Yeah, I know… yet another story. This is kinda a special treat though. Lets start with that fact, that it's basically a storyline that I had in mind for a while and at some point I shared it with other people… we were actually hoping to change it into a multi-author manga. The idea sorta died, but I like the plot that I invented (with a little help from my friend, Jackyl) and so I used the background the two of us created to write this story the way I saw it.
As most of my works this'll be an action/adventure with a lot of action, but there's gonna be also plenty of humor. Please keep in mind that this story is also not a simple "good guys against bad guys": many things have a 'double bottom' as we say in my country and may require a different approach to fully understand. It's not just "black & white"… under contrary, I dare say even the main characters, although theoretically good, have darkness within. And it's that "grey" color that's kinda like the main topic of this story. Who would you call good? What determinates whether someone is just or evil? These are just few question this story will try to answer.
Though be prepared for the fact that very little will be said straight. One of the things I dislike the most in the stories is when the reader gets everything handled to him/her on a silver platter. I'll do my best to keep my opinions on the low, leaving you to judge whether a character is good or bad, or if what one did can be justified.
With all that said, I believe the only thing left to do is to get on with the story:
Chapter #1: Ignition
Volume Cover: a huge, golden circle is separated into five, equal parts: the top one has a tree engraved in it and going clockwise, the next one has a flame, then three, wavy lines, then a rock and finally a small hammer
Title Page: a large scroll, partly unwrapped, is laying on the ground with weird symbol written on it
Being human. Does any of you ever stopped by to think what it truly means? Is it just about the race? Maybe its depends on one's looks? Or maybe it's ones action that classify a person as a human or not? Is there really an answer to this, that would satisfy someone who always envy humans, yet was never able to become one? After everything, isn't that just a matter of perspective?
Since the beginning, humans were always considered Gods' favorites. For what reason? Were they really worth it? Were they, in any aspect, better then anyone else? Or maybe, in fact, they weren't and their struggle to change that was the thing that made them different? Gifted with free will, they made their choices, leading them to glory or destruction. That is how it's been for centuries and that is how it'll be for centuries to come.
From many books I have read and stories I have heard, there's one that will forever have a special place in my mind. Although I haven't witness any of the events described in it, I remember it. Every detail stuck in my head, almost as if I experienced it first-hand. In a strange way I find this story one that completes me.
In my long, lonesome life, every time questions about humanity began arising in my head, I always repeated this tale to myself, hoping to find the answers to them. I know it is there. I can feel it. However not everything is obvious from the start. Sometimes it takes a good eye to notice things hidden beneath. First impression, ignorance, narrow mind… all this stops us from spotting things that may teach us something.
Please, sit down and listen to me, for the story I'm about to tell you is not just about warriors, demons and magic. This is also a story of dreams, choices, the nature of humanity and life itself. Please, listen, and once the story is done, perhaps you'll leave a bit wiser then you are now…
It happened in the world of Ajantis, ruled by magic and nature. It was all possible thanks to a delicate balance. In this world good could not overcome evil and evil could not overcome good. That balance remained unharmed thanks to the Five Gods, that watched over it: Ignus, God of fire and power; Meeve, Goddess of water and life; Gaia, Goddess of earth and nature; Crinos, God of steel and destruction; and Belios, God of wood and peace. Those, Five Gods, by keeping the gates of Lower World sealed, kept the balance. Gods and demons stood away from mortal world and mortal world stood away from Other Spheres. However that changed one, fatal night.
From the deepest darkness of the world, a powerful, demon lord by the name of Baltazar, gained power. Power greater then anyone could imagine. By collecting the Dark Crystal of Kedros, he was able to break the seal placed on the gates of Lower World by the Five Gods and entered Ajantis with his legion of demons. Humans soon find it impossible to defeat Baltazar and his minions. As all hope seemed lost, the Gods broke their own rules and interfered.
