If You Come to a Fork in the Soul... Take It

- by Symphora and Melitta

"A Dinner Disturbed", by SymphoraEdit

      Beneath the layers of cobwebs, on the dusty ground, among the piles of festering corpses, a sudden glow shone out from the empty sockets of one of the many skulls, disturbing the vermin from their evening meal. The rats fled into the many cracks in the walls. They were conditioned not to linger when the food began to move. The quickness of the rats contrasted sharply with the almost imperceptible movement of the newly reanimated skeleton.

      Where am I?

      Looking around, she noticed the many cadavers strewn across the floor and a single flight of steps across the room. Her frame was in complete disarray; joints were bent at unnatrual angles. One of the legs was twisted so badly that she quickly lost balance when she tried to rise. A cloud of dust rose into the air as she crumbled back to the ground. She examined her body, muttering incomprehensible imprecations at the awful state of it. Grimacing, she straightened her leg, but the pain never came. She marveled at this for a moment, then other needs came to mind.

      I still need something to cover my sad bones.

      At this thought, ancient words sidled into her mind and out her lips... the words to clothe herself in Demon Skin:

      "Derma Daimonon"

      How did I know to say that? ... Well, there certainly aren't any answers down here.

      With that thought, she ascended the stairs. Her body moved awkwardly at first, but became easier with each step, as it recalled its somatic memories. Reaching the top of the steps, she saw an old man fixing the wheel on a rickety old cart.

      Heh. It'll be a rude surprise for him to see one of the bodies rising from the grave.

      The man sensed her presence and turned toward her, but the surprise was hers. In the flickering of a nearby torch, she saw the face barely clinging to his skull, the hands completely devoid of skin. At the sight of him, faint memories of a great plague flitted forward briefly, and receded into her subconscious just as fast.

      Suddenly, she realized the undead man was talking to her, "I am Mordo, the caretaker of the crypt of Deathknell. And you are the Lich King's slave no more. Speak with Shadow Priest Sarvis in the chapel at the base of the hill, he will tell you more of what you must know."

      Lich King? That means something, ... but what? I had better see this Sarvis.

      Giving a curt nod to Mordo, she walked slowly down the hill. Tantalizing memories continued to dance at the edge her consciousness, retreating before she could bring them into focus.

"A Path in the Light", by MelittaEdit

      Melitta sat poised at the side of her bed in Northshire Abbey, her dark hands folded in prayer. She was slender, but physically fit. Gorgeous locks flowed down her back, almost to the waist. Her hair was of brown so deep as to be mistaken for black at a glance. Then again, on seeing her, not very many eyes were satisfied with just a glance. A long, graceful neck supported her darkly beautiful face. The eyes were brown, accented with an almost yellow tint. They were wonderfully set, an exquisite pair of brown gems in a lovely setting. She wore a simple white alb, which sharply offset her dark skin.

      Melitta concluded her prayer. In one quick motion she jumped to her feet and turned toward the door, her hair arcing around behind her. In her eyes was eagerness and focus, as unmistakable as the beauty. Today was the culmination of years of study. The good abbot had said she was ready to go into the world. She walked briskly down the hall and down a set of stone stairs to meet the abbot.

      "Melitta," he said, "you would make a stupendous monk, maybe an abbess someday if-"

      One look at Melitta let him know this line of talk was wasted time for both of them. It was not that she looked angry, or even impatient. But the old abbot saw the focus in her eyes more clearly than ever. This decision was already made.

      "Yes. Well, never mind that. You can't blame an old man for trying, can you?

      "Melitta, you have learned much of the Light. But heed my words: Knowledge and application are separate things. Truly, you have great potential, but please do not overextend yourself. You need time, a lot of time, to develop it. Always remember that as you train. Now, let us pray together for the last time:

May the Light illumine your path;
And may you have the strength to follow,
Veering neither to the left nor the right.

May you avoid the snares of evil;
And your enemies fall in their own pits;
May you be a light to them and to the world."

      Melitta and the elderly abbot began to bow, then decided to part with a hug. She was not halfway down the hall when he called out to her.

      "You know, that doesn't have to be the last time... You will come back, won't you?"

      She responded, "I will always follow the Light. If that path brings me back to Northshire, then I will return."

      The abbot laughed abruptly, "A good reply, that. A very good reply. Why am I not surprised?"

