I woke up to a world born anew, from the ashes of the old; the bonfire lit once again, inviting all who sought warmth on this cold, dreary shell we tread upon.
Such a fool's errand; to keep the flames lit like a child’s eyes upon seeing a mere toy, when one should have simply done the sensible thing and dashed it all away; would've taught everyone a lesson, to be honest. Yet people still seek hope wherever they can.
As for me?
Well, I'd say I haven't had the greatest chance at a normal life; could barely even call it normal, but I'll get to that.
If you wish to listen to my story, then you are more than welcome to hear me recount it, though I cannot guarantee you will be able to hold back your tears.
My tale is one full of sorrow and emptiness, in a land where time is distorted and meaningless. It's as if every second that passes by is like nothing; not even a single minute takes away from anyone, to bring them closer to the merciful fate we all deserve. How could anyone think to live in such a despicable, unfavorable place such as that?
Ah, but, I do ramble on. It tends to happen so often when I tell a story; dramatics have always been a comfortable familiarity with me.
Anyway. This is my tale of survival and misery. I hope the details do not frighten you.
I woke with a start, gasping for air as I looked at the environment around me. It was a cell, with moss-covered bricks cluttered around me; pieces of a once mighty prison, now laid bear for all to tread upon with impunity. Looking back, I realized I'd been lying in a bed of them, yet I could not fathom how I got there. Then, I looked down at myself; I looked slightly malnourished, my rib-cage showing from underneath my skin, and with more than a few scratches on my being. The most I had on was a pale, tan tunic with some short, brown, ragged trousers. I reached behind me and felt hair reaching to the nape of my neck, and my skin looked fairly worn. What really caught me off-guard was the silence in my chest; the beating of my heart no longer audible, as if it'd simply given up. The whole thing was such a shock to me; awakening in that place, in my former state.
Gathering myself, I slowly began to stand up, every single nerve crying out in sheer agony. The cell door was open, so escape was simple; not a single other being in sight, save for the rats, which crawled around the ruins. A slightly slanted path was to my left, which I began to tread cautiously, making sure to avoid tripping over any bricks. Eventually, I came across a path to my left, which was lit by a few torches, their flames slowly giving out. More and more paths kept revealing themselves to me as I traversed this decrepit place, until finally, I came across a large, rectangular courtyard, seeing ruined, cylindrical columns holding up ruined pathways above, with towers on the corners, the angled buttresses pointing outwards. In the middle was a ruined fountain, which still held a little water within. I walked to it, carefully walking down the stairs, peering at the murky liquid. Thirsty as I was, I cupped my hands together, gathering up what I could, and drank it down. A chill coursed through my veins, biting and gnawing at the very warmth of my being, tearing it apart piece by piece as I drank more. I could manage, though.
Soon after, I looked up at the sky, and the landscape before me. Clouds formed a vapor-y layer above the green, rolling hills I bore witness to, endlessly sprawling like an organic, wavy carpet. Thunder rumbled in the distance, yet there were no flashes of lightning to accompany it. I walked away from the courtyard, turning around to gaze at the rather large prison I'd been locked away inside for Lord knows how long. Agony painted itself across my face, so I turned away from the dingy building and began to traverse the hills, walking forward continuously, gazing at the land around me. How, or why, people would make a prison in the middle of nowhere is beyond me.
Eventually, I tired of my small journey and rested on a fairly high hill, my back to the ground, gazing at the curtain above me. I remember thinking, What exactly is spurring me on to travel across this land? Is there something ahead of me that I'll just stumble upon serendipitously?
Is there...hope...for me?
Exhaustion and fatigue began to take over, and within minutes, I fell into a comforting sleep. I don't recall how long I was out, nor did I care at the time. I soon felt a nudging on my left shoulder, and woke to see a fairly pudgy man, who roused me from my unconsciousness. He had on some fitting armor, with a helmet in the shape of an onion tucked underneath his right arm. His face was also pudgy, with hair that looked like a plateau on the top of his head; very flat, and also brown.
"Oh, thank goodness, you're awake," he said, helping me up. I groggily asked, "Who are you?" He smiled at me and said rather jovially, "I'm Steinberg, from the far-off lands of Catarina. I was traveling to Lordran to find survivors there to bring to Boletaria, and I ran across you." The sight of his caravan caught my eye. He continued, "Lucky that I did, too; you don't look too well." He pointed at my body, and I looked at my form again, which solicited a very nervous chuckle from me. "Erm, yes, I..."
"Where did you come from?" he interrupted, looking in the direction I came from with a worried look on his face. "You didn't come from the prison, did you? That place has been abandoned for several decades."
Decades! The thought echoed in my mind. "Y-yes, I did," I foolishly stuttered; after all, it really was the only place for miles. He backed away a bit. "You're Undead..." The warrior had a hand on the hilt of his sword; a falchion, from the look of it. "Don't come any closer, monster!" I didn't move. I sat there, pondering over what he said, unsure of what to think.
Undead. So this is what I am. I have become a creature, a monster; a thing all despise with virulence. As I sat there, watching him back away, I felt a ping go off in my being; another thought came to mind. No, I can't just accept this. I'm not a monster. I refuse to let this be my fate. Slowly, I turned to him and said, "Listen, I understand my condition is not very favorable to your eyes at present. However, I mean you no ill will. I have naught but the clothes on my body; the remainder of the skin on my back; my mind, however dead it may be, and my own words." I looked back at him and said, "Sir Steinberg of Catarina, if you would allow me the chance to accompany you, you will find I am no demon, but a man like you. Well, shambles of a man, anyway." He stood there, silent. I swallowed hard, knowing whatever I said next would mean the difference between life and death. The wind picked up at that moment, my garments fluttering; the decayed skin on my body unable to feel anything.
"If you will not believe what I have to say, then take my life, if you feel I am truly as much a monster as you make me out to be."
He stood there, un-moving; unflinching. The inevitable was upon me as quickly as I had awoken, I thought, as I closed my eyes tightly.
He took his hand away from his sword hilt, standing there with a serious expression on his face. "At the very least, you still have your wits about you. I'd have just sliced you down and been done with it, but perhaps there's still hope for you." He nudged his head towards his caravan. "Come with me. I'll take you to Lordran. Perhaps you can help me find anyone who still lives in that place." I stood up slowly, looking back at him.
"Sure," I said plainly, adding, "Just one thing, though."
"Do you, perchance, have anything I could eat? I'm feeling a bit peckish." Steinberg chuckled. "I've got some food in the back. You're more than welcome to help yourself to some. I'll help you arm yourself as well." He walked back to his caravan, looking back at me. "Come on, then. There's no sense in getting cold feet now." I tentatively followed, getting into the back of the caravan. I didn't know it, but inside me sprouted a nameless fear, taking root within my heart.
I'd no idea what it meant. Yet.