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     You wake up on a forest floor, naked and cold with very few possessions, if any.  You are uncertain how long you were asleep.  In fact, you aren’t certain who you are, where you came from or of anything for that matter.

     Time passes.  You’re cold and think that your safety might be jeopardized if you remain where you are.  So you start to walk.  It doesn’t take long before you find a group of humans, like yourself. You are relieved.  You beg them to tell you what has occurred.  Where are you?  Who are you?  Why are you without possessions?
     They urge you not to worry.  You are in a state that everyone experienced at what they call… Restoration.  The memory loss, the uncertainty, everything is normal.  You start to calm, thankful for companionship during this strange state of mind.  

     A particularly rugged individual steps forward.  Something about him is familiar.  You’re not sure what.  Your head hurts when you try to remember, so you stop trying.
He suggests that you sit down and he will tell you everything that has happened.  You sit before him and anxiously wait for him to begin:

            “To answer your question, you are on a planet called Arder, a planet fortunate enough to be located in the absolute center of the universe,” he begins.  “Because of this centrality, Arder is a place of infinite power, where magic is commonplace and extremely potent.  You see, the entirety of the universe is divided into five regions.  Each region is the creation of one of five Gods, and ruled by this specific God.  The names of the Gods and their particular powers, I will come to in time.  Because Arder is located in the exact center of everything, all five of the God’s have an affinity for our planet.  The Gods rarely share anything, but their love for Arder is mutual, and they agreed to care for our planet together.
            Not long ago, our planet was a peaceful place; food was plentiful, water ran crystal clear and we were more or less protected from evil.  We were content giving gifts and saying praise to the five Gods regularly to keep them satiated.  The Gods in turn, gave the people of Arder quality of life and the ability to seek and absorb mana.  Mana is truly a gift from the Gods, and provides the ability to cast magic spells.  These spells are so powerful that the Gods themselves have been known to utilize them for their own undertakings. 
            For a very long time, this exchange of faith for a protected existence was plenty and Arder maintained a pleasant equilibrium.  Unfortunately, the planet today is hardly recognizable from this previous era…
            Today, deadly monsters roam the surface of the planet in vast numbers, seeking the blood of all humans who dare cross their paths.  The surface of the planet has become treacherous and this intensifies the challenge posed when fighting the monsters that lurk everywhere.  There are several different regions on the planet, all wicked and harboring monsters: Helmstead, Tulorn, Sanctum Mire, Styzzy Wastes, Boulder Grove, Frigid Frontier, Scorching Sands, and Zul's Scar.  You are in peril no matter where you go.”


     Although you know nothing of these zones, you involuntarily shiver upon the mere mention of their names.

            “Because of this, many choose to form guilds to protect one another from the danger that seeks us, day and night.  You were lucky enough to happen upon our guild.  But, unfortunately our resources are scarce enough as it is…” 

     He pauses to make sure you understand.   Your safety here will be short-lived.  You shiver and wonder what hardships you will surely encounter on your own.  Your storyteller continues:

             “To speak of what happened on Arder, is to give a warning for all us who survive in these times.  Whether you heed the warning, is up to you.  You see, not long ago, the Gods became very angry and with good reason.  The humans on Arder became very greedy.  The more protection the Gods bestowed upon us, the more power we obtained, the more power we desired.  And soon, we became so powerful that we felt invulnerable and forgot about the Gods who provided the protection in the first place. 
             Infuriated by our apathy, each God in turn, stripped the people of their mana and turned away from Arder.  Years went by and the rift between the Gods and Arder became ever vast.  During this time of darkness, the monsters on Arder proliferated.  The Gods had kept the monsters at bay; without their help, we were greatly outnumbered and preyed upon by these horrible creatures of dark spirit.  Things became unbearable and hardly a human was left unaffected by the Gods’ absence.  
             Until finally one day, the Gods decided to face Arder again, to see what it had become without their presence.  What they saw horrified them so much that they were overwhelmed with sorrow, like a parent might feel for a wayward child.  For the first time since the inception of life, the Gods combined their powers, and as one mighty force they cast a spell upon Arder.  This powerful spell erased the memories of our people, memories of power and the greed that drove them to seek it.  The spell would separate individuals from their clans and families, and would force them to wake up alone, without memory or possession.” 


     The storyteller places his hand on your shoulder. 

             “Now do you understand why you woke up in the forest alone?  The Gods have given us a chance to start over.  What you experienced today has been going on for some time now.  Individuals are returning to Arder one by one to start a new life.  The Gods have cleansed you and made you pure once again.  What’s more, the Gods have made you vulnerable to remind you of how much you need them.  They have stripped you of their power, so you must once again seek it, hone it like a skill and master your ability to use it.  This story was passed down by the very first human to awaken after the spell was cast, who was spoken directly to by the Gods.  It is important you remember it, always.”

     You ensure him that you will.   Suddenly, to your amazement a strange creature, steps up behind your storyteller and stares at you.  You are taken aback.  The storyteller cannot help but laugh at your reaction.

