroud his world in unfathomable terror.



CHAPTER 4:  The alchemist lay sprawled amidst the ruins, his body, a tapestry of pain, woven by the secrets he had wrested from the universe. The knowledge came at a cost, and weakness clung to him like a malevolent specter. As the sun traced its arc across the desolation, he rose, a fragile puppet pulled by unseen strings. Relief flickered fleetingly as he realized an alternative route awaited, only to be extinguished by the looming realization of what lay ahead.


Stumbling down the remnants of an ancient road, the alchemist descended into the flatlands. The decaying path mirrored the degradation of forgotten civilizations. Night veiled the landscape, and at the crossroads, he paused. The intersecting route, a fusion of lost technology and cobblestone makeshift repairs, beckoned ominously. Dread enveloped him as he gazed down the road leading to the ruins of the city of the gods, the last vestige of an ancient realm.


At the threshold, he confronted the keeper, a mechanical semblance of a deity imprisoned within a glass case. Wired tendrils protruded from its decaying facade, and as the alchemist approached, it stirred. The mechanical guardian's gaze, void of empathy, fixated upon him. Unleashing a psychic onslaught, it dredged up all the horrors of that time long ago. 


With desperate determination, the alchemist forged ahead, navigating the tunnel filled with dread as the keeper's psychic assault clawed at the recesses of his mind. Through sheer will, he emerged on the other side, breathless and battered, leaving behind the haunted echoes of a city that once cradled gods and now cradled only memories of a mechanical divinity unraveling in decay.



Chapter 5.  In the loathsome town, the alchemist moved through a landscape of wraith-like survivors, shadows of despair etched onto angry, soiled faces. All eyes averted as he traversed the desolation, a palpable memory of the day when he, consumed by a malevolent rage, had slaughtered those who sought to claim what was his. Pity, a sentiment he would typically extend, had evaporated that day, leaving only the haunting echoes of merciless carnage.


Suddenly halted on the barren grey streets, he sensed the faint tendrils of corruption and agony weaving through the air. The alchemist, drawn to the source, set forth with purpose, seeking the tendrils of the malevolence that plagued the town – perhaps the cultists who embodied its sinister essence. Approaching an aged manor, guards attempted to bar his path, but with a seamless motion, he unleashed his gift, igniting them in ethereal flames.