      Melitta smiled as she bowed, then headed out into the forest.

"Disaster at Camp", by SymphoraEdit

      A small camp stood in a clearing in Tirisfal Glades. A few men dressed in scarlet sat huddled by the fire, trying vainly to keep warm. In the two tents behind them, some of their companions lay in an uneasy sleep. Several yards to the north, a young man kept watch. He was dressed in the same scarlet uniform, one which was noticeably newer. Carrying a torch in his left hand, he paced to and fro, pausing occasionally to peer out into the darkness. He attempted to mask his face with a confident look, yet everything about him betrayed his fear. The way he moved with a hesitant step, the way his hand trembled as it held his torch, the way his sweat released certain chemicals into the air. The smell of his fear was picked up by the wind and wafted to the skeleton watching him from the shadow of a nearby tree. She crouched there drinking in the odor of his terror, savoring the moment. Anticipation of the kill was her favorite moment...

      Before the man ever noticed his assailant, he was doubled over in pain. He dropped his torch, setting the grass by his feet aflame. He morbidly identified with that grass; for it felt like every organ inside was on fire. He looked around for his attacker. There was nothing at first, then he caught some movement in his peripheral vision. Turning quickly, he saw an imp dancing among the trees. He ran after it, catching its firebolt in the chest. An instant later he felt a new pain, as if his body were corrupted, rotting from the inside. As he reached the imp a shadowbolt caught him in the back. He whipped around and caught his first glimpse of the real threat. An undead warlock, was standing over his dropped torch. The dancing flame cast menacing shadows over her skeletal body that concealed most of her details. But he could not mistake the malevolent glow in her eyes, nor the enjoyment in her vicious grin. Forgetting the imp, he dashed toward the warlock. The imp let loose another firebolt, causing the man to hesitate midway between his two attackers. The warlock was certainly the greater threat, but the imp couldn't be ignored. In the next moment, he was relieved of this decision - and every other - as a shadowbolt landed squarely in his midsection.

      The warlock walked slowly up to the fresh corpse. She put one of his fingers into her mouth, bit off all the flesh and spit his garnet insignia ring into her hand. She tossed it into one of the small brown sacks tied to her waist, listening to it jingle among the similar rings already inside. These rings were the proof of demise that she needed to show Deathguard Burgess in Brill.

      She approached the camp quietly, never leaving the safety of shadow. Only two men were still awake, a fighter and a mage. Both looked more experienced than her most recent victim. The warlock ground her teeth in frustration. There would be no time to play with these. Remaining hidden, she opened with a shadowbolt to the mage's head. She followed with her immolation and corruption spells on the fighter as he ran after her. A well-timed firebolt from her imp caught the fighter's attentionr just as reached her. As she traded shadowbolts for frotstbolts with the mage, the fighter was busy chasing her imp around the tents. All the while his insides burned and festered from her spells. After a few exchanges between the casters, the mage collapsed dead on the ground. Turning toward the fighter, she saw him finally catch and pierce the imp.

      Oh well, he served his purpose well. The warrior is half dead already.

      The undead supressed a cackle. If these humans were too dumb to wake their friends, she certainly wasn't going to do it for them. She hit the fighter in the chest with a shadowbolt as he approached. By the time he actually reached her, he was in no shape to fight. She finished him off with a few whacks of her staff. She bit the insignia ring from his hand in the same manner as before, then looted the few coins he had, and a cloak from the mage.

      She prodded the empty shell of the imp with the end of her staff. Chanting an evil spell, the warlock summoned the imp back into the world.

      "Nice try, Gobrot. But we aren't through just yet," she mocked as the portal opened and the imp tumbled through it.

      "That last battle has made me hungry. Stand watch while I relieve this flesh jockey of his burden."

      Her sharp claws easily tore into the still warm abdomen of the ex-mage. She greedily shoveled flesh and tissue, muscle and organ into her mouth. She ate quickly and quietly, lest she disturb the nearby sleepers. Wiping the blood and a bit of skin from her lips, she surveyed the scene around her.

      It's almost a shame that I've finished my collection of rings. There's no need to wake the rest of this camp. ... Then again, seeing how I am in the neighborhood.

      She overturned a table into the campfire and cackled loudly to wake up the camp as it caught on fire. Her imp set one tent ablaze with its firebolts while she pulled the burning table from the fire and tossed it into the other. At that moment, a suitable battlecry entered her mind.

