Born Again

Born Again

A Story by S.Diane.L.

The immortal realms were vast and breathtaking. Mishakal’s realm in particular was beautiful. The main temple within the center was tall and imposing, made of white marble that was veined with gold throughout the stone. The doors were nearly forty feet tall, thirty feet wide, made of pure gold, glimmering in the bright sunlight.


Angels walked in and out of the building, seeking audience with their Goddess. Each and every Angel was unique in their own way, some had pure white wings, others had silvery wings, and gold was even common. Most Angels stood between six feet to seven feet tall. Each and every single one was beyond beautiful. Not a single one had a flaw.


But, when a Goddess or God created beings to live within their realms, of course, the beings would reflect their Deity.


Mishakal herself stood at seven foot five, with long blonde hair that was so pale, it was almost white. Her vivid golden eyes were ringed with a pale green, giving off a slight divine glow, giving her an ethereal appearance that was both terrifying and comforting. When she spoke, it was in a tone that was both commanding and soft, loving and hard.


Itherael looked down at the green grass and ignored the fear that was trying it’s damnest to crawl up her spine. Mishakal had summoned her, apparently she had a mission that she wished Itherael to carry out.

She looked up at the temple and wanted to run. When their Goddess called them for a mission, you were supposed to report to her without thought. But something inside Itherael held her back. Whatever the mission, she wasn’t going to like it. Not one bit.


With a sense of defeat, she ascended the steps to the temple, and entered slowly. Inside the temple, Angels stood in orderly lines, awaiting their turn to speak to the small Demi-God that was behind the desk.

Itherael by-passed the desk and instead went towards the back of the temple, where Mishakal resided. In her state of fear, she barely paid attention to the beautiful temple around her. But she knew that the temple itself was gorgeous. She had spent so much time within the walls, studying the intricate artwork that dotted the white landscape around.


Beautiful paintings were strewn around, covering the walls tastefully. Pictures of the mortal realm, no doubt.


Itherael came up to Mishakal’s inner door and knocked, steeling her resolve. The door opened of its own accord. She stepped into the massive throne room and swallowed nervously.


“Ah, Itherael,” called Mishakal. “Come in.”


Straightening her wings, Itherael approached her Goddess, trying to look confident. She looked up at Mishakal, “Hello, my Goddess.”


Mishakal shooed a servant away and focused on Itherael. “You can stop being afraid of me, Itherael.”


“I’m not, Goddess. It’s this… mission.”


An unnamed emotion flashed through her eyes, “I haven’t even told you what you are to do and yet you are worried?”


“Yes, I know not what it entails, but I know that I will be heading into the mortal realm. I am utterly frightened.”


The Goddess laughed, the sound sounded rich and soft, almost like the birds that flew around the realm. “The world isn’t that bad, Angel.”


Itherael nodded, unable to speak for how tight her throat felt.


Silence hung in the air, the atmosphere felt tense and tight. Itherael raised her head and studied her Goddess, who was studying her back. Mishakal sat upon her throne, her chin resting in the palm of her hand. “Tell me, Itherael, what have you heard of Barovia, a land in the mortal realm?”


A few images flashed before her eyes, but in truth, Itherael knew little about the realm, other than it was cursed. “Very little, Goddess. I know that it is a cursed land, but not much else.”


A dark emotion settled over Mishakal’s face, her eyes darkening to a dark gold. “Cursed, yes that is a good way to describe it.” She thinned her lips out, “As a Goddess of Life and Knowledge, I feel it is my duty to help the innocents. Barovia has been cursed for centuries, I’ve been at war with myself about what to do with it. And if it weren’t for the fact that I could potentially rip apart the mortal realm by going there, I would have dealt with the problem myself.”


Mishakal straightened in her seat, “so here is your mission.” Itherael tensed. “You are to go into the mortal realm, discover the source of this curse, and destroy it.”


“But…”


The Goddess kept talking, not paying attention to her Angel’s plea. “You are to find a vampire named Count Strahd von Zarovich. And destroy him.”


“If you know who I need to… end, why must I discover the source? Isn’t he the source?”


