They had all looked at me with scorn. Everyone I had ever met was the same…
I knew what they thought when they saw me. Monster. Half breed. Abomination. Unclean. I had been called all that and more.
They hated me, even my mother had looked at me in disgust. The only time anyone had seen any worth in me was mother the day the slave traders came to our village. That was the last day I ever saw my mother or my village.
The rest of my life was spent with a magical collar around my neck that would choke and shock me when I did something wrong. I found out very quickly that being unsellable was a wrong worthy of heavy punishment.
It turned out that no one wanted a dirty little half breed girl as a slave. Even as a labor slave no one would buy me.
But that all changed one day, a woman came for me. She was a seeker and she bought me as soon as she saw me, she told me I was important that my existence mattered more than I could ever know. She taught me to read and write and speak well, she taught me all about the past and Gaia’s history.
She also taught me of the gods.
Gaia was the benevolent mother, she created and governed all things and loved all the races of mankind as her children. Gaia was the true god, and her many aspects were the gods that we truly should worship.
Unfortunately Gaia was no longer alone.
Amon was a usurper. It was an evil and selfish god who sent its angels down to slay countless numbers of all races with no mercy or remorse. Amon had fought against the children of Gaia without discrimination until it discovered that it could turn us against one another. Now it takes perverse delight in having Gaia’s children destroy themselves.
Amon was a false god, more of a devil really.
The children of Gaia and the forces of Amon had been at war for half a century now.
I was told by seeker Olivia that I was born to fulfil a promise, Gaia’s promise. I am a soulbound, my very soul is tied to a champion of the past that even Gaia herself has recognized. I am to serve as their tie to their new life, and they shall help to overcome the forces of Amon.
There were six promised champions, heroes with souls of red, blue, green, gold, black, and white.
That meant that there were five others like me, five other soulbound, but seeker Olivia would not tell me who the others were or where they stayed. She did say that we were kept isolated from each other and the public for our own safety, but that was all she would tell me about the others.
The carriage ride was bumpy and even the padded seats didn’t change that. Seeker Olivia hadn’t spoken since this morning, and even then she had only said a single sentence to me. The seeker had said that it was time, then she had loaded me into this carriage and told the slave to head to the palace.
I wasn’t dumb, I could understand what was happening. It was finally time to fulfil my destiny. I was a soulbound maiden, a channel for one of Gaia’s champions to return to life.
Running my fingers across the collar around my neck I felt a familiar nervousness chill me inside. Will the champion want someone like me? What if they come back to life and look at me with those same eyes… the soulbound maidens and the champions were supposed to be closer than family, closer than lovers even. If someone I share a soul with looked at me with disgust…
Seeker Olivia looked over at me for a moment before facing forward once again and closing her eyes in meditation. For her this was as large a moment as it was for me, seekers were trained from birth by the previous generation of seekers after all. This was a day that she had been waiting for since before I was ever born.
It was a long ride and the carriage had no windows, I sat silently beside seeker Olivia the entire time. My thoughts were a mess of nervous energy, anticipation, and dread. I had learned early in life that it never ended well when I got my hopes up, but this time I couldn’t help myself. When the carriage finally jerked to a stop and the door was opened it was like I had stepped into an entirely new world.
An immense grand palace whose white and gold walls looked like it was straight out of a dream. The gilded castle, it had been built by Leon Rex Avalon the First the founder king of the Avalon Kingdom. Legend had it the king made this palace by calling down lightning and shaping it into the hardest of stones. I stared at the open front doors that looked more like massive gates in awe.
“Come along, we must reach the sacred grounds of the temple as soon as possible.”
Seeker Olivia gently grabbed my arm and pulled me along behind her.
Finally coming out of my daze I realized what was happening and followed along behind my guardian. As we walked the palace’s grounds and corridors I felt an incredible wonder dawn inside me, everything was so clean and neat. The liabrary where seeker Olivia and I had stayed these last few years had been neat too, but that place couldn’t nearly compare with the splendor of the gilded castle. Servants would bow as we passed them, though judging by the look in their eyes they only did so because there was a seeker passing them not out of any deference to me. It was fine they were already plenty polite enough by not calling me names or insulting me openly.
