Verti Xi'corie

Champion Verti Xi'corie

In the northern reaches of the Aletheian Empire lies a small town named the Sylvancliffs. Home to many feyspawn and arcane casters, the Sylvancliffs has, from its foundation, been known as a place of magic and mystery - a place where the borders of the Material Plane seem to bleed thin. Due to this strange property, the gnomish archmage known as Thrinda Flametongue constructed an immense magical tower there - Thrinda's Arcanium - and began to harness the extraplanar powers for various experiments.   It was one of these that drew Verti Xi'corie from his tomb, his crystalline eyes snapping open with a flare of silver magic, a deific Champion thought lost to an ancient curse.  
But first, we must go back. We must travel through the river of time to when Istralar was unmarked by elven feet, to their original curse. To the fate that drove them to Istralar, all those years ago...

A Champion's Rise

  Thousands of years ago, before the very first War of the Heavens, the elven race inhabited a small planet far across the cosmos, blessed with plentiful crops, fair hunting and no small amount of magic by their gods. Like all civilisations, they faced their fair share of challenges and wars, but no threat was too great so as to be insurmountable. Living in harmony with their forested homelands, the elves flourished.  

Until one foolish young woman, desperate to reach out to her gods for answers, opened a doorway that would never again be closed through the use of a ritual she'd dreamt of. Unbeknown to her, something had been reaching out across the Dimension of Dreams. Something that she'd unintentionally answered. Whilst she'd realised her mistake almost immediately, it was too late.   From Isuriel's Doorway crept shards of sparkling ice-blue crystal that wasted no time in silencing her horror. As she fell to the ground, her body, too, began to take on the crystals - even her blood, as it spilled from the gaping wound in her chest, began to freeze.

Things Beyond the Dreams

The Dimension of Dreams is the realm of all dreams - and all nightmares. Beyond its reaches lie the great unknowns, and incomprehensible beings that corrupt all they touch to insanity, or beyond.   But bad dreams are not the sole domain of nightmares and horrors: Isuriel could have met any number of twisted powers. What she met has never been discovered, and a horrific fate surely awaits the next one to try.   Some have speculated that, based on the ice-like appearance of the crystals, there is some relation between this fall and the fall of Jäätta; others instead relate the crystals to the Progenitor Goddess, Seren.

Alseta, the goddess of doorways, was alone in seeing the girl's plight - and watched in horror as the crystals began to spread across the bloodstained grass Isuriel had been performing her ritual upon, freezing all it touched. Even as a deity, she knew little of what Isuriel had awoken - only that it would mean doom. In desperation, she called upon the others of the Elven Pantheon - and one by one, from the vastness of Nethys's mad intelligence to the gentle kiss of Desna's dreaming and the great brilliance of Seren's light, they answered. Torn by horror at the state of things, they knew they would have to act.   But in their discussions, they had neglected their deific duty. The hands of time had moved ever-forward. In their arguments, they had lost ten years of mortal time.   The elven homeworld hung in the air, a stellar image of beauty captured in eternal crystal, reflecting the darkness around it. Life still persisted, but it was fading. And as life faded, so did their powers.  

A Deity's Decision

  In the end, it was Alseta who was chosen to act. Bereft of most of her worshippers, she breathed power into one of her most faithful - Verti Xi'corie, her only remaining Paladin, her steadfast guardian of the Aiudara - the elf gates, immense portals across vast distances. Through their tenuous connection, she bestowed upon him a singular purpose. He was to protect the remnants of his kin and guide them to safety. He would be their Champion into a new world, where they could flourish once more. He would rescue the elven race from the brink of crystalline extinction. Yet no power would come without heavy cost.   Knowing the weight of this burden, and ever aware of the growing distance of his goddess, Verti accepted. This would be his solemn duty. Whatever the price, he would pay it.   It was a wintry day, the snow glistening from the light of the ever-present crystals, that he summoned his people to him to begin their final journey. Behind him, beyond their walls, the blanket of white shifted constantly as splinters of ice were consumed by the Curse. Growing ever taller. With a heavy heart, he stood before the last working elf gate. Alseta's marks glowed bright white across his body, the sheer power flowing through them borrowed from the goddess herself. Slowly splitting his skin under the intensity, yet no blood would flow. All his wounds instantly cauterised with divine power, leaving him scarred in the name of magic.   He turned from the doorway to the brave souls who watched, their expressions a mixture of horror and awe as the power of a God coursed through him, and smiled.  
My friends... our Goddess has acted at last. As our world falls to nothing but immobile crystal, as our loved ones become entombed in this everlasting wasteland, we hold one last ember of hope that might light our way to freedom. Though I am but one man, I...
— Verti Xi'corie
  He looked out at each face as his voice cracked, a single tear landing on the refreshingly-free grass below.  
...I have been granted the power of the Heavens, that I might guide you to freedom... at the cost of mine own.
— Verti Xi'corie
  His bright-blue eyes met the mournful greys of his wife. Lumikki. Her unmoving form still stood, filled with terror, atop the city walls. With her, it hadn't been quick. There had been no solace - but now, at least, he would be able to stay by her side.   As the remaining elven populace whispered, in a mixture of awe and fear, about his proclamation, Verti turned away. He would need the entirety of his concentration for this task. Needing no incantation or wand-waving, he gazed upon the lifeless elf-gate and raised his hands to it - and as easily as one breathed, allowed the power to flow through him.   No wand was needed when one was the wand, after all.  