Mishakal sighed, “No, I’ve watched him die more times than I care to admit, and he has always risen.” She stood, this time with an ancient looking leather bound journal in her hands. She approached Itherael, and when she was in front of her, she held the journal out to her. “Read this before you leave, it will shed some insight into Barovia and Strahd.”


Itherael took the journal, her hands shaking. “Whose was this?”


A strange light appeared in Mishakal’s eyes, “a devout and faithful follower, she died several centuries ago.”

 



The journal lay in front of her, the faded leather looked old and worn. Whomever the owner had been, she had obviously loved it. It was in marvelous condition, considering its age. Then again, Mishakal probably felt a connection and bond with the owner and felt it deserved to be preserved. And who better to keep it in intact than a Goddess.


She had tonight to read and then she would be sent to the mortal realm. The thought of leaving Mishakal’s realm and having to interact with mortals made Itherael scared. Unlike other Angels, she hadn’t been sent to the mortal realm. Ever.


She was young by most standards, most Angels were almost seven, eight hundred years old already. Itherael knew she was the youngest Angel at the age of three hundred. She was also unusual in appearance.


Itherael stood up from the chair and approached her wall mirror. She studied her appearance in the mirror and sighed. She stood at six feet tall, her wings spanned six feet in height and length. The color was odd, most of the time her wings were straight silver, but for some reason, they appeared silver with gold fringes on occasion. When the tips of her wings turned gold, soft sprinkles of gold dust fell from them.

Her hair nearly touched her hips, the color was stark white and felt like silk. Her eyes were a bright gold that gave off a slight glow. She honestly hated it. No other Angel she knew of had eyes like hers.


“Knock, knock.”


Itherael spun around, eyes wide with fear. “Auriel!” she barked out angrily, “what is wrong with you?”


The Angel standing in her doorway was named Auriel, he was one of the oldest Angels to date. He stood at just shy of seven feet tall, his wings a bright gold. His eyes were a bright teal that glinted with mischief. For someone so old, he was very playful. He stuck his tongue out at her, “I wanted to see you before you left.”


“Oh,” she gave a big sigh.


“Come now, no need to sigh. I know I’m a big oaf, but I do have feelings.”


Rolling her eyes, Itherael sat back down by the journal. “I’m sorry, Auriel.” She rubbed her arm nervously, “I’m kind of strung tightly right now.”


He smirked, “no kidding. A little more and you’re going to shatter.” He walked into her room with a deadly swagger that was pure predatory and totally normal considering he had been alive for more than fifteen hundred years. He took a seat and tilted his head at the journal, “ooh, what’cha reading?”


“The journal of a follower and devout acolyte of Mishakal.” She frowned, “I haven’t read it yet, but it has to do with my mission.”


“Oh,” he frowned, “what’s your mission?”


“I’m being sent into Barovia to end the curse.”


Something dark and sinister flashed in his eyes, making her cringe away from Auriel. “What is she thinking?” he ground out between his teeth.


“I’m sorry?”


He shook himself, “nothing. Anyway, I just wanted to check on you and make sure you’ll be alright. There’s nothing to fear about the mortal realm, most mortals are easily dealt with.” He gave a harsh laugh, “You’ll be dealing with a lot of them staring at you.”


Itherael looked down at herself, then back at him with a frown. “Stare at me? Why?”


“Dove, even here, you’re very beautiful.” He shook his head, his shoulders shaking with suppressed laughter. “In the mortal realm, you’ll be far more beautiful, one, because of your looks, and two, because you’re an angel. It isn’t every day that we walk about in their realm, after all.”


She frowned, “that’s not true. Clerics can summon us to help them in their time of need.”


“Yes, but briefly. And we aren’t physically fully there. If a mortal tried to touch us when we are summoned, they go through us. Do you understand?” He smiled, trying to ease her fears. “Not all mortals are terrible, dove.”


Suddenly there was a knock on her door and someone stuck their head inside. An angelic messenger’s helm poked through, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but Auriel you are being summoned by the High Court. I was asked to find you at once.”


