Lost Memories is returning. After a series of unfortunate events that caused the team to disband, we are returning! We will not post any new information for a while, but feel free to follow for when we do! We are planning to release a wave of information when we are ready!

This is the intro and first plot split in the story

Posted by TMtrue on Jul 10th, 2012
Article

“Are you alright? Can you hear me, friend?” A voice roused me. I opened my eyes to bleak sunlight. Something soft and light landed on my face. Falling snow? No, it was too dry and tasted too bitter. Ash was drifting down from the heavens, clogging my lungs and clotting my eyes. I sat up quickly, but regretted the movement immediately. The blood drained from my head, setting the world spinning.“Where am I?” I asked as the rotation slowed. “You’re in the forest, half a day’s walk from Anboro. We’re not far from my camp. What are you doing out here, hiding in the dust?” A man was kneeling beside me, his hand upon my chest. He was older, but not yet growing weak. He wore armor of sturdy leather and mail, nicked and scored from years of faithful use. Was he a tracker? No, he was too well armed. He carried a broadsword at his side, in addition to several smaller blades. I was indeed in a forest. Trees enclosed me on all sides, but they were sickly. Or rather, they were dead. The trees had been burned to bone; all that remained were charred alpine skeletons. This whole area had been ravaged. A firestorm? I’ve heard tell of such things happening in dry forests, but this place felt anything but natural.“I asked you a question, friend. I expect an answer.”“I… I don’t remember,” I said.“You don’t, huh? What’s your name?”“…I’m not sure.” Who doesn’t know their own name? What’s wrong with me?“You should come back with me to my camp. It’s not safe out here with those beasts running about,” said the man. “My name is Captain Tuuli, by the way. Perhaps you can remember mine, if not your own.” Was he joking?“What beasts, Captain? Do you mean wolves and bears, other predators?” I asked.“Wolves and bears, sure, any other day. But mostly I meant those horned nightmares. You don’t know what’s happened in Anboro? These are the end-times, friend,” the captain said.I stared at him blankly. “Are you having a laugh?”“Not yet, no,” he said. “Come with me, I’ll tell you what I know back at the camp.”He stood and began walking away. My joints ached and my muscles burned as I tried to rise. Tuuli was nearly twenty paces away by the time I arose. Why am I in such pain? I set off toward the captain, trying to catch up to him. I stumbled over an ash-covered bramble and was forced to pay closer attention to my feet.“Heavens help us!” Tuuli shouted. I looked up, scanning to find the captain amidst the ash and timber. I found him pinned beneath the largest monstrosity I have ever beheld. The beast was massive, easily over eight feet tall. Its skin was leathery, stretched too taught over a body of thick, corded muscle. Its legs bent backwards, reverse-hinged and tapered to stiletto points like an insect’s. It towered over Tuuli, unhinging its maw to dictate some horrible fate upon the captain. If I didn’t act soon, Captain Tuuli would surely die.

If you wish to help the captain, proceed to section B.
If you wish you hide, proceed to section C on page four.

Section B:
“Hey, ugly!” I cried. I wanted to get the beast’s attention. He looked at me. Unbridled rage flared in his eyes. He stepped away from the captain, all of his attention now directed toward me. He let out a guttural bellow that shook the collected ash from the charred tree skeletons. “Oh. Do you speak common?”He charged toward me faster than I could think; I dove behind a nearby trunk just in time. Unable to change direction fast enough, the monster ran headlong into the scorched wood. He wasn’t stunned for very long, but it gave me enough time to move closer to Tuuli. Dashing from tree to tree, I slowly moved toward the captain. Neither of us could hope to survive for very long alone. He was already on his feet when I reached him, but I could see a long gash running down his left arm. “My sword fell over there,” he said, pointing to the blade shining through the ashes several feet away. “I’ll distract this monster while you retrieve my sword. It will be more useful in two hands than one.”He ran toward the great beast, capturing its attention before once more finding shelter behind a tree. Tuuli pulled one of his smaller blades free of its sheath. He harassed the monster with nicks and small cuts, attacking the beast around the tree trunks as he moved from cover to cover. I rushed to the captain’s broadsword, moving only when the monster had his back to me. Taking the sword in both hands, I circled back around toward the fiend. I positioned myself opposite Tuuli, so that the monster could focus on only one of us at a time. We gradually wore the beast down, dodging his attacks and returning counter blows when he had his back to one of us. Finally I saw an opening; the monster was becoming tired. I slipped in past its sweeping fists and stabbed the captain’s broadsword through its heart.
