Greetings fellow dreamers of Underlight. I shared this story with dreamers during an event that I held a couple weeks ago. I revealed a discovery that I have made. For those who might have came in late, or those who were not able to attend, here is a recap of what was shared.
We all have a variety of relationships here in Underlight. You all may have very different ideas of me and who I am based on our encounters. Many have met me on bad terms. As an elite warrior of our city, there are many forces that affect my dreams and the paths I walk. As a result, the often misuse of my skills has forced me to reevaluate my purpose. Conflicts are unavoidable at one point or another, and I must admit that I find an intoxicating rush when putting myself in danger, but the avoidable conflicts we create to place around ourselves have left me to question my dreams and legacy.
What can I offer besides bloodshed? Over this, I have thought long and hard. The answer finally found me, and not the other way around.
There have been many tragedies over the course of time of which many have been forgotten, and this is the greatest loss I have felt. As long as we remember those we lost and keep them in our mind and hearts, a part of them lives on. By forgetting and never recalling their names, memories will fade and be forgotten. The same goes for us. In another sense, we must record our stay here in Underlight as future dreamers may never know our names and the knowledge we hold. We have a library, but it has been filled and emptied countless times. We don't even know of the knowledge that has slipped through our fingers, and therefore are ignorant to our loss.
I have wanted to find an alternate way to preserve all this knowledge of the past, present, and future. I am currently apprenticing for my halo although I never felt the urge to become a teacher. It wasn't until I felt the weight of having a halo that I realized that I can do a lot more. I am not the smartest dreamer around, no, not even close. There are far too many dreamers who would make me seem intellectually inadequate, and most of them I look up to, respectively. I may not be goodt at expressing myself, but a skill that i have developed over time is the organization of information. But how, and where? As I said, our library has been rewritten over and over, and this I saw as a problem.
About half a year ago, as I was on my way to the city of Underlight, I started to hear voices in the void in between Underlight and my shard. I heard these voices several times but thought that they were coming from the city, so I just continued on. It wasn't until I heard a very old voice, one that I hadn't heard in ages, that threw me off. I rushed to the city to see if he had returned. He was nowhere to be found. I asked around, and everyone I asked gave me an odd look. I stopped asking and thought about it for days until I heard his voice again while traveling. This time he was having a conversation with a voice I did not recognize. I may not know everyone in the City personally, but I believe I have overheard everyone's voice at least once. I didn't recognize this voice at all.
The other voice I was hearing was very distinct and the accent was completely foreign to me. I changed course and began flying where the voices seemed to be coming from. This space in between, this void, is nothing but an endless sky full of clouds. There is no ground or higher skies visible. Just the sign of emptiness wherever I looked gave me an epiphany of how small and forgettable I am. I would go in one direction where I would hear a voice, and later the voice would come from a different direction. I have never changed course while on my way to Underlight, and without any sense of direction, I was lost. The voices stopped. I was scared. I couldn't wake because I wasn't fully dreaming yet and did not have control over my avatar. I must have been there for what seemed like days, until I caught something in the corner of my eye.
I saw something, but I had no idea what. It was like a flash, and it was gone. All I know is that I saw it and I was looking directly where it came from, but I saw nothing. I looked around at the emptiness and felt helpless. I have no idea how long I stood in the same place without moving, the concept of time was already fading on me. Eventually I mustered up the courage to move forward towards the direction of the flash I saw. I flew and flew in a straight line and saw nothing, and then I saw it again. It was another flash of light coming from the direction I was headed, but this time it was a blinding light. As I flew forward the light got brighter and brighter until all I could see was white. My being naturally shut my eyes and I could not open them unless it was to see if the light had faded enough to see.
And then.. the voices came back louder than ever. I forced my eyes open and the light was just bearable. In front of me, in the far far distance, I could see a grande structure hidden in the clouds. The houses of Underlight are big, but this was on another level. I continued flying slowly until I realized that it was still so far away. I wasn't getting any closer. It was a fight or flight moment, or at least that's how it felt. I was scared. I didn't have any of my friends or family to back me up. It was just me in a foreign place. I realized that I had a choice to make, and there was only one answer; forward! "Gather up the courage and go!" I told myself. And so I began to fly using every ounce of my energy with only one thought in my mind, "Cloud, what's the worst that could happen, you fool? You've stood in the jaws of death countless times. What are you afraid of?" As I spoke to myself I realized that I wasn't really afraid of death.. I was afraid of not being remembered. Being out in the void for what seemed like many days, I had began to lose hope that I would ever hear somebody else call my name. As I realized the truth of my fear, i felt a jolt of mixed emotions. I felt happiness and sadness at the same time. I felt loved and forgotten. I felt defeated yet untouchable. But most of all, I felt anger. Anger at myself for feeling this way, lost and confused. Although I felt crazy, my voice was the only comfort I had left. "What are you afraid of losing? What do you really have to lose? I will not allow these weak thoughts anymore, Cloud!!" I screamed at myself.
