I thank you again for taking me with you, Mardek - it's been a thoroughly interesting experience and I feel I've developed a lot and got closer to Nature than ever before - but I can't help but worry about how Canonia is doing without me...
I'm sure it's fine, since nothing ever happens there, but... that thing with the Dark Cloud happened there, didn't it? And maybe nothing ever happens there when I'm there because ne'er-do-wells and brigands fear the presence of a Shaman? What if the plants die, or, or...?
Well, if something does happen, I'm sure we'll hear about it, and we can go back and check!
Thank you, Mardek... That's reassuring. I'll just have to keep hoping that nothing bad DOES happen to it, though.
I was sort of eager to get out of Canonia, since the days dragged on and I felt that it had taught me all it could, that my development as a Shaman would be stifled by the repetition and lack of exploration or testing, yet now that I'm away on a wild adventure, sometimes I feel like I miss that life...
I mean, I'm not an adventurous person at heart. It's just not in my nature. I'd rather experience dragon slaying in some book than take part in it myself...
Not that I'm complaining or anything! I am still glad you took me, it's just... I don't intend to do this forever.
But... do you, Mardek? Do you crave adventure enough? Or do you think you'll settle down one day?
Well... I don't know, to be honest... I've sort of been lost since Deugan... uh... Well, I'm just trying to carry on without thinking much and I'm just seeing where things go!
You always have been the leaf-in-the-brook type, Mardek, for as long as I've known you... so that, I suppose, is a fitting answer. I hope it works out well for you.
Now, I've nattered your ear off for long enough, good Sir Knight, so let us once more be on our way!
Yes, Mardek? Is there anything you need?
Well, you've levelled up a bit more now, so I want to hear some more of your unlockable backstory thing!
Uh... I beg your pardon? What? My... 'unlockable backstory'? If there's something you wish to know about me, you only have to ask.
Okay! Uhhhhmmm... oh! How did you become a Shaman, then?
Oh, you want to know about that? Okay, but it's not all that interesting, really. I didn't really do anything to *earn* it, you see, so if you're expecting a tale of questing and adventure and drama, I'm afraid you're in for a disappointment!
The planet chooses Shamans before they are born; we are born into our fates, you could say. But... I say that, though not all of these destined-to-be-Shamans actually take on the role. Many of us are, uh, 'backups', to put it vulgarly, that, like me, would take over if a previous Shaman met an untimely end.
The old Shaman of Canonia was my mentor, of sorts... I knew her before I became a Shaman myself. You see, I never really got along with my family, because, uh, though my parents were loving and everything I could ask for and I can't fault them for anything, really, uh, there was this brother I had...
He was a right nasty piece of work, he was. An utter bully. A brute... He'd tease me and hurt me all the time that I was home, and apparently derived pleasure from it, the fiend that he was... I hated him. Utterly.
And yet maybe his influence was beneficial for me... You see, I tried to be as nice as I could so then I could become everything he *wasn't*; I felt it was only fair, to balance out his own evil, or something.
Anyway, I couldn't bear to be at home with him around, so I often snook off into the Canonia Woods, alone, with a book, to just read, meditate, be at peace... It was the only place I ever really felt calm and happy, and was more of a home than my, uh, home was.
When I was in the woods one time, this woman approached me, and I was terrified! I thought that my secret 'hiding place' had been discovered, and that she might tell me to get away, or, even worse, she could have been malicious and I'd have been defenceless and all alone...
But, of course, as you can surely guess, she was merely the Shaman of those woods... She was an odd one. she was... a kindly woman, in that she befriended me, let me into her home, treated me lovingly like I was her own daughter, taught me about the woods and all she knew... Yet there was a sort of malicious streak to her that never seemed right.
She never took it out on me, it's just... some of the things she said were nastier than you might imagine from some kindly woman of the woods...
Anyway, it's not right to speak ill of the dead... For she is, of course, dead. I'm not sure how it happened... I know that she was acting odder than usual just before the event with the zombies, but I never would have suspected that... uh, it's painful to think of, actually...
Suffice to say, I never heard from her again, as she'd been killed by someone, I'm not sure who... And the position came to me. She visited me in a dream - or was it the planet itself? - and told me that I was Chosen, and I just 'knew' what to do, and... well, the rest, as they say, is history.
Sorry... I sort of went on a bit there, and it probably wasn't even very interesting! No dragons or explosions or anything. But, uhm, that's my story!
Do you want me to reveal another backstory segment?
Very well... I think that I shall tell you about my brother.
I bring him up because he has been on my mind lately... I don't miss him, but I do wonder what came of him. He joined the Guard, you see, at the same time you did, so I'm sure you've met him. His name was... Steele.
Well... I did meet him. He was a horrible git. I hated him.
Yes, he has that effect on people. Or... had. I hated him too, and though it goes against everything I usually believe, I am glad that he is dead. The world is a better place without such evil in it.
He and I are related, but not... fully. You see, we share a mother, but not a father...
My father is a kindly man, who wouldn't harm a fly. My mother's much the same. I've inherited much of my personality from them, but my brother...
It is a grim tale. I don't know the details and I've never cared to ask; I don't want to bring it up. But from what little I know, my mother was on a walk one day, and a bandit waylaid her, forced himself upon her... You can figure out the rest.
