The End of Days
Foreshadow of the End
It was August 1st, somewhere around noon. On a dirt path that moved along the edge of a field next to a forest, there was a woman who appeared to be in her early 20's, with long red hair and gray eyes, heading in the direction of a nearby town called Bronzewood. From the way she dressed, it was hard to imagine that she'd been traveling. Her outfit was made up of a black dress with swirling white designs covering it, mostly near the bottom of her skirt, which was split twice up the sides and fell almost to her feet. The top of her dress was low cut with two straps over her shoulders. Other than that, she had on black boots as well as black elbow gloves, a blood red cape and a bag that she carried on her right hip. It was mid-day, and the wind was blowing gently a crossed the grass and through the trees. It seemed to be a peaceful day, but as always peaceful moments didn't last for very long. For in the forest up ahead there were a few slime monsters just waiting for someone to pass by. Unfortunately, this young and fragile-looking woman was to be their next victim.
As the woman approached the guarded pathway, she seemed to gaze half-suspiciously to her left side. Soon after, around four slime monsters jumped out of the forest and positioned themselves around her. Her tired gaze had now returned to the path in front of her as she raised her left arm into the air and pointed her finger straight up.
"Be gone!" She seemed to say as four bolts of lightning flew from her fingers and hit each of the four slimes. At once, the area was illuminated in a bright flash of light. The slimes gave out a loud shriek as they where reduced to a smoldering pile of ashes. She lowered her hand to her side, letting down what little guard she had put up now that the slimes were dealt with. All that remained of them were ashes with flames and smoke rising from them. However, she quickly noticed another presence and turned slowly to look back at it. Another slime had appeared and this one she felt was smarter than the others, for she had a feeling it had used the others as a distraction. Before she could react, however, another strange creature approached.
"Fear not, fair maiden! I shall rescue you!" It was a strongly built man with jet black hair, blue eyes and wearing shiny armor. He had just ridden up on a black horse and was now hopping off of it with his sword drawn. He slashed downward onto the slime as he hit the ground and dropped to one knee, slicing the slime in half and killing it. The man then stood with a smirk as he re-sheathed his blade and looked toward the woman. "You were about to be attacked by that horrible monster. You are quite fortunate that I was here to save you." The woman, somewhat annoyed at this man's stupidity, attempted to speak to the mad despite her better judgment.
"Um... Excuse me, but..." She was cut-off before she could finish speaking.
"I know... you wish to know my name." The man said smugly as the woman seemed to get even more annoyed. "I am none-other than Kane Lambird, a warrior of noble blood! It is my duty to protect defenseless women, such as yourself, from impending and near-certain death." As he said this, he seemed to strike his own chest proudly with his fist. It was clear that this man was un-aware of who she was, and even more un-aware of how truly pathetic he himself seemed. The woman then found a way around the annoying aspect of this meeting and so smiled to the man.
"My name is Raiko Blair. Thank you for the help, but it really wasn't..." She was cut-off yet again by the near brainless oaf of a man which stood before her.
"Yes, I was very brave, wasn't I?" Kane said as his smirk became even more smug than before. "I put my life on the line every day, ma'am. There's really no need to thank me. However, if you insist on doing so, a simple kiss would be thanks enough." At those last few words, all of the charm in Raiko's face was lost, replaced once again by a tired look of annoyance.
"In that case, I think I'll just keep my thanks to myself..." As Raiko turned back toward the nearby town, Kane held a hand out to halt her advance.
"Hold it! It's dangerous to travel alone. Therefore I shall go with you, just in case something else may wish to attack. And perhaps once we're safely in town, I could buy you a drink?" Raiko seemed to smile at those words, turning back to the man with renewed cheerfulness.
"You're such a kind and strong man. Any woman would feel safe with you around. I will gladly accept your offer. I only ask that you don't strain yourself too much in your efforts." Her words seemed to make Kane give a small laugh. He then hopped onto his horse and rode up next to her.
"Come, fair maiden." He said as he held a hand down toward Raiko. "I will not allow you to walk the rest of the way. Women like yourself shouldn't be forced to travel by foot." For a moment they seemed to stare into each other's eyes. Kane having a look of honor and superiority in his eyes, and Raiko having a look of surprise at the man's very gentleman-like action. She soon smiled and nodded to him.
"Very well then." She took his hand, and with little effort he managed to pull her onto the back of the horse. From up close, she could hear every movement of his armor as the metal grinded together. Once she was secured on the back of the horse, Kane turned forward again and tapped the side of the horse with the back of his boot. The horse now began moving forward and for the first time since their meeting, Raiko felt honored to have met this man.
