Anskiere stood silently in his third-floor suite, his hand, in a fist, outstretched palm up in front of an oval constructed of rune-inlaid stone. He closed his eyes and breathed out a sigh, releasing his fist slowly so that his palm was open, but his fingers still crooked and pointing to the sky. A now familiar wisp of wind accompanied the movement as a budding of some sorcery took hold in the middle of the oval. The whirling seed pulsed and gyrated as it grew larger with each passing moment. Cracks of energy retorted through the room as sparks of pure mana arced to the stone construction, and Anskiere opened his eyes to gaze upon the portal as it finished forming in front of him.
He stared into that whirling vortex of deep blues, purples, and black as he had several times before lately. His gaze that of longing, his thoughts of where it might lead to. He still had reservations about it, however. How would he get back? Could he get back? Did he want to come back? All of these thoughts flooded his mind as he gazed as if in a trance, time holding no meaning.
Suddenly, Anskiere heard the latch of his door click. He quickly closed his fist and the vortex in front of him collapsed with a rush of wind, sending loose parchment careening around the room. A line of fire exploded from his fist in the shape of slender scimitar, the air around it shimmering with intense heat. All of this happened within scant moments, as the door flung open and a young wood elf dressed in a dark grey gi rushed in the room, slamming the door behind her.
“I told you never to come here.” He growled, still holding his arcane blade at the ready, flames dripping from its form. “No one is to know.”
"Ya might think it's important…" She stammered as she let her accent fall softly. The elf stared hard at him, though toyed nervously with one of her deep purple pigtails. "You'll to want to see." She finished, pointing at a window that faced the pier.
Anskiere made his way to the window to peer out. A ferry had just arrived from the camp on Onerock Isle, and its passengers were lined up pier. There were five of them, all dressed in ornate white robes, their hands interlocking in front of them, the long sleeves draping down. Their faces were obscured in shadow from their long hoods. The one in the center appeared to be talking to a dock hand, nodding slightly as the worker pointed towards the keep. The five began walking, falling into a “V” formation as they approached the main gates.
“Who…” Anskiere started, his fist going lax and his weapon dissipating into the air. He turned back to the wood elf, his eyes moving to her left calf. “Keep it hidden. If they find out, your life is forfeit. Tell the others.” Without another word, Anskiere moved quickly for the door, picking up one of his cloaks before leaving his suite.
Bounding down the stairs, he reached the common hall and tossed his cloak over to Clancy, who was sitting in her usual couch, a bottle to her lips and enjoying herself. “Cover it.” He said simply, motioning to his own shoulder where there was a dragon embroidered on his robe sleeve. While he narrowed his eyes at her as if to get her to hurry up, the click of the doors opening echoed through the now quiet room. Through the open doors, the five magi filed in to once again stand in a line, their hands still in front of them and their faces still in darkness.
“Anskiere Arkenarn,” the one in the center called out. “You are hereby bound to stand down and return with us to relinquish your powers willingly. If you do not, we are authorized to use force. We are well aware of what is happening, and if you have any of yourself left, you will comply.”
Anskiere grimaced slightly before a smirk made its way onto his lips. He stared down the way at his would be captors, the piercing blue of his eyes a reminder to anyone who looked into them of the power he was capable of. Slowly widening his stance to what looked like a position a monk may take, he raised his fists in front of him, the air around him shimmering with heat.
“No.” Anskiere said simply, the smirk still curling on his lips. “You’ll have to take me yourselves.”
With that, all five of the intruders moved in unison, dropping their hands from in front of them as murmurs of an arcane tongue swept across the room. Their bodies seemed to shimmer for a moment as the air around them hardened into a protective barrier. At that same moment, Anskiere had taken his right hand and tucked it against his left side, holding there as he waited for his opponents to make the first move.
Several tense moments passed before the mage in the center started an incantation that formed a ball of fire at his fingertips, sending it shooting towards the wizard. Anskiere swiped his left hand though the air, making contact with the fire and deflecting it off to a wall where it exploded in a puff of black smoke. With fluid movements, he continued the motions, his right hand flying out in front of him as hundreds of arrow like streams of ice hurtled toward the magi. Without missing a beat, Anskiere spun around, his right leg arcing through the air as he did, a wave of flame forming with it and flying closely behind the ice fragments.
The attack struck the two mages on the left side. Not expecting an attack of two elements, they fumbled their defenses and were ill prepared for the impact. The ice hit first, breaking through their measly conjured armor, piercing them whole through. The mage on the far left died instantly as a spear of ice ripped though his heart, and he fell to the floor before the wave of fire even reached him. The second was not so lucky, as he was still alive when Anskiere’s flame consumed his flesh.
