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
Not enough ratings
6 Chs


They had been on the road for nearly a week. The Weeping Peninsula was almost within reach, just another two days of travel – and not ordinary travel at that. Torrent was pretty fast, even when he wasn't putting in much effort. But it still took them this long to even get here. God, this continent was huge! The game didn't even do justice to its scale.

And that wasn't the only glaring difference. It was the sheer number of ruins, towns, and castles that dotted their path. All abandoned now – or perhaps "destroyed" would be a better word. They were infested with decaying zombies, poisonous flora, and mad fauna. No people in sight at all, at least, normal people.

At moments like these, Ansel truly understood the state of the world. Kale had already revealed this, and he'd witnessed it in the game. But personally seeing the remains of a once-prosperous civilization with his own eyes was despairing. This was a post-apocalyptic world!

However, their journey was far from silent and still as these cities. He had crossed paths with a lot of mercenaries – Kaiden, they called themselves. These large, exotic warriors on horseback wielded great-swords that could demolish your health in a single hit within the game. And they seriously loved gold – just look at their settlements, my god, so many ornaments! – and hunting down Tarnished was their job. Because, of course, everyone hated Tarnished here, especially. A single head could probably fetch a huge price. Godrick himself would probably shower them with coins, amidst his mad laughter.

Most importantly, they weren't complete lunatics. They understood and respected raw power. Relief washed over Ansel when they didn't just charge in like bulls. A fight was still inevitable, maybe even necessary to establish dominance. The biggest warrior, likely their leader, stepped forward. No surprise there. And no surprise, Ansel flattened him. Gravity magic was just unfair against normal enemies. It was like fighting underwater and your enemy knew how to water-bend.

The defeated leader, surprisingly, held his head high. A grunt was his only surrender as he shoved a massive great-sword at Ansel. Weird tradition, for sure, but the sword – well, that was pretty damn cool. Perfect for horseback fighting. Ansel stashed it and continued his trek. News, as like always, would spread. These mercenaries already knew his description, and it was only a matter of time before everyone else did too.

Ansel knew this was coming. It was an unstoppable tide, for better or worse. Yet, unease gnawed at him. The boy's desperate pleas sometimes echoed in his dreams. But Sleep was a scarce luxury these nights. Instead, he spent them holed up in abandoned castles, drawn by the Sites of Grace that seemed to flicker in every remote useful location.

And Melina was a constant presence in nights, huddled by the warm glow of Grace. She'd become his teacher of sorts, patiently explaining the intricacies of the Lands Between while he, in turn, babbled excitedly about magic. His mind brimmed with ideas, a whirlwind he desperately wanted to capture on paper before testing them out. His strength had increased as well, Melina converted the runes he had gained from slaying the scouting party and the Tree Sentinel.

Above all, these ruined castles, though crumbling, cracked, and occasionally crawling with unwelcome guests, were a godsend. They even had bathrooms – a fucking miracle! – and with a little, nauseating magical tinkering, Ansel managed to get most of it functional again. Sure, this was basically a medieval fantasy world ravaged by an apocalyptic war, but beggars can't be choosers, right? However, Magic was his lifeline, the only thing that brought him a sliver of peace in this crazy world. It even allowed him the luxury of a hot bath, free from worry (well, most worry).

At the moment, Ansel bit on a fried boar rib, the grey clothes he wore mirroring the desolate surroundings of the castle. The meat wasn't a sizzling masterpiece, just something to fill his stomach. Cooking still proved to be a challenge, but he was trying, learning from his past. Melina wanted to help, but she was as novice as him in cooking. Speaking of his maiden, Melina sat opposite to him, the light of grace illuminating her deft fingers that weaved across his black traveling cloak, rekindling the fading enchantments woven into the fabric. They'd scavenged a sewing kit from the castle they'd holed up in today, and Melina was determined to mend his garb.

"Here," Ansel coaxed, willing the roasted pork to hover closer to Melina. "Take a bite at least, before you wear your eye out."

