The Praesi. Shaped like a tree and immeasurable in size, it is a universe all on its own. Thousands of planets hang from its many white, translucent branches, each ball of rock and soil with a star and moon of its own. Strands of solid light intertwine to create the branches, acting as a barrier between life and death. Always healing, always protecting, the Praesi was created with care, representing a familial love lost to time and turmoil.

Twelve individuals, men and women, have traveled to each and every planet throughout the Praesi, smiting an evil that threatened all of creation. Trillions have perished because of this evil, yet trillions more have been saved by the incredible powers of these twelve saviors. And now, after culling the terrible plague named Umbra, they travel to extinguish it at the source.

Tiren stands tall on the bow of his ship, gazing solemnly through the visor of his helmet. He dons sleek black armor with fine, sharp edges, fists clenched at his sides. One arm is covered by a sharp black gauntlet, while the other is uncovered, revealing pale skin that stretches over a well-defined bicep and forearm. His ship, a large wooden structure with no sails or rudders, floats through the trunk of the Praesi, heading down towards the roots.

”So this is it, eh? Took long enough, ” A massive man with a deep booming voice steps up, towering over Tirens six-foot frame by three heads, a Warhammer with spiked faces lain over his shoulder. His skin is a dark red, and a black leotard stretches over bulging muscles that fit his ridiculous height. He has black hair with streaks of grey tied in a long ponytail, thick brows with the same ashy color to them, narrow silver eyes, and the battle-worn face of a warrior.

Tiren scoffs, glancing up at a man that has followed him for seven hundred years, ”I had hoped that impatient side of yours would disappear after so many years, Betor. I see it was for naught, ” he responds with smooth words, returning his eyes to the destination ahead.

”Speak for yourself. You may hide behind that helmet, but I know those flat eyes of yours have not changed, ” Betor laughs, gazing forward along with his companion.

Miles ahead, just before the sprawling roots, a massive hole floats in the middle of the Praesis trunk, an anomaly in an otherwise perfect structure. Cracks spread from its uneven edges like shattered glass, and nothing but darkness can be seen on the other side.

Tiren turns away from their destination, a woman stepping up before him with brown skin and milky white eyes. Curly silver hair falls to her shoulders, framing toned cheekbones and thin pink lips contorted into a smile, ”Is it time? ” she asks. The woman wears a black dress, slits from her hips down revealing toned brown legs. Golden armor with intricate engravings covers her chest, shoulders, and forearms.

”Almost, Valeria, ” Tiren responds with a nod. Eight others step up beside Valeria, each belonging to a different race. They all hold weapons and wear armor, a glint of resolution in each of their eyes. Tiren meets every gaze before him one by one, his own hidden behind the black visor of his helmet, ”I assume Gira has departed safely? ” he asks.

”Yes, ” Valeria responds.

”Good, ” Tiren says, eyes drifting to the vast tunnel surrounding the ship. They will know, he thinks, the future generations will know what him and the others have sacrificed for peace. Gira will tell them. The armor-clad man looks at his companions, not of the same blood, yet brothers and sisters all the same, ”This may be the last time we see our home. I know not of what resides on the other side of that hole, but whatever it may be, I have hope you all are prepared to face it, ” Tiren says, a solemn to his voice, ”We have given our lives to this place, yet in the end, I fear even that will not be enough. I cannot guarantee we live through this, and for that I am truly sorry. ”

A massive hand pats Tirens shoulder. He looks up to find Betor standing there, a toothy grin on his crimson face, ”Thats quite alright, Tiren, ” Betor says, looking to the men and women standing before him, ”Weve known for seven hundred years now. The only way all of this can end is in death. I know not of how you all feel, but I am all too ready for this to finally end. ”

The others, including Valeria nod, and Betors smile widens as he looks down at Tiren again, ”You gave us this life, these adventures. We follow you, Brother, ” he says, ”After all this time, you must know that. ”

”I do. Ive known for a long, long time, ” Tiren says, glancing up at Betor. He then looks at the others, ”You all have followed me for this long, and I thank you for that. Your loyalty cannot ever be matched. However, if any decide that this is not where they want to die, then there is one dinghy left now that Gira has taken the other. I will not stop any of you from using it. ”

”Did you not hear Betor? ” Valeria asks, one silver brow raised, ”No one is leaving. If this is where we die, then so be it. ”

Tiren meets the womans eyes, and though the other cannot see it, his lips curl, ”Very well then, ” he says, turning to look at that dark hole, a crack in the very fabric of reality, ”Thanks to Gira, all will know of our deeds. We will be saviors, gods among mortals. Let us end this and make certain they never need to call us again. ”

The ship nears the hole, and all twelve individuals ready their weapons, their hearts thumping with anticipation. Tiren raises his uncovered, pale hand to the side, and golden particles appear from his palm. The particles gather into a long object jutting forward from his hand. After a moment, they transform into a long sword, the blade straight, edges sharp enough to slice stone.

Thousands of those same particles suddenly surround the ship, shining bright over the Tirens head. They gather into thousands of spears, swords, hammers, bows, and every other weapon Tiren has seen in his life of bloodshed. Each creation of iron and wood is a memory, the will of those who died protecting their homes from the Umbra. He carries that will now.

The others begin to glow with powerful auras, ones given to them by their leader so long ago. They steel themselves as the ship travels through the hole and into the vast darkness. Silence hovers over them along with the mass of blades.

A gargantuan ball of fire floats in space thousands of miles away, its light still blinding despite the distance. Nothing else resides here in this empty space of black, only that orange-yellow star.

”Did we come to the wrong place? ” Valeria asks, confusion leaking from her voice.

”Impossible! ” Betor disagrees, ”There is nowhere else for them to have gone. They must be here, ” He looks around frantically, unsure of his own words. He looks at Tiren, who now floats high above, moving forward as if tied to the ship, ”Tiren! Say something! ”

”They are here, ” Tiren responds, an army of weapons just above him. His armor glimmers in the light of that yellow star ”The stench of Umbra is difficult to forget. ”

Just then, shadows appear before that star, blocking some of the light from reaching the ship. Millions of figures approach, silent creatures with disfigured shapes, their skin shifting black smoke, like solid darkness. The saviors tense in response to the sight, all of them unsure if they can handle the black army that floats toward them.

”Theres this many of them left!? Weve killed millions already! ” Betor exclaims, adopting a battle stance, grip tight on his Warhammer.

”That is irrelevant, ” Tiren says from above, raising his uncovered arm above his head, half-turning his head to glance at his companions, ”Give everything. Kill until your heart stops… This must end here. ”

No words meet Tirens, only a collective of strengthened resolves, reflected through the eyes of each man and woman. Tiren smiles under his helmet, eyes returning to the enemy, ”Thank you, ” he whispers, dropping his arm, pale palm open to the living darkness.

With that motion, the thousands of weapons surrounding the ship begin to shine with that golden sheen again. Each blade flashes forward, rocketing towards the black creatures.

The Saviors greatest battle begins, one that will take every drop of blood and sweat they have.

The future generations of the Praesi will read of the long journey these heroes have trodden and worship them as deities. Yet this battle will not be included in those pages, and there will be no one left to change that.

These heroes have no saviors of their own.

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