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 Torvald

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PostSubject: Re: Torvald   Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:39 pm

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Was it destiny or chance that guided my path? It was hard to believe my story is coincidence. Perhaps there is an ulterior plan or scheme, or perhaps I was simply blessed with good luck. Everything worked well.

The “me” at this moment is actually a composition of three entities which have coalesced into the consciousness I am today. The story is most easily told from the viewpoint of Torvald, the oldest of the three.

Over a century ago was when he grew in power, along with another dozen “wizards” who all shared a common concept: ether. The ether is an energy-dense space analogous to and distinct from the material realm. For unknown reasons, Torvald and the other wizards could access this power to manipulate the material realm. Torvald felt that he was special, and he was right – but his arrogance was misplaced.

When the aliens first made contact with Earth, Torvald was one of those to drive them away. When the aliens sent another, larger fleet, Torvald worked with the group of wizards to stop them. However, he realized in the process that doing so would result in his death. Fear of death and the unknown caused him to abandon the others at their last, most dire hour. For his own temporary safety, he threw away his power, his friends, and his planet.

After the aliens detonated their hated bomb in the center of the planet, he had no goal. His shame haunted him. The wizards’ sacrifice endured a century before dispelling, and he knew it. The world was broken. What else could be holding it together? He fled in fear and subsisted on society while the very wizards he abandoned were protecting him, protecting the Earth.

He thought he would repent for his weakness, protect the world again from the threat of the aliens. He trained himself again in the use of magic. After some time, by cicrumstance, he took an apprentice, Hanson. Years later, under similar circumstances, he took another, Epimor.

He knew Epimor was unstable and ambitious, but he allowed it, ignoring Epimor’s wild plans of destruction – until Epimor tried to kill Hanson, and succeeded. Torvald had failed completely. He had failed first his friends and then his apprentices. He left society a second time, completely, and secluded himself. During this time, again by chance, Epimor met and followed Athen and Athen’s followers.

Torvald continued to train in secret until he heard of Epimor’s name from some feat he had performed. He considered killing Epimor in case he grew too powerful, but when he found him, there were two surprises: first, the Epimor he feared was no longer present. In reality, Epimor had possessed another body. The second surprise was the Dark Culmination.

It appeared and attacked. An alien. A chance for redemption. He would have died, had it not been for the help of Athen. This was another boon. If the aliens were returning, he alone could do nothing to stop them, but Athen held the hope of fulfilling his destiny. After realizing this, Torvald decided to follow Athen.

The true evil Epimor, however, was nearby. By an attempt to possess Torvald and his power, three entities were combined: Torvald, Epimor, and Hanson. The effect was unforeseen, and resulted in the creation of none other than me. I possess all of their memories and thoughts, even as their original personalities faded.

Torvald’s resolution and desire for redemption. Epimor’s ambition. Hanson’s temperament. All of these merged into one powerful wizard with the intent of protecting his home planet.

I accompanied Athen, the only option available to me at the time. The Epimor that remained was only a shell of a man, albeit a powerful one.

However, as these events unfolded, the aliens were on the move. So we followed Athen and, at the last minute, my destiny unfolded. In the end, I was only a distraction, but I was born from that conflict.

A wizard using ether can be compared to a hole in levy. The water is dammed back, but a break allows water to rush through. The amount of water is the wizard’s strength. If the water is forced through too forcefully, the crack widens, and the flow increases. Training increases the user’s strength in this way. If strained too much, though, the levy breaks altogether. This is what happened to the original wizards, and their beings were destroyed when they preserved the Earth. That is what it means to sacrifice oneself. Instead of dying, their souls were erased.

When I guarded Athen from the Dark Culmination and its dark servants, I exerted effort greater than I had ever conceived possible for myself. That alone was not enough to stop it, though. Despite the shield I had constructed – even with the help of others – that demon destroyed it and incapacitated me. My physical form was all but destroyed. My mind, though, my soul, was never stronger.

Now, in the break after the storm, I have to assess what my goals are now. The alien threat is far from extinguished. I need to prepare.

What went wrong earlier? Weakness. I was too weak. One wizard with limited power. I could have stopped one of the aliens, but there were too many.

I also needed numbers. An army of wizards... is it possible?

If I did go that route... I could also use it as an opportunity to learn more about this power. I need soldiers.

For the first time, the tables are turned. I have time to prepare for their next move, and they’ll find me waiting.
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PostSubject: Re: Torvald   Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:40 pm

"Several months have passed since we repelled the aliens. I am very troubled.