      She did not yell, but her voice was loud, forceful, and crisp:

      "Call me Symphora, for I bring disaster and destruction with me. At news of my approach, the enemies of the Forsaken will have no hope, save the hope for a quick death."

      With that, the warlock set off for Brill. She could not recall her old self, but that no longer bothered her. It was a meaningless token of a life long since over. She knew her identity now.

      Symphora strode confidently through the nocturnal wood. The acrid odor of burnt flesh followed behind her, and howls of pain pierced the night.

"The Taste of Death", by MelittaEdit

      Melitta tossed uncomfortably in her bed. In her dream, she was hunting through a forest in the night. Ducking behind a tree, she saw her quarry... a young man wearing a scarlet overshirt. She sensed his fear and it excited her. She felt a tiny claw tapping on her ankle. Turning toward it, she was shocked to see a little imp standing by her. It did not attack but looked at her with a quizzical expression. She said something to the imp in some vile tongue, some evil mockery of human language. An arm reached out from beneath her vision. She sensed that it was her arm, but it pale and gaunt, not like her arm at all. The arm ended in a bony hand, which in turn ended in five pointed claws. One of those claws pointed to a group of trees on the opposite side of the young man. The imp moseyed across the path, right under the man's feet, but he saw nothing.

      When the imp was in place. That arm that seemed her own swung toward the man and claws flexed in five menacing arcs. The man doubled over and dropped his torch. Looking around, he caught sight of the imp and ran toward it. In a few seconds, she and the demon stole the man's life.

      Melitta legs were wildly kicking in her sleep. The man's death was horrifying... almost as horrifying as the joy she felt in some corner of her mind. The nightmares continued throughout the night. She saw corpses walking about a decrepit town, watched as she communed with demons, felt the exhilaration of the hunt. She couldn't stop herself from killing, nor deny the exuberance as people died at her feet.

      When Melitta finally awoke from these dreams, her bed was drenched with her sweat. The blankets were twisted around her feet and hanging over the side onto the floor. The nightmares were the most vivid dreams she ever had, but in waking, all that remained were the raw emotions. Even they were more than enough for Melitta to handle. The mixture of fear and death with her own joy and excitement disturbed her. She kicked her feet free from the entangling blanket and sat hunched over the side of her bed. Melitta felt sick to her stomach, but somehow managed to avoid vomiting. She rinsed her mouth out with a cup of water by her bedside.

      Why this aftertaste of rotted flesh in my mouth?


      Melitta ran down the steps of the inn and out into a bright sunny day in Goldshire. A wave of relief washed over her. The sun was brilliantly warm, and the leaves were a healthy green. Most importantly, everybody was wearing skin.

      This is better. Now my dreams feel more like.... like a dream, I suppose. Why not? That's all it was ... nothing more. Now, time to get back to business.

      A traveling baker was passing through town. Melitta recognized her and trotted over.

      "May the Light shine upon you on this glorious morning, Kira! What news do you bring with your loaves this morning?"

      Kira smiled in reply, "Well met, Melitta! I suppose by 'news' you mean 'news of trouble'?"

      Melitta chuckled, "What else would I mean?"

      "I know you had some success against the Defias rabble, but they are still running amok in most of the forest. There is news that they are trying to take some land south of here. There are a few farms that direction could use your help I dare say. They'd be glad to know the great and beautiful Melitta is coming I'd wager!"

      Melitta blushed at that. She sucked her lips in a cute half-smile and looked with chagrin to the side. Kira stopped when she noticed this reaction, "I - I didn't mean to embarrass you. I'm sorry. But I do feel safer on my deliveries. And I do appreciate it."

      Melitta looked reassuringly at her friend. "Oh don't worry. And thank you. To the south I go. Now how about some of that delicious moist cornbread?"

      Kira handed Melitta a piece of cornbread, pushing her hand aside when she proffered some coins.

      "You know I can't accept that."

      Melitta thanked her kindly, gave her a warm hug, and headed to the south. The farmers did indeed welcome her help in defending their land. She tried again to convince the thieves to change their ways. It was a futile effort, but Melitta felt that if she convinced just one, it would be worth it. She prayed for them as she and the farmers protected the land, the animals, and themselves. The loss of human lives, even that of thieves and brigands, troubled her. Melitta noted her discomfiture, and was relieved.