“Oh, the pity!” Auriel smiled at Itherael, the smile was at once both comforting and a little discerning. “Do us proud, dove.” And with that, he left.


Itherael shook her head, even as a smile tugged at her lips. Auriel was like a whirlwind. He always had time to tease her, bug her a little, and just when he had her going, he would always leave. He was very much like a brother.


Putting the thoughts of Auriel aside, she picked the leather journal up and opened it.


It started off simply enough, just a few entries about a devout acolyte.

 

Dear Diary,

Pa said I’d be taking my vows at the temple soon. I’m so excited! Ma doesn’t look too happy about it. I mean, I feel bad that I’m leaving Ma and Pa, but I’m the youngest of six children. Surely my brothers could help Ma and Pa more.

They always make excuses as to why they can’t help. Tor said he had to go check the fishing traps Pa and him set out the other day and you know what the weenie did? He was spending time with Sammy, the smith’s daughter! Pa was furious with him, not that I blame Pa. I ended up having to check the traps for Pa.

It’s always like that with them. Sheesh, Jon’s the fifth child born, and he’s already almost four years older than me.

 

Itherael ready the journal slowly, confusion growing. The journal followed a girl named Aysa, it detailed her life from the time she was about sixteen. It wasn’t until halfway through the journal that Itherael froze.

 

Dear Diary,

I was approached by a female who claimed to be Goddess Mishakal. She was extremely tall and beautiful. At first, I was skeptic to accept what she was telling me. I mean, I’ve been in the service of Mishakal for nearly ten years, and I’ve never felt the divine favor of her.

But when she demonstrated her power, I was awed. She knew things about me that only I knew. She knew of my insecurities, she knew that I wanted to serve her, but I was growing weary of serving in the temple.

She offered me a choice. I could still serve her, but I would go into the world as a cleric. She said I had incredible power, she just had to unlock it.

Do I dare to believe her?

 

Something deep and odd resonated within Itherael. She frowned, what was this feeling? She swore she smelled beeswax candles burning, swore she could hear Mishakal speak to her about the very things this girl spoke of. Shaking the feeling off, Itherael focused back on the journal.

She stopped when she came onto an entry that mentioned Strahd.

 

Dear Diary,

I had a close encounter with Strahd today and if not for Fenwick thinking fast, we would have died. He shouted for me to bring my holy symbol up and cast sunlight to ward off vampires. Strahd hissed and quickly retreated.

We’ve learned a lot about Barovia and Strahd, but not as much as I wished we could learn. We know he resides in Castle Ravenloft, but we don’t know what the castle looks like inside.

It’s an ancient castle, it could be large, but it could be small. We’ve heard tales of adventurers and heroes wandering into the castle, determined to end Strahd, but they never make it out alive.

People have whispered that he has been slain, but he rises up again. Is this the curse that everyone speaks of? Is it possible that he can’t be slain?

I’ve prayed and prayed to Mishakal, but she is silent. Where are you, my Goddess? I could use your guidance.

I don’t want to die here. I don’t want this to be the end. I want to see my parents again. I want to bicker with my five brothers. And most of all, I want to escape this prison. We cannot leave Barovia. We are trapped here because of Strahd.

 

Dear Diary,

This may very well be my last entry. I do not know what awaits us within Castle Ravenloft. We may very well be heading towards our deaths, but I am not afraid. I go now with my Goddess’ blessing. I go to right the wrongs that have been done to this land.

And if I shall fall, please whoever finds this journal, please return it to my parents. I love you Ma and Pa, even all my brothers. I’m sorry I left sooner than I should have.

Castle Ravenloft awaits us. And I pray to Mishakal that we end Strahd this day, hopefully freeing Barovia from his influence.

Aysa.

 

With a jerk, Itherael grabbed her head and groaned loudly. Who in the Gods names slammed into her head? It felt like someone had taken a great hammer and crushed her skull in. She closed her eyes as a wave of nausea rolled through her. Scenes played out behind her closed eyelids, making her very aware of the pain.


She watched as six adventurers approached a castle, one she knew of as Castle Ravenloft. How had she known that? But she wasn’t watching as a third person, no, she was seeing through the eyes of Aysa, Mishakal’s chosen Cleric.


