Tales from Aur Spectra

The outdoor temperatures were a relatively warm -22c when Princess Fortuna woke up, stretching her arms and legs from the perch she slept on at night. The sun shone bright on the fluffy clouds that made up the home of the Riaaki high on the mountaintops, creating a near-blinding scene outside the castle walls.

Fortuna spent some time pruning her feathers, and once she was satisfied with their condition, she slipped on her softest dress and made her way to the castle’s cafeteria. She wasn’t quite hungry yet, but she was excited to see everyone this morning.

Who was everyone? Well, that would be her parents and older brother. The royal family was generally regarded pretty lovingly in the public’s eye, so much better than the human kingdoms on the surface.

Fortuna gasped when her eyes rested on the scene below in the cafeteria. Her heart seemed to beat erratically, and she instinctively ran as fast as she could out of the room.

Daily life in the kingdom of Sylar was fairly simple. The civilians were well guarded by the best of the best knights, all classed in 4 separate tiers.

Your typical nonmagic Templar Knights were the typical heroes who bore no magic ability. This force was the largest forces of the kingdom, but as the king himself put it, the most expendable.

The next level was the second largest force, the Magia Knights. They tended to stick to a singular class or element of magic, as their magic wasn’t necessarily the strongest. However, when all you really need to do is heal people or create large walls of fire, a Magia knight already commanded respect beyond that of a Templar Knight.

The next step up were the Aural knights, with magic capabilities beyond that of the Magia Knights, capable of even manipulating the emotions of people around them, the strongest of the Aural Knights were even capable of calming entire crowds of rioting people with a simple movement of their hand. This category was mostly dominated by elves, by which their graceful hand the kingdom is entrusted to.

The last category was thought to be mythical, only achieved by the most legendary figures. They were thought to be so powerful and proficient in magic that they were capable of changing the fabric of reality itself. History tells of certain individuals capable of this very thing being hunted down and killed because they were far too dangerous. Some of the greatest pieces of art depict these warriors being burned at a stake while the kingdom feasts around the fire.

They are known today as the Spectral Warriors.

Until today, there hadn’t been someone legally classified as such ever.

What made Ryesli even more spectacular was the fact that she was a Riaaki. Born in the clouds, Ryesli’s parents were unable to contain their child’s propensity for magic, so she was sent to Sylar to study magic. That night, the kingdom had been raided by dark beings, darker than the deepest fears of humanity. Ryesli should have died that night, but lived because of the Aural Knight that swooped in and saved her life.

That was how she fought to be enlisted.

The graduation halls were quiet when the head captain recalibrated their latent magic stick and announced with a shaky voice, “Spectral Warrior.”

While she was very terrified of what would happen next, a piece of herself felt proud of her accomplishment. Here she was, one of the strongest knights in all history, now enlisted to protect the kingdom.

“Do you swear, Ryesli of Riaaki Landing, to protect the entirety of Aur Spectra and her lands to the best of your ability?”

“I do!”

Fortuna’s Perspective
Riaaki Landing, Aur Spectra

“Today, I come to you with awful news. My parents and older brother have died. In fact, I fear that had I woken up on time yesterday, I would not be standing now. As my parent’s responsibility lies on me now, I…”

Fortuna was not the best at public speaking. In fact, she was atrocious at communication. With her family’s deaths still fresh on her mind, this issue is exaggerated further. Though she tried to keep coherent and put-together for her public speech, Fortuna just wants to hide.

“Er… I just want you to know that I have contacted the Sylaran Knights to open an investigation on the murder. Whoever killed my family will pay dearly.”

The new Riaaki Queen stepped away from the podium and went back inside. She would not betray emotion to the public, but would sob privately, away from anyone’s sight.

“Your Highness, we have done some preliminary investigation.” One of the Templar Knights of Sylar spoke up, a fairly short but well-built human with platinum blond hair and electric blue eyes.

“What is the thing?” Fortuna tilted her head to the side, hoping her body language could communicate more than what she could vocalize.

