Assignment #1: Beginnings
SEF: Name: Sefriya Parzol.
Date: 3rd of Evlamoi, 621
Assignment: Tell me your story.
Summary: As the work you have assigned me is vague and open to interpretation, I spent a considerable amount of time ruminating on the nature of the question itself, before coming to the conclusion that I have no conclusion to come to - at least, not yet. But as I hope you will find, I have decided on my own method for completing this assignment and attempting to define the soul of a Soulborn.
This is how it begins.
MUSIC: Clouds Like Mountains by Logan Nickelson.
SEF: What is the right way to begin telling a story? With so many decisions and branching paths of happenstance that lead to the exact moment you exist in, how are you supposed to decide which one to start with to best contextualize that moment?
How do I best contextualize the moment I exist in to someone like you, who may know nothing about my life or how I came to be here?
Do I start with the day the dust settled after the Calamity, when the Patrons were deciding which blessings were essential to bestow onto humanity for the sake of their survival, and Emphierre decided what her chosen ones needed most was the ability to feel the emotions of others?
Do I start with the day Rauna Seraldin made land here after witnessing the strife already present in a world slowly stitching itself back together and decided this would be the perfect place to begin the construction of Pandeya, a city where citizens of all kingdoms could live together as equals, without one Patron able to raise their blessed above others?
Do I start with the day in Zhorimoi when my parents, in full understanding of the fact that they had been matched in a marriage of status, for the purpose of producing an appropriate heir for both families, made the decision to…[slightly embarrassed] throw caution to the wind, so to speak, leading to the birth of their child in the wrong month and with the blessing of the wrong Patron, bringing shame to such a devoutly Highborn family?
Do I start with the day my mother, at her weekly brunch with the other ladies of Jerzault Tower Number Five, heard from Mellice Teller that her son had been selected for a new training program in Pandeya that was accepting only one student of each blessing and, never to be outdone by Mellice Teller, instantly boasted that her own child had been accepted as well, leading to some no doubt more skilled, wanting, and deserving Soulborn to be ousted from the program and for me to be placed here instead?
Do I start with the moment a Dayborn came crashing through the window of my new dorm room, brandishing a flaming sabre and shouting, “Duel me!” before realizing this was not, in fact, the room of our program’s resident Battleborn and politely excusing herself while leaping out my now-shattered window, only to repeat the maneuver a few doors down?
SEF: I think that perhaps I should start with that one, since it happened only a few minutes ago.
Or at least, I should start by telling maintenance about it.
The window is still letting in quite the draft.
But I don’t know if that’s the best place to start telling a story. From what I understand, stories are usually supposed to start with a someone, not a something. The problem is that, if that someone is meant to be me, then...I don’t think I have much to say about myself.
Despite being a Soulborn with all the blessings of Emphierre to help me understand the emotions of those around me, my self-awareness can be lacking at the best of times. In this new city, surrounded by so many varying souls - particularly those of the other eleven in my program, who seem to burn more intensely than any I’ve felt before, and burn in such intensely different ways -
MUSIC: The Homestead by Logan Nickelson.
SEF: Down the hall, I can still feel the Dayborn who crashed into my room She’s found the Battleborn now. Most people would be able to tell this from my position simply because they could distantly hear them shouting and posturing at each other. But I can feel their souls posturing too.
I was warned that in training programs for mixed groups, members of the more offensive blessings like Dayborn, Battleborn, and Harvestborn can be prone to jockeying for dominance early on, and it feels like that is the Dayborn’s intent here - to prove her power. Her soul is pushing out and up, like a balloon inflated to almost just beyond its limits. But in her core, there’s no true ill-will to her actions. Just an earnest desire to challenge the one she identified earlier as being the mo - no, almost the most dangerous person at convocation. Despite her confidence, even she doesn’t believe she can successfully challenge the Tempestborn.
Then the Battleborn - they don’t need to posture like the Dayborn. Their soul already fills their body in whole - almost too much so, like a hollow glass sculpture already filled to the absolute brim with water, and if there was a fraction of free space within that vessel, that water would be raging about like a storm at sea.
And yes, there’s some twin glimmer of excitement in each of these souls, the thrill of testing the limits of their blessings in a way they’ve never been allowed before.
But for the Dayborn, this is still just another exciting challenge.
For the Battleborn, this defines them.
And while I don’t believe I’m quite so annoyed in this scenario as the Hazelborn who resides between my room and the Battleborn’s and has had to listen to these window-smashing confrontations in stereo, I am finding it difficult to identify my own emotions in relation to this encounter. Living near these two, and the others of our classroom, and all the millions of souls in Pandeya, all of them burning like a candle in a slightly different hue, it feels as though I have been asked to name each and every one of those colors before I can even begin to see the color of my own, and I -
SEF: To say the least, my emotions are more muddled now than ever. It is difficult for me to begin telling my story, because I can barely tell which story happening is mine.
SEF: But as a member of this program, I don’t find that an acceptable beginning or ending. While I may have had this position thrust upon me by the whims of my family, desperate to wring some form of status and repute from their embarrassing Soulborn child, I intend to take full advantage of the training and opportunities this offers me to finally understand my blessing after so many years of having that denied to me.
I think I know something that may help. Unlike in Farra Belusk, where temples to Jerazius are the centerpiece of every tower and every town, I expect it will be relatively easy to find a shrine for Emphierre here. Tomorrow, I will seek their shrine out, offer them proper thanks for their blessing, and ask for clarity in how I may best direct it.
Then, starting with the first blessed in the cycle, the Nightborn Anacrea Mossos, and ending with the last, the Harvestborn Syler Verdalae, I will focus my blessing and begin to study the cores of each of my classmates.
Once I understand which emotions and experiences are theirs, it will be all the easier for me to understand which ones are mine and to truly define my story.
I apologize for the delay in this assignment. I hope I can prove myself a worthy member of your tutelage.
I will continue to report on this story as it unfolds.
MUSIC: Canard by Logan Nickelson.
OUTRO: Soulborn City is written and produced by Claudia Elvidge. The voice of Sef is Kirsty Woolven.
Want to gain the favor of your favorite Patron and show everyone you’re a better blessed than all the rest? Consider leaving an offering at the altar of KO-FI.com/soulborncity to show your devotion.
And now, a visit to the Soulborn City Trivia Corner:
Soulborn come from Lusidelle. Dayborn come from Kontiaz. The Teller Family comes from the Abyss, just like all the other cursed monsters that plague our world.