-WHITE QUARTZ MOUNTAINS-
Surel sighed. A few days ago, he had been visited for the last time by one of the very few other agori he could consider a kindred spirit. This Agori, Voltex, had told him of his intentions to see Spirit’s Wish: the strange archway to the north that he had yet to see with his own eyes, the mystical arch spoken of only in rumours. Rumours once thought easily dismissed, and thus Surel had believed that even if he did not dismiss them, it would not be worth the journey north…
Perhaps, if Voltex and cohorts were journeying north to Spirit’s Wish; combined with everything Voltex had told him about the recent events on Bara Magna; it was finally time to see it in person. With the Skrall’s defeat, the Baterra would have a far easier time moving south, and that in turn meant slaughter for Bara Magna if its inhabitants could not adapt to the foul drones of the Great Beings, left without purpose but to kill those armed with weaponry. The Baterra, of course, were just the tip of the iceberg: the Element Lords also made the lands in the Northern Region their home, and infighting between them had fortunately distracted them from going southward - or perhaps the Baterra were also keeping them north, something that could likely no longer be maintained if the Baterra were going southward. Surel didn’t know the exact reason, nor did he care enough to risk his life enough to find out. Then, of course, perhaps worst of all given the news about the monster that had attained physical form and was thankfully quickly defeated, were the Sisters of the Skrall. He did not know why he felt compelled to make that connection, but far more than any other being, something felt off about them. Previously, they had left others alone if they left them alone… but would that continue?
Perhaps, with the future of Bara Magna looking so potentially volatile, it was time to leave. To see Spirit’s Wish for himself, and if it could bring him to where he truly desired to be. Before Bara Magna got ravaged by the legacy of the Great Beings.
Surel shook his head. He slowly limped to the exit of his den, assisted by his walking staff, before turning to address its fellow inhabitants - Iron Wolves - and their cacophony of whimpering . He had made his decision. “It is time I left this world, for better or for worse. Thank you.”
Surel exited the den, only to be followed by the loud pitter-patter of many four-legged footsteps. “Where I am going is not dangerous, but the journey to it is.” He sighed. Iron Wolves were loyal - too loyal, deathly loyal - he had cared for them extensively, and they obeyed many of his commands. Suggestions. Commands was too harsh a word. “Do not throw your lives for me. I have lived among you all long, but you do not owe me anything.”
Try as he might, he could convince the Iron Wolves to abandon him. Surel turned around and kept walking, wordlessly, realising the futility of his efforts to dissuade him. A pained, old sigh came, that some of them may die on this journey. “Return to our den if you must do so to survive. I will not judge you.”
And yet, despite his protests, he was glad to have the Iron Wolves at his back.
-FOREST OF BLADES-
The journey north had thus far been uneventful. Surel had chosen to stick to the shadows wherever possible, avoiding as much attention as an old, limping hermit followed by a pack of Iron Wolves could. They had reached the Forest of Blades, where shadows would be ample and paths narrow and uncomfortable - and the beginning of Baterra territory. With slight reluctance, Surel set down his staff as quietly as he could, knowing that while he did not use it as a weapon, the Baterra would see it as one. Any other danger wouldn’t care regardless, but this at least should avoid the Baterra becoming a problem.
For hours, if not days, Surel limped through the forest’s floor, taking the scenery in. The Forest of Blades was eerie, lifeless in many ways asides from the trees themselves. Agori dead since the core war had their corpses preserved within the trees, still holding weapons, as if they had been fused with them, often causing unnerving silhouettes of figures in the distance wherever Surel looked. But they were just parts of the trees. Every now and then, a patch of trees would be charred, accompanied by the beams of light from the opening the canopy above the charred tree, illuminating dead trees holding dead soldiers. Morbid curiosity found itself in Surel’s mind, and he wondered if any of these trees were made after the Shattering… he hoped not.
Such trees would also be perfect for Baterra, and he hoped not to find the creator of such trees, for the Forest of Blades was not natural. Nothing about it was.
He found himself cringing suddenly, when an Iron Wolf from his pack ran up to a dead soldier within a dead tree, its jaws trying to grip the weapon the soldier was holding. “Don’t-” he began, as he saw one of the trees become silver in colour, its form shrinking and beginning to move towards the wolf, and in a moment, Surel heard a loud, pained cry, and then total silence.
He steeled himself, and spoke aloud to his pack. “We need to pick up the pace.” The dying cries of that Iron Wolf would have likely attracted the attention of anything living, and he wondered what made the Iron Wolf dart forward and grip the sword - did it see a Baterra shapeshift and react to it?
He began walking as fast as he could, ignoring any pain his old joints would give him. The goal was to reach the other edge of the Forest of Blades, to the River Dormus, and following it should lead him to Spirit’s Wish. And, if he was fast enough, Voltex and his cohorts. He usually found himself most at peace in solace with his Iron Wolves, but in this Northern Region of Bara Magna, any allies would be most welcome.
Surel emerged a day later from the forest to see a river, its waters calm. Deceptively so. He knew this to be the River Dormus, and not to keep too close to the water - it was far more dangerous than it looked, and it was the domain of the Element Lord of Water, as far as he knew. He hoped that as long as he left them alone, they’d leave him alone. All he was doing as far as they were concerned was walking north, though his pack of Iron Wolves was hardly inconspicuous. “Stay away from the water, even to drink it. Find other sources.”