“We are dealing with an entity that is far more powerful than any of us. It was a Riaaki, far more powerful than even our Aural Knights who came to assist us.”

“But it’s impossible for it to be Ryesli-”

One of the knights behind the Templar Captain spoke up. She was an elf, far taller than her human counterpart, with brilliant orange hair and yellow eyes. She carried her slender body with grace and beauty, almost as if she were practically flaunting it.

“We saw the bird. It was definitely not Ryesli… this bird had a bloodlust in his merciless eyes. He was brutal, appearing in multiple places at once, breaking the fabric of reality to bring terror to our forces. He decimated the backup Aural Knights in one fell swoop.”

Fortuna stayed quiet as the elf spoke.

“We recovered but a singular feather.”

The Templar captain spoke up once again.

“Your Highness, based on initial investigation I wish to contract the Spectral Warrior to take over investigation. Do I have your permission?”

Fortuna nodded, staying silent as the Knights swiftly left the palace. One knight, a human female with pure white hair and warm amber eyes, stayed behind.

“My name is Lumina, Captain of Aural Knight brigade 3. My team is tasked with your defense. You will see me, Scarlet, and Claire by your side, prepared to protect you at any cost.”

“Thank you Lumina.”

Ryesli’s Perspective

Since graduation, Ryesli had been busy helping the people of all Aur Spectra with even the smallest tasks. Thanks to her efforts, cats no longer had to fear being stuck in trees.

This was fine, but Ryesli longed for something more. She longed for adventure, for challenge. Something more than getting cats out of trees.

Ryesli now walked back to the barracks with disappointment on her face after the 20th cat rescue of the day. She would dream of saving the world, until the squad captain appeared in front of her.

“Spectral Warrior Ryesli of Riaaki Landing, your presence is requested by the program director.” The shadowy elf hissed, squinting their black eyes at Ryesli.

“Andorr I promise I didn’t do anything bad this time!”

“Then why does the program director seek you? Why are you nervous?” Andorr grabbed Ryesli, and slunk back into the shadows, stepping out once again at the program director’s office.

The program director was an old halfling now, his hair and beard now a pearly white, even in the candlelight. In fact, he was certainly old, even on his mother elf’s side they never lived past 800 years. One wouldn’t guess, but the half elf-dwarf man was approaching his first millenium. Despite his age, he was as lien and active as the day he retired from the Aural Knights 300 years ago now.

“Come in now, don’t be shy! Ryesli, I will need to talk to you. Do you wish for Andorr to stay?”

“I don’t remember-”

The old halfling laughed, wiping a tear from his blue eye.

“No, you are not in trouble. I have a mission.”

Ryesli nodded, her eyes going wide at the prospect.

“I take it you wish Andorr to stay. Do you stay Andorr?”

Andorr nodded as well.

“Very well. Ryesli, I will tell you that 10 years ago, possibly before you were born, the Academy had another Riaaki student. This student only had one similarity to you, and that would be your raw power.”

Ryesli tilted her head to the side as she listened to the old man speak.

“His name was Tamunar, and he caused far more trouble than you ever did. The final straw was using illegal magics to resurrect an army of undead elves as ‘practice’. We should have known he would try from his interest in death and manipulative magics.”

The old man seemed to lower his head somewhat, no longer wearing joy on his face like a few minutes ago.

“The slaughter after his expulsion from the academy was… indescribable. But we did manage to contain the bird and cart him away. Considering the… short… lifespan of your kind, we assumed that he would die and not be a problem after a couple of years, especially because he was approaching his 25th birthday.”

The program director now leaned forward, his pupils dilated a bit.

“He is 35 years old now. He escaped prison.”

Ryesli shook her head in disbelief. 8 years already felt like centuries to her, she couldn’t imagine living 20, or even 25 years. For a Riaaki to live 35 years and counting? The concept was unfathomable.