The others looked on as their two brethren fell to the floor, a look of surprise on their faces. They had not expected the wizard to posses such power. Tense seconds passed before the room erupted with elemental spells from both sides. The mages held their ground; Anskiere, consumed in mystical dance of channeling his energies and defending against the attacks.
As the battle raged, a fire began to engulf Anskiere, turning him into a walking flame. His expression was full of concentrated hate, nothing but destroying these intruders on his mind. He stopped suddenly, however, when during the course of the fight his eyes passed over Clancy. He stood there, mid movement as it appeared his senses were returning to him. In the chaos he managed to glance around the room, seeing the destruction that they had caused before turning his eyes back to Clancy.
“I’m sor…” He began to say as a bolt of lightning streaked across the room and impacted him on his side, sending him to the floor in a crumpled heap. With the last bit of his available energy, he managed to utter the incantation of a teleportation spell, and his body vanished in a flash of light.
“Find him!” The head mage had shouted, only to find that one of his two remaining minions was dead, and the other was mortally injured. The mage quickly flipped back his hood, revealing a Koada’Dal face. “If you give that sorcerer refuge any longer,” he continued, addressing everyone who was still in the common room, “Your land and lives will be forfeit. Do not test us, there are many besides me who are more numerous and powerful than you can imagine.”
The mage turned on his heels and exited the main doors, leaving his wounded companion there to die.
Anskiere tended to his wounds in his new hiding place – a cave near Windstalker Village in Antonica. Several days had passed since the fight, and by all accounts, the hit he took should have killed him. He knew, though, how he was spared. It was the very reason that they came for him in the first place. He could barely hang on to what was left of his humanity.
Though he was alive, he knew that he could not withstand another assault. He also knew that it was only a matter of time before they found him. With the little sanity he possessed, he begged for that to happen…for this to be over with. But his body was no longer his, as the will imposed on him by the very elements he used to command had taken control.
They attacked him again while he slept that night. Before Anskiere was aware of what was happening, they had moved the earth around him – his arms and legs were bound to the ground, and a patch of earth wrapped around his face, acting both as a gag so he could not speak, and a blindfold so he could not see.
Still in pain from the previous assault in the Keep, Anskiere surrendered without a fight. The powers within him, however, had other plans. Without warning, a flame burst forth from his body, taking the shape of a dragon’s head. It quickly opened its fiery maw and breathed out a fierce mixture of fire and ice on to the captors.
Surprised from the outburst they were, but unprepared they were not. The last encounter with Anskiere had given much information as to the state of his being, and the magi were ready for anything. They quickly sprang into action subduing the elements that raged from the elf’s body, easily weaving their wards to push it back. With the focal point of Anskiere’s body effectively out of commission, it was a simple task.
They traveled for what seemed like hours over the soil of Antonica before reaching the stone walkways of what Anskiere assumed to be Qeynos. He didn’t care, however… he only wished for his own end while it could still be managed.
After a few minutes of traveling over the paved streets, there was a sudden rush of air, and Anskiere sensed that he was no longer in the spot he stood just a moment ago. The atmosphere was different, musky… and quiet.
“Get on your knees.” A voice boomed from in front of him. Anskiere complied, and dropped to his knees. The earth that served as his gag and blindfold fell away, and he discovered that he knelt in the center of a large raised circle on the floor. There were many runes and arcane symbols carved into the stone floor around him, resembling a summoning circle, but different in a way that Anskiere had never seen.
“Do you know why you are here?” A voice shot out from his right.
“He knows…” Came a voice to the left.
“He chose it.” Said a voice from behind.
Anskiere looked around him. There were four figures clad in black with faintly glowing green runes and symbols adorning their robes. He suddenly felt a sharp pain in his head, but it quickly subsided.
“Perhaps he can still be of use… after.” The figure on the left said, raising a hand to his chin as if in thought.
“There is always a use.” Came a reply from behind.
“Silence!” The mage in front spoke, as he spread his arms out. “Anskiere Arkenarn, you are here to be purged. Your selfish ways have led you here, though you have had so many chances to change. You have no one to blame but yourself.” He lowered his arms and turned his back to Anskiere, grabbing an artifact from a table against the wall. “Hardly any survive the purge.” He finished, quietly.
Anskiere tried to look away, tried to speak, but nothing would happen. He felt as if he had lost all control of his body. He could feel the powers within him trying to rise against the binding force, but even the elements were held at bay. The mage in the front turned to face Anskiere once more, placing a pyramid shaped object on the floor in front of him. From what he could see, it looked as if each side had the symbol for one of the four elements on it. Currently facing him was the symbol for air, one of the two elements he held little control over.