Melina barely glanced at the offering. "Keep it warm," she mumbled, her focus unwavering on the mending in her hands."Just a few more stitches."

Ansel chuckled softly, a spark of magic keeping the plate of roasted pork afloat beside him. His gaze drifted to the window, its tattered curtains offering only fleeting glimpses of the vastness beyond. A million stars, brighter than anything he'd ever seen on Earth, twinkled like scattered diamonds against the inky black canvas of the night sky. But unlike the familiar constellations of his home, these stars remained frozen in place, held down by an invisible and colossal force.

How did Radahn do it? Ansel couldn't wrap his head around it. To manipulate gravity on such a cosmic scale, to literally hold the stars themselves...it defied comprehension. Maybe he was approaching it all wrong. After all, the Lands Between might operate on entirely different principles than planets and such.

That was a thought. The day-night cycle here mirrored Earth's, and even their system of timekeeping seemed familiar. He'd glimpsed a few broken clocks on the way, though they were rare. An idea flickered, then died. No, that couldn't be right...

"I'm done," Melina said softly, her voice pulling him from his stargazing. She held up his mended garment, and it shimmered with power. The fabric, once dull and tattered, now pulsed with a vibrant luminescence, the enchantments within reawakened. It almost looked every bit the attire of a powerful mage, regal and awe-inspiring, as it should have been before. This was no ordinary tunic; it was crafted to amplify his magic, conserving his mana while offering potent defensive enchantments.

"Where did you even learn sewing?" Ansel was already expecting a great result, but Melina still managed to surprise him. "This is marvellous!"

"Thank you," Melina accepted the praise with her subtle grace, passing the garb back to him.

"No," Ansel murmured, the fingers of his free hand brushing lightly over her mending. Her needle seemed to have danced, not just across the fabric, but on some deeper level too. It seemed to have weave itself into the fading enchantments, mending them back to something very close to their original power. "I should be the one thanking you."

Melina's reply came distracted, her attention on her mended work. "My mother taught me," she said. "How to weave and sew, to mend what was broken."

Ansel gnawed on a rib contemplatively for a moment, the silence broken only by the soft thrum of the grace. Then, hesitantly, he spoke. "Not just for clothes, I take it?"

Melina met his eyes with a knowing look. "All things are fabric, in a way, Ansel," she murmured. A pause, a thoughtful and considerate pause. "Even beneath all the wonder and difference that makes our world, you'd be surprised. Down in the deepest depths, we're all the same."

"Hah," Ansel was surprised, though not for the reasons Melina assumed. "Then how does the Golden Order fit into all of this?"

"Ah, that's a good question," Melina launched into an explanation. With a flick of her wrist, she summoned a steaming rib from the levitating fried boar. "You might have some inkling of already. But the heart of the Golden Order lies in two core principles delivered by the Two Fingers: the Law of Regression and the Law of Causality. Regression, you see, is the pull of meaning; that all things eternally to converge. Causality on the other hand is the pull between meanings; that which links all things in a chain of relation." She finished with a graceful bite of the rib, her hand momentarily covering her lips.

"Regression and Causality..." Ansel echoed, his brow furrowed. "Causality, that makes sense. Everything's connected, one event leading to another. But Regression....it sounds like everything's being pulled towards one big point, a cosmic convergence. Isn't that the opposite of order?" It feels more like, he left unsaid, parasite, consuming everything until there's nothing left.

"No, think of it like a grand painting," Melina explained patiently. "The Law of Regression is the artist's vision, the whole scene they want to capture on the canvas. The Law of Causality, well, that's the paint itself. Each stroke of colour, every movement of the brush, even the artist's emotions and intentions - all working together to bring that vision to life."

"Woah..." Ansel recoiled, a surprised laugh escaping his lips. "That's not what I pictured at all. I figured it'd be all abstract concepts, you know, the flow and ways of the universe. But this..." He furrowed his brow, deep in thought. "This feels...personal."