With each flap of my wings my willpower grew, and before my thoughts had time to settle, I had approached the gates of the grand structure I never thought I'd reach. I stood there in awe as I looked up at the most amazing castle I couldn't even dream of. The surface was shiny and sparkled like a diamond. I could see through parts of the wall while other parts I couldn't, and then it would change. Other parts became see-through while areas I was looking through were now blocked. I had forgotten where I was. My mind was racing as I was convincing myself of where I've been for the past.. days. I had to remind myself that I am nowhere, in the void, and I know nothing of this place and it's laws. It was a mind-bender just thinking about how such a massive castle could sit in the clouds.
The towers of the castle were protected by huge fort-like walls. The heavy defensive architecture added more confusion. What was it being protected from out here where nothing exists? Can these glass-like walls truly hold strong? Everything I was seeing was going against my understanding of the worlds that I know. As I noticed myself slipping back into a track of confusion, I let out a howl so loud that echo of it caused me to lose balance for a moment. I looked around me as the echoes were hitting me from every direction. I took in a deep breath and continued walking to the main gates ahead.
My mixed emotions came and went as I walked towards the gates. The memories of anger and bloodlust brought me a sense of determination. I didn’t even know if I was in danger, but again, that was not my fear. I prepared to pushed the gates open as I walked, just imagining how much force I would have to use to actually open them. Without stopping, I placed my hands on the gate mid-stride and to my surprise, I couldn’t feel any of the weight of the massive gates as my body pushed forward. They continued to move forward at their own pace, seemingly unaffected by my will. I was not opening the gates; they were opening for me.
Beyond the gates of the main wall, I approached the smaller, yet still massive, gates of the castle. I didn’t slow down, although I already had an idea that the gates would open on their own. As I was two or three steps away from the gate, they opened on their own without putting a finger on them. I walk into a mixture of loud and unintelligible voices. Overwhelmed with what felt like pain, I fell to my knees while covering my ears and my eyes shut. As I sit on the floor opening my eyes briefly to see the glass-like floor beneath me and my legs shaking again, my being forcibly shut my eyes again trying to drown out the voices that seem to be passing through me. I screamed but I couldn’t hear my own voice. As my eyes blinked open to see my surrounding, a blinding light hit me. Now I was deaf to my own voice and blinded. My wings flapped uncontrollably until I could manage to wrap them around myself in an attempt to protect myself from something I did not understand. Even within the shield of my wings, there was no hiding from the light. The light passed through me as if it was coming from within me. And then, it went quite.
The now pin-drop silence was so overwhelming that I could hear my heart beating. I could hear the energies of my being flowing around inside of me; I mustered a peep which felt as if it would have ruptured my own ear drums had I actually spoken a word; it was a deafening silence. Through the gap between my wings I saw the shadow of another being; he was walking towards me. I looked down at my feel and saw no shadow of my own. My trembling hand reached for my blade. The overwhelming fear and confusion brought back the anger. I flung my wings open with all my might expecting a storm, like I sometimes do in the city of Underlight. But, nothing. Not even my hair moved, let alone anything else in this mysterious place. In front of me stood the silhouette of what seemed like an alien creature. It did not look anything like I had seen on my shard, or even in Underlight. However, my hands stopped trembling. There was something calming about his presence that muted the fear that was beating in my chest for days now. I lowered my wings back to their place and without knowing what to say I opened my mouth to speak anyways..
“Welcome Cloud, I have been waiting for you.”
The voice in my head asked, “What the.. how does he know my name!?”
“I know a lot about you, Cloud. And your friends. Tell me, how are your brothers, Lu Chaos and Coraal? You all have been very busy.”
My voice began to tremble as I mumbled for an answer. Who was this? How does he know about me?
“My.. my brothers are well, I hope. We have not crossed paths in quite some time now. But how..”