A Champion's Power

  The beam of brilliant silver light pierced the murky grey clouds of deepest winter, encircling both he and the aiudara in its glow as divine power tore through his body - too much for any one man to handle, be they Champion or not. As his body began to warp under the strain, flesh giving way to the golden glitter of an axiomite taking form, he felt two light touches upon his arms. Silently, two clerics - of Nethys and Yuelral - had decided to share his burden. As the glow surrounded them, too, he felt their souls entwine with Alseta's power, infusing the beam with the energy of their lives.   The elves watched in awe as the light sparked across the sky, creating a silvery dome across the small settlement and unveiling the fully-functional aiudara in the wake of its powerful beam. Yet... this was no ordinary elf-gate. In place of the intricate wooden portal, there now stood an icy monument of twisted crystal and shimmering silver, its doors leading into a glimmering darkness. Entwined with its structure would ever remain the two clerics, and, standing aloft at its peak, stood Verti - ever gazing into his frozen lover's eyes.   And thus, in quiet solemnity, did the elven race make its exit through the door into a new world. A world where they would make their new homes, and where they would ever honour their ancient forebears - and so would that tradition follow them through each trip across every world. Never would they forget who they had left behind.  
But this would not be the end of Verti Xi'corie's tale. Allow us to follow Alseta's doorways through time, returning to the Aletheian Empire, and to the Sylvancliffs, where reality seems fluid...