I felt like I had stepped into some sort of fairytale, a story where the monster girl was taken to a palace and became a princess. I couldn’t ever hope to count the number of times I gasped in the time it took us to reach the temple of Gaia and the three aspects.
Seeing the temple snapped me out of my daze quickly enough, it was surrounded by guards from every race. Elven braves stood side by side by demon reapers and human knights, beastkin berserkers were chatting with dwarven battlesworn. It was a sight that would’ve been impossible a hundred years ago from what I’ve read.
Seeker Olivia strode up to a human in golden robes who was standing in front of the closed door to the temple.
“Seeker of Fate Olivia Goodlin, I come bearing a soulbound maiden.”
The man in the hooded gold robes stood aside and gestured towards the doors.
“Welcome seeker, welcome maiden. The others already await destiny inside.”
I couldn’t tell because of the hood concealing his face but the robed man sounded old, very old.
“Thank you elder, Gaia bless.”
“Gaia bless, seeker.”
With a nod Seeker Olivia pushed open the doors and gently pulled me inside. As the heavy doors shut behind us I felt my jaw drop. There was a group of people who turned to look back at us from within the temple, but what took my breath away was the winged woman sitting on the main alter.
I had read discriptions in books but this was my first time seeing an angel.
“I see, the children have gathered all the maidens of promise.”
The words were spoken with gentle kindness and warmth. As I stared at the golden winged woman garbed loosely in cloth I couldn’t suppress my nervousness. Something as unclean as me was standing so close to something so pure, I felt worse than unworthy, I felt disgusted of myself just for being in the angel’s presence.
“I am the messenger of the mother that was sent to oversee the completion of the children and the mother’s promise. As all the maidens of promise have gathered it is time for them to call on the champions of ages past.”
The seekers all kneeled in silence with their heads bowed in utter devotion, even Olivia was like that. No one had told me about calling on the champion I was bound with, I didn’t even know who I was supposed to call for.
“Each one of you maidens hold a tie, an unshakeable link to the champion you share a soul with. Look deep within your heart, search each corner of its depths, and then call for the one you find there. They will come for you…”
Look into my heart? How? I closed my eyes and tried to do as the angel commanded, but I didn’t see anything. Just as I thought I might have heard or maybe felt something a voice broke my concentration.
Opening my eyes I saw a beautiful older girl with long blonde hair, there was golden light shining out from her body as she began to speak louder and with more confidence.
“…I know you. You are my honorable ancestor, the great ruler of gold and storm. You are Leon Rex Avalon, the gold soul!”
There was a flash of golden radiance that nearly blinded me as the last word was spoken. When I could see clearly again there was a young man with straight bright blonde hair and shinning golden plate armor that looked majestic and unbreakable. At his hip hung a sheathed sword and at his back there was a large shield.
I held my breath he was the very picture of the hero king Leon Avalon in his prime, I had seen enough portraits of the man in the library to recognize him at any point in his life.
Before my shock could fade I caught a faint whisper from beside me.
“…You are Lalin Lalon Lales, the green soul!”
The elven girl beside me soon too began to give off green brilliance that was too bright to look at, and when the light faded away there was an elegant elven woman standing calmly in front of her that I recognized from elven myth. It was the founder of the sacred laws and guardian of the Etherwood, the first elven queen Lalin Lalon Lales.
“Drom Redbeard, the red soul!”
The dwarf girl who looked even younger than I was the next to call out and in a flash of red the legendary dwarven arc smith and hero stood before her with his prided hammer Mountain’s Blow resting easily on his shoulder.
“Silla, the white soul.”
The older beastkin girl spoke calmly as the white flash shone. Soon beside her stood the first female beastking and the greatest shaman of all the tribes of the beastkin, the great white wolf Silla.
There was only one person left besides me, looking over at the demoness woman she was already emitting a blinding blue light. As the light faded away I saw a proud and aloof looking demoness in a caster’s robes with blue hair and ice blue eyes that were made all the more intense by a pair of glasses.
Rayna Lowe… The founder of the adventurer guild… I couldn’t even think, I was surrounded by figures of legend and myth. Truly they are worthy of being called champions of the past…
My daze didn’t last long soon I felt eyes turn to me, at first I felt the usual hate and disgust, but I also sensed confusion from the gazes on me. My heart froze, I wasn’t just some bystander here after all. I was supposed to call forth a champion as well, but I hadn’t yet. I began to panic and shut my eyes tightly trying to search my heart as the angel had said, but before I could feel anything I heard it. I heard it even if it was just the faintest of whispers.
