The memories of a past long forgotten continued to haunt Elspeth in the afterlife.
She awoke with a shiver. A cool breeze slipped in from the window, but that is not what gave her the chills. Another nightmare came tonight, and even as her memory of it faded, her pounding heart told her that it was real. In Ilysium, the only dreams anyone remembered was the pleasant ones yet Elspeth woke up every night terrified. She didn’t know why she had nightmares, why the night assailed her. She slipped from her bed, her long white gown flowing behind her.
She stepped outside of the small house that stood atop a hill overlooking dozens of other homes. The grasses swayed underneath the moonlight and the night air was pristine. And yet Elspeth continued to shiver uncontrollably. She did her best to piece together her memories but nothing came. In Ilysium, the only memories she was allowed to have were of bliss and she despised it.
After waiting outside for several minutes she eventually headed back inside. She laid her head on the pillow and immediately felt the drowsiness hit her, the magic of Ilysium at work. As the peace of sleep fell upon her, her stomach twisted itself into a knot.
Oil dripped all around her. The sound of machinery and screams of agony echoed through the walls. Elspeth tried to dash forward, away from the torment, but she was violently jerked back. She looked up and saw that her arm was bound to the wall with metal. She tried to free herself but she was as strong as a child. Wails of anguish and death filled her ears as she began to cry. Elspeth didn’t remember what crying was like, but it was all she could do in her cell.
A door she didn’t know existed ground against the floor, metal shrieking against metal. Elspeth looked up and saw a ghastly figure pushing open the cell. She screamed involuntarily and the figure looked at her and flashed a wicked smile. The creature was a bizarre combination of flesh and metal with an aura of evil emanating from it. A twisted voice came out between ragged breaths and hisses of steam. “You’re already screaming?” the voice said. “Good. After being denied my compleation again!” it’s tone rose shrilly “I really needed to let off some steam.” A pipe from behind its head rose to a crescendo as the creature stepped toward Elspeth. Elspeth whimpered as it’s claw reached out to torture her.
Her blood mixed with the oil on the floor. She breathed heavily, exhausted from her screaming and saw that this oil was different. As soon as it touched her blood it fused with it and hungrily devoured it. She lifted her arm as best as she could to keep the grease from spreading to her. The oil, with a mind of it’s own, moved towards a skeleton in the room and began to engulf it.
The creature followed her gaze and gave a grating laugh. It moved towards the oil and let it crawl up it’s finger, gently caressing it as it covered the metal arm. Elspeth recoiled and drew back into the wall her eyes fixated on the glistening oil. It took a step towards her, reveling in her fear, drinking it in. Another staggering step and she could feel the heat of the steam. Elspeth, unable to look at the creature any longer looked outside of the room. There she saw another figure standing in the doorway.
The figure shone with the light of the night, stars weaving through the ethereal form. She wore armor that Elspeth could not remember seeing but was intimately familiar with. Adorned around her waist was a metal skirt with strips going down to her knees. Bronze chainmail went up to her torso with plate armor protecting the chest. In the plate was a jagged hole that went through the left breast. The figure extended her arm towards Elspeth, palm turned upwards. Elspeth turned back to see her torturer outstretch its hand over her head, the oil beginning to drip. Elspeth screamed one last time and the world around her vanished.
Elspeth awoke in her bed again, with the scream still on her lips. The image of oil dripping towards her was seared into her memory. As she waited for Ilysium to wash her clean she realized that the dream didn’t fade. Elspeth bolted upright in her bed astonished that she could remember. The sunlight lightly brushed Elspeth as she dashed through the room headed towards the meeting hall.
Everyone was gathered at the amphitheater, enjoying fruits and wines that magically appeared in front of them. Anax stood atop a table proudly proclaiming that he could beat anyone who challenged him in a wrestling match. A woman named Renata stood up on the table and accepted Anax’s challenge. As they went out in the meadow for their bout, Elspeth all but knew that Renata would emerge victorious. Her eyes then caught those of her newest friend in Ilysium Kytheon.
Kytheon was a large, muscular man with a slightly tanned complexion. Elspeth got along well with Kytheon, much better than most of the heroes in Ilysium. When he saw Elspeth he hailed her over, pulling an apple from a tree whilst doing so. Kytheon’s smile turned to concern as he saw the look on Elspeth’s face. As he opened his mouth to speak, Elspeth interrupted him.
“You won’t believe what happened to me last night.” She said to Kytheon.
“I don’t see why I wouldn’t.” The apple gave a satisfying crunch as Kytheon bit into it. “Many people here boast of far more outlandish things than what I can imagine you’ll say.”
“Do you remember how I am having nightmares?” Kytheon nodded. “Well, this time I remembered.” Kytheon stopped chewing on the apple and set it down on the table and letting it vanish.
Kytheon’s face scrunched up in thought. “I didn’t think that was possible. Tell me what happened.”
Elspeth repeated the nightmare to Kytheon. Yells of triumph could be heard from the meadow where Renata had Anax pinned. Kytheon sat in silence, the only expression he made was concern. When Elspeth finished her story neither one said anything.
“I think I know why you remembered this dream.” Kytheon finally said.
Elspeth glanced up intrigued.
“That spirit in the nightmare must have been your eidolon. Somehow it found you, and it’s trying to restore your memory. I don’t know how or why but that’s my theory.” Kytheon rested back in his chair.
