Chapter 179: Volantis (2)
Volantis remained quiet, as if pondering what Aldrich said. Then, after a small spell of silence, the living armor spoke again. "An orc? Even I find that difficult to believe. I had always thought orcs as vile, simple, brutish creatures.
I myself have drenched my hands in their blood many times. Few I have ever found worthy to add their bones to my collection." "I'm almost completely sure about this," said Aldrich. He put a hand to his chin out of habit as he continued to think and remember.
There was almost no doubt in Aldrich's mind: Volantis had been an orc.
Orcs in Elden World were generally regarded as gruff, unintelligent, barbaric creatures by other races due to their bloodthirsty warmongering ways that sought conflict seemingly with their every waking moment.
Many races looked down on orcs because of this, and Volantis himself, with his memories erased, saw them as brutes. But it was simply a difference in culture and circumstance. A matter of perspective.
Orcs did not care about building towering cities or longstanding civilizations that would last through the test of time. The Shatterlands from which they hailed from raged with routine devastating storms that would wipe out any attempt to build a city.
Hence, the orcs were nomadic, but this also meant they were mocked as uncivilized.
They did not have grand archives that told thousand-year histories of their people. They moved far too much to ever have a place to store any kind of document of their lives.
Instead, the orcs told their tales through stories passed down from generation to generation, causing other peoples to believe they lacked any real sense of culture.
The orcs did not worship a god or a pantheon of gods, for as a people, they were too scattered, too fragmented in countless different nomadic tribes, to ever ball up their faith enough to sustain a proper god. Nor could the orcs who lived for the moment, for the present, ever stand the often intangible nature of more major gods that shared their presence only with a precious few priests.
Instead, they worshipped what they could tangibly see around them every day —nature. But this also meant some peoples, particularly the zealous followers of the goddess Amara, believed the orcs to be godless heretics.
Orcs loved to battle, with the thirst for the fight wired into their very blood, and thus they were perceived as bloodthirsty brutes.
But that trait kept the orcs alive in an ever changing yet constantly harsh environment. Their culture reflected this reverence and desire for the fight with their penchant for taking bones as war trophies. A sign of respect among their ways, but to other peoples, such an act screamed of horrifying barbarism.
Volantis's striking obsession with fighting powerful enemies and harvesting their bones likely came directly from this orc practice.
But then who was this leader that Volantis had followed? This leader that had influenced Volantis so strongly that he retained vague memories of them even through the forcing process to become a Living Armor. A powerful forging process crafted by demons meant to wipe out any memories of the original soul.
That level of soul manipulation was outside the boundaries of even Legion
Necromancers. It took a Lich at the minimum to get there, showcasing just how advanced the demons' smithing process was and how strong this memory must have been to linger in on Volantis even through all that. "Then the leader | followed was also an orc?" said Volantis. "It cannot be. For so long, I had thought of orcs as simple creatures to slaughter. You are to say that
I was one of them?" "Yes, I'm pretty sure that's right," said Aldrich. "You mentioned leaving the steppes and going into forest and snow and fire. That indicates you traveled across huge swathes of land, far beyond the Shatterlands that the orcs called home that's mostly barren steppes.
I know that at a certain point, orcs started to unify every so often under a warfather or warmother, creating great hordes that traveled past the forbidding mountain ranges and even the stormy seas to other lands in large scale raids.
You must have been a member of one of these hordes." "A..horde...2" Volantis spoke slowly, as if he himself was trying to understand what he was hearing. "You left the steppes, into forests, deserts, snow, and fire...am, not many warfathers or warmothers could have made it that far. That should narrow it down, but who was it exactly..." Aldrich, absorbed in his thoughts, continued to parse through his memories of Elden World's rich and extensive lore.
The reason Aldrich needed to focus so much to recall this lore was because of how Elden World was structured. When it came to lore, Elden World was incredibly hands off. The player had a main goal - to defeat the Howling Dark — and that was really it. How they approached this goal and how much of the world they explored in doing so was entirely dependent on the player.
For example, for a Necromancer like Aldrich, one of his final boss fights involved the goddess Amara sealing the Death Lord in the Nexus to defeat as the 12th and final Trial Quest. After defeating the Death Lord, the player character received a huge buff to their strength which they then used ina climactic final boss fight against the Howling Dark and its minions.
But that was the endgame for the Necromancer. There were various other paths for Warriors, Priests, Assassins, and so on and so forth to the point that
Aldrich himself, even with his extensive playtime, had only scratched the surface of the secrets in the game.
What his familiarity with the Necromancer class did do, however, was force
Aldrich to explore the world considerably. It made him pay attention to small things like item descriptions, the appearance of environments, and seemingly unimportant pieces of NPC dialogue to find out exactly where to find the best creatures to raise.
Because of this, and because Aldrich himself had a strong interest in finding out lore, he had a very solid understanding of the parts of the world that his class could explore. It was not a perfect understanding as there were surely countless other secrets known only to those that did playthrough with other classes, but it was still extensive enough that Aldrich knew a good amount about everything. "Fire..." repeated Aldrich. "Ah, right, the only land of fire is Helith, the home of the demons, and it is incredibly far from the Shatterlands to the point where only one Orc leader has ever reached it. Warmother Thela.
Or, as other races would have known her, Thela the Conqueror. Her horde, the
Golden Horde, had a serious shot of building a serious empire if she hadn't been assassinated by demons.
Does that all ring a bell?" "Thela...? I-I don't know," began Volantis, his voice cracking uncharacteristically.
Aldrich immediately perked up in alarm. He sensed the metal of Volantis start to rattle around his body of bones. "Volantis, is something wrong?" "Thela? Warmother? Conqueror?" Volantis spoke almost as if in a trance. "I should not know this, and yet, why does this sound so familiar? This..should not be possible. I should not remember-I cannot remember. Gh...gh!"
Volantis instantly opened up his armored body, separating into countless strands of metal that peeled back to bare Aldrich to the open air. He instantly rolled forwards, the dark grey bones of his Lich body clattering against the metal in the Null Box.
Thankfully, the Null Box was such an insulated space that Aldrich doubted anything going on inside of it could be heard outside.
Aldrich watched Volantis with green light flashing in his eye sockets.
Volantis's form was still opened up, but all around the black metal of his body, both inside and outside, there were countless odd red sigils gleaming with a burning intensity. The shade of red emanating from them was unmistakable — these were demonic runes.
Aldrich did not understand what was happening. He assumed he had triggered some kind of mechanism embedded within Volantis, one embedded from the demons that forged him, the prevented him from recalling his past.
Volantis's voice echoed out from his peeled open form, but the voice was not directed to Aldrich. When Volantis spoke, his voice lost the smooth, elegant tone. The voice that had made him sound almost robotic sometimes, like a perfect Al.
Instead, this new voice came out with a far rawer timber. The voice was deeper, more guttural, and laced with a permanent growl. "Thela...they left you. They let the demons do this to you. What do I do? Without your dream? All I am...all Iam is a monster. You were the one that showed me I could be more.
But...if a monster is what they want, it's what I'll give them.
Orcs...humans...elves...dragons...demons - I'll take their bones...
Until there is nothing left..."