“That is a really long time…”

“One like yourself cannot fathom what is a mere blink of an eye to most species. Nevertheless, we have strong evidence to suggest Tamunar was behind the slaughter, and he may even be after far more than just the royal family. That is why I wish to assign you to the task.”

Another Riaaki female stepped up from behind the shadows, wearing her crest feathers in a simple yet elegant braid. The dress she wore was an elegant lavender, though simple in construction. She dipped her head to Ryesli and Andorr with grace. Just behind the Riaaki queen were what remained of Aural Knight Brigade 3, led by Captain Lumina.

“I am Queen Fortuna, and I do hope you do not m-mind us accompanying you.”

Riaaki bowed, and once she stood up she seemed to be smiling. Inside her heart was about to burst from excitement, the adventure she dreamed of was within reach.


A small birdlike creature walked into the main road. He was a Riaaki, though he no longer had physical eyes. His feathers were tainted red. The air around him was physically dark. Every step he took caused the ground to wither away, as if it was banishing life itself.

The town’s populace began running at the sight of the corrupted Riaaki.

Faster than a simple blink of his eye, the Riaaki teleported in front of one human woman, grabbing her face. He immediately began absorbing her entire life force into his own, allowing the ashes that remained to drift in the wind as he targeted his next victim.

The plan was simple. Lure the knights out, then feast on their bountiful power. He didn’t want one of the weaker templars though, they were no more gratifying than the humans he feasted on. But the Aural knights? Just the thought alone gave Tamunar an extra boost.

If their new little Spectral Warrior appears, I could give them a taste of true power… real magic. Real strength that could devastate reality as we know it. I could even feast on them too…

Suddenly, a particularly diminutive Riaaki appeared before Tamunar. This bird didn’t seem very phased by Tamunar’s presence. In fact, it looked like she was… bending the air around her.

An air elemental knight.

… This will do.

Tamunar reached his withered talons towards the small Riaaki. However, he couldn’t quite latch on to her energy source, as if she just suddenly vanished…

He dodged before the sword could touch his neck.

Whipping around, Tamunar came face-to-face with a much larger, grown-up version of the small Riaaki that deceived him. Her golden blade met the ground. She charged him again.

Tamunar seemed to disappear almost entirely, hovering over the Riaaki’s ear tufts.

“So, you must be this new spectral warrior I’ve heard so much about… I will enjoy this meal…”

Ryesli shrieked, flickering out of reality very briefly, then back in, facing Tamunar’s back. She charged yet again, flickering out once again, jumping back in to deliver a slice that was a single hair too late. Tamunar smirked. Simple tendrils seemed to snake out from the ground, reaching for Ryesli’s ankles as she charged for another attack. Tamunar stepped forward, reaching a talon for Ryesli, but he hesitated.

Instead, a sword materialized in his hand.

Tamunar lunged for Ryesli, who struggled to free herself from her new restraints. He swung his sword, causing the illusion to dissipate. He narrowly dodged yet another aerial attack, rolling across the brick road until he came to a stop. That’s when he opened his eyes.

They were not physical eyes on his face. Rather, they were the blood-red outline of eyes that glowed, even in the broad daylight. Their glare was enough to cause even the most trained magic user to panic. No Aural knight, known for their sheer ability to manipulate emotions, could guard themselves against it.

Ryesli trembled, but she kept fighting. The surviving villagers watched the Riaaki fight it out hidden in the windows of the nearest building. Yet, those eyes were clearly visible. They were seen. They were paralyzed in fear. Ryesli had to fight it. She charged in with a mighty roar.

She killed Tamunar with a resounding swipe from her blade.

… Only for Tamunar to blast her into one of the buildings, causing it to collapse.

Tamunar simply walked to the building, collecting all the minor souls before they escaped the bodies they belonged to. None of these really hit the spot like Ryesli’s should have, however.

Ryesli shook off the debris from her body, heaving herself up to a standing position. She threw an entire wave of fire for Tamunar, who seemed completely unphased as he absorbed yet another soul. She lunged for him instead, simply being thrown against the ground. Tamunar grabbed Ryesli from the floor now, slowly forcing the life out of her body.

