New project! Granted, no one will read this because it's a Dark Souls fic, but this has been floating in my head for a while now. The basic premise is that this fic will be a series of 6-7 unconnected (but still in the same continuity), standalone short fics from the perspective of various characters in the game at various points in time. Not all of them will follow this format, or be in first person. I had a lot of fun writing this chapter and exploring a bit of what exactly what happened in this event. This story will probably stay about this dark through the whole story, excluding a portion of Priscilla's chapter. It's...not a happy fic, but considering the source material, that's to be expected.
This first story takes place 2 years before Gwyn throws himself into the Kiln of the First Flame, a thousand years before the game takes place, and a few months after the creation of the Bed of Chaos. At this point, it does not yet have that name, which is why Quelana never say it.
EDIT 4/14/12: The Ceaseless Discharge was confirmed to be a brother of the sisters, so that detail had to be changed. However, as Quelana never actually mentions him in the game when talking about how her family was turned into demons, I'm extrapolating that she wasn't very close to him and possible actively disliked him.
Two Years Before Gwyn Links the First Flame (2 B.L.)
You may have heard that not too long ago, an attempt was made to reverse the slide back to the Time Before Time, when Everlasting Dragons stood unmoving on ashen ground, when and there was no light or sound. In this effort, the Witch of Izalith, bearer of a Lord Soul, attempted to sacrifice her own Soul to create a new First Flame should the first burn out. Using the embers of the First Flame granted to Izalith, one of a few dozen placed around Lordran by Lord Gwyn that were still linked to the First, she tried to sacrifice herself for the survival of the world.
Well, she did destroy herself, but what she made was not our salvation, but a monster more frightening than the most powerful of the Everlasting- she was transformed into the mother of all demons, all of her daughters but one killed or distorted into the first of her demonic spawn. The mother of demons cannot be destroyed by any means we know- humans are warped into demons in its presence, and the Gods cannot touch it. For, you see, the Bed kept the Witch of Izalith's Lord Soul. None whose power comes from the Flame can harm it- not the Lord's Shield Artorias, with his great strength and holy power and unbreakable will, nor Dragon Slayer Ornstein, with his speed and cunning and lighting, could harm the beast the Witch has become. Not even the Great Lords Nito or Gwyn could harm the Bed, nor it them. Only those of the Soul Bearer's blood, or one who possesses the Dark Soul, the antithesis to the Lord Souls, could kill it, and he has not been seen since the Dragons were vanquished so many millennia ago.
How do I know this, you ask? I shall tell you, child. I know that you are not a child, though you seem as young as one to me. Younger, in fact; years separate you from childhood; I have not been considered one for many millennia. I know this because I was a witness to this calamity. I am Quelana of Izalith, last of the Daughters of Chaos, and sole survivor from the cataclysm that claimed my family, my home, and my people. Oh, hush, I have not been transformed into a monster. Would I be speaking to you if I had? I escaped from the horror that befell my city. I am not a danger to you. Would you still like to hear how Izalith has become a volcanic hell, beyond the barest of details and the wildest rumors, true though some may be? Then I shall tell you. As you know, the First Flame is starting to wane, and we both know what shall happen if this occurs. That is the reason Izalith burns and I am sitting with you in this swamp- we were conducting a ritual to duplicate the First Flame.
Yes, I know it was stupid. I have seen that fact firsthand. Now hold your damn tongue, you foolish, insensitive simpleton, or I shall not tell you any more and take your tongue as penance. Yes, I accept your apology. Now, do not interrupt me again, if you intend to do so by insulting my family and their memories.
We were conducting the ritual in the Amphitheater, for safety- so if something went wrong, we could minimize the damage to Izalith and its people. The thought is so bitter on my tongue that I nearly swallowed it before it left my lips. We were arraigned in a line opposite my mother, with the embers of the First between us. My eldest sister, Quellas, and I (all of my sisters shared the first syllable of our names, as was the fashion in my mother's and Lord Gwyn's generation, although she did not name us after herself as the Lord of Sunlight did) were on the ends, as I had the finest control of my flames and she was the most powerful of the daughters. We were the directors for our mother's power, returning any stray flames she was too occupied to control, while my other sisters amplified and anchored her power. It was the same as when we burned the realm of the Dragons all those eons ago, only now we looked upon the face of our mother instead of walking beside her as she set flames to the Dragons so hot that it melted their scales. If I had known it would be the last I would see my mother's face...