A Champion's Fall

The earth stirs - the sea draws itself back. What fell magics have come forth this time? Mother, was this a gift of yours?
Thrinda Flametongue
  Thrinda, as a generally observant soul and one of the most intelligent beings alive, was well aware of the coming threat. Something had stirred up the beasts of the depths, and left warnings for the nearby town. Timing their tsunami so that it would hit as Iomedae's paladins would leave... this was a targeted strike against her tower, or perhaps the realm in general.   It didn't surprise her. The Arcanium practically radiated magic, and her harnessing of the weakened planar barrier had been worrying her protesters since she'd first constructed it. This was the first time someone had gone to such lengths to try and topple her, though. The coming tsunami, and the beasts it would bring, warped by the primal energies of the qlippoths... this was no simple threat, and she could not hold them off alone. The tsunami alone would devastate the entire coast... and halting a tsunami was beyond the powers of any wizard, generally, without significant warning.   In short, she needed to call in some backup. Now, this wasn't anything new to her. She'd been an adventurer, as her mother - they'd known worse threats. This time, though, she'd reach out to the Plane of Earth; the combined might of the earth djinn, or perhaps even a favour from their Elemental Lord, could protect the area, and she'd be able to handle the monsters in the meantime.   Drawing her spellbook from its resting place, vibrant purple arcane energy arced through the air as she began to cast a summoning ritual within a binding circle, calling forth the most powerful assistance she could think to.  
Lord of Earth, hear my call. Water's swell does threaten all...
— the beginning of Thrinda's chant, translated
  It had never gone wrong before, so of course, it went wrong then. As the runes began to glow the sickly yellowish-brown of the Plane of Earth, a particularly violent clap of thunder tore through the building, shaking the circle and ruining her careful measurements. Thrinda muttered a curse in ancient Sylvan, throwing an emergency sphere of force around herself just in case, as the brown runes shone the silvery colour of magic -- too bright for her to watch! When, finally, the blinding light had passed, Thrinda gazed upon her circle. Her changed circle. Where once there had stood runes of ancient Terran and Draconic, there now lay an archaic form of Elven.   Attention piqued, she leaned closer to make sense of this new writing just as an immense cracking sound tore through the room. She watched in astonishment as a figure coated almost entirely in icelike crystals of silver rose up from the floor, sword borne in hand, face still frozen in solemn mourning. His armour shuddered, the dense tendrils ice-like crystal chiming discordantly. As she cautiously drew her staff, his eyes snapped open - they glowed the same silvery blue as the energy that swirled about his form.  
Who are you?
— Thrinda Flametongue and Verti Xi'corie, simultaneously
  Each asked at the same moment, their voices tinged with suspicion, his hoarse with unuse. Their reactions, however, differed greatly - where Thrinda's smile at their unintentional jinx, the figure continued to look at her critically, as if judging her strength. She smirked, and confidently began to speak. Whoever this stranger was, he had answered her call for aid - so she would petition it.  
I am Thrinda Flametongue, archmage of the Arcanium. It is the year 5622, and we are in the Aletheian Empire. A great tsunami threatens our lands, accompanied by the most primal beings of the Abyss itself. Despite my powers, I am incapable of protecting both those in my tower and those in the lands below it. You have answered this plea. Are you capable of help?
— Thrinda's plea
  His silence held for almost too long, and Thrinda's grip on the stave tightened - but finally, he nodded.  
I have sworn to ever protect my kin.
— Verti Xi'corie's oath
  It was a full day later that Verti Xi'corie strode out of the Arcanium, the crystals adorning his body forming themselves into a shield as he strode purposely towards the receding coast. He could feel the eyes of Alseta upon him, even this far away. She was warning him, gently, through the burning pain that coursed through his jewelled arm. But he had already sworn to pay this price; this was what was right. The glimpses he'd caught of his race's continued existence in this far-off locale proved that true enough.   Alone this time, none could help channel the icy-cold power as it again began to run through his skin, this time amplified by his crystalline body. The beam of pure white energy that enveloped him once again could be seen as far away as Ilendras - the largest elven settlement in the Empire - where a profound, but inexplicable, feeling of sadness settled upon its inhabitants. Thrinda, as she drew the attention of the sea's darkest dwellers, gave the man a single, solemn nod. He'd told her what this would entail, after all.   He stepped forward, placed his hands against the wall of water - if a wall could truly describe the immense barricade - and smiled. For the final time, he would allow his goddess's power to course through him... and for the first time, he would utilise the curse as a gift.   And after all this time, Lumikki, we will meet again... he thought, as the combined powers flowed out of him and into the tsunami. Protection and corruption, blessing and curse. The force stopped the water, and the crystals contained it. And then, as he stepped back, exhausted, to see the icy wall, he knew what he must do.   With the last of his powers, he formed a sword of the crystals he bore upon his body. Closing his eyes to visualise his homeland, his people, his lover's once-vibrant eyes, he placed his back to the wall - and declared his final words.  
I will pay it...
  In the end, it was the last of his mortal strength that would drive the icy blade through his chest, splitting the barrier just enough for water to begin swelling through. A slow flood, one that wouldn't overwhelm the land, contained by the final remnants of Isuriel's Doorway. As the water filled his lungs, one last thought rang through his mind.  
...whatever the cost.
— the final words of Verti Xi'corie
Previously Held Ranks & Titles
Year of Death
5622 EA
Circumstances of Death
Sacrificed himself to ensure the protection of two worlds
White, tinged with silver highlights
I wish we knew more of the man that had saved us all. We know of Isuriel, and we know of Verti - but we know little of their families, their friends, their lives. So much has been lost to time.
— wistful Galasthin scholar

Character Portrait image: Verti by Hanhula via Heroforge


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14 Apr, 2018 14:31

This article is amazingly eloquent and on such a high story-telling level that I am left amazed! Seriously, this has all the signs of a deeply woven world and its legends. Though quite lengthy, tte story of Verti's sacrifice is perfectly told.

Welcome to Ekozia!
14 Apr, 2018 14:51

I'm very glad you enjoyed it! <3

welcome to my signature! check out istralar!