We collapsed exhausted, taking respite against one of the thick tree corpses that had protected us from the beast’s charges.
“Thank you, friend. I would surely be dead were it not for your help,” Tuuli said. I nodded.
“I’m anxious to hear of these end times. What has happened?” I asked.
“Come with me to my camp. My men will have a hot meal ready, and I will tell you what I know.”
We remained vigilant during the walk to his camp, wary of a second attack. Thankfully, the short journey was uneventful. The camp was small, barely more than a few tents and a fire pit. His whole unit was less than ten men. “Captain Tuuli, you’re injured,” said the closest soldier as we approached. The man found cloth and began to tie off the wound to stem the bleeding. “It looks worse than it is. I’ll be fine,” said the captain. “But I’d be dead if not for this man. He saved my life.” The men all turned to face me, gratitude plain on their faces. They clearly loved and respected their captain. “I have a lot of questions. Your captain promised me answers,” I said. “We were attacked by a monster I have never seen before. I want to know what it was.” The captain ladled soup into a bowl from a pot hanging above the fire, and handed it to me.“Sit and eat, friend,” he said. I did. He sat down opposite me at the fire, and pulled his bloodied broadsword across his lap to sharpen the blade. After several strokes along the sword’ edge with his whetstone, he began to recount what he knew of these so-called end times. “Three days ago in Anboro, the apocalypse was unleashed. A robed man was seen entering the temple late that night. The temple in the town square has been used in peaceful worship for nearly four centuries, and most visitors had forgotten the darkness hidden beneath the hallowed ground. Only the priest was in the temple at that hour, but he hasn’t spoken a word since then. We have to assume that hooded man broke the ancient lock and released those monsters onto this plane. There was a great explosion shortly after he was seen entering the temple. Several witnesses observed fiery streaks shooting into the night sky above the temple, but no one saw this hooded figure leave. We began receiving reports the next morning of attacks on outlying farms and villagers. I have been tasked with hunting down the monsters and discovering what happened at the temple.”The captain’s story was intriguing, but I still didn’t understand the rationale. “Have these monsters met you in open battle? Do they have a clear leader?” I asked. Why would someone want to begin the apocalypse?“We’ve seen only small skirmishes. We don’t know if the monsters we’ve faced are scouts for a larger force or simply lone beasts. Tomorrow we head to Anboro to investigate the temple. Perhaps you will find your answers there,” said the captain. “For now, get some sleep. We leave for the city at dawn.”The soldiers took shifts standing watch through the night. I wasn’t given a watch, but I couldn’t sleep. I had too many question. What’s my name? Why can’t I remember the past three days? What will I find in Anboro?
The soldiers rose shortly before dawn. With practiced efficiency they broke down their camp, and we set off toward the city as light began to creep over the horizon. Everyone watched the trees as we walked to Anboro; we all feared a surprise attack. None came, but the tension did not lessen when we arrived in the city. Anboro felt unclean, tainted. There were no smiles, no glad faces. Small squabbles were ongoing between townspeople, increasing in frequency as we drew nearer to the temple. Each argument we passed was as petty and unnecessary as the one before. The air was thick with strife. The temple was easy to find, a huge beacon in the center of the town square. Its lofty spires drew my eyes upward, to the temple’s bell tower and onward toward heaven. The solid, heavy doors were now guarded, but the sentries let us through when they saw the captain. The temple interior was elegant and statuesque, ornate but not overbearing. I could see many an unsteady soul finding solace in this building. But that was before the attack. Now its columns and relics were charred, scorched by malicious flames. Burns crisscrossed the floor, whipping around with vicious disregard. This holy hall had borne unspeakable anger. I walked ahead of the group, which had dispersed to survey the damage and search for any clues that might explain what had happened. I passed the priest, who sat motionless in one of the less damaged pews. He didn't turn, didn't offer any indication that he was even the slightest bit aware of my presence. Making my way toward the altar at the far end of the hall, I noticed a peculiar shift. The burns became less haphazard, less chaotic. They became organized, radiating outward from the altar.