He limped onward and onward, until an Iron Wolf drew his attention to a large boulder. He followed the Iron Wolf, and it led him behind the boulder and sniffed and pawed at the ground - indentations. A few crumbs. Indicative of someone having been there not too long ago. He knew exactly who it would have been, and hoped they had not run into any trouble. He kept onwards, and onwards he went.
Until a plume of water emerged from the River Dormus, and the top froze downward. Surel tried to ignore it, keeping his gaze onward, determined to reach Spirit’s Wish.
He could not ignore it - water kept splashing in his direction, Plumes of water kept emerging, sometimes being frozen, as if markers of his position. Surel felt unnerved - were the Element Lords of Water and Ice watching him, and more concerningly, working together just to point him out?
He approached the edge of the water, slowly. “Come to me,” he spoke, wanting an explanation. Moments later, a figure emerged from the water, one that looked to be covered in ice.
“Kinsman,” began the Element Lord of Ice. “Appreciate what I am doing for you.”
Surel raised an eyebrow, trying to be careful and wanting the Element Lord to elaborate.
“The Lord of Water is trying to drown you and your pets. I am saving you from an untimely end,” they replied, as a hand of water emerged behind him - and instantly froze in place.
“Appreciated…” Surel thanked, keeping his personal opinions about the Element Lords to himself - were it not for the Lord of Ice, he would likely be dead. As he prepared to continue onward, he felt himself interrogated by the Lord of Ice, who was walking along the River of Dormus, freezing it with every step.
“Where are you going? There is nothing worth your time north. Should you not be going south? North lies the domain of the Lord of Rock, and the Lord of Sand. Neither will be as kind to you as I have been, kinsman.”
Surel kept walking. “You have met me before. Long ago. Both before the Shattering, and after. The south has a much for me as the north truly does for you. I seek to go north instead, but not to the domains of those lords. I do not think you can understand.” Surel’s Iron Wolves began growling as they followed him, preparing to attack if need be, not understanding the danger of the Lord of Ice.
“...Surel…” the Lord of Ice began, contempt growing. “You, who deserted after the Shattering, who spurns my advice in favour of foolishness…” Spikes of ice began to grow around the the Lord of Ice. “You, who say I do not understand… I understand more than a savage like you can ever be possible of comprehending! I am destined, by right, to rule these lands, and you think you can spurn me? I saved you! You are to serve me, not to question me, Surel. I know best. You have just been made savage by this planet!” The spikes of ice grew larger.
“If this planet is so savage, you would have taken it over already. Now leave an old man to his journey north, where there is nothing for him.” Surel said, an uncommon bite to his words, reserved only for those he regarded as foolish.
The Lord of Ice screamed in incomprehensible anger, the spikes of ice floating and beginning to launch at Surel and his Iron Wolves.
Surel began running, as fast as his age would allow. His Iron Wolves followed, most of them. Some turned and snarled at the Lord of Ice, baring their teeth, attacking and delaying the Lord of Ice.
Then water splashed, encompassing the Lord of Ice and the Wolves, and a moment later when Surel looked back to check, nothing seemed to occupy the space where they had been.
Hours later, Surel slowed his pace, thinking himself sufficiently far enough from the Element Lords. “I told you, that this journey would be dangerous,” he began, a hint of sadness for the lost Iron Wolves in his voice. It was intended to be lecturing, but could not come out as such. “Don’t throw your life away. For me, or any other.”
As they walked, closer to their destination than they had ever been, Surel’s mind wandered to the Element Lords. Most had been accounted for, even if he had not seen them. The Lord of Ice, the Lord of Water, the Lord of Jungle, and the Lords of Sand and Rock apparently to the north. There was one missing.
The Lord of Earth. In a hundred thousand years of Bara Magna, not once had he heard any account of them. Most had assumed they had died in the Shattering - all the other Element Lords had ended up on Bara Magna, after all. But with his mind now on the future, he couldn’t help but wonder… did the Lord of Earth have an entire world, all to themselves? The thought was not a comforting one, given the actions of the other Element Lords.
One day later, Surel came to an arch, large and tall.
Beyond it lay his future, and from the footsteps in the mud surrounding it that curiously vanished beyond its threshold, he could only gather it worked.
“It exists. It’s real… You may return to the den… or accompany me. I do not think there will be a way back,” he began, addressing his Iron Wolves. “We pass now from this world, to see our true home of Bota Magna.”
And so, Surel stepped beyond the threshold of Spirit’s Wish. His final step on Bara Magna…
...and his first step on Bota Magna in over a hundred thousand years.
He found himself in a clearing, beneath an arch much like that of Spirit’s Wish, though this one was cracked, and broken.
Right in front of him, their backs turned, seemingly in awe of the massive jungle surrounding him, was Voltex, and his cohorts - Ehrye, Burnmad, and Telluris.
“Spirit’s Wish works, then.” He chuckled.
He was home.
Something I wrote for Bara/Bota Magna to explain Surel's presence on Bota Magna.