Shades of Amber
The Forgotten Crusader
A New Look: Ilayne is still a woman of average height, with strong limbs and slightly broader shoulders. She is not a frail looking woman, by any stretch of the word. However, where she was once lean and perhaps, malnourished, she has returned to Amber a fit and shapely woman. Her scars have faded, and her skin no longer looks weathered and worn, bringing about a much more vibrant, youthful appearance.
She no longer evidences her Chaos heritage, seeming to have gotten a better control of the shapes she can take. Her horns have not been witness in years, nor has her tail, and all of the scales have vanished. Her eyes, however, have remained an eerily light gray, that may remind those who have spent enough time around her, of when she is taken away by her Sight. While her eyes are by no means completely white, they are perhaps a little too light to be considered ‘natural.’
Her blond hair has grown out, now quite often seen in a french braid that crowns her head and falls low upon her back. Which seems to fit quite well with her new apparel as well. On occasion, a cousin may find Ilayne in her former boyish garb — though in considerably better condition — but it is a rarity these days. Dresses have become her common apparel, and while they are not covered in frills and lace and ruffles, they are unmistakably of fine material and craftsmanship.
They say everything changes. Time passes, days come and go, and you watch everything change around you. Well, the years have come and gone, and indeed, things have changed. Everything has changed. Except for me. I look in the cracked mirror, and I still see the same face I saw a century ago. The same blonde hair, though shorter. The same sun-darkened skin. The same patched and worn jacket. The same world-weary gray eyes, and while they were not always so tired, it is not a recent change.
Some hundred years ago, my home was a beautiful place. Lush, and green, and teeming with life. I was twenty then, eager to take the bull by the horns, so to speak. I was young, and while I could not remember anything from my teen years, I did not let it loom over me all too much. I could make something of myself, I knew, without letting the empty space in my memories engulf me.
I dabbled in the trades any young woman does. But the life of a seamstress, or barmaid were not my destiny. Instead, I found myself drawn towards the Cathedral of Light, where I enrolled myself in aiding the clergy, by whatever means I had. In return, they showed me a good home, good food, and good memories. But with that, began my dreams. Sometimes, they were beautiful. Sometimes, they were dark, and I awoke fretfully… But always, their contents came to pass.
It was then that Owen entered my life. He was the closest thing to a father-figure I could imagine. He was a rough man, strict in his teachings with the blade, and I never walked away from hand-to-hand combat with him without a bruise to show for it. But his words were empowering. ‘You’ve got a hell of a destiny, girl,’ he had said, and for all the world I believed him. ‘Someday, you’ll be the thing that saves this world.’
Such a thing struck me as ridiculous. I’m no god. He laughed at that, his usual hearty, disdainful laugh whenever I mentioned the notion of a god. But somewhere, deep down, I knew him to be right.
He tutored me in all manners of things. Reading, writing, arithmetic, swords, fists, and even, on occasion, would humor me by listening to my uncommon bouts of girlishness regarding relationships. He was there, when I wed Jodian, where a father takes his place beside his daughter. It seemed right.
When he disappeared, I buried myself in the training he had left me with, to distract myself I am certain. But, the Dreams became more prominent. With Owen gone, I had no one to speak of them with, no one to help me try and piece them together and pick them apart. Jodian knew nothing of such a Blessing. In fact, I do not think he would understand.
I wrote each down, in the middle of the night. I tried to pick each apart myself, but my understanding of the world felt veiled without Owen’s wisdom… But the last, there was no need to scrutinize. It’s message was plain.
The next morning, I watched reality unfold as it had in my dream. I watched as Heaven turned its back on the world, calling its Guardians to close the gates. And as in one voice, the creatures of this earth cried out as the light left the world. The ground trembled, and cracked, blood weeping from the soil as every living being howled in despair.
The wind rose, shrieking with the cries of the damned, ripping through the great city of Arket. The Towers swayed as the earth writhed, and beyond it on the horizon, the river Senya turned to blood before my eyes. The bells of the great Cathedral rang, hollow upon the wind, doing nothing but to stir those of us who remained to rioting upon the street.
When the light of the world turned away, only those who were most holy were allowed to follow. My Jodian was taken with them, blessed to escape the hell that our world was condemned to. And with the Guardians gone, the Unseen ones have left hiding.
In the last hundred years, my people have dwindled. I have endured, apparently the only eternal on this forsaken plane. But, I do what I must, what I can, and hope and pray that the Light will return. I offer council, and protection, because that is all that I can do. And yet they listen, they come to me. I am the closest connection to their gods that they have…
The Demons still roam, the cities are in ruins, the land a barren wasteland. But I remain, each day, to hold on to the hope that the Light will heed our cries, our struggles. For when the light returns, so will Owen. For he is our forsaken god, I know now… And I will not turn my back on him. He did not turn his back on me.