“Why is a freak a soulbound maiden?”
I shut my eyes tighter and tried not to let it bother me. I had hear much worse in my life, It shouldn’t bother me so much to be called something like freak.
“Is that a slave collar? A slave was a maiden?”
I shivered and fought down the urge to touch my collar out of shame. I just need to ignore them, I’m a soulbound maiden too. I have every right to be here, I have a champion who will come when I call…
“Maybe… Maybe she has no one to call?”
It was the pity in the last voice that hurt the most, but the words themselves touched on my greatest fear. Ever since seeker Olivia found me and told me of my destiny I had held a feint hope, the hope that maybe their was someone who could accept me. Someone who would look at me and wouldn’t see a monster or an abomination, someone who wouldn’t mind my strange leathery whip like tail or the partial mana lines on my back and forehead. Someone who could love me.
“It only makes sense, the maidens were said to reflect the race of their champion. What champion would be some filthy half breed? Olivia must have made a mistake…”
I felt my throat hitch at the words of one of the seekers behind me. It was too much, I didn’t want this anymore. Right before I could open my eyes I felt a hand cup my cheek gently.
“Worry not child, you are a true maiden. The mother herself acknowledges this as true, it’s just that you have not searched your entire heart for the answer yet. You fear to, you feel that if none could accept you if they knew of what dwelt in the depths of your heart. Fear not child, for your soul is the same as your champion’s. The core of both your very existences is the same, you are merely the other side of the coin.”
The angel spoke in the same gentle and caring tone as before, there was not a hint of disgust in her voice. Taking deep breaths I tried to calm down, when I stopped shivering and no longer felt on the verge of tears I relaxed my shut eyes. It was there I could feel it, but it was feint. I had to go deeper to reach the name. I flinched as my deepest inner feelings suddenly rose to the surface of my heart.
I hated them, I hated them so much. Why did they always look at me with those eyes, why did they call me such things, why did no one ever try to understand? I wanted them to suffer what I had, no I wanted them to suffer worse. I wanted them to hurt twice as much as their gazes and words had hurt me. I hated them all so much, but most of all I hated myself. I was so lonely, and a part of me deep down blames the fact no one would give me the love and affection I so desperately craved on myself. After all I was a freak, an abomination. I was the one that was wrong, because I was always the one who was wrong. It’s my fault in the end so what is the point of pushing my hate and anger outward?
I saw it, the moment I finally realized the truth about the reality I lived.
I was in a cage reaching out towards my mother as a strange man handed her a few copper coins. I called out to her, begged her, promised I would be a good girl now, that I would chop off the tail and always keep my hair down so she didn’t need to the dirty lines on my head. Mother had looked at me with the all too familiar disgust and resentment in her eyes, she slapped away my hands and spit into my face. I kept calling out to her even after she turned and started walking away, even as the cage on the back of the cart left the village, even as my new owners beat me. It was only when the collar was on and I got my first taste of the agony lightning magic could cause did I stop. It was the moment I realized I had never had a family, the woman who birthed me merely reluctantly shared her house with me.
I felt the tear fall as my lips began to move around the familiar but foreign words.
“We are of one sole. As I know myself I know you. You are the evolutionist, he who reigns over all beasts. You are Evo Nightson, the black soul.”
I opened my eyes to find myself facing a handsome young man with short wavy hair the color of a moonless night and eyes that were a piercing grey. He wore a hooded fur lined coat over a simple black shirt and pants, at his waist a sheathed dagger stuck out. Evo Nightson, it was a name I recognized well from the history books I had read and a name that was feared by any sane human three hundred years ago. Lord of Harth, the founder and dread commander of the Night Company mercenary group, dragonslayer, butcher of the Mistlands, king of monsters, and prince consort to the demon queen.
It wasn’t only contested if he was human, it was debated if he was actual a devil or maybe a harbinger of Amon.
Now it makes sense why someone like me is a soulbound maiden… After all what better match for a monster than a monster…