Not by my magic academy - it is a notable success. There were roughly one hundred recruits from the start of the endeavor, but the conversion process was more strenuous than anticipated. Roughly two dozen remain. Twice as much as last time, I thought, but... the enemy must have learned something. Regardless, there was little in the Academy itself to worry about.

The Legion spread its influence with relative calm over the surrounding area; there were no large military disputes. There is nothing to worry about in that respect.

During these months, I have not been spending my time idly; I, with the aid of Epimor and a choice wizard of high latent ability, have been doing experiment to determine exactly the source of our magic with the hope that we could better train others. We were able to locate what I have called a "motive energy" (ME) that is measurable and which I believe is manifest as magic (as evidenced by measuring various students and myself).

We were close to determining the source when, in an unrelated experiment, we measured the ME in a sample of V we had acquired from the Legion.

Our reading was negative.

This indicates an error on our part: energy is relative. The logical implication is that the ME in V is lower than what we had set as zero. The problem is that we zeroed our instruments on the background noise of Earth: common, nonmagic rocks and soil.

This implies Earth retains an inherent ME that the aliens lack.

This implies Earth is special.

This is the only logical implication. I considered alternatives, but this is the most convincing. Earth was somehow vested with a spring of motive energy that the aliens lack.

I have been considering possible reasons for this result. The most promising is an emergent theory.

Emergence is the quality of a system composed of simple parts to develop complicated and possibly unexpected traits. A computer, for example, is composed of a few types of key silicon trinkets which (predictably) result in a complicated output.

Perhaps the brain is similar. Ignoring the limitation of time, I am (tenselessly) a being that exists for over one hundred years on Earth, perhaps much longer. Do I not have a greater permanence than mere atoms?

This leads to problems, though. If such permanence resulted in ME, why is everybody not a wizard?

The solution is what troubles me.

My way of thinking was incorrect. For the past one hundred and twenty years, my thinking - and that of all of humanity before it - was incorrect. This is not the true world. The true world is what we are now calling motive energy. Some individuals simply utilize greater amounts of it.

What we perceive is simply our brains' attempts to order the motive energy. If one could use motive energy (the nature of which is still largely unknown), there could be many possible benefits.

One natural consequence of a motive world is motive selves, each linked to its corresponding material self; somewhat of a soul, but not linked by time. This bestows individual talents.

Clairvoyance.
If motive selves are connected, there could be a transfer of thoughts or memory.
Because the material world is a perception of the motive world, it may be possible to manipulate that perception: magic.

It explains all of my perception of magic perfectly. However, its implications worry me.

If that is the case, what are the aliens that attack us? They lack ME - are we a speck of life they are trying to exterminate? Are we a fire upon the universe they are attempting to extinguish? Are we merely an oddity in their path?

Is it related to the ME at all?

What if - and this is what troubles me - what if we are simply shadows of a larger conflict that transcends the world as we know it? As you know, I have dedicated the last year of my life completely to the defense of the Earth. What if that was a shadow?"

I look to Epimor, sitting silently. Is he processing what I've told him? Is he accepting it? Denying it?

After a while, I speak. "What do you think?" He tilts his head imperceptibly - perhaps it was my imagination.

Chiding myself, I continue, "Of course, this whole time, nobody has known what you thought. With concentration, I may be able to emulate an effect similar to Stilts' - it would be nice, after this time, to hear the thoughts of my pupil." Epimor nodded.

I concentrated. I attempted to see outside of my self, to see my motive self, the cumulative experiences and memories that constituted me; to see Epimor's and combine them.

In a flash, the experience was over. My motive self was tinted with Epimor's, and his with mine.

I experienced, in essence, Epimor. All of his sentiments, all of his thoughts, experiences, opinions, fears, priviliges, impulses - everything.

I understood, finally, what he was telling me. A deep inner calm filled me.

"Yeah.

"Yes, that's right."

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PostSubject: Re: Torvald   Thu Nov 18, 2010 5:02 pm

"Samuel, I must leave the Academy in your care. I know you're capable of controlling it, and, to be honest, I'm not needed here any more. I'll be sure to return when it is necessary."

"Still, leaving at a time like this..."

"It can't be helped. There are more urgent matters at the moment I need to turn my attention to."

Samuel was the commander-in-chief of the program I was heading. Although research of magic would be significantly slowed by my absence, Samuel could control the training and logistics.