“We end Strahd here,” Trevor said with a note of challenge in his voice.


Fenwick shook his head, “this is a suicide mission. We aren’t prepared to fight him.”


Trevor turned and slugged Fenwick with an uppercut, “that kind of thinking is going to get us killed!”


“Enough, you two!” Aysa charged into the middle of them, Fenwick holding his jaw, a thin line of blood running down his chin. The men glared at each other. “Please, don’t let him influence your emotions! We must trust in each other or all is lost!”


Fenwick sighed, his eyes taking on a softer quality as he looked at Aysa. “Sorry, Aysa.”


Trevor snorted, “Well I’m not sorry. Damn it to all hell!”


Aysa gently touched Fenwick’s jaw, her eyes taking on a concerned look. “Here,” she gave him a small bundle of herbs, “take it as you need it. It’ll help with the pain.”


“Thank you, Aysa.”


She suddenly turned on Trevor, a look of anger and pity in her eyes. “You didn’t have to hit him. He was stating the obvious.” He opened his mouth, but she cut him off. “I don’t want to hear it, Trevor. We will do the best we can, to the best of our abilities.”


“You’re only defending him because you spread your legs for him!”


Faster than they could blink, Fenwick tackled Trevor to the ground, and the two went tumbling down the hillside. Curses and swears were heard as was the fighting. Aysa stood at the top of the hill, her entire body trembling. Were they okay?


Two fat tears rolled down her face, this wasn’t supposed to happen. She squeezed her eyes closed when she distinctly heard someone’s fist connect with flesh. She knew it was wrong. She was sworn to Mishakal, she wasn’t supposed to fall in love. But she had, against her will. She had fallen in love with Fenwick, a man so different than her that it was mindboggling.


True, she hadn’t slept with him, she had kept that part of her oath. But she had broken her oath and fallen in love.


Jacob suddenly groaned, making her whip around, and there, standing over the body of Jacob, Reese, Melody, Count Strahd von Zarovich stood. Blood dripped from his hands. The wind ruffled his black hair, giving him a sinister appearance. Once again, Aysa was blind sighted by his beauty. She had seen him many times, and always, she froze in his presence.


Those eyes, dark as obsidian, seemed to pierce her very soul. She quivered in fear as he casually approached her.


“We meet again, Priestess.” His accent gave him an exotic lilt, his deep voice sounded whiskey tinged. He lifted a hand and gently touched her cheek, leaving a thin line of blood. She desperately tried to tell her body to move, run, anything. “I finally have you where I want you.”


“N-n” she gasped as he suddenly struck her neck, his fangs felt hot and searing as they pierced her jugular. He was going to turn her. Tears rolled down her face as she feebly pushed against his chest, not like this! Her life couldn’t end here.


Please, Mishakal, she pleaded, don’t let it end like this.


A voice, smoky and soft sounding, whispered through the air. Your holy symbol.


Aysa fumbled for her symbol and yanked it out. To her horror, it did nothing to the monster that was draining her life force. She squeezed her eyes closed and at once, she knew what to do.


“You will not have me,” she whispered weakly. She clenched her holy symbol in her hand tightly, “I belong to the Goddess Mishakal. I will not become a vampire thrall.”


Light erupted from the symbol, Strahd jerked away from her, hissing. The venom in her veins seared away, but to her dismay, Aysa realized the light was going to take her too. She felt it in her very soul. Had he taken that much blood? She felt feint and knew he had. At least she would be free, she wouldn’t rise as a vampire.


Her only regrets were that she never told Fenwick how she felt. She never freed Barovia from the curse.


“I’m sorry I failed, Mishakal.”

 

Itherael hugged herself as memories slammed into her. No, no… how? Had Mishakal known this would happen? Tears rolled down her face as she remembered her life as a human. She was so wrapped up in her thoughts, that she didn’t hear Auriel return.


She jumped and shouted in alarm when he placed a hand on her shoulder. She looked up into his face, “Auriel?”


He said nothing, instead, he gathered her in his arms, and held her. She buried her face in the crook of his neck and cried.


