I had never really fit in with them. They were a ragged bunch, all obsessed with battle. Smashing skulls, breaking shields, shooting people, stealing, and everything bad or immoral you can possibly imagine were commonday occurances here. I would never understand the bunch of them. They called themselves Fury.
You see, I wasn’t from this world. I came to Ember through a portal that mysteriously appeared in my world one day. Well… I say I came here, but in reality I was more sucked into the portal. I’ve made it my mission to find out why I was brought here, and more importantly, how I can get back to my world. I popped up at Fury headquarters when I arrived at this world, so I had decided to join them.
But enough of my past for now, because what’s important is the present. And let me tell you, it’s not looking good. I have decided to leave Fury and have no idea where to go from here. I don’t know what to do now.
I left the alliance earlier today because of the war. The prank war. Fury loves their pranks. It’s a tradition to prank one another. Now I’ll admit, I’m not against pranking one another. In fact, I had pulled off some pretty good ones on the others in the past. There was the time I threw the live lobster into the shower with Ginger Beard… And the time when I had rigged Grizzled Hunter’s gun to shoot out confetti… Ah but I’m getting sidetracked now.
The important thing is that they had crossed the line this time. I had never thought that they would ever try to kill me…
It happened sometime earlier tonight. Everyone teamed up to pull this prank on me. Even Cogmaster, who rarely joins in on the prank war, provided his services to help pull this prank off. They had been planning this prank for quite some time you see. Mystic Punk had been gathering stolen magic while Willow Druid and Mass Destruction began to stabalize it. Then with the stabalized magic, Cogmaster and Elder Mohawk began to craft the costumes. The Hollow costumes.
The night they had all been waiting for finally arrived. The costumes were done. Everyone tried them on and they were perfect. Exact replicas of what the Hollow versions of themselves looked like.
They struck later that night, right when I was almost about to fall asleep. I saw a shadowy figure appear and screamed at the top of my lungs. The figure rushed me with his dual axes flailing around as he swung at me. The axe embedded itself into the post of my bed, barely missing my head.
I ran out of the room only to find more shadowy figures of my “friends.” I ran past them into the grand hall and slammed the doors behind me. I grabbed a nearby chair to barricade the door and started to run and hide, but I was too late. A Hollow version of Mass Destruction blew open the door ripping it to shreds.
It was at this point that I realized these shadowy figures were my friends, taken by the Hollow. I was the only one who remained. They began to surround me and I knew it was over. I was done for. But then my clothes began to get a little wet… and the lights flashed on. The figures around me were all laughing so hard tears were coming to their eyes. I looked down to see the floor covered in a yellow liquid and realized in horror that I had peed myself. Not only had they scared me witless, but they had created the ultimate nickname for me now… PP.
So yeah, maybe I was exaggerating earlier when I said that they had tried to kill me. I thought I was going to be killed, that’s for sure. But the shame brought upon me for peeing myself combined with the cruel laughs from my alliance members made my decision for me. I left Fury.
I was now without an alliance. I didn’t know my purpose or why I was even in this world to begin with! So I began to walk down the road towards the nearest town, hoping to just go with the flow and survive as I went.
As I finally arrived in town I heard an exotic voice. I turn around to see Swashbuckler emerge from the shadows and whisper, “So you left Fury huh… How about joining me in Finesse?”
I had seen this mysterious man before of course. He always seemed to be melting into the shadows, almost teleporting around. Could he be… using portals perhaps? No… surely not… I have to admit though, I was shocked. I had just left Fury and within the hour had an offer to join another alliance!
I looked the mysterious figure known as Swashbuckler straight in the eyes and said, “You know it!” This would be my new start. A new beginning. A new path to find my purpose in this world!
Without saying another word Swashbuckler nodded his head in approval and made a motion to follow him into the alleyway. We made our way throughout what seemed to be a maze of buildings all in various states of disrepair until we reached a dead end with a giant “9 ¾” painted in blue on it.
But this is the part I’ll never forget as long as I live. Without the slightest ounce of hesitation he ran straight through the wall. I was dumbfounded, just standing in place staring at a wall. After a few minutes Swashbuckler popped his head back out of the wall and said, “You coming or what?”
Deciding to trust him, I ran towards the wall… and ended up in a giant pavilion full of excitement and joy. I saw a few familiar faces around. War Blade and Light Warden, both of whom were quite good friends of mine despite our previous alliance rivalry, were sparring with each other in a corner full of training equipment. In the opposite corner Spellbinder was casting spells on all of the mismatched objects around her attempting to create a glorious work of art.
But there were a few faces I’d never seen before. A woman was… well… wandering around aimlessly, or so it seemed. There was also a fox looking creature sound asleep on a pile of mattresses.
After letting me take in all my surroundings, Swashbuckler finally said, “It’s not much, but it’s home. That wall we just passed through is nothing more than an illusion placed by Spellbinder. This is our headquarters, so we try to keep it well hidden from the other alliances.”
“I love it!” I said. “It might not be as grand as the headquarters of Fury was, but it seems to be a much more friendly and open environment here.”
It took some time for me to get accustomed to the Finesse headquarters, but it was my true home. I gradually became great friends with all my fellow ladies, and many of the others were quite friendly to me also. The other ladies would often tease me about just how friendly Swashbuckler was.
About a month or so after I had joined Finesse, Swashbuckler finally came up to me and said we needed to talk. Not now, but soon. And it had to be in private.