He struggled against Ryesli while trying to absorb her own life force. It was starting to become a more exhausting ordeal than it should have been, fighting the younger Riaaki just for a taste of their lifeblood. It was wearing on Ryesli too, her efforts slowly became more and more labored, her breathing becoming more and more ragged.

I’ve had enough here.

With his sword, Tamunar attempted to slice Ryesli into pieces, but he only managed to hit her energy shield, blasting her into the center of the road. The force created a crater, blasting the buildings into smithereens as reinforcements from Sylar arrived at the scene.

Tamunar vanished.

Some of the knights went around, helping survivors come out of hiding to find out what happened. Others investigated the rubble, finding no survivors in their wake. One medic ran over to the unconscious riaaki, picking her up before running out of the area.

“Karwin, the new Queen of Riaaki’s Landing is on an unauthorized diplomatic mission. Your ‘Spectral Warrior’ went on an unauthorized combat mission and was almost eliminated.” A weathered hand clasped around a golden cup. The other hand tapped against the table gently, rhythmically. The old elf woman glared right through Karwin’s very being, daring the halfling program director to challenge her sheer authority.

“Because of Ryesli stepping in, there were survivors this time. She seems to have wasted more energy than Tamunar was willing to spend to feed, which meant that losses were minimized. Tamunar may be far more cautious about feeding in the future lest he is further weakened.” The halfling seemed unphased by the elf above him. “This village did not meet the fate of the other countless small villages destroyed by Tamunar. Ryesli was the only injury among the knights, and she will recover quickly.”

“All you seem to care about is the stupid knights. My kingdom lost territory to the Riaaki, and the agreement to allow both our kingdoms to coexist is that the kingdom of Riswol would handle matters of the kingdom to Aur Spectra and the rest of the world. This is a breach of the agreement, and if there is no punishment, I will seek to integrate Riaaki’s Landing as my own territory.”

“Lady Gaia, allow Sylar to handle the matters once Fortuna makes it to the safe house. We will make things as fair as possible, considering that it was purely accident that Brigade 3 ended up in foreign land.”

“I will not have this nonsense!” Gaia tightened her grip around the cup, raising her shrill voice. Her free hand pointed towards Ryesli, who still slept. “I do not believe for a second that miss Fortuna accidentally ended up in their old ally’s land thanks to this magic bird.”

“If you wish to argue over whatever petty politics, you are more than welcome to do so away from my patients.” A new elf popped up, putting a hand on both parties.

“Do not bother, my business is done here.” Gaia stood up, walking out of the room quickly. Karwin sighed, shaking his head.

“Please forgive Queen Gaia, she has a temper. I will behave myself, if I am allowed to stay.”

The medic simply walked away, running to attend to another patient.

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“Oh, Marn. Did you hear that the elves of Riswol began invading Riaaki’s Landing? They seem to have made some sort of boat that goes into the clouds!”

“Why would the elves want to go to the sky? There is nothing except the riaaki in the clouds.”

“Apparently the Riaaki queen has done something illegal and the Academy refuses to punish her. And the Academy refuses to punish their out-of-line soldier who disobeyed orders, causing more deaths than necessary.”

“This is the problem with magic users. They think they are untouchable. We really should go back to executing anyone more powerful and talented than the head of the academy. Like the bird in the room over there, eliminate her while she’s weak. We can save a lot of headache this way.”

Ryesli’s hearing was sharp, even from her secluded room. She could hear every word spoken about her whenever the news couriers brought newspapers to the Healers’ Den. And every time, it seemed like the only people who disagreed were the people in the Academy itself. People went from loving her, to simply ignoring her, to outright hatred.

The program director called her a hero a couple days ago, when she woke up after that battle with Tamunar. He gave her a medal, which was nearly half her size and double her body weight, which she kept next to her temporary bed. The head of the academy themself made their appearance the next day, chatting with Ryesli over mundane things. Andorr and Lumina visited the next day, ensuring that Ryesli was comfortable before resuming their own duties.