It ruined her for many moons... She was a wreck. Or, uh, so I gather; this was before I was born. She gave birth, as my parents, being the gentle souls they are, felt that that was the only way that things could be. They felt they had responsibility for the bastard child violently thrust upon them by fate, and thought the least they could do was give it a proper, kind upbringing.
Unfortunately, from an early age, the child showed strong signs of rebellion and would not listen to his parents. HE was in charge as far as he was concerned, not them. They assumed this was just typical of youngsters, but he got no better, only worse... He became a vandal, a bully...
My parents decided for some reason to have another child. While he was born out of hate, I was born of love, and he couldn't tolerate this. He wanted to be the ONLY child, and he wanted me gone. He hated how my parents and I actually got along, and he never let me have nay peace while he was nearby...
He is dead now... or so I have heard. My parents, upon hearing the news from your commander, smiled. I know it sounds cruel, but he truly was a demon child.
But tell me, Mardek... Can you confirm that he is indeed dead? I heard that the corpse was never found, and that it was based only on the word of a few Guard recruits that they declared him dead...
Well, uh, he is dead! I saw him die with my own eyes. My friend Emela zapped him with a Lightning Bolt because he was trying to kill someone unjustly. He fell down and didn't get up immediately, meaning that he was definitely dead! I've not seen him since.
I see... That does sound like him... I hope that you speak true, Mardek, other wise I'm sure he'll want vengeance for that, and I can imagine it being quite strong, too...
Anyway, uh, thanks for listening, Mardek. It's good to get things like that off my chest, even if it doesn't change anything.
Places not listed below
Hmm? Oh, sorry, Mardek, I don't have anything significant to contribute right now. Maybe some other time?
Ah, Goznor. I've only been here a few times before I started travelling with you, Mardek. I always used to find it exciting coming here with my parents, just because of how different it is to Canonia. Everything *feels* different here in ways I can't quite describe to someone not Nature-sensitive.
Are you saying I don't have a sensitive nature?!
Uh, no, Mardek. I'm, uh, sure you do have a sensitive nature. It's just that you aren't a Shaman and can't detect Nature's feelings like I can.
The village won't need me while I'm gone. It's sort of depressing, sometimes, actually, how little it needs me. I'm not the adventurous type, really, but I still do thank you deeply for allowing me to come along with you.
This is the region that I am Shaman of. I feel... empowered, here; I imagine this is how the Alpha of a pack, or some kind of queen, feels. Though there is precious little going on here at the moment... I don't honestly understand why you brought us here, Mardek.
The Tainted Grotto is also within my range as a Shaman; I oversee it, and feel it. It is a scar on Belfan, made by a wizard long ago... You wouldn't expect there to be a natural cave of poison for no reason, would you? It's obvious a wizard did it.
Some shamans, like the Goznor Shaman, have the ability to magically warp people across the oceans, much like this Warport here... However, it takes years to learn, unfortunately! I wish I could do it now so then we didn't have to go through this tedium.
Can't we just ask the Goznor Shaman to warp us?
I'd like to say 'yes', but I'd hate to be a bother to him... He's a busy man, and he's old; he'd not wish to put up with us nagging him for transportation all the time. Besides, it'd be one-way only...
Reptoids are so often misunderstood by humans, and vice versa, I think. We rarely see eachother, and that leads to intolerance of the unknown, particularly for humans. But these people, though they look different to us, are so honourable and brave and respectful of Nature that I can't help but feel a deep sense of admiration for them.
Ah, I could FEEL this place for ages, but I didn't know what it was. I just got this sort of niggling feeling, like you'd get if there was something wrong with your body but you didn't know what or where.
It is a TUMOUR on my beautiful forest, and I'd prefer it removed... Though I know that's not likely to happen any time soon, and any life, no matter how vile, has as much right to live as I do. Grumble.
I find the feeling of this place wholly unpleasant... It feels so EMPTY, almost like the feeling of losing someone you love deeply, or a limb, or a limb you love deeply. It's making me rather miserable, actually.
This is Aeropolis, the 'Jewel of the South'. It is truly a magnificent city, and it's said that everyone comes here at some point or another. I think we'll be coming here quite a lot during our travels.
The Lifewood is a paradise for Shamans. The planet's lifeforce is so strong here, and it feels lovely to the mind and body just to walk amongst all the thriving, vivid vegetation. The links to the Dreamrealm also provide quite an experience, too.
Hmm... I've always been sensitive to death and dying, and it really makes me feel uneasy... I don't like this place at all.
Water/Fire/Earth Temples (before obtaining a temple's respective crystal)
I really, REALLY hope you know what you're doing, Mardek. These temples house the planet's vital organs, and in some ways they are organs themselves. World ruin is the result of their loss, just like your own death would result if someone stole your heart and lungs.
Though I'm allowing you to take the Crystals, we are merely BORROWING them and you really, REALLY need to bring them back once this business with the King is sorted out!
Water/Fire/Earth Temples (after obtaining a temple's respective crystal)
Behold, Mardek, the fruits of your labour... This is what happens when the Crystals are removed from their natural positions. The temples are dead, devoid of energy, and the planet can feel it. *I* can feel it... Like an emptiness, a longing. It's *painful*... So please, Mardek, hurry with your careless schemes before I topple over...