"Echoes", by SymphoraEdit

      Symphora stood alongside a well-traveled road, across from a smithy's shop. Merchants stood by their carts, hawking their wares. A handsome man in full armor patroled the street. A small gray rabbit hopped onto the path, briefly looked around, jumped into the bushes on the other side. In short, the scene was bustling with life. She vaguely remembered living in a place like this, and a red hatred boiled inside her at the thought. She wanted to stamp out that life, just as hers had been stamped out. As she looked around the town, Symphora felt a stinging warmth in some far corner of her being, a thorn in her side.

      A plain-faced baker strolled onto the scene. Symphora was shocked to see herself trot over to her and hug her. She marveled at her arms as they reached around the baker. It felt as though she were moving her own arms, but they were dark and healthy, not pale and skeletal. She exchanged some words with the other in a tongue that sounded vaguely reminiscent to Symphora, but she couldn't follow it.

      Throughout the conversation, the warmth that Symphora felt began to grow and radiate farther into her consiousness. No longer was it merely an irritant, her mind screamed at the sensation.

      Symphora was relieved when she finally woke up in an open grave. There was a lot of dirt under her claws, and gashes in the walls where she had scratched during the night. She remembered the burning sensation in her dream, but not much else. A few images flitted across her mind: the brilliant sun, a vibrant forest, and gray bunny. As if these images were the first leaks in a crippled dam, a sudden deluge of memories flooded upon Symphora. Prompted by the dream, memories that had refused her recollection now forced themselves upon her, unbidden. The gray bunny in her mind became brown gopher. Symphora watched as it dove into a hole in the ground.

      No, she realized, this is an earlier lifetime, Symphora does not exist.

      Whoever she was - in this memory - she was running as fast as she could. Looking over her shoulder, she saw a well-toned man in a chain mail cuirass chasing after her. He had a short blond hair, just showing its first signs of gray. His face was still handsome, decorated with a well-trimmed goatee and a pair of crystal blue eyes. His nose was slightly crooked, having been broken some time in his youth. She had loved him once, possibly still loved him. But staring into his eyes, she saw he had nothing but hatred for her.

      She lost her footing and fell forward, her arms instinctively reaching out to catch the ground. She noticed the bones in her arms and the claws on her hands.

      An earlier life, but I'm already dead! I've had a life before this then. What more? A life before that one? And another before that? Where does it all begin?

      Symphora's thoughts leaped farther backward to one of those earlier lives, a memory within a memory. The recollections of living were vague and blurred, and none of them were personal. She remembered there had been a war with the Scourge, and a celebration for the King's son, Arthas, returning in triumph. That was all she recalled of that life.

      That's it then. I must have succumbed to the undead plague. How long had I been a mindless servant of the Lich King before Lady Sylvannas set me free?

      These thoughts quickly faded into another memory. One in which she stood on a hill looking over a lakefront town. She was Forsaken, and she had just learned that her husband had been spared the undeath. Having tracked him to this town, she now watched him from a safe distance.

      That man in the chain mail cuirass, the one who was chasing me in that first vision, he was my husband. ... The earlier memory happens later.

      There was no use heading into town as she was, so she waited for days for him to leave. When he finally did, she ran down from her vantage point with abandon.

      She cryed out to him, "I've found you! At last I've found you! It's been a too many years since -"

      She stopped abruptly. Her words were a twisted, broken sort of human speech. Her husband couldn't understand her, for death had already taken its toll on her language. Her husband was screaming back at her. She couldn't understand anything he said, but his eyes translated for her: He was bereft and seeking revenge.

      Fate be damned! He wants vengeange for his wife and the one he attacks is the very one he lost! He didn't recognize me. Of course not... he would never accept that his pretty young wife was now a monster. He didn't want to recognize me like this. I didn't know it then, but I can see it now.

      The image blurred and the first memory came back into focus. She was lying face down on the ground. She rolled over and saw the man in the chain mail cuirass, blue eyes full of hatred. She was considering letting him end it right there. Symphora raged at this image of weakness in herself.

      Don't be a fool! Get up! ... Bah! I was blinded by a love I will never feel again. Love for the man I should hate above all others!