But everyone else in the Healers’ Den were not so courteous. The nicest beings simply ignored her presence. The worst of the worst attacked Ryesli, proudly proclaiming their victories until the witches intervened. That was, at least, until Ryesli had gained enough strength to simply defend herself, resulting in accusations of violence. Ones that the healers ignored, for they knew better.

This particular afternoon, Ryesli rested her sore body after her aerial flight of the day. She finally mended her own body that morning, but no amount of magic could regain lost muscle and stamina. It could only assist in regaining it through hard work. She may have pushed herself a bit much, but Ryesli would not admit such a fate.

She scrambled into a sitting position when she saw the Head of the Academy approach. Their form was mistier than usual today, almost invisible in the shadows cast by the shelter’s branches.

“I see you are recovering quite well. We need to have a little chat.” The academy head hissed quietly.

“Yes. I am hoping to return soon to active duty.”

“That is what I wanted to talk about.”

Ryesli gulped, struggling to fight the urge to flatten her feathers completely against her body. She knew the things the others talked about, the rumors that had spread like wildfire.

“In the public eye, you will be imprisoned for your crimes.”

“Astoria, I’ve done nothing wrong, I’ve been doing my best!”

“I know, Ryesli. You will be kept around, for the mission I have for you will be kept secret. You are aware of Riswol’s invasion. You are also aware of the Tamunar situation…”

“… yes…?”

“The Queen of Riswol voices discontent at the agreement between hers and Fortuna’s kingdoms’ agreement. A few days later, suddenly the attacks are not in Riaaki villages but across the kingdom at large, EXCEPT for Riaaki’s Landing and Riswol. And Riswol begins invading Riaaki’s Landing.” The misty form approaches Ryesli, almost coalescing into a vaguely elven shape with the most worried look on their face. “Do you not see the correlation?”

“I see it now.”

“Ryesli, as someone who has mastered magics beyond what the academy provides, able to appear and disappear at will, you have a unique advantage. You can perhaps… spy on the Riswol Queen and report your findings. Especially if she meets with Tamunar directly.”

“Tamunar is far more powerful than I am. He bested me quite easily. As I can sense the use of magic across the lands, I believe Tamunar is also capable of the same.” Ryesli sighed, her feathers flattened fully against her body now. “I… am scared.”

“I know, but it is necessary.” Astoria nodded their misty head. “And if you sense Tamunar attacking again, you have express permission to show up and engage. Just please do your best to avoid death.”

“Understood.” Ryesli closed her eyes. “I suppose now is the time to arrest me?”

“Yes, Ryesli. Are you ready?”


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One second Ryesli was in prison. The next, they were in the space between realities. Anything that could ever exist, existed in this space. Worlds beyond anyone’s wildest dreams ran through this space on tiny, violently vibrating strings that fractured infinitely. Ryesli’s own world looked incredibly tiny, just one single world in a sea of universes.

Just as quickly as she entered this space, she was back in her own world, in a familiar forest around Riswol’s southern border. The action alone exhausted Ryesli, so she hopped onto one of the taller trees’ branches, quickly falling asleep under the moonlight.

Hours later, she woke up once again, making her way to Palacia Riswoli

Elves are incredibly elegant, graceful creatures with the wisdom expected from beings as long-lived as they are. They are tall and strong, yet slender and delicate. Their thick, luxurious hair was incredibly easy to style, and they did so often. The more noble the elf, the more complex the hairstyle.

Queen Gaia of Riswol is exactly what one would expect of any royalty. She walked with a commandeering, regal air around her, demanding utmost respect without a single word uttered.