At first, the ceremony went as planned, with only a few minor setbacks we soon overcome. I shall never know what went wrong. Perhaps one of us guided a flame incorrectly; perhaps one of my sisters did not put enough power into her anchoring, or too much. Perhaps it was destined to fail from the start, and no one did anything wrong but undertaking the ritual in the first place. We were nearing the end of the process. My mother had removed her Soul-oh, do not look at me so, the Lord Souls are not the true, original souls of their bearers- except for Gravelord Nito- and thus they can be removed and transferred to others. This was the intent of the ritual, need I remind you?
I apologize. That was rude of me. I have not quite recovered from this ordeal. I suspect I might never will. As my mother was pushing her Soul into the embers, there was a bit of resistance, which translated into…discomfort for us. I believe Quellent cried out at this point- she was in the center of the line and thus, besides our mother, the most directly exposed to what was happening.
As soon as my mother's Soul touched the Ember, however, the Ember erupted into a great fireball. It was not an explosion, just an expanding sphere of flame- I have never seen anything like it, and hope to never again.
Before I continue, in addition to allowing me to gather my strength to describe what happens next, I must clear up a possible misconception. The Flames of Chaos, before these…recent events, was not an evil force. Chaos, by itself, is neither evil nor good- it just is. It is not like the Miracles, which are dependent on your Faith and the strength of your conviction in what you are using it for is right- it was as strong as the will you put into the flame. One can wield it for good, or evil- it cares not a whit what you do with it, despite what Allfather Lloyd says- his head is too far up his ass to really under-
Oh, don't give me that. That is very mild compared to some of what my mother said to his face on many occasions, and what the common folk said about him on the streets in Izalith. Even Lord Gwyn has little love for his uncle; the Bearer of the White Halo is just far too rigid and set in his ways, to put it politely. In any case, despite my shortness of stature, I am a God myself, though obviously not on his level of ability. I can hardly blaspheme against my own kind, can I? No, you "suppose not." May I continue?
Before, the Flame of Chaos held no more emotion than a sword or one of Seath's sorceries. This flame, however… just in its presence, one could feel intense hatred for everything besides itself, for the life of my mother and my sisters and myself, and a hunger. Perhaps hunger is not the right word. "Hunger" implies that it was a starving animal or person, that it would stop its feeding once satiated. No, this was more like a drain in the bottom of a bathtub, mindlessly sucking the water until not a drop is left, a pull that can never be satiated- you can keep refilling a tub until you have drained the equivalent of Ash Lake, and it will never stop draining until you cease refilling it.
My mother was right next to the Flame when it was warped into this vile mockery of itself; Quellant was not much farther away. They suffered the most powerful flames of the conflagration. Quellas and I were far enough away that we managed to leap outside the range of the flames, but what we saw…what we saw…
Forgive me. I cannot continue now. Please come back tomorrow, at the same time. Yes, I will be quite all right. I have this stone at my back, and I will not be seen by the wildlife of this swamp- if I am, I can be quite persuasive in convincing them that I am a higher predator. Leave me be for tonight.
You have returned. I should be quite able to finish my tale. It is forever seared in my memory like a brand; I fear it shall never fade. As soon as the flames touched my sisters and mother, they began to…change. Transform. Quelaag and Quelaan collapsed to the ground, screaming, clutching each other in their agony. Their clothes and catalysts were incinerated in the flames, but their hair and skin remained untouched. Above the waist, they were not altered- not that I could see- but their legs… they ballooned out absurdly, turning black as pitch as they did so. Even as they fused together and continued to grow, I could see legs and hair sprouting out…out of…out of the thing sprouting from their bodies, even as eyes and jaws formed on the spiders they were becoming. But they were not the worst.
Quelluko and Quelesa exploded into light. I could not look at them to confirm their fates; I do not know what they have become.
Quellas tried to go to my sisters who were rapidly turning into monstrous spiders, but as she reached out her catalyst to Quelaag to drag them out, she got too close, and a flame shot out like a crossbow bolt into her forehead, but did not exit the other side. She collapsed, and I did not see her rise again.
Quellent was the closest of us besides our mother, but was not in the eye of the inferno. She caught the brunt of the flames. It overwhelmed her; instead of changing her, she...just exploded into ash, her robes and catalyst falling where she stood, both completely unharmed.
But my mother… I saw my mother's skin turn to wood before my eyes, her limbs stretching to impossible lengths as she tried to crawl away. She managed to make it to a body length from the edge of the flame before her legs split into roots and buried themselves in the stone floor. I walked up to my mother, as close as I dared to the flames that I knew might reach out and strike me down like they did my eldest, more powerful sister.