Elspeth slowly nodded her head. “That would make sense. It seemed as if it wanted to reach out to me and grab my hand. The spirit stood out, didn’t feel like it belonged in the dream. Why do you think my eidolon is trying to come back to me?”
Kytheon shrugged. “Like I said, I have no idea but if I had to guess I’d say that your destiny isn’t here in Ilysium.” Elspeth looked at Kytheon with a confused expression. He continued “I’ve never heard of an eidolon coming back for its body in Ilysium but if destiny demands it, anything is possible.”
Elspeth thought for a minute, processing what Kytheon said. Eventually she bid him farewell and headed back to her home. Ilysium was paradise, why would she ever want to leave? What could possibly be going on outside of Ilysium that was so important for her soul to come find her? She bumped against her bed without realizing it and looked down. The bed, stuffed with the softest feathers possible, scared her. Elspeth thought about what Kytheon had said about her destiny and laid down for another nightmare.
Elspeth stood in stone that went up to her knees. She tried to move but was trapped and looked around confused. The door buckled underneath the weight of the creature and a grotesque abomination stepped through the hole. It came at Elspeth with rows of teeth ripped from the mouths of living beings. Multiple blade-like arms shredded the air while noxious fumes leaked out of its chest cavities. It wore the skin of the dead and carried a legacy of crushed and broken lives.
Elspeth rushed to find a weapon, anything that could protect her from this horrifying monster that bolted towards her. Her hands found metal and she jabbed it at the beast. It reeled in pain and Elspeth gasped feeling as if she had been stabbed twice through the chest. She looked down and saw that nothing had hurt her. Turning to look at the creature she saw it slowly shift into the form of a man.
The man had long black hair that covered his shoulders. His body lay resting across a couch, seemingly at peace even with a metal skewer stabbed violently through his throat. Elspeth felt her emotions overcome her, and she began to sob for a man she didn’t even know. As she reached to hold him, his body jerked to life and the arms shot towards her curling around her throat. Elspeth tried to scream but had no voice. The man’s face was now covered in a mask of gold, showing off a face of pain and betrayal. As Elspeth’s vision began to fade she saw the spirit of herself appear again, this time standing over her. It knelt down to touch Elspeth, but before it had a chance to do so, the darkness overwhelmed her.
Elspeth woke up in a cold sweat, her hands held up to her throat. She looked around the bedroom to the familiar sight of the cold moonlight. She got out of her bed and paced the room, committing every detail to memory. What was that creature? The thought of it tingled her spine and made her want to vomit. Still, she committed it to memory determined to not forget it.
Next, she thought of the man. Intense sadness filled her as she thought of him laying mutilated on the couch. As much as the monster terrified her, the vision of that man broke her. Tears came to her eyes and dripped on the floor without her recognizing. The memory pained her more than anything, but the agony was worth remembering.
Elspeth pondered about the golden mask. It was clearly the face of a returned, and she assumed, the face of the man who she had killed. She stopped her pacing pausing on that thought. She was the one who killed the man. Was he a monster? A tear trailed down her cheek and she knew that wasn’t right. With the mystery of the man still perplexing her she remembered the eidolon reaching out to touch her. It was closer this time. Elspeth took a deep breath and prepared herself to see more horrors as she lay down to sleep again.
The stars surrounded her. Little twinkles of light everywhere she could see including the ground she was standing on. Elspeth was breathing heavily, she was in pain and didn’t know why. She was running towards something, and behind her ran a leonin warrior carrying a massive greataxe. He yelled at her to keep moving and Elspeth turned around, running towards the unknown.
Eventually, she saw a shrine that glowed with the light of the sun. In a field of light, Elspeth saw a beacon of hope. With the last of her strength, she doubled down into a sprint to try to make it to the altar. As she and the leonin made it the brilliance of the sun poured into the shrine. The stars were outshone and sharp shadows shot across the room. Elspeth knew she was in the presence of a god. It blasted them backward and Elspeth knocked to the ground, could barely stand. His voice boomed through the sanctuary. “A champion cannot know more than her god. I am the lord of the pantheon. I am the greatest of these.”
A bright light filled the room and Elspeth shielded her eyes. A sharp rending sensation filled her chest and as she looked down, she saw the shaft of a blade sticking out of her chest. The leonin roared in anger but Elspeth could barely hear him. As the blade slid out of her she crumpled to the ground. The warrior rushed to her and Elspeth could barely make him out. The world shifted from stars to sky all while the leonin did his best to heal Elspeth. Behind him, her eidolon walked towards her hand outstretched. As she felt her final breath escape her body she reached out and touched the eidolon’s hand. Darkness and light enveloped her and she awoke once more.
The life of Elspeth Tirel crashed into her, flooding her with so many emotions she could barely contain them. After the torrent relented only one emotion remained: Grief. The memory of Daxos stood out sharply in her mind and Elspeth sobbed into the night, crying for the man she had loved and murdered.
Disclaimer: I am not a writer for Wizards of the Coast. This is strictly fanfiction, but I am doing my best to follow the storyline outlined here. I was disappointed, along with many other people, that we weren’t getting a Theros story so I decided to write one myself in the hopes that some people will get what they are looking for. This is my first time writing fanfiction and I hope you guys enjoy it. I will be going on a trip this next week which means that the next installment of this story will be released Tuesday the 21st of January.