      Symphora watched the scene angrily. The primal instinct for survival overruled her deathwish. She scrambled to her feet, but it was a moment too late. Her husband had closed the distance between them. He held a mace menacingly over his head, ready to bring it down on hers. She saw an opening and sunk her claws into his arm. He dropped his weapon, just barely missing his own foot. She pushed off him and sprinted away once more. She followed a path east trough the hills as quickly as she could, her attacker in hot pursuit. She happened across an orc apprentice warlock. Pointing to her pursuer, she hastily explained that she needed to get away.

      "Well, I can make a portal for you to Lordaeron?", he replied, half offering and half asking.

      "What are you talking about? Can you really do that?"

      "Well, I've learned how to summon people to me. If I were to perform the ritual backwards, I should be able to summon someone away from me... I think."

      The orc chanted awkwardly, and surprisingly, a portal shimmered in the air, hovering a few feet off the ground. She looked at the portal for a moment. It swirled with a ominous blackness. She hesitated, a hodgepodge of emotion blocking her thought. Grief and frustration washed with fear and despair. Out of this sea of emotion, a wave of anger crashed over her, drowning out everything else.

      "No! He should be running, not I! How dare he betray me after everything I've been through with him... for him. He shall feel my nails buried in h-"

      The orc suddenly pushed her into the portal. "Hurry! He's almost heerrrreeee....."

      She felt herself carried away by an overwhelming current. The sights and the sounds warped, swirled, and retreated into nothingness. It was the last thing she could remember before awakening in Mordo's crypt.

      Symphora's mind returned to the present. Relieved, she sat against the back wall of the grave. New understanding of her history did not cool her hatred. It only served to justify her rage and fan it further. And she kept the pain of those memories close to fuel the fire.

"Resurrection", by MelittaEdit

      Once again, Melitta was hunched over on the side of her bed. The bed covers were in disarray and there was sweat on her brow.

      Perhaps I should see somebody in Stormwind. It's been about a fortnight since I started having this recurring nightmare.

      Melitta stood up from her bed and walked over to her backpack. She examined the contents, looking through her new clothes. Many of her new things had been gifts from thankful people, others were purchased with the money she could earn doing random tasks. She tried to prepare for the day ahead, and tried to forget the night behind, but her mind kept cycling back to her dream.

      Well, it's not a recurring dream really. The elements are constant: violence, death, undeath... necrophasia...

      She supressed a gag reflex at that thought. The necrophasia was the most disturbing facet of these nightmares.

      The elements are constant, but the dream changes. I kill... NO! It is not I! The undead kills different people each night...

      Melitta tried to recall the victims of the previous night, but found that the details escaped her. She could never remember the specifics.

      How is it that the dreams feel so real, but in waking I cannot recall that reality? Is there some purpose to these nightly hauntings?

      Melitta closed her eyes and said a brief prayer for guidance. When she opened them again, she grabbed an apple from her backpack, then slung her bag over her shoulder. She practically ran down the steps and out of the inn, hoping that she would forget the dreams if she got busy.

      I'm sure it's nothing. It's just that the unfortunately necessary violence of the day troubles me, and finds release in the night.      

She was an honest person, but she had repeated that lie to herself every morning for past week. In fact, the opposite was happening: Melitta was becoming somewhat desensitized. Although she still used violence as a last resort, she could fight and even kill, without the discomfort that used to accompany such acts.

      Maybe I really should see one of the bishops at the Cathedral.

      Melitta made up her mind to go directly to Stormwind. She wasn't ready to describe her dreams yet, but she hoped find some answers circuitously. On her way to the capital city, she happened across a man lying to the side of the forest path. He was bruised and beaten and his clothes were in tatters.

      Upon closer inspection, Melitta realized that there was no movement at all. The chest did not rise and fall, there was no pulse.

      Melitta gasped, He's dead!

      She thought back to a recent visit with an elder priest. He had told her that even in this condition, healing was still possible. In this moment, she could recall his exact words:

      "The Light is the source of the soul. The power of Nature creates all men, but it is the Light that breathes life into us. As such, if you can channel enough of the Light through yourself, you can breath new life into one who has passed away. This is the Rite of Resurrection."

      Melitta concentrated, focusing the Light with all her heart, soul, strength, and mind. She felt a pang of guilt because she was somewhat excited to be tested in this ability. She tried to brush the negativity aside. It's not easy to channel the Light so fully with a guilty conscience.