And I had my eyes set on a larger prize. The group happened upon a magical library of sorts, and I had only recently had the time to explore it. If there were humans in the past who used magic, and the evidence was that they used in on a larger scale than now - there is much I could learn.

"Ah, Torvald. About Epimor -"

"Epimor needs to rest. I honestly don't know if he'll be able to recover in time."

Ever since that day, Epimor was sick. I think the strain was too much.

"I may be gone for several weeks, Samuel. I entrust the Academy to you during that time."
_____

Now that I think about it, I've done nothing but manage the Academy and research since the second impact. Now I was again adventuring.

I only knew the rough location of the library, and I soon ran into a forest.

Wasn't this area a desert?

However, I felt a strong presence in the forest. Could it be the library? I started walking towards it.

As I walked deeper into the forest, I began to feel like I was in a cloud of magic - it was like the forest had its own field. It closed behind me.

No, that was unnatural. The magic in a forest wouldn't move, much less close me in.

"Show yourselves," I shouted, and about eight figures stepped out of the forest. They were... different. They did not appear human, and this was confirmed by the observation that their minds seemed cloudy - or, rather, masked.

They were inherently magical, then? At the least, it was apparent that these individuals used magic extensively.

One of them stepped forward and began to speak. "Turn back, human. This is our territory."

"There is a magical location within this territory of interest to me. My only objective is to study it."

"We cannot allow you to enter, human. If you persist, we will have to stop you by force." I noticed a few of the figures seemed to disappear at these words.

I have nothing to offer them. In that case...

"On whose authority do you stop me?"

The figure imperceptibly straightened with pride. "We are the Elves, the God-granted protectors of your race. Know your place."

Anger welled up inside of me. "I am supposed to be subservient to you, 'protectors' who fail to protect? How, if you won't trust me to my methods of fighting the aliens, can I trust you to yours? I have no choice but to take matters into my own hands."
_____

A scout who had left the group rushed into a command office. Despite his exertion, he spoke quickly and clearly. "There's a human wizard trying to enter. He may be too powerful for us."

Vanya stood. "I can sense him from here. I will go. Lead the way." As she left, she said, "Daugion, report this to the others."
_____

I stared at the figure before me. "If you won't let me pass, I'll have to cut you down. I am absolutely determined in this regard."

"Then we shall fight."

Two arrows shot out of the woods - they had been waiting for a fight. I redirected the arrows to their allies, but they dodged them easily.

Two of them rushed towards me, drawing daggers. I stepped out of their first charge and fired a small rock at one of them; he dodged it and it embedded itself in a tree with dull noise.

More arrows came towards me; I could tell a mage was drawing in energy. My training had well-prepared me for multi-tasking, so they weren't able to catch me off guard. Another of them was rushing at me with a dagger; I swung my arm around charged, and -

- missed -

- as though he saw me coming -

- and he stuck the blade through my chest from behind. He withdrew and stepped back before I swept him back with my arm, knocking him into a tree. The wound through my chest closed as the others reacted. "You'll have to do more than that."

The mage released energy - lots of it: a laser. Orange. I raised a shield to deflect it, and orange light splashed around in front of me. It actually isn't that -

It shattered. Another beam was incoming, much more focused and powerful; electric. It cracked the barrier and continued through my left arm, into the ground, where an arrow rested. The archers could use that much power?

I fell onto my knees, grinning. It seems I've underestimated you. I grabbed at the ground with my right hand, standing up and throwing dirt and small rocks up into the air. From three directions, more men rushed in with daggers. In front of me were the two mages.

I stepped back, closer to one with a dagger, and felt him grab my shoulder, probably to slit my throat. I whipped my body around (augmented mentally), grabbing his arm and flipping him over into his ally to my side and propelling him further in front of me towards one of the mages. Using this momentum, I spun and tripped the last standing soldier to my side.

The dirt was falling now. I raised a palm and shot it at the other mage, who ducked behind a tree. I grabbed one of the fallen's dagger and -

"Stop fighting!" A voice from elsewhere. The soldier I could see seemed to keep his guard up, but... he wasn't on the offensive. "These are only scouts. I'm here to stop you." A figure walked into my view - a woman. "That is, if you insist on continuing." She turned towards one of those I was fighting earlier. "Take the wounded back." He reacted and, along with the other capable soldiers, began carrying the wounded out.

This new woman turned to me. "Are you still going to fight? Even with that arm?" I looked down to see my arm was amputated.

