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It happened swiftly. It happens that way to everyone in the end, I think. Whether it's sudden and unexpected, or the inevitable that has been steadily approaching for far too long, in the end it is swift. Darkness descended upon me.
I found myself in liquid. Odd... not what I expected. I pondered this strangeness briefly until suddenly I realized, to my alarm, that I felt the need to breathe. I quickly tried to determine which way is 'up' and began swimming for dear life. Desperately I clawed at the water, trying to reach something I could breathe. My hand broke the surface of the water, but I could not find anything to grip. I felt a surge of panic as my strength left me.
Suddenly, a hand grasped mine. It was an unpleasant hand, hard and bony, but at that time it could have been made of gold. I clenched it tightly, and my savior pulled me suddenly from the water. I knelt by the side of the pool I had been drowning in, coughing and gasping. I turned to look at my rescuer.
And came face to face with a grinning skull.
I leapt backwards with a yelp, raising an arm to shield myself from this sight.
There was no flesh on my arm. It was completely skeletal, the individual bones held together and motivated by some unseen force.
"Welcome, newcomer." said a voice. I realized it was the skeleton, and that the skull's eye sockets glowed faintly. "Welcome to the City of the Living."
I have adjusted quickly to 'life' here. I have learned many interesting things about the City and its inhabitants. Did you know that the Living were not created by necromancy? Did you know that the City's technology is more advanced than that of any of their neighbors?
It is truly an amazing place.
However, it is not a place I would choose to live in. It is situated within a massive cavern. Certainly the carvings and the carefully constructed dwellings and machines are impressive, the fungi and moss beautiful, and the tunnels well lit by the powerful lanterns of the Living, but I yearn for the outdoors. It has been some time now since I saw the sky.
The small, twisted creature drew back, cringing.
"Fool! Of what use is thy opinion to me? Thou art but a worm that thinketh itself wisest of all!"
The dark being rose from his seat.
"Many fools such as thyself have thought to understand Ca'ryn Orthas. His motives seem obvious to many... many who are weak of mind. But I have long studied him, and I have seen through to his intentions. Necromancers," he stepped forward as he said this, "think him a coward, one who desired undead servants yet was afraid of their arts. The elves think him a weak mage, who failed in his attempt to gain eternal life. The Guilds of the humans think him a curiosity, but not of importance."
He chuckled. "All fools. Ca'ryn Orthas was a weak mage, to be sure, one who stumbled across a powerful secret. Though he was weak his works should not be dismissed as such. His Stone of Life has a power that only the ancient Dark Elves could match. Such a young power, yet such a great power. Without that power, the plants and Conduits that the Living require for survival will wither. Once the Stone is mine..."
He clenched his fist. "All the Living will join with me or die. Then I shall use the Stone to conquer this world."
I learned today that every one of the Living is unique. It is difficult to judge based on bone structure (I suppose I simply haven’t developed the eye for it), but there are other differences. For example, eye color. Nobody here actually has eyes, just empty sockets, but the light that emanate from within these comes in many different colors. Mine are green. My ‘big brother’ Withe has purple eyes. Apparently this is the most common color.
Withe explained the ‘brother’ system to me. He was the one who first met me when I arrived here (by pulling me out of the water), so it is his duty to watch over me and teach me about the ways of the Living. He says since I have been here so long now, soon the Council of the Living will greet me officially and explain to me how the Living were and are created. Also at that time I will be allowed to choose a name. Right now I have no name.
There is one more thing I forgot to mention, as far as telling the Living apart by appearance. Sometimes, when I look at someone just right, I think I see a living face (and I mean living in the old sense, flesh and blood). It’s like their whole frame is engulfed in flesh for just an instant, and I see who they truly are. I saw Withe in this way, and he was a man with golden hair, blue eyes, and a countenance of kindness. Another I saw in this manner was Reed, and she seemed for a moment like a girl of fair features, perhaps the most beautiful I have laid eyes upon, with a sad expression.
She is often sad, but nonetheless I enjoy speaking with her. I think perhaps I love her, though that may be presumptuous of me, one who has no name and no Purpose. Still, the love of the Living is the purest kind of love, with no vain attractions of the flesh and no foolishness of youth and inexperience. Though at first I was disappointed by this new existence, I have learned that though there are fewer carnal pleasures available in it, it has many of the good and whole joys of life.
Indeed, this society is very pure and wholesome overall. There are no evil Living, so far as I have seen, nor any crime among them. I have been told that there are rules to follow and penalties to pay for breaking these laws, and that there are those that sometimes do, but I have not witnessed that for myself. Indeed, everyone in the City of the Living, I suspect, has died before being born here. It would seem death is a positive experience.
One reason I believe this, apart from the circumstances of my arrival, is that I have noticed that the place in my forehead where I was struck fatally has a small glowing mark, to remind me of my prior existence. Most prefer to forget their past lives… but it is impossible for some of us to truly forget, I believe. The marks on our bodies, which on some are large and obvious (claw or blade marks), remind us of the past every time we look in a mirror or a pool of water.
Threats of violence. We take these seriously and will alert the proper authorities.
Harassing or discriminatory language. This will not be tolerated.