      At last, a dazzling ray of light erupted around her. ...

"Reveille", by SymphoraEdit

      Symphora's mind burned so fiercely that she stirred from her sleep, though she did not rouse completely. Her eyes were still closed, but her mind was open. She distanced herself from the vision. Now she could separate the sensation of warmth from her own consciousness. Symphora was in the dream, but no longer of the dream. She saw the priest, her dream persona, from a third person view, like having an out-of-body experience. The man whom she had just brought back to life was carrying the priest into an inn. Above the door of this inn, Symphora could see a painting of a red lion.

      Symphora studied the red lion, watched it dissipate as full consciousness returned.

"Reconstruction", by MelittaEdit

      Melitta slowly woke up and opened her eyes. She rolled over, shocked to see a man in her room.

      "I was hoping you'd come through. Priestess, I can not thank you enough." At her look of confusion, he continued, "I was beaten, robbed, and left for dead. In fact I did die, but you resurrected me."

      This triggered something in her mind, "Yes... I remember that. How did..."

      "How did you get here? Well that's a certainly a good question. When my spirit returned to my body, you were lying at my feet. I think the effort of the resurrection caused you to faint. What it is really peculiar -"

      He changed thoughts mid-sentence, "Forgive my familiarity, but you look... Ummm... How far have you advanced in the priesthood?"

      It seemed like an odd question to Melitta, which prompted her to take a closer look at her visitor. He was a small man well into middle age. His hair had started thinning, and his facial hairs were specks of salt and pepper. The wrinkles in his cheeks gave him a kindly appearance, despite the cuts and bruises on his face. Melitta thought he looked like a priest even though he wore no frock. Her suspicions were confirmed a moment later. As the old man readjusted in his chair, she saw that he was holding onto a string of prayer beads.

      "I have reached the 8th level of my training."

      "Amazing. You are, of course, aware that priests don't officially study the Resurrection Rite until further in their training. And most don't master it until much later. Why, it's no wonder that you passed out from the effort!"

      But is it normal to hear a deafening scream during a resurrection?

      She opened her mouth to ask him, then shut it again. She started to tell him about her dreams, but lost her nerve.

      "Are you alright, my child? Is something on your mind?"

      "I was wondering what news you bring from Stormwind." Lying was becoming a habit. At least insofar as it concerned her dreams.

      She only half-listened to what he was saying. Her mind kept drifting back to the dreams of undead monsters. She wondered what they meant, if anything. Then something he said caught her attention.

      "There's much talk about the recent death of a young paladin. She was not the most renowned paladin. All the same, one could tell she had great potential. Such a kind soul... such a shame."

      A paladin, she thought.

"A Fork in the Soul", by SymphoraEdit

      Symphora sat in the open grave that had served as her bed for the past two weeks. She had been there for at least an hour, mentally turning over the details of her dream. There was the incredible realism: every sense fully registering, like she was really in that forest. She could feel the sun's warmth, or smell the fresh rain when it fell. There was the lack of control over her body. Everything was wrong. She did things she would never do, felt things she would never feel. There was the warmth in the corner of her mind, a warmth that seemed to intenstify the more her actions contradicted her nature. The fiercest example being the recent resurrection. Symphora spat in disgust.

      I destroy life, I usher it into undeath. I could never return life to where it had departed.

      Finally, Symphora considered the out-of-body sensation. While she had been in limbo between waking and sleeping, she could distinguish between herself and her dream self.

      It's crazy, as if my soul were in two places at once. Only in sleeping can I see into the other world. While awake, the stimuli of this world override that sight.

      A delirium beset Symphora. She squeezed her head, nails digging into her temples. Finally deciding on a course of action, she ran all the way to the Undercity. Upon her arrival, she went straight the magic quarter. It was time to do some research into her condition. Symphora looked through the ancient texts stored there. She found one entitled, Transdimensional Travels: Portals and Gateways.

      This looks promising.

      Symphora carefully turned through fragile pages. She came across a section concerning "Doppelgangers and Selbenseelers":

"Doppelgangers and selbenseelers are thought to be very rare manifestations of mishappenings during portal or gateway use..."