“Ah, so the echoes are not linear.” he said, cutting me off mid-sentence. “That makes sense.”
“Welcome to The Hall of Echoes, Cloud of Underlight. I am sailiaS. I have heard many voices from your city,” he said as he began walking towards me. “But, something about you felt.. familiar.”
I looked at my feet to make sure I was standing and not sitting on the floor. I couldn’t sense my body like I usually do and continuously refigured my stance; My being was unconsciously self-conscious in this place while my mind was searching for other answers, “Familiar?” I asked as I studied his form, trying to find similarities.
“Why did you come here, so far from what you know?”
I paused for what seemed like too long, “I heard voices for days. It wasn’t until I head Ghazkull’s voice that I really became curious. He never returned to..”
“Curiosity, then?” He peered deeper into me, cutting me off again. “That is not why you are here. Why have you come here?” sailiaS demanded.
His demand had a weight to it, and I could feel it against my body. He had a power which I did not understand. It felt as though he could wipe me from existence with mere words if he wished.
“It was your voice. I followed your voice,” I said in a moment of clarity.
“It wasn’t until I heard your voice that I felt a power pulling me towards it. It felt like my purpose to find.. you.”
“Purpose? Well, you have found me, Cloud. Is your purpose now fulfilled.”
His words were ringing through me as I searched for answers.
“No,” I said. Although I felt like I had discovered something great and wanted to say yes, I had no idea what it was that I had just discovered.
“If your purpose is not complete by finding me and the Hall of Echoes, then why did you come here, Cloud?”
“Our city is in danger. It has been in danger many times before, like the cities before, but we are still standing. The enemies we see get stronger and stronger every time, and I can’t help but feel unprepared,” I said without a doubt in my mind.
“A great warrior like you, Cloud, unprepared?” he asked.
“I am just one, sailiaS. No one dreamer has ever been responsible for protecting the whole city, and so I don’t expect my sword to be any different. Underlight remains and so the hope for tomorrow continues. But what happens if our city is completely destroyed, like the others? Our Library is already just a fraction of what it once held. New dreamers will be sent back to the ancient times and have to start from scratch. They may never be able to rebuild at all if there is no record of our knowledge. We have come so far, learned so much. The knowledge is our ultimate protection,” I said as I looked up towards him.
“And so, we reach the true reason why you risked ever returning to Underlight,” he said as the realization of being lost forever came rushing back.
“You wish to preserve and protect your city of Underlight, even if it means your life.”
I looked forward at him without saying a word.
“I have heard you speaking of this on several occasions through the echoes which your walls have allowed to pass.”
“I.. I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Echoes” I asked.
Without saying a word, he pulls out what looks like a cloudy glass orb and extends it out towards me. I take it in my hands; it is cold to the touch. I look up at him, “what is this?”
His eyes move back to the orb without a word and mine follow. I stare at the orb and the cloudy contents begin to clear, and it got warmer. I saw an image beginning to form. It was Ghazkull! Words begin to sound themselves and I could hear him speaking to a group of dreamers. I looked up again in amazement, “Is this the voice I was hearing?”
“This, Cloud, is an echo from Underlight; a moment of time captured and contained. A tuned mind can access this echo and others like it.”
As I stood there thinking of which question to ask next, he spoke “I have been here for a long long time, Cloud. Over time I have heard a lot. In the beginning, I tried to memorize the echoes I heard because I never heard the same words twice. Memorizing everything soon became impossible as the voices kept coming. Out of my desire to preserve the voices and knowledge within, I created the orb to hold the voices.”
My eyes slowly moved from the orb to sailiaS as the possibilities raced through my mind.
“Once I was able to capture these echoes, I started to build rooms around them,” he said as his arms raised up to enlighten the vast structures extending behind him.
“There are enough chambers in these halls to accomodate the echoes of all the dreamers Underlight has ever seen,” he confirmed.
“Take the orb in your hands to your city as proof, and help the others find the way.”
His figure began to drift away from me as the blinding light slowly creeped in.
“Wait! I don’t even know how I found you!” I shouted as my own voice started to fade away.
His voice echoed from the distance, “You didn’t, Cloud. I found you.”
I attempted to protect myself from the voices and the light as they rushed back over me, covering myself with my wings once again. The orb in my hand violently shook as I tried my best not to lose my hold. The voices stopped and the light was gone. I extended my wings to look outside to find myself standing in the Courtyard of Underlight, holding a once-again cold and cloudy orb.
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