Swimming the Soulstream was much the same as I swam the oceans of my home when I lived. Those waters turned against us, just as it felt when my soul was sucked from it’s resting place by the technicians in what I discovered to be The Life Factory. Much as I’d rather continue floating through oblivion, I much prefer this to returning as one of Regulos’ slaves. At least I still have my will, at least I still am myself, rather in these husks I see wandering this wasteland of a world. Barely alive, yet full of rage, they attack anything that comes before them.
But I get ahead of myself.
I remember much of what came before. I was and am Kelari. Thank the Spirits for that. The few who have come back in significantly different bodies to their original have quite the difficulty adjusting. Some of them simply go mad. They either escape to their death or are put down.
It seems cruel, but this is a cruel world I’ve been reborn into. It was a cruel world then too, but at the time I was blissfully naive and unaware.
I died as our world shattered. The ward on Akylios’ prison was breaking. The water rose, wave upon wave crashing into our island home. By the time the water began to rise the damage had already long been done. Little did we realize that a new breed of Spirit had infiltrated our temples and corrupted many of our priests, driving them to madness.
As High Priestess Anthousa Mona prepared us to leave our home, the madness was unleashed. Those we thought were our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, our family and friends, were no longer such. They attacked us with the powers of the plane of Water. Blood ran in the streets, but it was not a sacrifice to our Spirit friends, it was to feed the power of the Abyss. When we begged our true Spirit companions for aid there was no answer. It was then that we truly knew despair. These Abyssal Spirits had driven all but the most powerful of our allies away from us.
We were running for the ships when I was caught in a giant wave of sea water summoned by one of our errant priests. I tried to call out for help, but as I opened my mouth water magically filled my lungs. Just as I felt they would burst everything went black.
I swam in the darkness of the Soulstream, no longer worried about what had happened in my life, no longer concerned about anything. I was torn from this state with violence. Pulled in two directions, I know now that I narrowly escaped becoming one of Regulos’ minions.
It was as though my soul was being pulled in a tug of war. It hurt, but in a distant way, not like the real pain you feel when your body is injured, but a different more spiritual pain. Finally, in a great surge I was pulled through, and I felt. I felt things. It took me moments to realize what was happening.
Surging into this new body made just for me of Source and Magic, I could feel it, I could control it. There was something again, not the oblivion that I had known in the Soulstream. I could feel the tips of my fingers and toes as I wiggled them. I could feel the Source pumping through my body. I reached out and felt the cold metal walls of the cylindrical cell I was suspended in.
I realized that I was holding my breath and attempted to breathe. I sucked in a deep gulp of the saline solution I was encased in, and immediately was returned to the memory of my death, as I began to choke.
As the solution was drained away, I began to hear voices outside of my cell, muffled but obviously frantic.
“But she wasn’t supposed to reawaken yet!” came a nasally female voice.
A booming masculine voice yelled, “Well, she is. Quick! Get her out of there before we lose her!”
“I’m going as fast as I can! I have to wait for the liquid to drain before I can open the cell. You know that!”
“The Sourcestone matrix is strong in this one. We cannot risk losing her now! Hurry!”
I coughed the liquid out of my lungs, gasping in sharp breaths of air. I would not die now, not again. As the walls of the cell were lowered into the floor, I realized that my eyes had been open this whole time. I blinked, not only to get the liquid out of my eyes, but to clear my vision as I grew accustomed to the artificial light.
My eyes fell on the two technicians, their eyes wide, staring at me in wonder and with hope. The female voice belonged to a scrawny Eth wearing goggles, who returned to her machine as soon as she saw I was breathing again.
The male voice belonged to a large, blue-skinned Bahmi. His voice echoed to me in a soft rumble, “Welcome back to the world of the living, Ascended.”
As memories and realization flooded my mind, I gasped and collapsed whispering, “I am Acantha.”