"This is nothing. I have a goal I need to accomplish."

"Your goal requires invading our land? What would that be?"

"There's a library - something here. I'm using it to fight against the aliens."

She almost seemed apologetic in her response, "You should leave that to us elves. Especially in your state."

"You're going to stop me too, then? I don't see any weapons."

"I'm a mage. Although I can tell you're much more powerful than I am, you don't have the experience that I do. You should leave." The other elves had almost finished leaving.

"If you're going to resist too, it can't be helped..." I swept my hand across my image of her, and flames swept out, fizzling out after a few feet. She was walking towards me. I put a field around my arm and tried to hit her, but my arm went right through her -

- a pressure on the back of my leg -

- I was pinned to the ground, dirt grating against my face. My arm was pinned to my back. How?! I tried to throw her off by an explosion, but it died before it could be effective. I tried to force my arm out of the way, but the force never seemed to reach.

"Your actions are clear to me, as is the way to cancel them. You fight only out of your own sheer power - regrettably, we cannot hold you. You could have been useful, too.

"If I remove this ring - "

Another voice breaks into her speech. "Vanya! The wizard is to be let in."

She sounded surprised, but didn't remove her pressure. "What? Why?"

"It's an order from Mother Gaia." I felt a weight leave my back. I had heard the name "Gaia" before.

"Wizard, continue through. We'll show you the way through."
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PostSubject: Re: Torvald   Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:55 pm

The Elf moves away from Torvald and helps him to his feet. "Then follow."

As they begin to move deeper into the forest, Elves seem to emerge around them, seemingly out of nowhere. Torvald is intrigued by the level a aether here, so strong now that it hides their individual auras, like a fog over everything.

One of the Elves that joins them begins to speak to the woman in a language that he doesn't understand. She turns to look at Torvald before making a reply. With that the other gives a huf and falls in silently behind them. Torvald tries to read their attitudes, but is blocked by a mental wall of staggering strength in each case.

It was not long before they entered the clearing in which the lake sat, at the center of which stood a great tree. It practically exploded with aether, its entire height like that of a large building, water continually dripping from its leaves to join the rest below. Down its length was a scar of wood, telling the story of the great rending that had happened to it. Torvald was almost excited, these people had access to aether in a way he had never believed.

They progressed around the circumference of the lake, until they reached the remains of a temple, desolate in the green light from the canopy above. Around it, Elves moved to and fro, carrying scrolls and books of every size and color. The group walked up to it, the door that sealed it sliding open like those of a vault, and they left the green warmth behind for the cold dull-blue stone of the tunnel.

It was a lengthy walk, down a corridor that was twice the height of a man and nearly 6 times as wide, its sides now glowing faintly as they descended into darkness at the end of its length. Torvald emerged out into the main room, a sight he remembered from not too long ago. He noticed the Elves were not with him anymore and looked back to see them motioning him forward. He proceeded cautiously, catching sight of Athen sitting at the edge of one of the many walkways, on the far side. As he began to move out on to a pathway, a glowing began and he could feel Gaia behind him. It was a strange sensation, for she did not have her own aether, but seemed to be made up of the ambient energy that swathed the world sparsely. It was the greatest concentration of it he had ever seen.

"Seren, you must allow this one to study the library and train under your tutors. He has a great role to come." She had a voice like the rustle of leaves and the earth after a hard rain. Torvald turned to see that she was addressing an elf next to him dressed in a long robe that tended towards vermilion, the presence of Gaia had masked the woman. As he finished his rotation, he caught sight of Gaia herself, a slender female form swathed in white light.

Seren responded, "as you describe Mother, but his mind is a slurry of pieces, how can we trust him?"

"Have faith in him, he has his own destiny, his origins will fail in holding him back." Gaia seemed to almost laugh while saying this.

"Yes, Mother," Seren turned to Torvald, " I guess you may stay here, since that's what you came for, come up to the surface when your ready." He nodded, before she turned away and began walking up the tunnel.

When he turned back, Gaia had vanished, leaving only him and Athen. He made his way across the room, reaching his original objective. Athen appeared to be asleep, his eyes closes and his head down, but as Torvald approached he looked up before standing. The black material that encased his arm seemed less like stone, and more like glass, fitting the contours of the arm beneath and taking on a slight transparency, and he appeared to bare a great weight as he moved to meet Torvald.

"I think you made the right choice in coming here," his speech was a strong as ever, "there appears to be an immense amount of knowledge locked in these halls."








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