Elden Ring : Ascension

He unfolded it with trembling fingers, the parchment slick with a sickening warmth. Blood. Words scrawled in burning crimson screamed across the page: "Though the path be broken and uncertain, claim your place as Elden Lord!"

Lucien_Morningstar · Video Games
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6 Chs


The ethereal doll, all sharp angles and moonlight, finally spoke. "Thine prying isn't subtle," she said, her single eye swiveling to fix him with an unimpressed glare. But there, on her spectral face, a smile bloomed. It started as a hint, a tug at the corner of her lips, then blossomed into something soft and strangely comforting. The longer he stared, the wider it grew, that spectral grin seeming to devour the moonlight around her.

Ansel fought to maintain his composure, his gaze guarded. He'd emerged from his tent to face this extraordinary being, whose attention he'd obviously captured. Though he kept a safe distance, his staff remained clutched tightly in his hand. "Prying is warranted when faced with intrusion, wouldn't you agree?" He didn't want to just give in to the overwhelming presence before him.

"Wise," the doll intoned, amusement flickering in her spectral smile. "If not for the understanding I see glimmering in your eyes."

Wow. Ansel felt utterly exposed under her words. "Well," he chose his words carefully, "then in the spirit of recklessness, I'm Ansel, the Tarnished Mage. And who might you be, Moon Lady…?"

The doll tilted her head thoughtfully. "I am Ranni the Witch," she began, her voice a powerful, ethereal cascade. "Death I did steal long ago, and now I seek the Dark path." Her blue eye focused on him intently, while her other, spectral eye seemed to gaze off at the distant Golden Tree. "That one day, I might upend the whole of it, and rid the world of all that came before."

Ansel seriously needed a moment to absorb this revelation. "You stole Death? Like, literally stole it?" The words burst out of him in shock.

"Indeed," Ranni said simply.

"And you want to destroy..." Ansel's voice dropped to a whisper, barely audible over the wind. "The Golden Order?"

"Indeed," Ranni confirmed.

"And you want me in it?" Ansel asked almost instinctively.

"Indeed," Ranni offered a curt nod, her face a mask of serene calmness that did little to disguise the world-ending implications of her words. It was like she wasn't proposing to overthrow the divine order, but discussing tea flavors.

Ansel, on the other hand, felt a primal urge to bolt. This creepy, porcelain underworld boss of a doll was offering him a chance to join her rebellion? Curse his luck, he thought, just arriving in this strange world and already tangled up in something this crazy.

"The choice resides with thee," Ranni continued abruptly, a hint of solemnity lacing her voice. "Travel these Lands Between, the very ones that cast thee out. Witness their plight with thine own eyes before committing thyself."

With a gesture, she extended a hand, and in it materialized a sealed letter emblazoned with a symbol—a blue sword and staff crossed within a sigil of tree.

Ansel didn't budge. "You claim to have stolen Death," he pressed, his voice tight and sharp. "Is that why these Lands Between are stuck in this endless, grotesque cycle without consequence?"

Ranni's serene facade flickered for a moment, a jolt of surprise flashing across her perfect features before she schooled it back into composure. "No," she snapped, her voice sharp for the first time. "That is the doing of Queen Marika. She rendered the Rune of Death from the very heart of the Golden Order and sealed it away within her shadow's blade. That is what fractured the cycle." She leaned forward, her single blue eye glowing with an intense luminescence. "It seems thine memories, Ansel, are far from complete."

Stupid! Stupid! Just accept the letter and let the creepy doll lady vanish! She was offering a choice...Ansel felt like he was on a precipice, a single misstep and he'd become utterly transparent to Ranni. "Forgive me," his voice faltered. "This is just..."

"I comprehend," Ranni nodded. "The woes of the land do weigh upon mine own heart as well. Thy cautious nature is no cause for umbrage." Her hand remained outstretched, offering the letter. "If thou art so troubled by the plight of our people, Ansel."

Ansel did not permit himself a sigh of relief. He approached Ranni, and beneath the moon's ethereal glow, he accepted the letter with its sigil, a clear symbol of power in these Lands Between. An invitation, now clutched within his grasp.

"Good," Ranni folded her hands in her lap, her features luminous in their proximity, akin to the moon itself. "And ah, there is one further matter." She leaned forward. "Thou art possessed of the power, art thou not? To summon forth the spectral steed named Torrent."

"Indeed," Ansel nodded, restraining himself from uttering, 'As you are already aware.'

"Ah, I was instructed with this very bell, for thee." Ranni produced a white bell and a runic tone cube that held ashes in a pattern of wolves. "By Torrent's former master. 'Tis a bell for calling forth spirits. Summon them with it, from ash unreturned to the Erdtree. These spirits will obey thine command but briefly, as they recall battles past. Now it is thine. To do with as thou seest fit."

"Torrent's former master?" Ansel raised his eyebrows. "Is it by any chance a Finger Maiden?"