Her compatriot, on the other hand, is a tiny, feathered avianoid. The riaaki tended to be about the size of your typical falcon, with two legs, two arms, four wings, and tail feathers that flared out behind them. Unlike the elves, they are very muscular around their lower half. Their legs were especially muscular, capable of delivering powerful kicks that could seriously injure even the largest beings. Their talons at the end of their hands and feet were incredibly sharp, comparable to the fine swords that the Dhyr crafted. Their arms, however, were rail-thin, their grips gentle and timid for the finer weaving and grain cultivation.

Normally, the riaaki would sport pure-weight feathers, with maybe some light gray variations on some birds. The few magic-capable birds may have a slightly more exotic coloring, depending on the specifics of their magic ability. The riaaki that stood next to Queen Gaia, however, sported dark gray feathers that looked tainted with blood, smoking off his body as if he were disintegrating very slowly. He had no eyes, relying on his hearing and magic to move around the world.

“I need to feed on more than rodents, Gaia.” The corrupted riaaki hissed. His voice was harsh and wispy, giving it an ancient sound.

“That was far too close of a call. We have to play our cards safely, lest the Academy starts breathing down our backs.”

“You have no chance without me. If I’m gone, then the Academy rats plow right through you.”

Gaia sighed. Tamunar spoke the truth, he was possibly the most adept magic weilder in Aur Spectra, and even he just barely edged out over the Academy hotshot. Without Tamunar, Gaia would be forced to fall in line with the Academy. They were already diplomatically fighting her for the invasion of Riaaki’s Landing. There was no diplomacy on Gaia’s end, however.

“What do you want.”

“I need to feed. A village close to the Academy will do.”

“Permission granted.”

Ryesli barged through the market square of Riswol’s main city, just outside the big palace. Her form was far different, having shifted to look just like one of the very high elves with the pale white skin and hip-length snow-white hair. The only giveaway to her identity was the golden eyes, an unusual color for any species in Aur Spectra.

The marketplace was chaotic with the hustle of thousands of beings conducting their everyday business. Elves of all kinds stopped to catch up with the friends and family they encountered, though everyone seemed to be in some sort of rush. Ryesli’s goal was simple, however. Get to the palace.

If there was trouble, she could always teleport away.

Then, the sense of impending doom hit her. The flare of an overwhelming evil presence consuming the innocent invaded their mind, and the cries of hundreds suffering rang in their ear.

Almost as if the perpetrator was calling them.

Ryesli ran back through market towards the exit, swearing under her breath.

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Tamunar’s invasion of Dorset Village gathered fearful supporters to the cause. Their lives were spared. The lives of those who tried to resist, however, were consumed. They suffered a fate worse than death, to have their spirits forcefully yanked out of their body, doomed to lay witness to the countless sins carelessly committed by evil incarnate. Tamunar rallied them up, ordering them to lay waste to their fellow neighbors.

As soon as Ryesli showed up, things became even more chaotic. Two birds who defied logic clashed once again. It was a flurry of movement, nearly impossible to tell where one riaaki ended and where the other began. Both fought for their very lives, putting their entire being into the fight. Knights clashed against knights, those that chose to follow Tamunar felt the rush of sinful magic course through their veins for the first time. Knights of Sylar resisted, laying waste to turncoats as vengeance for their fallen comrades.

The storm raged, neither side willing to back down.

Dorset Village was totally wiped off the map, overrun with the fallen throughout the streets. Surviving civilians fled their homes, having lost everything they once knew. The stench of evil swirled fresh in their minds and noses, never to leave them again.

Ryesli stood over her sworn enemy, kicking him repeatedly. Her talons were now stained from the blood of pure evil, just as Tamunar’s was stained with the innocent. Tamunar’s retaliation was far more perverse, lashing out with another forbidden magic: a pure cloud of death itself, set to destroy the paladin, even if it meant he would be unable to feast on what remained of her soul. The paladin would not fall so easily, however. She tried to force the cloud to drown her opponent, though he would allow it to dispel once he saw that Ryesli would not fall.