           The sacrificial stone had been transformed in the flames. I assume it had originally matched the clean white stone of the rest of the temple, but now it was scorched to a deep, encompassing black. There was no discoloration, no variation. It had been burned perfectly to a singular jet shade.
           I was drawn closer to the altar, caught in its enrapturing stone. I began to see a shape on the slab, a rippling sheet. The fabric twisted back and forth, convulsing into unnatural bends and curves. It rose, slowly, like a charmed viper following the reed. Standing--or floating--at its full height, I could see twin embers glowing behind the silken fabric. Those blazing pupils carried some weight of rage and hatred I had seen in the eyes of the beast that attacked in the forest. But this violence was calculating, it was subtler, but held more malice. This creature wanted to burn, to shatter the world. I didn’t realize I had been walking ever closer until I stood face to face with the thin fabric. Then, somehow, it smiled at me. A toothy, crocodile smile. And in a flash it was around me, clutching at my shoulders and wrapping itself around my face. The cloth fell about me like a tailored robe, and I felt it smoothing my mind beneath its endless folds. The once-thin fabric became impenetrable; I saw nothing but its hatred. I heard only its cruel laughter.
           “That’s him! The robed man is back!” I heard someone shouting in the distance. The priest, it must have been. His was the only voice I had never heard. I felt my body turning toward him, my hands rising as fists. I was held captive in my own skin, a prisoner in flesh, bone, and cloth. Strong hands fell upon me, dragging my body downward. I felt myself hit the pristinely blackened alter stone. As quickly as it had come upon me, the cloth retreated. When my vision cleared I saw it floating away, slithering into the shadows.
           “Explain yourself, friend," the captain commanded.
           “I don’t know. I saw the cloth on the altar and the next instant it was on me. I swear I don’t know what happened.”
           “I saw you.” It was the priest again. I could match his face to the voice now. “I saw you here, four nights ago. You set the temple on fire.”
           “It wasn’t me, I would never.”
           “Save it for the tribunal," he said. "They’ll decide your fate tomorrow. Take him to the holding cell.”
           I hoped the hours we had spent together, the meal we had shared, would afford me some semblance of good faith. It did not. They locked my hands behind my back and led me out of the ruined temple.
           “I’m sorry my friend. We can’t take any chances with those beasts on the loose. We have to get to the bottom of this,” the captain said as he closed the door to my small cell. Then he left me alone, with my fate to be decided in the morning by seven men whom I had never met.
           After several hours of fitful sleep, I awoke hearing the veil's cruel laughter again ringing in my mind. Shouts came from outside the walls of my prison. Men were running to battle stations and cannons were being readied. As I peered through the tiny window in my cell, I could see the demon army cross over the horizon. There were thousands of them, each covered in leathery skin and glistening horns. Their bone wings rattled as they drew ever closer. Leading the hell-born army was a massive beast--brother perhaps to the attacker in the forest. He wore a silken cowl of utter black, which trailed into a cape behind him as he flew toward the city walls. He stopped suddenly in midair and met my gaze. Even from such distance, I could see his fiendish smile and blazing pupils. It was him; the veil was wearing this beast now as he had worn me. This was the apocalypse; he bore the sundering of the world.
           The veil contorted the beast’s hands strangely, forming an unnatural sigil. Flames erupted within its palms and shot forth. The air itself sizzled and steamed as the fireball flew toward my cell, I leapt back as the wall exploded. The fiery impact melted the very stone that caged me.
           A hole, an open door. I could escape, run. But all the soldiers, the captain, they would surely die. Maybe I could help, somehow.
           Gods, why is this happening?