"Nay," Ranni revealed. "The one before her. The Unalloyed."

Ansel did not recognize the title, nor did he intend to pry further from Ranni. He simply desired her swift, fastest departure. "Convey my gratitude to them, then." He accepted the bell and cube.

"Thine own studies on history are sorely in need of recollection. Seek counsel from thine maiden." Ranni gazed into the distance, a melancholic smile blooming on her spectral lips. "She," she turned her full attention back to him, "will surely guide thee appropriately on the path ahead."

"Very well," Ansel nodded immediately.

"Lastly, forgive mine intrusion," Ranni said with a touch of finality. "I hope our paths will cross once more. But all the same, learn well the secrets of the Lands Between." Her form shimmered and faded, transforming into a cascade of stars, leaving behind a whisper more directed at herself than him. "How long, I wonder? Before the Tarnished Mage tires of his obeisance to the Two Fingers..."


Ansel slammed his hand into the grace, his voice tight. "Melina, come forth, my maiden!"

Melina materialized in a blue shimmer, taking the same seat against him. Her gaze, however, remained fixed on the ornately sealed letter, hovering over the light of the Grace.

"Can you sense anything from it?" Ansel asked, his brow furrowed.

"No," Melina murmured, shaking her head. "An invitation, that's all I can detect. No other enchantments." A flicker of uncertainty crossed her face.

"I thought so," Ansel sighed, slumping back against the wood pool of his tent. He hadn't expected to find anything on the letter either. Even if there were hidden enchantments, considering everything he'd observed from Ranni, she was practically a demigod. His eyes narrowed. "You were there, weren't you?"

"Yes," Melina met his gaze head-on, mirroring his sharpness. "I am your maiden, and a bodiless one at that. I am always with you, in some way."

Ansel couldn't decide if he should be creeped out or comforted. It was already clear Melina wielded immense power, likely surpassing most beings on the continent. Having her by his side on this godforsaken journey could be a tremendous advantage, but still—He pushed those thoughts aside for now. "She sensed you," he reiterated.

A faint, almost melancholic smile played on Melina's lips. "Naturally," she said. "One would expect nothing less from Ranni the Witch."

Ansel blinked, bewildered. "Did you just... smile?" He blurted out before he could stop himself. "Who is this Ranni?"

"How much of your past do you remember?" Melina countered.

"Just fragments," Ansel admitted, choosing his words carefully. "The generals, if that's a generous term." He let his brows furrow in frustration, even further closing his eyes in defeat in the end. "My own memories of the Lands Between are fractured. Everything feels distant, except for my knowledge of magic."

"Then let's make haste," Melina intoned. "The sun will rise in about two hours."

"Okay," Ansel nodded. "I think we should start with history."

"If we delve into history," Melina considered, "the time we have won't be enough to completely cover it."

"Give me just the important bits for now," Ansel suggested. "Our path is long. And I don't mind nights being even more so if it's for knowledge."

Melina gave him a look, but she nonetheless began. "Very well," she said tersely. "Then shall we begin with the establishment of the Golden Order?"

"No," Ansel emphasized, a flicker of urgency in his voice. "Begin with what was before it. Begin with the true beginning, the origin." Understanding the history before the Golden Order and how it came to be might immensely help him uncover the truth. Maybe the Golden Order was just there to govern the fundamental codes of reality for this world, but he wouldn't bet on that at all. There had to be some hidden truth to gold, the maddening and all-consuming gold.

Melina studied him for a long moment, her spectral form seeming to shimmer in the flickering light of the Grace. Finally, she spoke. "Well, before the Elden Ring, before Queen Marika, before the Golden Order, there was the Crucible. It was the primordial form of the Erdtree, the source of all life. It was a seed, you could say, from which the Erdtree arose. But it wasn't always golden."

Ansel leaned forward, rapt with attention. "What do you mean?"

Melina's voice took on a distant tone. "At first, the Erdtree was verdant and bronze, the first of all life, called the Great Tree. From within, other manners of life arose, from Dragons to Giants to Omens, monstrous and powerful—all symbolic of the chaotic nature of life. Then came the Golden Order. The Greater Will hurled a golden star that was the Elden Ring at the Great Tree, establishing Order upon the Chaos, establishing Gold over the Green..."

The stars shimmered brilliantly in the sky, like a million watchful eyes. As ancient histories began to be slowly uncovered under the flickering light of the Grace, a cold wind swept through the ruins, carrying with it the scent of something old and dangerous.


Mysteries upon mysteries, life upon death, Ansel mused, taking a spoonful of stew. The Crucible, I think that could be key to most. Though it looks like the Greater Will took over the Erdtree just to take control of the Crucible and all life itself, I feel there is more to this. The Greater Will... The rays of dawn hit his blemishless face, courtesy of the cleansing power of Grace. Still, I need to take a bath, a hot and steamy bath.