Soon, the two had safely arrived in town. They were riding atop of Kane's horse as it walked slowly through the dirty streets. It was a rather busy town, and moving much safer just wouldn't be safe. Kane took this moment to turn back to Raiko and talk with her some more. His expression suggested that there was something tugging at his mind.
"So, you said your name was Raiko? Forgive me for saying so, but that name sounds a little familiar." Kane leaned back toward her a little to get a better view of her face. "Have we met before?" Raiko was a bit nervous after hearing these questions, but she was trying her best not to show it, leaning away from him some as she responded.
"I'm sure we haven't met before. You must be thinking of someone else who's name sounds similar." At this, Kane looked at her a little harder, and then he seemed to shrug as he turned his attention back at the road. He then seemed to cry-out loudly as he noticed his horse was walking behind a food cart and eating carrots off of it. Raiko had noticed as well, and seemed to stare at Kane accusingly. "So, do you starve the horse? Or did you train it to steal?" Before Kane could respond to explain himself, the cart owner looked back at them. He grew angry and stopped pulling his cart, moving to the side of it quickly to face them.
"Hey, you, Get that horse away from my food cart!" Kane pulled his horse back immediately as the man continued to yell. "I hope you have enough money to pay for those carrots your horse just ate!" Kane looked back at Raiko nervously as Raiko just stared off to the side with an annoyed expression.
"I'm not getting you out of this one." Raiko explained as Kane's nervous look became one of panic.
"B-but... I don't have any money..." Kane whispered to her, Raiko now looked back at him in shock.
"You're kidding?" Raiko looked him up and down, his shiny armor, his clean appearance. He didn't look thin at all, either. She then regained the annoyed expression as she looked back to his eyes. "So, you do starve it then?" Kane was a bit annoyed at this response, but continued to press on.
"I'll tell you what, if you pay for the carrots, then your debt to me will be repaid. How's that sound?" Raiko raised an eyebrow to this response.
Kane was standing behind the food cart, wearing an appron over his armor and washing vegetables as the food cart owner kept yelling at him.
"Come on! Wash those faster! We have customers waiting!" At this, Kane let out a heavy sigh.
"How could she be so cruel to me after I saved her life?" He said with frustration as he attempted to clean the vegetables faster. "Was twelve gold pieces really so much to ask for the protection I offered her? The nerve of that woman!" He became so angry that he crushed a cabbage in his hand.
"Hey!" The food cart owner yelled. "You're working an extra hour, just for that!" Kane panicked and immediately dropped the squished cabbage, bowing to the man.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry! It won't happen again! I swear!"
Raiko had just wondered into the local tavern. It was a very dimly lit place and the air reeked of body odor and various vile smelling ales. As she walked through the room, some of the drunks would whistle at her or try to call her over, but she paid no attention to them. She continued to walk to the bar, dusting off a barstool before sitting herself upon it. The bartender was currently cleaning out a mug and smoking a half-gone cigar as he nodded to her. "What will it be?" The man asked in a rather horse tone that seemed to fit his tough guy appearance and shaggy beard.
"Give me the strongest ale you've got." Raiko said as she stared at the tender. "There are a few events that I would like to forget about." This was only one of her reasons for ordering the drink. Her other reason was to keep from appearing weak to some of the drunks in the room.
"Our strongest stuff, you say?" The tender raised a brow to the young girl. "You better have the money to pay for it."
"An idiot wearing shiny armor will be in here later. He'll pay for it." The tender stared at her coldly at this statement.
"You better be right about that, or I'll have to take the payment out of you." Raiko nodded to the man as he turned and headed for the back. "One Death Blossom coming up." As the tender mixed a few drinks together, Raiko could overhear a conversation behind herself. A few drunks were talking about something that was now catching her attention and she stared to the side as she listened.
"You're crazy!" One of the three drunks seemed to say. "How can the moon be blue?"
"I'm serious! I heard it from an old gipsy before he died." One of the other drunks said. "He said that the day the world will end will be a day when the second full moon of the month is blue!"
"Then he's crazy! The second full moon of a month is just called a blue moon. It isn't actually blue!"
"But on the day the world ends, it will be blue!"
"Oh really..? It'll be blue, just like that?"
"There will be warning signs..."
"Like what, exactly? Flying pigs, I suppose?" The third drunk was obviously too out of it to talk. She could hear his head hitting the table as he passed out, but it didn't seem to effect the conversation of the other two.
