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Children of the Sky
By Slayer Lord

Prologue

It's torture, this putrescent half-existence.

How long have I wandered, cocooned within this bleak grey shroud; my mind, if indeed it is still mine, fading in and out of awareness within this dreary fog? I may be treading the amber grasses of the Far Reaching Plain one day, the green vales of the Heartland another, and on a third an icy summit, with no memory of how I arrived, or how many days between them. The time is lost between dreams of colored splendor and bygone glory that inevitably gives way to the grayness of reality.

I don't know if I have any true control of my wanderings, but I will myself to stay within the wilderness whenever I am aware. It seems to work, but perhaps it is part of our curse, to spend eternity in solitude.

I find myself amazed and terrified on the rare occasions I find myself passing through a city or treading the fields of battle; amazed by how the world changes: Bizarre architecture, the weird dress and language that have devoured that of my people. Gone is our beautiful, flowing tongue, living poetry which told the true essence of the world, replaced by the grunts of our successors. They are less than language, more than the speech of beasts. To my endless shame, I have learned to understand these…words, if only to alleviate the tedium of my so-called existence.

Gone are the high palaces of Skalidor, the endless city whose every dwelling was torn from the earth itself to take its master's desired form. All is replaced by keeps of brittle stone and hovels of sticks and straw, built by sweat and labor rather than by the enslaved spirits of the unseen realms. Battles are waged with crude steel implements the slinging of rocks and shafts of wood, where once they were great contests of the mind.

Born of our own blood, our mortal slaves—the pale men, the misshapen dwarves, beastfolk and worse—tramp freely across our land. As always they are mindless, but now they believe themselves masters, ignorant of their proper place. Even the respect of old had degenerated into mere curiosity, for that is what I am now: a curiosity.

Though their crowded markets part for me, though their fiercest battles cease to watch as I go by, though their apish stares empower me and for a moment make me feel again like an empress amongst queens, it is all a lie. Each time that I gaze upon myself I remember that I am less than a specter; an intangible curio for supposed wise men to ponder over, for their crones to gossip over. Whenever I remember this the old terror sets in, the despair at how much has changed and been forever lost, at the incalculable time that has passed. It is then that the true horror of my prison becomes clear.

I see, I hear. If I concentrate I can sometimes imagine that I can feel and taste and smell them: the wind, the rain, the flowers. Yet my whole world is dull and grey; like looking through fog, like hearing through stoppered ears. Blood alone is clear: Blood, the eclipse, my own people…

I enjoy meeting my own kind far less than I do the slave folk. Perhaps I am not wholly damned, for it is rare that I do so, aside from the times of eclipse. I hear them all wherever I go, a chaotic symphony of desperation and terror so loud and so constant that it is a marvel that I have maintained my identity for so long. When I meet my brethren face-to-face they are as unresponsive as the dead. No matter how I shout or plead. Do they cry out as well, and we cannot hear? Is it a part of our curse, to see but unable to interact? Or am I the sole one to have not surrendered, to the hellish song of our empathic torture? Am I all that is left?

I hate to look at them, as well, for to see them is to see myself. Entombed in a shroud and an expressionless mask, it is a mockery of the sacred garb of our priests. Worst of all is that out meetings are so few and so brief. Our wanderings set us ever on opposite paths, or should two of us go the same way for a time, always we separate when my mind has faded and I awake alone. Always the bitterness is all the worse for it, and it is better to have never met at all.

It is but on the eclipse that the loneliness ends and the grayness passes for a time, but gatherings of the eclipse I would forever purge from my mind. It is by far the most terrible aspect of our torture, the time that I dread the most. Was any sin so horrible that it must be relived again and again?

And so it is out of desperation that I turn to the creatures I once scorned. They alone can be my salvation, my hope to break me free of this stagnant existence. That is why I plead to you, oh human who trails me, in the hope that you may hear me when none have ever done so before, an act born of purest desperation. I desire again to feel the wind, to smell the grass, I must. Each day, the mad choir grows louder within my mind. It grasps at me with greater insistence, and each day I am aware, I fear I will sink into it once again and never again resurface.

Oh, traveler. If it is within your power, if you can hear me, I beg you: Save me…

Author's Note- The prologue of my first novel, whose progress is greatly slowed by a combination of schoolwork, other writing projects and general laziness. Will update sporadically, but the first two chapters should be up quickly.

This is prequel to my Talmarin stories, so a number of the same characters will appear. Those other stories were meant to help me build up to another story entirely, but along the way I realized that there was another story that needed to be told first. This was that story.