Section C:
I stayed to the shadows, hiding behind the tree trunks. I didn’t know this captain, and survival is more important than making friends. I made my way along the path the captain had begun toward his camp, circling around the monster to avoid the conflict. I moved from tree to tree, staying hidden behind the charred wood. The captain’s screams for help became weaker, choked. I heard his ribcage crack under the weight of the beast. Blood spurted from his mouth, his eyes, and his ears. I looked away. I kept moving. When I was far enough from the monster, I ran. The captain has said his camp wasn’t far away. I didn’t stop running until I got there. The camp was small, barely more than a few tents and a fire pit. There were maybe eight men there, sitting around a fire. Exhausted and out of breath, I collapsed at their feet. “Careful, friend. Are you injured?” one of the men asked me. “No,” I said, coughing. “I’m fine, just out of breath.”“Come sit by the fire. Help yourself to a bowl of our soup,” he said. I sat beside him and took a bowl from his hands. “What are you doing out here?” he asked.“I don’t know… I just woke up.” The soldiers stared at me, unsure of my meaning. “What I mean is, I can’t remember.”“Well it’s a good thing you found our camp; this forest is not safe anymore. Our captain will be back soon; perhaps he can help you.”“I… I met your captain. He found me. But he’s… he’s gone now. We were attacked,” I said. “Attacked?” another man asked. “By one of those monsters? But you’re unscathed.”“…I ran. I just ran here.”The soldiers grew still. The two men on my right and left shifted their weight, almost imperceptibly, away from me. These were trained fighters, men of honor. I was not. I was afraid. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know what to do,” I said. The men were silent for a long time. Finally, the man farthest from me spoke up. “You could have done something,” he said. “He was a great soldier. He was a great man.” I ate my food, finding the bowl much more comforting than these men’s faces.
“Can you tell me what’s happening? I have never seen a creature like that beast before,” I asked when my bowl was empty. No one acknowledged the question, and I wondered if they would speak to me again at all that night. Finally, one of the men spoke up:
“Three days ago, a robed man was seen entering the Anboro temple late at night. The temple in the town square has been used in peaceful worship for nearly four centuries, and most people no longer remember the darkness hidden beneath the hallowed ground. Only the priest was in the temple at that hour, but he hasn’t spoken a word since. We have to assume that hooded man broke the ancient lock and released those monsters onto this plane. There was a great explosion shortly after he was seen entering the temple. Several witnesses observed fiery streaks shooting into the night sky above the temple, but no one saw this hooded figure leave. We began receiving reports the next morning of attacks on outlying farms and villagers. Captain Tuuli had been tasked with hunting down the monsters and discovering what happened at the temple, but now I suppose I take over his assignment. I am Lieutenant Petrus. ”Petrus’ story was intriguing, but I still didn’t understand the rationale. “Have these monsters met you in open battle? Do they have a clear leader?” I asked. Why would someone want to begin the apocalypse?“We’ve seen only small skirmishes. We don’t know if the monsters we’ve faced are scouts for a larger force or simply lone beasts. Tomorrow we head to Anboro to investigate the temple. Perhaps you will find your answers there. Perhaps you can ask forgiveness,” he said. “For now, get some sleep. We leave for the city at dawn.”The soldiers took shifts standing watch through the night. I wasn’t given a watch; they didn’t trust me in the slightest. But I couldn’t sleep. I had too many question. What’s my name? Why can’t I remember the past three days? What will I find in Anboro?
The soldiers rose shortly before dawn. With practiced efficiency they broke down their camp, and we set off toward the city as light began to creep over the horizon. Everyone watched the trees as we walked to Anboro; we all feared a surprise attack, especially with the beast that killed Tuuli still on the loose. None came, but the tension did not lessen when we arrived in the city. Anboro felt unclean, tainted. There were no smiles, no glad faces. Small squabbles were ongoing between townspeople, increasing in frequency as we drew nearer to the temple. Each argument we passed was as petty and unnecessary as the one before. The air was thick with strife. The temple was easy to find, a huge beacon in the center of the town square. Its lofty spires drew my eyes upward, to the temple’s bell tower and onward toward heaven. The solid, heavy doors were now guarded, but the sentries let us through after Petrus explained his mission. The temple interior was elegant and statuesque; it was ornate but not overbearing. I could see many an unsteady soul finding solace in this building, before the attack. Now its columns and relics were charred, scorched by malicious flames. Burns crisscrossed the floor, whipping around with vicious disregard. This holy hall had borne unspeakable anger. I walked ahead of the group, which had dispersed to survey the damage and search for any clues that might explain what had happened. I passed the priest, who sat motionless in one of the less damaged pews. He didn't turn, didn't offer any indication that he was even the slightest bit aware of my presence. Making my way toward the altar at the far end of the hall, I noticed a peculiar shift. The burns became less haphazard, less chaotic. They became organized, radiating outward from the altar.