Tamunar had the upper hand in battle, having consumed plenty of fresh souls to bolster his own life. However, Ryesli would refuse to give up, no matter how much the battle wore on her. She would fight until the bitter end. If Tamunar was death, Ryesli was life. If Tamunar was despair, she was hope.

There was one thing she could do, though it just might kill her. But, it would kill Tamunar, or at least, weaken him enough to let the others have a fighting chance.

Both armies on the surface stopped the fighting as soon as the riaaki disappeared in a brilliant flash.

In war, there is no win or loss. There is only suffering and death. There are prayers of hope, but there are evil desires as well. The only winners are the corrupt people using their knights as pawns for their own political propaganda. Gaia allows her most powerful piece to have free roam, gathering pawns together in order to destroy. The feeling remains that this is a distraction.

Riswol’s armies have made it to the skies. The pawns have taken Riaaki’s Landing’s queen.

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Queen Fortuna was awoken by a frost so harsh it threatened to freeze her very feathers off. She shivered uncontrollably, slowly opening her eyes to witness a ghastly face gazing at her.

“We could end this destruction right here, my queen.” The riaaki hissed. His voice brought an itch to Fortuna’s throat from the severe rasp in his throat, withered away from so many years of stealing others’ lives.

“What do you want.”

“To be your king. I’ll let you live as the queen. You wouldn’t have to do a thing except obey me.” The withered riaaki took Fortuna’s talons gently, placing a ring in her palms. “No more destruction.”

Fortuna ripped her talons away, bracing herself for Tamunar’s retaliation.

The Riaaki Queen was no more.

Queen Fortuna woke up from her nightmare, only to see her royal guards with a sorrowful look on their faces.

“Riswol has taken Riaaki’s Landing. Sylar’s Aural Knights have been deployed since Ryesli is keeping Tamunar busy.”

“Wait, Riswol invaded???” Fortuna’s eyes were wide, shock drained the little color from her feathers. “I thought we had a treaty!”

“We think they’re taking advantage of Tamunar as a distraction.” The guard shrugged.

Voids are pure nothingness, places where one could truly test their own limits without consequence. Tamunar had slipped under Ryesli’s talons just before the kill, leaving her to strike the void with the sheer fury.

Now, she remained in the void with no way out. People probably thought she was dead now, without any clue that Ryesli was, in fact, still alive. They may as well have been dead, she really was barely hanging on by a thread.

She lost.

The void seemed to welcome her, dragging the avian further into the void, enveloping her with its pure, isolated darkness. Ryesli could make out figures that danced around, spots that were emitting very low amounts of light… getting brighter.

*A child version of Ryesli danced around a massive bonfire, one that was several times their own size. She was enjoying the music played by the band much more than the adult riaaki who seemed more eager to chat, and the musicians almost fed into it. Unfortunately for everyone, Ryesli fell into the fire, consumed by the ferocious flame. She was trapped by the burning logs that fed the flames with no way of escaping, no flight feathers to catch the air currents and propel them to safety.

The adults scrambled to extinguish the fire, trying to douse the flame, but to their surprise (and horror), the fire simply grew. No matter what they did, the flames grew more and more out of control.*

Ryesli breathed.

Though it was certainly illegal to channel the void, Ryesli had no real other option. The sheer emptiness of the void could send many minds into a depressive terror so great, they’re stuck that way forever. If the person wielding the void isn’t careful, they too may end up suffering greatly, being reduced to a shell of their former self. No one really knew how to prevent it either, which led the Academy to ban channeling the void in any way.

In Ryesli’s mind, memories of helping her family with odd tasks with a smile on everyone’s faces flashed in and out. Her first mission as a templar trainee flashed in, the monster she defeated simply withered away by her sword, which was really a modified kitchen knife. The Academy Director called her in, yelling at her over losing control of her own abilities, leading to the destruction of several entire villages. Shame burned around her ear tufts. Ryesli had been mortified when it happened, always haunting her memory in the darkest recesses of her mind.

If I don’t succeed, many, many more will die.