The magi began a low chant together in what sounded to be a strange dialect of Druzaic, which Anskiere could not seem to make out. The symbol of air the pyramid in front of him began to pulse, and his vision started to turn blurry. He thought he caught the sound of the mage behind him punching into the empty air, but the thought was ripped from his mind when he felt a blow from behind. He lurched forward as time seemed to slow down in his mind, and he felt every excruciating moment as the attack from behind passed through his body and out through his chest, ripping out a part of his very being. A slight gust of wind filled the chamber following the exit of the barrage, as Anskiere fell forward onto his hands and restrained from crying out with all his might.
The magi continued to chant as the pyramid rotated to display the next element: earth.
Anskiere, still on all fours, was unprepared for the next assault. The symbol for earth began to glow, and the mage to his right thrust both his fists in the broken wizard’s direction. The arcane attack ripped through Anskiere like a ghost as sand splattered out of his side before he collapsed to his left.
The wizard found the strength to get back up on his knees, fully understanding that the next two events would be hundreds of times more painful than the previous. The magi were about to split his two main elements from his body.
The chant continued, and the pyramid again moved to display the symbol for the element of water. Anskiere winced as the symbol began to glow, and the mage to his left punched the air in front of him.
The blow hit him with such force that it immediately stole his breath from him. As he struggled to breathe, he realized that this was not like the others. The force didn’t pass through his body, but instead moved around inside him as he cried out in agony. It felt as if someone had reached inside his body and were groping around in him. His skin started to chill and for the first time that he could remember, it hurt. Ice started to form, and he cried out as spikes of ice suddenly jutted out of his body, opening holes in his flesh. Anskiere shrieked in pain as one such spike projected itself though his left eye. He reached up to cover it, and as he did all of the ice melted as suddenly as it had appeared, and splashed onto the floor around him, filling in the engravings he sat upon.
Anskiere was doubled over in pain, a hand covering his eye, and bleeding profusely, but the ritual continued. The chant proceeded, unfaltering, as the pyramid rotated to display the last element.
Scant moments passed before the symbol for fire began to glow. The carved lines in the circle of floor below the wizard also became alive with a red radiance.
“Solusek save me…” Anskiere managed to whisper out before the final mage struck the empty space in front of him.
The pain from the initial impact and following ravaging of his insides was ten times that as the last. Anskiere’s hand dropped limply from his bleeding face, but he found that he was not afforded the luxury of going unconscious.
Anskiere’s howls filled the chamber as the arcane force inside him ripped all remnants of the element of fire from his being. He could feel his skin beginning to burn, only adding to the agony he was going through. Without warning, a nova of fire burst from his body, eating his flesh as it exited. The magi held fast, unaffected. The wizard thought it was over, but still cried in anguish as the force was still inside him. Flames started popping up on his flesh, and steam rose from the floor from the water that was left from the previous exorcism.
Soon becoming unbearable, Anskiere raised his eyes to the ceiling as a blood curling scream escaped his throat. A pillar of flame erupted around him, taking the form of a dragon above his body. It seemed to taunt the magi, breathing cones of fire around the room before it dispersed violently into the air.
Anskiere fell limp onto the stone floor, badly burnt and still bleeding from the many punctures in his skin.
“It is done.” All four magi said in unison.
Anskiere woke and found himself in a dark alleyway. He had no idea how long he had been out for, but at least the blood had stopped flowing. He was still in much pain, but he welcomed it, because it was nothing compared to the agony he felt before he passed out.
Slowly the broken elf rose from the ground. His once rich clothing was reduced to burnt rags, and his body ached with even the slightest movement. He felt strange, ever used to having the elements flowing through him, he felt alone in the world for the first time since his mother’s death.
Still, he staggered out from the alley and into the main road. He noticed he was in South Qeynos, and it was dusk. As he wandered unsteadily, he started to notice the whispers of those around him. As he stopped and looked about, he noticed that no one would meet his gaze; instead they would turn away in disgust.
The whispers intensified, and Anskiere realized that what he was hearing was not spoken word, but all in his mind. His hands grasped his head as he fell against the building next to him, trying to calm himself down but failing miserably. He cried out in pain and crumpled down onto the ground, as passersby ignored him as if he was a homeless cripple.
It was at that moment that Anskiere realized it – that is what he was now. He gathered himself back up, trying with all of his willpower to block the sounds from his mind. He raised his hand over his lost eye, and staggered down the street into the rising darkness.