During a huge war waged in the Barren Lands, the Moniyan Empire’s Second Regiment was almost entirely annihilated. Among the sea of corpses strewn all around, a Moniyan soldier had managed to survive; yet lost every one of his comrades, and was left to walk back to his homeland alone.
Dark clouds shroud the Barren Lands year in, year out. Without the sun, moon and stars to guide his path, this solitary survivor lost his way and strayed into the Shadow Swamp.
Both the earth and water found within the forests of the Shadow Swamp are corrupted by the Abyss, leaving the place moist and putrid. The man’s extreme hunger and fatigue, together with the endless forest that surrounded him, plunged him into darkness and despair.
Just as he was about to pass out, a most peculiar feeling wrenched him back to consciousness: a sticky sensation spread upon his back, and then he lost all control of his limbs which ran wildly of their own accord.
He would describe this moment in his memoirs as feeling like he was but a wooden puppet, like those played by the Moniyan children. He was manipulated by some invisible force, nimbly darting through the forest at an unbelievable speed.
The man was about to lose consciousness when the body he no longer controlled came to a halt. Coming to himself, he watched with wide eyes at what laid before him…
There he saw the ruins of a great vine-entangled temple, weathered by the wind and frost yet still grand and imposing. These ancient temple ruins stuck out like a sore thumb within their Shadow Swamp surroundings.
The strange sensation that ran down his back faded away as he stopped, yet it was just then that he caught sight of something small that hopped into the nearby bushes, seemingly in hiding.
Could that thing be behind all of this? The soldier was determined to get to the bottom of it all, and ploughed ahead in the direction the figure had taken. From the vegetation there emanated a loud rustling, and it seemed some kind of violent struggle was taking place within.
And so as the soldier crept over stealthily, reaching out to push aside a branch, there appeared before him a little critter about the size of a coal briquette; he prepared to catch it and study it more closely, yet before he could make a move, countless others had emerged from all around. They stacked together in an orderly fashion, and in a little over ten seconds the creature no bigger than a lump of coal had transformed into a mighty beast. This struck terror into the heart of the poor Moniyan soldier who fainted on the spot. But when he awakened once more he found himself no longer within the swamp, instead upon the border of the Barren Lands and the Empire.
Upon returning to Moniyan he regaled those all around with this tale. The Moniyan citizens held much respect for this veteran, yet dismissed his story as merely the hallucinations of a man racked by fatigue while having narrowly escaped death.
After all, even the most learned scholars in Moniyan had never even heard of such a creature. There was little the soldier could do but write his experiences down on paper instead, that evidence to be uncovered in later ages could perhaps prove his sanity.
As luck would have it, he didn’t have to wait quite so long. This dream of his was realized while he was still alive and well.
When the Elven text “Azrya” reached the Academy of Magic, a student from Moniyan read records within of a faction called the Daktec–records which conformed directly with the experiences of that Moniyan soldier he’d read before.
The curious student sought the dean of the Ulturia School, Eudora, who having glanced over the soldier’s writings confirmed that they indeed described a Daktec encounter.
Having heard it from Eudora, mankind became aware of the Daktec–peculiar beings with peculiar ways of living. Through a mysterious secretion, once just one of their number had attached to any living being, they could then begin to completely enshroud it.
What’s more, this gel-like outer coating of theirs acted as a cognizant organ that allowed unique neural networks to function among individual Daktec beings. Of these beings some would hold higher roles within the network, commanding all the others when they combined into one form. Through merging in different number they were able to control their size and shape at will.
The Daktec were found to be intelligent and pure beings, proud of their ‘group wisdom’ they shared which was mostly used to pull pranks on the neighbouring elves. When she heard of the Moniyan soldier’s bizarre adventure, she realized what had happened: a group of Daktec must had wandered out too far, and so they latched on to him as a larger organism to hitch a ride back home.
Since its birth, the Daktec had never ventured out of Azrya, instead guarding over the forests and the mysterious old temple. They had never initiated any kind of battle, at the most taking on the form of a terrifying beast to scare away any outsiders who broke into their territory by accident. Even the Elves who lived not far from them knew little of their kind.
Perhaps the greatest of the Daktec’s intelligence could be seen in their residing within the deep expanses of the forests, living in peaceful harmony with the rest of the world. However, the Abyss changed everything.
Taking shelter in the ancient temple, the Daktec strove to hang on to their rationality and faith, to avoid becoming like those Dark Elves nearby who had fallen to its clutches. But a deep and dark corruption spread into them and their forest home as the Abyss exerted its power.
Eudora was by no means unaware of the Daktec’s predicament. At the end of the Moniyan soldier’s writings she left a few sentences. “The Abyss is a catastrophe. It strikes division among the factions, and breeds pure hatred. But maybe, just maybe, this is a chance for us: a chance for every soul across these lands to come together once more, to stand as one.”
When the fates of all the peoples become interlinked together, where will the gentle Daktec head to next?”