The Tower

Sui bent over the edge of the cliff and vomited again. Risen below got a face full of sylvari stomach contents.

She wheezed a laugh and wiped a trembling hand over her lips.

A few more breaths and the spinning in her belly settled. She rolled over to look up at the bruised Orrian sky.

She hated heights and yet had scrambled all the way up this spire to chase a rumour. A risen creature of immense power inhabited this place.

It was all true. She had made one final leap from a branch of petrified coral and bare feet landed on a mosaic floor that must have been beautiful before the land sunk.

She had seen evidence of much of that. Orr could have rivalled Kryta before it sunk, judging from the quality of the ruins and the bits of artwork that had survived with them.

The concentration of farmers, chickens, cows… the land must have been fertile indeed.

Seeing the farmers faithfully till soil that would never yield a crop, bulls hunt for blades of grass in the dust that they could not eat… it was all so sad… intolerably sad. They should all be at rest. She had thought that her dream had given her that charge… now she was not so sure.

She had cut down a giant yesterday… alone. An achievement that should have had her bragging in a bar with norn buying her drinks.

She had snuck up on the creature… when it’s back was turned and it was staring listlessly out over the corrupted landscape. She had jumped from cover and leapt.

She used her magic to boost her reflexes and got her arms round it’s neck and drew a chaos blade over it’s throat with grim efficiency.

She did not cut deep enough before she was grabbed. The giant threw her over it’s rotting head. Worn and damaged armour parted and she left half of the scales in the giant’s hand.

She landed on her feet with the grace her training with Argyle had given her. Mind cool and focused she switched weapons calling for dual chaos blades.

Falling into a more defensive form of combat… almost the same as when she would use magic offensively and keep her distance… she darted in and attacked the giants feet, avoiding deftly a fist to the skull.

Tendons snapped, the brute fell with a cry of anger and confusion.

She ignored the stab of pity she felt and acted as she knew she should. Blades crossed over one another, she sundered head from shoulders.

The wash of relief almost had her staggering. She had acted as a valiant should. She had not lost herself to instinct and while her hunt still prodded the back of her mind, it lessened in intensity. She was in control again.

Well, almost. She looked down at herself. Armour in shreds and a cut to her inner thigh where the giant’s dirt encrusted nails had sliced through her bark.

She ripped the rest of the useless bits off her and wasted a little magic to put rubbery leaves over her feet.

The pact who saw her around the cursed shore would no doubt talk about the almost naked sylvari running around the landscape. She did not care. A few risen nobles later and she had enough material to stitch together a garment to cover some of her modesty.

She had uncovered a chest inside of the ruin she spent the night. Despite the rather nasty spiked trap that sent a needle of steel right through her forearm, the chest was well worth opening.

Within, was an armoured skirt. It was made of pure damask with stitches so small and even they were certainly not put there by mortal hand. The garment practically spat power and it was all hers… she strapped it on and had smiled. The smile got wider when she moved to sprint back to Devastation and found her feet moving more swiftly than they ever had.

She headed for the drunken spire of rock in the distance. She had a risen mage to confront.

It had been a battle that had exhausted her. That necrotic magic packed quite a punch. All that time with Rhass had paid off. She anticipated the fear the evil thing had tried to conjure in her. Sui had stood her ground instead of running off the tower to her death.

Still, the pestilence had got to her and once her foe was vanquished she had run to empty her stomach over the land far below. She should have puked on the mage, but that pesky respect for the undead refused to let her do so. Thus… she lay on her back watching the purple clouds roll and boil above.

She could hear gunfire below and the roar of a flamethrower. A pact patrol no doubt. She pulled a face with distaste. Projectiles were efficient but not quick. She closed her eyes.

“Care for the risen,” she muttered, “because no one else does.”

Something clicked in the back of her mind. It was such a tiny change and she was so tired she did not even notice. She drifted to sleep, right there… with the mural of some ancient god glaring down at her.

Her dreams were the same as always… bright blue eyes… hands pushing her away… away into the arms of something greater she could not escape.

She awoke with a jolt, face wet.

More tears, the same dream, same nagging loss.

She wiped her face and growled to herself.

“Why can nothing ever be simple?” she spat to the icy eyes on the mural. Nothing like the ones in her dream, though the colour was almost identical.

She glanced to the side and noticed the note book sitting on a shelf, old but not as old as the other artefacts.

She stepped over the broken floor and brushed the dust from the cover. The spine cracked as she opened the book.

Most of the writing was unreadable, either due to the age of the tome or the fact language had moved on since the characters had been inscribed… still she could make out some of it.

 

“I’ve arrived at the Vizier’s Tower, through great peril. My health declines, and my mental state has been compromised by the horrors I’ve witnessed. I have begun to accept that I will not survive a return journey.”

 

“I see only these awful statues, and I’m not sure what I had hoped to find—some shred of information on the terrible Mursaat, perhaps, or maybe a glimpse into the life of the vizier who wrought such destruction upon Orr.”

 

“All I’ve learned is that Orr is lost to us forever. I don’t believe this land will ever heal. I will leave my notes here for someone else to find. I do not expect the Risen will allow me to leave.”

 

Suiriane realised her face was wet once more. She closed the book. So much death, so much pain. The dragon was only part of the problem. Orr was doomed long before it rose from the sea.

Mental state compromised… risen would not let him leave.

Would that be her legacy? Another lost to this place full of memory and misery?

She reverently closed the book and rested a hand on it for a moment. A little denial magic to aid in preserving it. Perhaps some priory scholar could decipher more of it in the future.

She turned back to the mural, stepping over the corpse of the mage… power still hummed round the place, she got the feeling this particular risen would not stay at rest. She should leave quickly… but not without satisfying her curiosity first.

On a closer look at the weathered mural she noticed writing at the bottom. She was very surprised when the ancient text seemed to morph and change into something she could read.

“Act with magic, act within reason, act without mercy”

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The words chilled her sap. She spent quite some time going back over the phrase.

Reason but no mercy.

This land had no mercy

She… was the antithesis of that.

She was merciful… that was why she was here…

Suiriane put her hands on the mural, it felt cold even through her hand wraps but there was also power pulsing there. Old… ancient… malevolent.

“You are wrong,” she said softly, looking defiantly into the eyes of the mural.

Later… once she found a safe camp for the night, she felt her hands hurting. She unwrapped the rags over them to see her palms were burnt.

“Evil bastard,” she muttered with a laugh. “Now that is just being a sore loser.”

It was then she realised the mural had been more crafty then she had given it credit for.

How would she hold a blade?

She would have to go back to her camp find her way very carefully.

She was now almost defenceless.

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