I’m a drifter, a pilgrim that knew nothing of this place or its people. Though I do not require such things to know what happened here long ago. Structures remain only half standing. Vine-covered artillery offers no threat beyond their image. Deadly waters and cliff faces encroach on the walkable land. The corpses of monstrous machines stretch up from the waters and mountainsides, but they harm no more. The turmoil of this broken land and warring people remain a frozen portrait of the tragedy that came. The scars and aftermath litter the land, offering a silent and thoughtful look at the devastation of war.
My travels through this land are not easy. A sickness is overtaking me. I stumble, blood accompanying my cough. Pain. Then visions. Visions of creatures. Of destruction. Of explosions. Of myself, reaching for… something. Then my mind returns. I find myself laying where I stood before, groggy and weary for a moment before returning to normal. What does it mean? Will I ever understand? Will I ever receive any closure? I cannot dwell on such things. I must remember: I am a drifter. So I press on, not stopping to dwell on these small things. Progression: that is what truly matters.
Before my journey began, I gained a map of this broken land. The map is, well, abstract at the best of times. It shows me basic structures and patterns of the torn world. However, capturing details such as size, distance, and positioning wasn’t quite in the cartographer’s skill set. To complicate matters more, I often find myself going deep underground and stumbling upon branching paths. It makes returning to a spot after parting particularly difficult. Still, this map is more favorable than having nothing at all.
Without an accurate map to place my faith upon, I must rely on the particulars of the torn land itself. Looking for small details, exploration, experimentation, and retreading old ground became critical in my journey. This extends beyond traversing the battle-scarred land. Everything in this place requires such attention.
While many of the locals are kind, some were malicious, as were the relics and machines that remain active throughout the torn land. Fighting them is not easy, especially if they gained the advantage in numbers. Timing, precision, patience, and a calm mind were the qualities that furthered my progression. Learning to switch from sword strike to a gun blast to a tactical retreat proved to be just as good as any wares the locals offered for purchase.
But not even those skills could keep me from death. Well, death in a sense. Something inside me- inside everything- brings us back. When I die, I awaken once more not far from where I fell. Nothing missing, nothing lost, so far as I can tell.
I, along with the machines and creatures of this broken world, do not forever lose our breath. I fought those who tried to kill me, only to find them again later. And there’s a strange crystal that I can watch regrow at speeds even faster than it takes me to return to the realm of the living. While I thought it was some strange machines inside of me that caused this, perhaps it is something within those crystals that infects us all and brings us back from the grasp of death.
The creatures, relic-robots, and even the land itself possess a level of unpredictability. For every time I thought I knew how a creature would react, I would pay for my overconfidence with a gash or a gunshot. When I assured myself I knew everything the world could use to threaten me, it punished my reckless behavior with something new.
Though many of the locals looked like the variety of malicious foes, I learned to not judge them by appearance. Often, the only times I could tell the difference between an enemy and a friend is the moment of calm when I approached, waiting to see if they would attack.
Eventually, I found enough local currency in my travels, and I spoke to those in the small village that offered goods to sell. Unfortunately, since we share no language, we had to communicate through crude noises and images. With a bit of thinking, those noises and images were enough to communicate. I have never communicated like this so effectively before. It is a new and charming experience. Their aid and wares are useful, but I have no way to thank them other than noises that I know are equally confusing and lacking in detail to them.
Problems did surface from our lack of a shared language. I purchased an item I thought would aid me in a specific way in my travels. Though upon testing, I learned of an unforeseen limitation that made it useless in the way I intended. There’s no recouping my funds, no undoing the path I took. Though despite my initial regret, the tool did prove useful in other ways, allowing me to advance with ease as I mastered the new technique it offered. The people of this place are fine people. The wares they sell always proved to be extremely beneficial, even if it took time and effort to master them.
In my exploration, paying attention is the only way to advance. Slight changes and inconsistencies matter. Analyzing everything I could is what brought about progression. Simply blindly pushing forward always left me wondering where I was and where I needed to go next. Small details allowed me to know when I had been somewhere before, and which path I took. And with returning to old grounds becoming necessary, that knowledge served me well.
But with every new thing I discovered, and even in the wonder of the spectacle of it all, nothing truly answered my original questions. My sickness still courses through me. My path is still obscured. My purpose is still a mystery.
Even if my travels never bring me here again, I will remember these torn lands and its people fondly. While it brought me no answers, answers were never the reason for my travels. I travel to feel the rush of the new and the wonder of exploration. I am a drifter, after all, and I do not wander to find closure. I wander to find adventure.