      Symphora's eyes glowed brightly. It did indeed seem promising. Skimming down the page, she found more pertinent information:

"Doppelganger, literally 'double-goer': A doppelganger is one of a pair of beings that replicate each other's physical apperance with exactitude. In most known occurences, the resemblence is purely physical, as the two doppelgangers behave in different, often antithetical, manners. Current theory puports that doppelgangers are the practical existence of two souls, forced to occupy the same body. Such arrangements can sometimes be the result of accidents during transdimensional travel. Further information is most difficult to procure, a consequence of the paucity of examples.

"Selbenseeler, literally 'half-soul-er': The selbenseeler is the hypothetical counterpart to the doppelganger, wherein two bodies share a single soul. If they do exist, they are much more infrequent than the doppelganger, or alternatively are much harder to identify. At this point, there have been no controlled studies, all cases are strictly hearsay, and the evidence is merely metaphysical."

      That's it? That's the only clue in this entire book, the only one I've found that makes any mention of it at all?

      Searching through more modern materials, Symphora found a copy of Paradigma and Azeroth. Though the material was not quite uesful to her current plight, she was wholly interested in it.

      Lilithia E. Emberfall. I have heard her name spoken in these quarters. If she has such knowledge of magical theories, she may be able to help. Such help will surely come at a price. I only hope it is not too steep. How does one approach such a meeting? For that matter, how does one even arrange such a meeting?

"Adaptation", by MelittaEdit

      The old abbot was jotting notes in the margins of a thick book when he heard a knock at the door of his study. At his word, the door opened slightly, just enough to allow a face to protrude through. It was a young girl's face. Strawberry blonde hair was piled on top. Blue eyes revealed a trace of nervousness. The freckled nose was turned up just the slightest bit over thin lips. The chin was soft and round. The face belonged to one of the newest students at the abbey.

      Her voice quavering, she spoke, "Excuse me, I'm sorry, Abbot... Sir. Somebody is here to see you. She said her name is ... ummm... Melitta?"

      The abbey's eyes widened at the name. He was across the room before the face could even retreat through the doorway. Melitta was always one of his favorite students. He was hoping she'd return, but had never guessed it would be less than a month after she had left. Turning a corner at the foot of the stairs, he headed into the entrance hall. He surveyed the room, but didn't see her.

      "Good morning, Abbot," came Melitta's mellifluous voice.

      The old abbot's jaw dropped slightly and he realized why he hadn't seen her there. Her waist-length hair had been cut to only a few inches. Her silver earrings had been replaced by a stud on the side of her nose. And she no longer wore the robes of a neophyte priest. There were deeper changes too. The abbot studied the grim set of her jaw, and the resolute way she carried herself. The overall effect was a commanding presence, much more compelling than the girl who had left.

      "Melitta! I'm so glad you could come back!" Recalling the conversation when she left, he added, "That the Light has led you back!"

      She smiled at his comment. He returned her smile, but not fully. It seemed that hers lacked the vivacity that it used to have. The abbot filled an awkard pause with an equally awkward question, "What made you decide to cut off all that hair?"

      "Tactical advantage," she replied.

      "Tactical advantage?"

      "I've come back to train as a paladin."

      The old abbot eyed her up and down. She could be a great paladin. He never would have thought that a few weeks ago.

      "The Light has shown me the undead enemy, and I am charged to shine the Light upon it. Peace favor you, dear abbot."

      "Peace favor you, Melitta."

      With a bow, Melitta left to see the paladin trainer.

"Raison D'Être", by SymphoraEdit

      As Symphora approached the Undercity, a regal figure trotted out on a dreadsteed. Symphora took a few breaths to calm herself down. Arranging the meeting with the Lady Emberfall had happened much more quickly than she had anticipated.

      If I can prove my usefulness to her, she can become a powerful ally.

      At this thought, some of the nervousness returned. Symphora could already picture herself killing the human priest who haunted her. She could imagine feasting on her flesh, the greatest meal of her afterlife. But she could also wonder about other possibilities.

      Could not a master of souls, gain some great advantage from this accident? First thing is first, I need to find this priest. And for that, I need Lilithia's help.

      Symphora frowned. This meant revealing more than was prudent. She quickly concealed her frown, approached the mounted figure, and bowed deeply.

      Let the Hunt commence.

ER Emblem Award

This story has been highlighted as a Weekly Featured Story.

--Lilithia 11:09, 20 November 2006 (GMT)

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