           The sacrificial stone had been transformed in the flames. I assume it had originally matched the clean white stone of the rest of the temple, but now it was scorched to a deep, encompassing black. There was no discoloration, no variation. It had been burned perfectly to a singular jet shade.
           I was drawn closer to the altar, caught in its enrapturing stone. I began to see a shape on the slab, a rippling sheet. The fabric twisted back and forth, convulsing into unnatural bends and curves. It rose, slowly, like a charmed viper following the reed. Standing—or floating—at its full height, I could see twin embers glowing behind the silken fabric. Those blazing pupils carried some weight of rage and hatred I had seen in the eyes of the beast that attacked in the forest. But this violence was calculating, it was subtler, but held more malice. This creature wanted to burn, to shatter the world. I didn’t realize I had been walking ever closer until I stood face to face with the thin fabric. Then, somehow, it smiled at me. A toothy, crocodile smile. And in a flash it was around me, clutching at my shoulders and wrapping itself around my face. The cloth fell about me like a tailored robe, and I felt it smoothing my mind beneath its endless folds. The once-thin fabric became impenetrable; I saw nothing but its hatred. I heard only its cruel laughter.
           “That’s him! The robed man is back!” I heard someone shouting in the distance. The priest, it must have been. His was the only voice I had never heard. I felt my body turning toward him, my hands rising as fists. I was held captive in my own skin, a prisoner in flesh, bone, and cloth. Strong hands fell upon me, dragging my body downward. I felt myself hit the pristinely blackened alter stone. As quickly as it had come upon me, the cloth retreated. When my vision cleared I saw it floating away, slithering into the shadows.
           “Explain yourself," the lieutenant commanded.
           “I don’t know. I saw the cloth on the altar and the next instant it was on me. I swear I don’t know what happened.”
           “I saw you.” It was the priest again. I could match his face to the voice now. “I saw you here, four nights ago. You set the temple on fire.”
           “It wasn’t me, I would never.”
           “Save it for the tribunal," he said. "They’ll decide your fate tomorrow. Take him to the holding cell.”
           I could see hatred in the soldiers’ faces, blame and distrust in their blank stares. Petrus locked my hands behind my back, roughly, and led me out of the ruined temple.
           “We have to get to the bottom of this,” said Petrus as he closed the door to my small cell. “Someone unleashed those beasts upon the world. And you let Captain Tuuli be slaughtered by them; you didn’t move to aid a fellow man. You are our primary suspect. If I may be honest with a dead man, I cannot wait to see you hanged tomorrow.” Then he left me alone, with my fate to be decided in the morning by seven men whom I had never met.
           After several hours of fitful sleep, I awoke hearing the veil's cruel laughter again ringing in my mind. Shouts came from outside the walls of my prison. Men were running to battle stations and cannons were being readied. As I peered through the tiny window in my cell, I could see the demon army cross over the horizon. There were thousands of them, each covered in leathery skin and glistening horns. Their bone wings rattled as they drew ever closer. Leading the hell-born army was a massive beast--brother perhaps to the attacker in the forest. He wore a silken cowl of utter black, which trailed into a cape behind him as he flew toward the city walls. He stopped suddenly in midair and met my gaze. Even from such distance, I could see his fiendish smile and blazing pupils. It was him; the veil was wearing this beast now as he had worn me. This was the apocalypse; he bore the sundering of the world.
           The veil contorted the beast’s hands strangely, forming an unnatural sigil. Flames erupted within its palms and shot forth. The air itself sizzled and steamed as the fireball flew toward my cell, I leapt back as the wall exploded. The fiery impact melted the very stone that caged me.
           A hole, an open door. I could escape, run. But all the soldiers, the lieutenant, they would surely die. Maybe I could help, somehow; prove to them that I’m innocent. Or maybe I should just escape.
           Gods, why is this happening?

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Lost Memories
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