             “Do not be afraid.  This is my minion.  To start off on your journey, you must ally with a God of your choosing.  This God will bestow upon you some immediate protective powers and you will soon be assigned your own minion - should you be able to defeat it in battle.  The nature of the minion will depend on the God.  All minions you summon pledge their allegiance to you and will help you on your journey.  You see, the Gods want you to survive and will provide you with ample tools to do so.  As long as you continue to crown them with your blessings, they will offer you protection.”

     You nod, still mesmerized by the storyteller’s sidekick and eager to get your own as soon as possible.  You ask if you will be stuck with whichever God you ally with now… what if you change your mind?

             “Over time you will be able to ally with all of the Gods and master all mana, if you choose.  But remember, the Gods do not tolerate greed…”

     You are starting to feel overwhelmed.  You’re not sure if you can trust this stranger.  What if he’s intentionally trying to keep you weaker than himself and his guild?  But you shake these feelings off for now.  You have to find out about the Gods.  Which God will you choose to receive power to start your journey?

             “There are five Gods,” your storyteller replies.  “Each God provides different powers that you can acquire and master: 

             There is the Goddess of Nature (green), Mage Morgandy.  To those who revere her, she is a nurturing God, protective and giving.  Her powers include the ability to make man’s skin turn to oak, the use of a poison thicket and the summoning of the jungle hulk.
             There is the God of Fire (red), Firecinder the Hellish.  He is quick-tempered, deceptive and possesses insatiable anger. His devout followers tend to be thrill-seekers and those who thrive on fear.  His powers include the ability to shoot fireballs, invoke the touch of flame, summon Goblins and other amazing feats.
             There is the God of Mind (blue), Bluvicar Norvanir.  This God is ethereal, extremely intelligent and tends to appeal to the most cerebral humans.  He provides powers that will mesmerize opponents, stun them by use of mind blast and he can summon an illusion to betray and confuse.
             There is the Goddess of Protection and Healing (white), Coralin the Enchanter. This Goddess is comforting, guiding and forgiving.  Those who seek her powers are generally of a kind disposition, friendly and carefree.  She provides a healing light, enables use of the Holy Shield, and summons a knight to your aid.
             Finally, there is the God of Death (black), who goes by the name Shadevast.  Shadevast is a genderless God who can invoke a death wish, cripple and infest opponents, and summon skeletons to your aid.  Shadevast’s most devoted followers are generally of questionable character and illusory, though you will find respectable humans among them.
             Again, these are just some of the powers you can have available to you.”


      Your eyes are wide.  You feel intense excitement at the prospect of having these types of powers at your disposal.  Your storyteller seems to pick up on your excitement and continues with a foreboding tone,

            “There are humans among us, who chose not to learn from the events that have occurred.  They seek power for the sake of power and use it in wicked ways.  Though, I certainly hope not, you may determine that this is the way you want to use your powers too.  I however, suggest you join a guild and do what good you can.  But this remains your choice and I cannot force your hand either way.”

      The storyteller tells you that it is time for you to go.  You thank him and walk slowly away from his guild, unsure where to go or what you may come up against. 
Time passes and you walk deeper and deeper into the forest.  Suddenly, you hear footsteps running behind you.  You spin on your heels and face the storyteller. He is out of breath and takes a moment to gather himself.  Why did he follow you out here?  You are alone and without a weapon.  You are cautious and keep a distance from him.

             “Don’t be alarmed.”  He seems to read your mind.  “I am not going to hurt you.  The truth is, I haven’t told you all I know about the Gods.  You seem of kind spirit and therefore, I have to be forthcoming.  There is rumor circulating that some of the Gods are conspiring among each other.  There is talk that Mage Morgandy, Bluvicar Norvanir and Coralin the Enchanter are plotting to overthrow Firecinder and Shadevast’s stake in our world.  If this is true, there is no telling what might be in store.  When you choose which Gods to ally with, you may want to consider this rumor.”

       You ask him which Gods he honors. He smirks.

              “Firecinder and Mage Morgandy.  So as you can see, a war between these Gods would tear my alliances apart.”

       Somehow you’re even more unsure about which God to ally with then you were before.   Is it safer to choose sides with one God or ally with all of them?  Furthermore, you are still not sure you can trust this strange man’s motives.  But you don’t have time to dwell on this because out of the forest, a horrible, goblin-like creature with slimy skin and rank smell (even at a distance), charges you.  Just before the goblin leaps for your throat, the man turns and to your amazement, fireballs shoot from his palms and encroach the writhing beast, until all that remains is ash.

       The storyteller looks at you with apparent concern. 

              “You must remain alert and choose your alliances wisely.  Good luck and be well.”

       He runs back in the direction he came. 

       You can’t risk your life out here without any protection for a moment longer.  You must decide now, which God should you ask to aid you in the beginning of your journey and how will you choose to use your power? 

 

FOR EVERY MAN ULTIMATELY HAS ONE DESTINY;
TO CROWN THE ETERNAL GODS
AND ABSORB THEIR POWER ONCE MORE -
FOR BETTER… OR FOR WORSE . . .

 

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