Prologue: Shadows Upon Astria

17 October 2021

Astria.

A world contained in a parallel universe surrounded by similar celestial sights to that of earth. You wouldn't have known it existed or even had the capacity to dream of the magic that exists on this wondrous planet.

Similarly to Earth, you can find a vast abundance of races and creatures who settle in fantastical lands — with sights igniting the explorer within. What exists are ancient structures, magical relics and mysteries that hold secrets to this world. Some of these mysteries could hold the key to threatening Astria depending on the hands, or paws, it falls into.

Unlike Earth, those who are seen as ‘Gods’ live among the creatures of this world. Some have not been seen in millennia and have been lost in myth. Some are seen but have learned the ways of Astria’s citizens so you still wouldn’t know they existed. What remains are stories and physical remnants of what the Gods left behind.

The Gods were considered to be the most powerful beings on Astria, though that’s just theory based on the remaining knowledge of old. What’s important is that these citizens, named Anima, hold special magic of their own. The ability to project the power of their souls. Those with the power of Astral Projection have come to be known as Astra Anima.

Anima can be divided into 6 core races:

Demon, Felidae, Floria, Marine, Undead and Slime

As with any sentient race, there are always struggles, conflict, and the many emotions that affect us the most. In some places, you’ll find a whole mix of Anima, but in others, they may be more secluded — keeping to their own traditions and way of life.

Anima never used to have the power of Astral Projection, however. Let’s step into the past for but a brief moment…

Unknown to the Anima, and even to the powerful Gods, was a growing threat of unknown origin. Only Atlas, one of the more peaceful Gods was aware that something was amiss on Astria. Being a God that prides himself on the knowledge of Astria’s geography, he became aware of various oddities across the land. From random wilted flowers to darkened patches of stone — even disturbances in dungeons which contain traces of ancient civilisations, untouched for thousands of years.

He knew though. Not what it was, but what it was after. It also wasn’t that difficult to sense something that didn’t belong.

The souls of Anima are powerful, but not something that can be forcibly taken. What they can do is evolve, change and fade depending on the actions and growth of the body. Atlas was noticing subtle changes amongst Anima that had their souls infected. Personality changes, breaking routines and somewhat weaker emotional control. Luckily Atlas was able to absorb this purplish, infectious essence into himself. It seemed like he was able to easily disperse this outside of his body, but he found it to be safer to find somewhere hidden and find a way to fully destroy it.

As he travelled around the world cleansing Anima and attempting to track these entities, he realised that the more he did it, the more of them he could sense around him.

He was also getting weaker.

Absorbing so many essences was beginning to take a toll on how much power he had accessible to him. His actions seemed to be a waste of time too since the number was only increasing. His next decision was one that he had been hoping not to resort to, but there didn’t seem to be a choice — Astria was his home too.

To ensure that they would continue to follow, he constantly let out a steady flow of his power as to leave a trail to follow and headed towards a secret place only known to very few. The more he got closer to this place, the heavier the number of entities he was sensing around him became. Hundreds of small purple clouds, almost looking like they were forming into bigger entities. At this stage though, it was too dark to make out the shapes.

He followed a path downwards and reached the inside of this place. This was a special chamber of his that was used to monitor the world. It also had another purpose…

Standing in the centre, he released all of the essences he had absorbed up until now. As the rest flowed in from outside, it all began to combine and take shape. At the same time, Atlas closed his eyes and focused his mind towards a place a bit higher up.

“You do understand that what you’re asking for is too much, Atlas?”

He hesitated slightly but knew that time was not currently a luxury he had to spare.

“Use my soul as the catalyst. It’s time for the next generation to take control… but they’ll need time to grow.”

After a moments pause, the saddened voice replied. “I hope you make it through this, my Son…”

Atlas opened his eyes to see a massive purple object floating towards him. From the second he had, it filled the shape of a gigantic hand.

He screamed out and clapped his hands together. An immense wave of power shot out, encompassing the place surrounding Atlas and the hand. Sigils began to light upon the ground and pillars. The hand was disturbed, as it sensed this energy all around it. It was at this moment that Atlas released a special kind of energy, and it formed a small ball above his head. Some of the purple clouds formed together into a sphere, which started to rotate. Two big white eyes with pitch-black pupils looked around towards Atlas, then up at the ball of energy above him. A massive horrifying smile spread on its face, and the hand shot forward in an attempt to seize this power that was rising up.

Little did it know, it was already too late. The hand started to slow the closer it got to the ball of energy, and a light cracking could be heard, echoing around the chamber. The giant purple form was starting to turn into stone — the rough grey creeping up along its body and arm. It struggled tremendously, but the stone managed to cover the entire hand just as it was about to touch it with its finger. As the stone crept up to its face its smile kept shape, but its eyes moved down towards Atlas, with its pupils increasing in size. The look of a creature that has been stolen of the opportunity to eat its fill.

With the immediate threat dealt with, Atlas looked upwards, breathing heavily as he saw his last hope disappear into a wide hole in the ceiling.

He looked back down, barely struggling to keep his consciousness, and stared at the creature. He smiled for this small victory, but there was still a sense of worry that the world would have its challenges until the time came where the new generation would be able to protect Astria.

The light cracking could be heard once again as Atlas regained his focus. He stood up straight and held his hands together, similarly to a praying position. He kept firm and closed his eyes. The darkness began to wash over him as he hoped that the world would be safe if he ever did open his eyes once again.

— — — — — — — —

Above the ground where the chamber was, there stood a small tree. No leaves or vibrant colour would make you think it was dead, but only a few creatures grazing near the plains would get the chance to appreciate this grand sight. The tree began to expand with brilliant green leaves and lively barky brown branches spreading in all directions. A light glow appeared at the bottom of the trunk and began to work its way upwards, travelling along the branches till they reached the tip. Small balls of light appeared from the tips and began to move around like little mischievous fairies. Each of them moved around the tree for a while as if searching for something and then shot off into different directions. Some would travel together, while others would be more lonesome in their choice of direction. Thousands of little lights could be seen flying away from the tree until the tree eventually lost its glow, yet it was thankful for the energy it was given to flourish once again.

Where did these tiny balls of energy go you might ask? Anima all over the world who were in their early stages of pregnancy would be visited by them, and the lights would enter the womb to fuse with the developing soul of the unborn. You may have also noticed that the constellations in the sky were much brighter that night, but you wouldn’t have known why.

— — — — — — — —

The pathway to the chamber was dark, and the glowing of the tree had already passed. A wandering predatorial animal came by to check a small noise that it heard around this area. It peered down the dark path and crept up close.

From a distance more of these creatures could be seen making their way towards the one currently investigating. The last thing they saw however was their friend get pulled into the darkness. Not even time to yelp out.