"There's more to it than that," Melina interjected, her voice taking on a distant quality. "This is just one way to understand the Golden Order. Even your... interpretation, as rudimentary as it might be, has a place in the grand scheme." She paused, a flicker of something unreadable crossing her face. "The truth is, no one knows for certain what's right or wrong. Countless interpretations have sprung up, each trying to claim the mantle of the Golden Order's true purpose. Only the Greater Will and Queen Marika may hold the ultimate answers."

"Hold on a second," Ansel interjected, his excitement bubbling over. "That analogy... it's not necessarily revealing anything new, but it completely reframes everything! It explains so much about the Golden Order that always felt both obvious and cryptic at the same time. The Order itself is like the painting, right? And who's the artist? Queen Marika, obviously. Even though it dictates the fundamental rules of reality, it's ultimately a construct built by a person. A queen with her own thoughts, desires, and interpretations. And that shapes everything! It's terrifying, really, when you think about it. But what about the Greater Will? How does that fit into—"

Melina's sharp tone cut him off. "Ansel," she chided, a hint of exasperation in her voice. "Food first."

"Ah, right." Ansel quickly devoured the last bit of rib, his mind a whirlwind of Golden Order, Queen Marika, and the Greater Will. It was terrifying, yes, but utterly fascinating as well. No wonder Marika was revered as a god! Despite the jumble of thoughts in his head, he couldn't completely miss Melina's subtle shift, the flicker of unease she couldn't quite mask.

He finished his meal, using summoned water from a wooden bucket to wash his hands. With care, he folded his mended clothes and tucked them away. All the while, Melina remained quiet, nibbling on her food with a distant look. Although not entirely absent, she did shoot him a pointed glance when he caught staring.

Finally, Ansel sat directly in front of her, the ethereal glow of grace illuminating their faces. "Melina," he began, his voice firm, "teach me more about the Golden Order's rituals and practices."

"Why?" Melina asked, leaning forward with a spark of great curiosity in her eyes.

"I want to understand," Ansel replied simply, those two words carrying a weight far greater than their face value.

Melina let the silence hang heavy until she finished her meal, washed her hands and returned back to her seat. Then, with a single, curt nod, she finally conceded. "Fine," she said, her voice laced with a hint of warning. "But promise me one thing, Ansel. Promise me you'll always exercise restraint."

"I swear it," Ansel vowed, his voice resolute.

And so, the sleepless nights bled into one another, punctuated only by the flickering glow of the Golden Grace. A constant, unwavering presence in the inky blackness.


There was one final, tempting stop before Weeping Peninsula. Melina disapproved, but ultimately didn't intervene to halt him. Now, Ansel stood before a metal cellar door, the flickering light of enchanted candles revealing a gruesome scene. A hulking pumpkin-headed beast lay crushed, its body pinned to the ground by erupting stone spikes. The thrum of absorbed runes subsided within him as Melina's voice, unseen, echoed in his ears, "Are you certain?"

Ansel's silence spoke volumes. He reached for the hollow handles and with a heave, lifted the heavy door. A wave of potent magic washed over him, the glintstones lining the room seeming to pulse with raw power. Books stacked and scattered on the ground, a workbench held an assortment of tinkerer's tools, and flickering candles cast dancing shadows across the walls. The scene held a chaotic energy, a jumble seemingly devoid of order.

At the chamber's heart stood a woman draped in blue-black robes, a crimson shawl cascading down her shoulders. A massive glintstone mask, engraved with an intricate depiction of a blindfolded witch, concealed her entire head. The most unsettling part, however, wasn't the mask, but the utter stillness of the figure. She seemed frozen in time, a statue lost in contemplation, her hand absently stroking her chin. But only for a fleeting moment, barely perceptible, then life flickered within that statue. With a fluidity that belied her previous stillness, the woman moved.

"Ah," her voice possessed the same distant quality as Melina's, yet lacked the hint of melancholy. Perhaps it wasn't the past that held her captive, but something else entirely. "A Tarnished..." Her voice trailed off, a keen gaze piercing through the mask's eye slits to fall upon him. "A mage as well." Her form seemed to solidify, a hint of wariness replacing her initial surprise. "Why have you sought me out?"