"Well, like the first full moon is supposed to awaken all sorts of night time and full moon awakened creatures, like zombies, werewolves, ghosts, vampires... only they won't disappear in the day!
"Oh, really..?" The other drunk clearly did not believe him.
"Yeah, and before that, monsters are supposed to be growing more common and getting smarter and stronger and stuff. All of it leading up to the final day when the moon turns blue, and the earth is blasted away! Boom!" The drunk almost fell over as he flung his arms out in his portrayal of an explosion.
"Like I said, you're crazy." Raiko agreed with the more realistic drunk. That other guy seemed to have had one too many if he was coming up with, or believing, stories like that. However she did recognize this man from the sound of his voice. He was once a highly respected philosopher, however now he was simply a washed-up old drunk. Soon, the bartender came back and set her drink down in front of her.
"Here you go, one Death Blossom." Raiko turned her attention toward the drink. It was completely black, looked as thick as syrup and had a very strong and vile odor to it. She would stare at it for a little while before pulling it close. Then she held her nose and emptied the whole mug in one long gulp. She didn't allow herself to taste much of it, figuring the less she tasted the better off she was. Almost immediately after setting the mug down, it's insides still coated with the vile drink, she began to feel dizzy. Soon after, she passed out, hitting the bar top with a soft thud.
Meanwhile, within the walls of the kingdom's capital, a man wearing majestic cloths was riding a horse toward the castle. This man had long wavy black hair, and appeared to be slightly aged. His eyes were a deep blue and he appeared to be very strong. His horse was white with a silver main flowing from it's head down it's neck and a silver tail. This man was accompanied by two guards on either side of him, both wearing golden armor and riding on brown, average looking horses. They were all moving slowly as a man came running toward them from the castle. The man with black hair looked down upon him as he now walked along side.
"Excuse me, Lord Guildimor." The man said with a slight bow. "I'm Reporting about the matter involving the dragons in our area."
"What have you found out?" Guildimor asked as he looked forward to the castle again.
"Well, I can't find any reason for it, but they seem to be gathering together at the top of Mount Winslore."
"Winslore?" A look of confusion forming on Guildimor's face. "Why would they go there? There's nothing there but rocks, and the air is so cold at the top that it snows endlessly." Guildimor thought about it for a moment, and then turned toward the man once again. "What kind of dragons are they? White dragons?" He suggested.
"Some of them." The man replied. "But others are green dragons, and blue and red. All sorts of dragons have been gathering there."
"All sorts? Why would different dragons go to the same place? They aren't fighting over territory, are they?"
"That's the strange part." The man said hesitantly. "They seem to be sharing the mountain and all the food they bring back with them. I have absolutely no idea why or how, but they are."
At that time, three more dragons flew over head. Their large shadows were cast along the ground as Guildimor and everyone else stopped to look up at them. The dragons were gray, blue and yellow and they were all heading for Mount Winslore. Guildimor stared at the dragons as he spoke to his men.
"I really don't like this... Keep trying to figure out what's going on and ready my armies just in case they plan to attack us." His men saluted him and called out "Yes Sir!" Then his men continued toward the castle.
Kane had finally finished working off the carrots his horse had eaten earlier. It was almost dark out and he was now walking through the streets, pulling his horse along beside himself as he searched for Raiko.
"That woman! She could have at least helped me! I'll bet she's been in the bar all this time living it up." Kane walked a little further and there in front of him was the tavern. "There it is. Alright Storm, let's go." Suddenly, a huge explosion from the south wall caught Kane's attention. Kane's horse, Storm, ran off as several slime monsters began charging in through the hole in the wall. "What's this?!" Kane drew his sword as he looked on at these slimes with confusion. "Slimes don't attack towns, do they? And they never work in large packs like this... Something strange is happening here."
A slime jumped on Kane's back, sending a shiver of fright up his spine. He quickly recovered from the surprise and pulled the slime off of his back, then cut it in half while it was in the air, holding his hand out to catch the gold and random items which the slime had been collecting from other people it attacked.
"These definitely aren't normal slimes... Very well then, it's up to me to defend this town and it's people from harm!" Kane thrusts his sword into the air as he said this, then brought it back to his side and began running toward the open wall. "Charge!" Kane cuts down slime after slime as he charges straight into them, collecting more gold and nearly worthless items from each one. The local guards were also fighting while trying to get the town's people to safety, however as more slimes poured in the guards were forced to retreat further into the town. There were just too many to handle.
