Originally posted on Crossroads of Dereth Tales Forum, February/March 2000
When my RL friends and I started playing Asheron’s Call retail back in December of 1999, we filled all our extra character slots with mules, and chained them together to form a tree. One of my characters was a mage that I named Rhyssa Fireheart. It was a name I’d previously used in D&D, and I thought it was a good choice for a mule. My main character was an archer named Daremo, which was my original online name that I used for FPS games like Quake and Tribes.
This story is one I wrote in in February/March of 2000 after I made the hard decision to reroll my character. She was a mage with almost no magics, and the ones she had weren’t enough to help her much. So I completely deleted my character and recreated her. This is the story I wrote to explain what had happened to “me” when it became apparent Rhyssa wasn’t the same anymore. I’m not sure if I should be proud or scared to say that I still play Asheron’s Call, and Rhyssa is still my main character.
We joined a guild called the Circle of the Eternal Dragon on the full PvP server Darktide. A chance remark by one of my guildmates got me thinking about role-playing, which many of us did back then. Steele was the personal protector to Monsignor Father Lucas Upright, the Prophet of the One, and he joking remarked on the message boards that all the ladies fell for Father Lucas, and paid no attention at all to a strong man-at-arms. Right then, the “idea” behind Rhyssa was born, and I became two persons in game – shy, silent Daremo, and flirtatious Lady Rhyssa Fireheart.
Bydd i ti Ddychweyld – “There shall be a returning for Thee”
The young warmage felt good. She had worked hard, killing ice golems, and had gained much experience. And she had done so at the side of her lord and patron, Steele. With his help, she killed many of evil’s minions, and now it was time to return to her home in Stonehold. Her lord had to leave to go elsewhere, and after saying good night to another good friend Alfonso, she began the run back to town. She had to be very careful lately, because darkness had grown in the land, and now monsters were even harder to avoid, but soon, town came into sight and she made the mistake of lowering her guard, just a bit. She never saw the family of shadows that killed her.
The death did not bother her so much as losing her magical orb, which helped her to cast healing spells. Without that, she was weak and almost defenseless against much of the darkness. Trying to regain the orb lead to another death, and yet another when she ventured to close to a hidden wood golem. By now very weakened, she was also becoming distracted by the growing sense of voices in her head. This wasn’t the usual mindspeech she shared with her friends and guildmates, it was different, more… haunting. Each death made the voices a little louder, and she began to imagine that it was her father, calling out to her. Finally, weakened but having gained her possessions back with the help of Angur-Jado, an upstanding town resident, she lay down in a safe spot to sleep and recover her strength.
Her dreams were bittersweet ones. Memories of her father and brothers, life at the family manor, parties and laughing with her friends, all haunted her that night. And the sound of her father’s voice became ever louder, calling her name. The next day, she could hardly talk to her friends in town, her head hurt so much from the noises. She went off alone, to relax if possible and drifted off into a doze. But sleep was not a balm, instead it was pain and hurt and heartache. Opening her eyes at the sound of someone calling her name, she saw her beloved father’s face, and began to cry, for surely the Darkone had hold of her, to tease her so with these memories.
“Rhyssa! Please wake up! It is your father!” The voice was too real, too close, not to be true. She opened her eyes again, and at that, her father caught her up into his arms, hugging her until her ribs creaked.
“Father? How am I here? What happened?” She couldn’t keep the bewilderment from her voice. Taking her to a chair, he began to explain how she had returned to Ispar and to her family.
“With the help of the mages here, we managed to gain a link to you. We spent much time and effort into calling you home again, to be safe with us. I have missed you so, daughter, that I had to do this thing. I could not bear to think of you in such a hard place. Your younger brothers, they would do well there, but not you, my delicate daughter. I only wish that the signs of your struggle were not so evident,” he said, reaching out to touch her now white hair.
“I understand why you did this, father,” she replied.
She could no longer feel the tenuous web that linked her to the others in her guild, to her friends and companions. And she tried not to feel the emptiness inside her, where once her link to her lord and her love once resided. She couldn’t imagine how he would feel, waking up and feeling his link to her gone. Joy at seeing her father was tempered by worry and sorrow.
She spent the remainder of the day renewing acquaintances with old friends, but where they used to seem fun and entertaining, the chatter and gossip now seemed vapid, and insignificant. Her true friends were in Dereth, and all she could think about was how worried they would be if she were missing. In the morning, she went to speak to her father, to tell him of her decision to return to Dereth. He was adamant that she remain with him, and threatened to prevent her leaving.
“I have only just gotten you back from that evil place! How can you speak of returning?”
“Father, I have to return. I have good companions there who depend on me, and I cannot let them down. And I have sworn an oath of fealty to my lord, I can not abandon that.”
“That oath would not have even been necessary if you had not gone to that place. And it is not needed now, so do not let it concern you any longer. Please, Rhyssa, you belong here, with all your friends and family.”
“It’s not just fealty that I feel, Father. I also swore an oath of love to him. I cannot abandon him to fight the Darkness alone while I live in safety. That would be wrong, and I will not give him up. I am returning to Dereth as soon as I can.”
Her father could not convince her otherwise, so in the morning, the young woman made her way to a portal, and after saying good-bye to her family and friends, took a deep breath and stepped through.
-To be continued –