What happened next, I will see in my nightmares and every time I close my eyes, even if everything else fades into the mists of age. My mother looked at me, and said, even as her tongue turned to bark…
Quelana started; seeing her mother speak in her own voiced, labored as it was, was somehow just as shocking as seeing her and her sisters transforming into demons before her eyes.
"Qeul-ana…daughter…please…you must kill me before I change any further…"
Quelana's eyes filled with tears. She had been prepared that her mother might not make it though the ritual, but had never suspected this.
"No, I can't! We can fix this! After you, I'm the greatest inventor of Flame magics who everlivedI'llfindawaytoreverseitIswear-"
The Witch of Izalith gave a great gasping wheeze, which silenced her daughter's growing panic like a slap.
"No…it's too late..you must kill me...before…I can already feel the new demons growing..inside...take...my Lord Soul…" She raised a hand, now only vaguely recognizable as such, which held a small, glowing flame. Her hand just reached outside the barrier of tainted flame, which jumped at the Soul and then away again, like wolves nipping at an elk. "Please, Quelana…kill me…then take the Soul…quickly!…"
The Catalysts of the Daughters were not made to be used directly as a weapon, but they were extraordinarily tall and made of hardened, enchanted wood, and thus made passable spears in an emergency. Quelana held the catalyst above her head like a javelin ready to thrust. Her hand trembled. Tears ran down her face, only to evaporate in the furnace-like heat before crossing the bottom of her nose. She hesitated for an instant.
That was enough.
With a horrible wrenching noise, like bones crunching and flesh tearing and wood splitting, the Witch's face erupted into a mass of branch-like tentacles. The hand that held the soul clenched, and pulled back into the flames. The hand pressed against the Witch's once-ample chest, and the flame disappeared among the bark. With a roar, the monstrosity raised itself onto its roots, and began to grow. Quelaag and Quelaan, spiders fully formed were there were human legs just moments before, scurried away together, unnoticed by Quelana or the growing monstrosity. Two tendrils of intertwining wood and flame- not burning wood, but distinct and separate- lanced out towards the spheres of lightthat were five minutes ago two of the most powerful sorceresses in or beyond Lordran and speared them like harpoons would two fish. The fiery tree began to grow faster now, wreathed in sickly orange fire.
Quelana knew she could not stay. Pausing only to gather the empty robes of her sister and leaving behind the heavy wood catalyst, she fled from the amphitheater and the shrieking tree demon that was once her mother.
Quelana ran, and never looked back until she had entered the walls of Lower Londo.
After that, I went straight to Lord Gwyn's court, right into whatever meeting they were holding at the time. Ornstein's outrage over my lack of protocol or respect of security evaporated very quickly when I explained what had happened in Izalith. I did not stay to learn what they planned to do; I did not care what the Lord of Sunlight decided nor was I going to aid him in that decision. Everyone I love was dead, or a demon, and no one, not even the Lord of Sunlight, can do anything but contain the monsters that used to be the people of Izalith. I am without a home or friends. Using my own Flame reminds me too much of what has befallen my sisters and mother. I am too weak to stand against that monster, even if I had not already proven myself the most miserable of cowards by hesitating to destroy the beast before it came to be. Had I not paused in my duty, perhaps these demons would never have been unleashed on the world. No, spare me your pity and empty platitudes; I deserve a fate far worse than what has befallen my family.
What is that? No. No. Do not make me laugh. I will not end myself. I will not take the coward's way out.
I will stay here in this slum, in this swamp, and wait for one who can destroy the abominations my mother and sisters have become. I will create a new flame, a new Pyromancy, one that is free of the taint and the hunger of the perverted Flames of Chaos, and I will search for one who can release my family from the suffering that I have sentenced them to. I will stay in this bog, with the mosquitoes and the leeches and the plagues, until my family is free. Once I have made my new art, I will take the most gifted students, again and again, until I find one that can kill the creature that still possesses my mother's soul before its influence turns them to its will. Until then, I shall never leave this bog.
My sister's robes? I held them, still smoldering, as I spoke to Lord Gwyn and his court. After I was allowed to leave, I returned to Izalith and left her robes on the altar of a church overlooking the amphitheater. I then fled before the demons could find me.
Now, it is time for you to return to your home, young one. Do not tell anyone what you have heard or seen in this swamp. I do not desire tourists who wish to gawk at a being who helped slay the Dragons and now crouches in vile-smelling muck. Do not pity me; do not cry for me, young one, do not look at me with sadness and hope that I will make some nonexistent recovery or something to make me smile again.
I deserve this fate.