It was dark. The streets were illuminated by the fire of burning houses. Bandits were running around setting fire to buildings and slaughtering the town's people. A mother and father were running toward the edge of town with their daughter. The little girl had red hair and grey eyes, while her parents seemed to both have brown hair. Her father had grey eyes and her mother had green eyes. As they ran, the mother was hit in the back with an arrow and collapsed. The father and daughter stopped to help her.
"Mother!" The daughter cried out. Her mother struggled to look up at her.
"Raiko... You need to get away from here... Run into the forest and stay hidden... Don't let them find you...
"Do as your mother says." Her father demanded. "I'll stay here and do everything I can to protect her. You need to get out of here before they see you!" Raiko hesitated, but when her father yelled "Go, now!" she turned and made a break for the forest. After hiding in the forest for a while, the bandits began exploring the forest for anyone who might have been hiding inside. They seemed to be laughing about the raid. Then Raiko heard one of them speek.
"Did you see that buffoon thinking he could protect his wife?" Another seemed to laugh before giving a reply "Yeah, they were easy pickings!" They continued to laugh as Raiko began to cry. Over and over again she would tell herself that it wasn't true. They must have been talking about another couple. One of the bandits, a crazy looking man with wild blonde hair and green eyes, thought he heard something and looked over in her direction. Raiko stopped herself from making any noise and eventually the bandits all moved on. She couldn't quite tell what the man was wearing. It was too dark and she was too scared to notice. She only noticed his eyes because they seemed to glow, which made him seem even scarier and even more psychotic.
Early the next morning, Raiko returned to the town. It had been burnt completely to the ground, and where she remembers leaving her parents turned out to be right where they still were. Now covered in blood and torn to shreds. For a while, Raiko felt like crying, but no tears came out. She kneeled next to the fallen bodies which were once her parents and began covering them with dirt. Eventually, she did this with all of the town's people, leaving crossed sticks on top of each dirt pile. She had no emotion to her expression now. She was too sad to smile, but too angry to cry. Eventually, she left her hometown and never looked back.
Raiko's eyes were opening. She was back inside the tavern. Her vision was very blurry and she had a killer headache. She sat up as slowly as she could, unaware of the battles which took place outside. She began to slowly rub her head as she closed her eyes again.
"Why can't I forget...?" She said as she brushed her hair back. "Haven't I been cursed with these memories long enough...?"
She then noticed the sound of battle outside and thus opened her eyes. As she looked around, she noticed that everyone else had left the tavern already. Kane then ran in the door, covered in slime.
"Are you still in here?" Kane said with shock. "Come on, you've got to get out of here. There are slime monsters everywhere!" Raiko stood up, a bit wobbly. She was still half out of it from the drink she had before and she wore a confused expression on her face.
"Slime monsters attacking the town?" Raiko asked. "How can that be? Slimes aren't intelligent enough to work in groups, and they're too afraid of people to attack more than two or three at a time. They'd never attack a town."
"I wouldn't think so either, but they are." Kane said as he helped Raiko walk to the door. "Just look outside."
Raiko struggled to see straight as she looked around outside. There were hundreds of slimes all over the town. Several of them were eating away parts of houses, others simply launched themselvs into them. Only a few were actually fighting the soldiers, as there wern't very many. Raiko quickly became sober, or at least sober enough, at this sight and began walking out toward the slimes. Kane suddenly grabbed her shoulder to stop her.
"Ms. Blair, we must act sensibly. Let me clear the way while you escape." Raiko glared at him for a moment, then pushed his hand off her shoulder.
"I'm not running away again."
With that, she looked ahead and headed out into the middle of the town. Kane stared and blinked at her for a moment, then was forced to follow her as the entrance to the INN nearly crumbled down upon him. He continued to call out to Raiko, warning her of the dangers she faced. But when Raiko reached the center of town a strong gust of wind began to form off of her, which startled Kane enough to make him shut up and watch. As the wind grew stronger, it began to twist around her, causing her dress and hair to wave slowly. She then thrusts a single finger into the air, moving it around in a large circle.
As she gave her command, all of the fire from the buildings began to spin in the direction of the wind. It gatherd and collected as it flew round until it formed a ring made of fire. The slimes seemed startled and began to retreat as Raiko thew her hand out to the side, causing the ring of fire to begin expanding even faster than the slimes could run. One by one the slimes were engulfed in the flames, as well as the guards and towns people who attempted to shield themselves, however the fire didn't burn them, nor did they even feel the heat of the flames as they passed through.
