Soul of Elsydeon by Joel Fagin

Author's note: This is inspired by David Redshaw, who briefly took to calling himself the 'Soul of Elsydeon' on the Phantasy Star newsgroup. I thought it was a pretty good title for something.

For some reason he was quite chuffed about this and now calls himself the Soul of Elsydeon all the time.

"Is it alive?"

"Touch it."

"I'm not sure..."

"Go on. It won't harm you."

The metal is warm, but there is a slight shock, as if it were cold.


...a thousand images from different worlds...

A man's face, relaxing as death takes him. We feel a light touch of something on our cheek. Only when a bead of water splashes on the man's still face do we realise that it was a tear. Our throat is choked with grief, and a soundless breath is all we can manage as we try to say his name, Nero...

A dark tomb of a cave, laced with web and dust. We hear a faint scrape, as of scales on stone, and then a chorus of serpentine hissing. We whirl, our axe moving as if it is as light as a sword, but our eyes meet hers, and they flare with cold fire, calling the stone in the floor to reach up and take us. The last thing we see for a long time is a twisting mass of black scaled snakes, each darting forward, snapping at the air, hungry, even in victory...

A demon-form, twisting out of the smoke, claws shelled in chitin clicking as they extend forward, hungrily grasping. Fire burns in its throat, roaring from its mouth in a burning cascade.

We see a young woman, sword held defiantly against the beast. Her companions smoulder on the floor, dead perhaps. She stands alone against the Darkness. Her sword...

Her sword... familiar, somehow. Perhaps as a picture of a baby may be to the man it grows into.

We scream for the girl, frightened for her, even though we know that all will be well. We scream...

...and wake. Our room is red. Blood light streams in through the window. We must see. Curtains. We draw them.


We collapse, trembling. It takes us a minute to remember our name is Rolf. It is a dream, except it happened to us, as well. We were the girl, and her companions, and we are Rolf...

And we are a divided mind, one small, innocent and childlike, not understanding anything, but knowing much. The other, as if reflected in a dark mirror, is angry and fearful, set on punishing the world for the curse of her existence.

We are one, and we remember that we will become two, and that we will die together, as we were born – in the depths of the Mother Brain's technology, monitored by her uncaring eyes...

The air shimmers in a rainbow spectrum and folds open like origami light. There is a brilliant flash of prismatic energy, and when our eyes clear, she is there, a hologram covering the mechanics of her weaponry, a massive soulless face, expressionless and featureless, darkly uncaring. Coloured flame sweeps across the floor, making us flinch, but it is more illusion. Mother Brain attacks in that moment, scattering the party apart with a blade of energy. We renew our grip on our weapon, and with it, the fate of our system, and leap forward into the fray...

We are an ancient man, living a thousand years in an icy coffin, waking only occasionally to see the depths into which the Motavia is sinking (and we, the frozen man, will always think of it as Motavia, never Mota. Never the name given to it by the false Mother).

And then, for the crime of the Great Collapse, which we helped engineer hoping that something better would arise from the chaos, we begin living one day at a time, until we die. The legacy, however, is passed on. We know that for our knowledge to die with us is a selfish act. We know that the Darkness will return. The Darkness always returns...

We scream and push our partner – our friend – aside, and we find ourselves looking down the eyes of a god for just an instant before his twisting shadows seize us instead of Chaz and tear at our soul. This is the last that we remember for a great length, but we know now that the sacrifice was a good one. We were by his side at the end, encased in warm metal, and we are glad that our death brought him to the final battle. He was a good choice to wield us.

It felt good to pierce the pulsing, cancerous heart of the Darkness. It felt good to know that our sacrifices, all of them, came to this. That, for each of us who has died, a thousand will now live.

We hope that this is the end.

The metal is warm, but I shiver anyway.

"The souls dream," I say.

"The sword dreams. Yes, it is alive."