Sometime later, she pulled away from him, feeling embarrassed. “Why did she bring me back?”


“Because she felt your mission wasn’t over.”


Itherael closed her eyes against the wave of pain, “Have you known all this time?”


“Yes, Itherael, I have.” His voice sounded pained. “I was the one who brought your soul to Mishakal.”


“And Fenwick?” she was almost afraid to hear his answer.


“He went mad with revenge when he and Trevor found the bodies on the hilltop. Your body was gone, he was determined to find you. He was convinced Strahd had taken you.” Auriel lifted a hand and gently wiped her tears away, his eyes took on a sad quality. “He and Trevor stormed the castle and ultimately perished.” With a shrug, Auriel backed away from her. “He wanders across Barovia as a Revenant, no longer remembering his past or his name, except Aysa. His thirst for revenge knows no bounds.”


“I should be at peace,” Itherael cleared her throat, trying to ignore the hollow feeling. “I should not be here.”


Auriel shrugged, “You are unique in that way. Mishakal gave you the power to fight Strahd on even ground. And if you should fail again, he cannot turn you. If you die in the mortal realm, you will turn to dust, and return here. You must put aside your emotions of the past, Itherael. They will only cloud your judgment. Fenwick is gone and you must accept that. Even if he is a Revenant, he will no more recognize you, than you would recognize him.


Accept this mission and free Barovia from Strahd’s influence, for the sake of the innocents caught in this conflict. Do not do this in anger or revenge. We are sworn to uphold the Law for the good of all. You know this, Itherael. Despite hiding your true nature, Mishakal has done right by you. You know this.”


“I know, Auriel.” Itherael clenched her hands into fists, “and despite my returning memories, I am a servant to Mishakal. I will end the Curse of Strahd, even if I have to die again to do so.”

 

 


© 2017 S.Diane.L.



Author's Note

S.Diane.L.
I'm not sure if anyone has played D&D, but the story revolves around "The Curse of Strahd" an adventure in Dungeons and Dragons... we never did finish it because of my husband, the Dungeon Master, scared the living shit out of everyone about Strahd. Anyway, I thought it was an interesting backstory and decided to share it. Thank you for reading!

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Hi! I was looking for something to read and happened across this. I didn't know what to expect, but as soon as I read the opening line I knew I would love this. This could be an entire story and I would still want to read more, I can honestly say that this was very well written and that I enjoyed every minute of it. Now, I may have never played the Dungeons and Dragons game, but you were right the back story does sound very fascinating and I believe that you did it justice. I don't know what it is about this piece but I had to add it to my reading and favorite lists because I knew I would be wanting to read it again in the future. It covered many topics that I would choose to read normally such as; vampires, death, the supernatural in general and love. I know I am rabbiting on a bit now, but words can't properly express how good this is, like you should be really proud of this, it's far better than anything I have ever written - in fact, I am really surprised that this doesn't have more reads. Now for the constructive part, although I must warn you; I am not a professional writer, I will do my best to try and make this comment constructive as to help you since you gave me such helpful comments on my book (which I am really thankful for by the way). Now, this is going to sound really picky, but reading through I really can't find much else that I could talk about (which of course, is a good thing, please don't take that as me being insulting) is that some of the paragraphs don't have a space in-between them - that is all I could really find to mention to you. This has turned into a super long review, but I just wanted to leave a review so you knew how much I loved reading this piece of yours, you should really be very proud of it.

Posted 1 Month Ago


S.Diane.L.

1 Month Ago

Hi yourself! Thank you for the wonderful review!

I actually wrote this a while ago b.. read more

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Added on May 1, 2017
Last Updated on May 1, 2017
Tags: Fantasy, Elves, Humans, Dwarfs, Ratfolks, Angels, Angel, Gods, Goddesses, Magic.

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S.Diane.L.
S.Diane.L.

Canada



About
Why, hello there! Welcome to my page. Here's a bit about me: I've always loved reading and writing, ever since I was ten or eleven years old. My love for writing really took off after I started readi.. more..

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Chapter One Chapter One

A Chapter by S.Diane.L.