Before her, the void seemed to split open, allowing a blinding light to completely demolish the emptiness of the void. Ryesli suddenly found herself in a recognizable field, in the sky where her home used to be. However, everything seemed to have been frozen over, to the point where even the most cold-hardy species would die of frostbite. It was so cold, that even setting herself on fire would do no good.

Sadness and anger exploded in her mind once she confirmed her family’s fate.

Ryesli marched through the frozen wasteland, passing by entirely demolished villages and frozen homes, until she made it to the center of the Riaaki’s Landing. Before her, was Tamunar.

Without giving Tamunar the opportunity to blink, Ryesli shoved him against the palace walls. Suddenly, the rival riaaki were back in the void, then in Sylar, in front of the invading armies.

If he wishes for his army to witness his demise, then so be it.

To the horror of the spectators, Tamunar began stealing Ryesli’s life force. Dark waves of smoke began to envelop the evil riaaki like a cocoon. Tamunar did his best to resist, as did Ryesli, but both parties were doomed to fail against each other.

Ryesli kept pushing on, determined to destroy Tamunar from the inside, even if it meant losing her own life. Tamunar struggled against the void, though he could not seem to keep the oppressive tendrils at bay. His own life-stealing would falter as the void consumed his mind, leaving a simple shell by the end.

The killing blow was made, but it seemed that Tamunar had one final trick up his sleeve. From all the years of stealing lives from others, the necrotic energy escaped in a massive explosion, completely destroying any semblance of life in Tamunar’s immediate area. Ryesli was unprepared for the sudden blast of withering energy.

When Ryesli woke up, Tamunar gently pat the younger riaaki’s head with a smile on his face. He offered Ryesli tea, but in her cup was the void. When she drank it, she felt herself die countless times, only to wake up and repeat the cycle.

Don’t let the void consume you.

Ryesli was back in the void, her mother stood over her several times Ryesli’s own height.

Consume the void.

There was a very good reason to avoid void magic entirely. It destroyed the psyche, then put the pieces back together in unfathomable ways. It forces many visions into the brain at once, until the person is driven entirely mad. It consumes the very essence of the mage, leaving the tormented, hollow shell of a mage in their stead. Typically, people learning the art would start small and build up to bigger work, but Ryesli didn’t have that sort of time. They needed to get out of their current predicament and then kill Tamunar.

Finally, the end to the single continuous nightmare arrived. Ryesli landed on the ground by the academy, opening her eyes to the world. She wasn’t looking around to take in her surroundings, though. She was scanning the area for Tamunar.


In the blink of an eye, Ryesli was in Tamunar’s face at the exact moment he absorbed several knights at once. He seemed to grow visibly stronger, but it was of no matter now.

The sky above Tamunar opened up, dragging him inside without much ceremony. He tried to fight it but there was nothing he could do. He stared into the void, screaming as it consumed him completely, leaving behind one singular feather.

With her job done, Ryesli let go of the void.

Tamunar was in her face, absorbing Ryesli with a smile on his face. The younger riaaki finally went limp, dropping to the ground with a thud. All of the sudden, Ryesli impaled the ancient bird.


From the ground, the armies saw a massive explosion in the sky. Darkness and light clashed in an unpredictable way, releasing shockwaves that shook the ground violently. Two bodies crashed to the ground, creating a massive crater where the village used to be.

Lumina peered into the crater first, jumping down once she confirmed it was safe. Only one body remained, the other one having turned into a sickly cloud that hovered over Ryesli as it disbursed into the air. The other riaaki at least had her corporeal body, and it seemed to be alive, based on the shallow breaths. This was all anyone needed to see to start screaming in celebration. Both armies seemed to rejoice.

Riswol’s armies were reduced to half.

Within hours, newspapers were sharing the good news on their front pages. Many people flooded the taverns, sharing their high spirits with their fellow compatriots.

The Queen of Riswol let out a shriek so ugly the surrounding forests wilted away once the news of Tamunar’s death made its way to her.

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