I went with him to a shady corner of the pavilion and asked, “What do you want to talk about?”
He replied, “Do you know why you are here?”
“Finesse?” I asked.
“No, the world of Ember.”
“No,” I replied, “but I’ve made it my purpose to find out why I was called here and just how I am supposed to get back to my homeland… People always think I’m able to summon portals at will due to my name, but in reality I’m only able to effect gravity and energy.”
He slowly lifted his head and looked at me with a sad look on his face. “Oh… well this is going to be an interesting ride for you then. You might want to hold on to me.”
I grabbed on to him and felt a weird sensation wash over me. I finally looked up to see we were at the entrance of town, right inside of a tree’s shadow.
And of course, the blasted portal that took us there closing right before my eyes. A portal that looked surprisingly similar to the one that brought me to this world.
I was furious. A small ball of gravitational energy began to form in my hand, molded by my rage toward what had just occurred. A ball that, if it were to hit anyone, would obliterate them in mere seconds. No amount of portals would save this man from my fury now.
Before I was able to send the ball of energy at him, someone embraced me and pulled me into a hug from behind. I felt a cool breeze brush against my skin. It was rather… calming. Forgetting my rage entirely I turned around to find Nightstalker and Spell Binder. As I found out later, Spell Binder had cast a calming spell upon me while Nightstalker had embraced me to prevent me from firing the ball of energy at Swashbuckler.
Once the situation had deescalated, we gathered around the tree and Swashbuckler began his story. “I wasn’t born with this cursed power.” He said. “Nor did I ever want it. All I ever wanted in life was to be happy and free to live it how I chose, not to be bound by the shackles of fate. You see, I wasn’t always a world-class duellist. I used to be an adventurer who explored all this world had to offer.”
“But the world of Ember did not offer much. I craved for more, I had a burning desire to adventure, and it could never be satisfied by this world alone. So I set out to find the Hollow’s End. Most people considered the Hollow’s End to be nothing more than a myth. ‘It is just a legend!’ they would always tell me. But after many years of searching I finally found it.”
“The legends always described the Hollow’s End as a magical weapon of unimaginable power. ‘It is a giant two handed sword!’ Some would declare. Others would say, ‘It is a bow imbued with the power of the Ember himself!’ But they were all wrong.”
“No, the Hollow’s End wasn’t a sword or a bow. It was a book. A book one was only able to read when covered in shadows and darkness. And I read the entire thing.”
“I didn’t feel any different though. In fact, I felt worse than usual now that the adrenaline of finding the Hollow’s End was wearing off. The bruises and scrapes I got from trekking through the jungle to get to this blasted temple in the first place we’re beginning to hurt quite bad. So I decided to leave the Hollow’s End and leave for my home. After all, I had no use for a book!”
“When I finally got back to the entrance of the temple though, I finally noticed it. All my scrapes and bruises were covered in a protective layer of shadow. I was utterly confused and amazed at the same time. As I began to travel back to my home I began to notice more and more oddities. It seemed almost as if the shadows were alive.”
“Over time I gradually began to realize the full extent of what that book did to me. I had extraordinary healing powers. I could hide by molding the shadows to cover me. But the one I found most useful was the ability to create a portal from shadow to shadow.”
“I finally had a way to explore more than what this world of Ember had to give me. I told Storm Wizard about my adventure and together we put ourselves into solitude within his tower to experiment with my powers.”
“After a year or so of experimenting Storm Wizard and I decided to attempt to create a portal to another world. The world of Nil. You see, long ago there were four alliances that made Ember their home: Fury, Focus, Finesse, and Faithless. The Faithless were a group of people that had no particular advantage over any alliance, but at the same time, we had no advantage over them. They were a sort of neutral aspect. And that made them dangerous.”
“The threes alliances decided to team up to expel the Faithless into a world of horrors, a world where they would not be able to return. In order to do this, they crafted the Hollow’s End. With it, they were successful in expelling the Faithless into Nil.”
“But the elders of the alliances never thought that someone would be able to find Hollow’s End again. It was something they had not accounted for because it had been locked behind the strongest of barriers and traps. When it had banished the Faithless into Nil, it had absorbed an absurd amount of darkness into itself. With my rediscovery of the Hollow’s End, I had unleashed that darkness into the world.”
“The only way we thought we could stop it was to bring back the Faithless. People don’t age in the Nil, and therefore the Faithless heroes of old would still be there. It was our only hope to solve the problem I had inadvertently caused. So we prepared the ritual and opened the portal to Nil.”
“Except something went wrong. The portal did not appear in Nil. It appeared in your world. We had no idea other worlds besides Ember and Nil even existed, but you’re living proof that they do!”
“Unfortunately, we were unable to control the portal for very long. It went haywire and began to suck in anything it could from your world, and we were barely able to close it before it became something much worse. We also lost control of the end-portal, hence why you appeared in Fury’s headquarters when you arrived in Ember.”
“I’m unable to describe my sorrow and guilt for what I have done to you Portal Princess. Nor do I know immediately how to send you back to your world. But what I do know is we need your help to fight this darkness that is threatening our world.”
He looked at me with a fire in his eyes and said, “Will you help us defend this world?”
And without hesitation I looked at his eyes full of determination and replied, “Of course! I am a Faithless after all. ”
Author’s Note: Thank you all so much for your support throughout this contest! This was my first time writing a story this in-depth and I’ve received wonderful feedback and love so far. You’ve all encouraged me to write more in the future, and have put confidence in me. Thank you very much.