Eventually the halo encircled the entire town, and all that was left were a few hundred slimes that remained on the inside of it as it formed. Kane stared on in total shock, as did the guards and the towns people, however the slimes didn't seem that impressed. On the contrary, Raiko's attack did little more than anger them, and in a last great effort, they began flinging themselvs into eachother. One by one they collided, making a larger and larger pile of slime. Eventually, there was only one slime, and it towered over the town like a giant, giving a roar that sounded as if it was going to vomit on them.
"Um, Ms. Blair...?" Kane said. "About that retreat I mentioned? It's not too late, you know...?" But his suggestion fell upon deff ears, as Raiko just raised her hand into the air. Kane was once again mezmerised as fire from the halo around the town flew up into the air from all sides and began to gather into her hand. Slowly it spiraled around her body and engulphed her, making her appear to be on fire. As the last of the flames collected around her, the Slime began it's attack, spitting mucus straith at Raiko.
"Crimson Fire Storm!" Huge flames shot from Raiko's arms as she thrusts them forward, blasting straight through the balls of mucus, then completely incinerated the massive Slime. The rest of the slimes, few as they were, seemed to retreat as the aura of fire around Raiko's body vanished. Raiko then called the fallen gold into her hand as Kane stood dumbfounded at Raiko's incredible power. He then began to clap and cheer, as did the rest of the town, and he ran over to join her.
"That was unbelievable! Ms. Blair, I had no idea you were such a powerful sorceress!" Raiko seemed to smile at Kane as she held up her hand, causing the gold that was once trapped inside the slimes to fly into her palm. She pocketed the money, then she moved closer to Kane who began to feel warmer inside as she seemed to be moving in for a kiss, but then she stopped.
"I don't owe you anything." She whispered, then turned and began walking away as smoke began to form from the ground. As Kane looked down, he noticed that his left shoe was on fire.
"Ah! My shoe's on fire!" Kane quickly kicked dirt onto his shoe to put it out, then glared toward Raiko as she continued to walk away. "That little witch wasn't moving in for a kiss! She was just moving in to distract me while setting my foot on fire!" He then turned completely around. "She could be more grateful. I mean, I did help her out, didn't I?!" Kane noticed he was now shouting at the face of his horse, which looked very confused and startled. He then took the horse by it's reigns and began walking with it. "Come on, let's go." Kane took the horse toward the tavern, which also served as the town's INN. He tied his horse up outside and walked in, seeing Raiko enjoying a couple more normal drinks. He began to walk over, but the tender stopped him.
"I was told you'd be here." The tender said to him in his usual horse voice. "That lady over there said you'd pay for all of her drinks."
"I what...?" Kane looked over as Raiko waved to him with a smile. He suddenly felt a heavy weight on his body.
"You can afford to pay for her drinks, can't you?" Kane looked toward the tender in a nervous panic. The tender continued to pressure him, but then Raiko walked over in a bit of a laugh.
"Don't worry, I'll pay for my own drinks. I got plenty of gold from those slimes earlier, after all."
Kane was now wearing a look of annoyed depression as Raiko paid the bartender. "Then... Why did you...?"
"Because I wanted to save my money." Raiko said simply. "But I've had a change in heart because I might need you later, and you might run off if I'm that mean, so I'll pay for it this time."
"Is that your only reason...?" Kane said with an annoyed town, slouching over as he felt as if a heavy weight had been placed upon his back. Raiko raised a curious brow at him as she half turned away.
"Do I need a better one? Besides, this way you also get to pretend like you're protecting someone and I don't have to do as much work. So, I want you to stay with me."
"You mean... In your room?" Kane's eyes grew wide as he asked this. Then Raiko put her fists together and bashed Kane over the head. She then yelled at him as he sat on the floor while rubbing his sore head.
"Not in my room, dummy! I meant I'll let you travel with me!" Raiko then turned and began heading toward the stairs as she said "You can get your own room." She then stopped upon reaching the stairs and turned to face him. Her eyes now held the same dull expression that she usually seemd to have. "Those monsters didn't attack randomly." Kane seemed to be somewhat confused about those words. "I'll explain it all to you later. For now, promise that you'll come with me on my journey. If I'm right, I won't be able to do this on my own." Kane nodded in response, then watched as Raiko turned and walked up the stairs. He slowly pulled himself off of the floor, then turned to look at the mutilated slimes and the half eaten town.
"Does she somehow know what's happening?" He thought to himself. He then turned back toward the stairs as he continued to think to himself. "She said she needs my help, and I'd like to find out what's going on, but... is it really worth it?" Kane gave a slow sigh, then he paid the bartender for a room and walked upstairs to rest.