"Don't hesitate to ask more, girl," Kale chided Melina, swirling the steaming stew with a wooden spoon. "There is still more than enough for two."

Melina nodded curtly, sitting beside Ansel. "This is more than enough."

"Nonsense," Kale insisted. "Have more. You'll need every bit of energy for the journey ahead with this wayward boy of yours."

"What do you mean by that, old man?" Ansel scoffed.

Kale winked. "Just sayin', boy." He chuckled, a warm, rumbling sound. "You two seem... thick as thieves already. Just keep in mind, the journey takes its toll. Be careful, both of you," he emphasized. "Wouldn't want to lose my customers, after all."

Ansel placed a hand over his heart, feigning hurt. "There it is, the true face of a businessman. For a moment, I thought you might've warmed up to us..."

"Eat your stew, boy," Kale scoffed, plopping another spoonful into Ansel's bowl, which he accepted with a wry smile. Torrent whined happily behind them, snatching another raisin from the rug.

A hint of a smile almost graced Melina's lips beneath the simmering warmth, but it vanished as quickly as it appeared. Ansel mirrored her shift, his purple iris narrowing in alarm. His free hand shot to the ground, channeling his magic as his senses heightened. The usual chaotic vibrations of nature greeted him, but something else pulsed beneath the surface. Chaotic, yes, but with an underlying order, a rhythm that set it apart.

Kale rose, his voice laced with concern. "What's happening?"

"We've got company," Ansel replied, setting his bowl aside as he rose.

"Ah, likely Godrick's soldiers scouting for Tarnished," Kale reasoned, though his posture remained guarded. "As long as you stay hidden, we can mislead them."

"No," Melina interjected, her voice steady. "This isn't a scouting party."

Instinctively, Ansel's gaze darted towards the graveyard. The ever-present golden sparks that bathed it was now absent, undetectable even with his heightened vision. A knot of dread formed in his stomach.

Melina's eyes met his, and an unfamiliar confidence surged through Ansel. It felt almost primal, burning like lavender flames in his eyes, a madness he never knew he possessed. "Cover me," he instructed Melina, who responded with a swift nod and faded into the shadows. Ansel then turned to Torrent, who stood patiently, anticipation gleaming in his eyes. "Be ready, Torrent. I'll call you anytime." With a shimmer, Torrent vanished, and Ansel addressed Kale with finality. "Run, old man. Get far away from these ruins. Head south, to the clearing."

Kale started to protest, "Boy—"

"Now!" Ansel barked, his blazing eyes leaving no room for argument. With great reluctance, Kale mounted his own horse and retreated southward immediately.

Ansel started to grasp it - the instinct. The same primal awareness that saved him from the Grafted Scion. An instinct not of his own, but of the body he inhabited. It pulsed through him, the echo of a gravity mage who once ruled the battlefield with a flick of their fingers, a Tarnished veteran of countless battles beyond the fog.

Now, as he stood on the precipice of another battle, it returned. But this time, it was different. This time, he fought back. This body, for better or worse, was mine now. A flicker of war raged in his lavender eyes, then settled into a steely resolve. The madness remained, a simmering presence, but no longer the captain of the ship. It was slowly becoming a twisted sail, catching the wind of his own determination.

Ansel moved with the silent grace of a phantom. His hand dipped into the pouch secured to his belt, retrieving his staff. In a single, fluid motion, he launched himself skyward, his body pulsing with a violet light.

Gravity loosened its restraints on him, and along with the lightness he'd gained through the runes, he practically flew into the sky. Though temporary, this was more than enough.

The dawn cast a golden fire across the approaching enemy ranks, their forms now clearly visible. Yet, amidst them, the glint of gold remained elusive. Regardless, Ansel raised his staff, the purple glintstones embedded within it shimmering with harnessed magic. It converged into a focused point as he readied his gravity spell. "Quake," he chanted purposefully, the name a promise of devastation.

Ansel reached the apex of his flight, his lightness slowly surrendering to gravity's pull. With a resolute snarl, he slammed his staff down, unleashing the gathered magic. It wasn't just him who would be descending; he was calling upon gravity itself, supercharged and wrathful, to send tremors through the land and cripple his enemies.

But before the shimmering magic could leave its tip, four sparks of gold erupted from the forest. In a blink, they were upon him - swords forged from pure light, burning through the air itself and promising a gruesome demise with a single touch.

A twisted grin stretched across Ansel's face, his eyes glowing with power. With practiced ease, he swung his staff to his side, muttering a single word, "Found you," with chilling finality. Purple light engulfed him completely, swallowing his form whole.

In the next instant, a towering pillar of violet energy erupted from the spot where Ansel floated, consuming the burning blades in its suffocating grasp. The pillar ripped towards the forest, its target a majestic figure clad in golden armor astride a magnificent, radiant horse.