Using all the power they had, they've managed to separate Baltazar's power into hundreds of pieces and seal them away in the bodies of newborn children. Without his power, the demon lord was once more pushed back into the darkness and his army crumbled. As their numbers decreased, they scattered around the world, hiding before their enemies. The battle was won.
Sadly with every victory, there's a price. Defeating Baltazar drained the Gods from their power. And knowing he may try to break the gates of Lower World again, they used the last remains of their power to write five scrolls. By putting their souls into them, they hoped to keep Baltazar sealed for all eternity.
Evil was vanquished. Peace returned to Ajantis and life went on. But that is not the end of our story. No… our story is only beginning…
"I don't like this" announced a seventeen-year-old boy with long, spiky, black hair, clipped in a thin ponytail that was falling down his back and green eyes. He wore green, a little baggy, t-shirt with golden markings decorating it in several places, along with a brown shirt under that. His pants were in the similar fashion as the t-shirt. His hands were covered by steel, fingerless metal protectors, that covered the lower part of his arms, while his boots were white. He also wore a large, white metal protector that covered his shoulders and went around his neck. One could also spot a small, golden ring in his left ear.
The boy settled his green eyes at the beast before him as it roared wildly, while the wind carried that cry to the furthest corners of the meadow the two now stood. Its brown fur covered the creature almost entirely, leaving only long, sharp claws that stick from its hands unhidden. A single, large eye stared at the teenager before it, while his mouth opened, revealing tens of fangs.
"I seriously don't like this" the boy repeated as he tightened his grip on his sword. Its handle was black and gold, while the blade resembled more that of a saber. "How come I'm the one doing this? Weren't you the one who said that killing a behemoth is a piece of cake?" he asked, turning around to the girl his age, who stood just few meters behind him. "Why don't you fight it?"
"You want a delicate girl like me to go against a huge, smelly monster?" the girl shoot back, making a sweet and innocent face, which only made a vein pulse on the boy's head. His companion always tried to make him do all the work, much to his annoyance. However the two knew each other since they were little and in a way stuck together. Which none of them really mind.
"One of those days I'm really gonna let one of these critters to eat you, Soria" he announced with a twitching eye, turning away from the girl to look at the beast. The girl had long, blonde hair, falling freely onto her back and side. Her eyes were sky-blue and one could see a strange, black symbol drawn on her left cheek, which seemed to be a latter in one of the ancient languages. She was also wearing green, however her protectors, made of gold, covered her upper chest, legs and shoulders. Her boots were black and high and on top of all that she wore a brown cloak with a hood, that was currently placed onto her head. She held a long, wooden staff with a red crystal on one end, firm as the behemoth roared again, finally charging forward at the two.
Instantly both jumped out of its way, with the boy reaching for his sword in the process. As a loud 'shing' was heard through the meadow, the sunrays deflected from the blade. The handle of the weapon had colorful gems graved in it, giving the impression of it being decorated with a rainbow, while the blade, long and massive, had four, strange, black symbols drawn near the tip of the sword.
"Hey, ugly, lets play!" the boy purposed with a confident smirk, yet a moment later sweat dropped as he realized the behemoth completely ignored him and concentrated on chasing Soria, swinging his huge paws at her, cutting the air right behind the blonde, who did her best to stay away from the beast.
"Balt, you dumbass, save me!" she yelled as she ducked in order to avoid massive claws that swung right above her head, while she kept on running forward. The boy just followed her with his eyes as a bored expression crossed his face: "Well, since you asked so nicely…" he responded as a tiny veil began pulsing on his forehead.
Soria made a wide u-turn as she switched directions, now running straight at the boy, Balt, with the behemoth still chasing her. The brunette bended his knees slightly, as his grip on the handle tightened. In a flash the swordsman swung his weapon parallel to the ground, forcing the girl to duck under. As a whistling sound went over her head, the monster's torso received a hit, making its flash open and blood escape.
"Hey, you were right, this was easy" announced Balt laughing as he turned around, only to receive a direct kick in the face from Soria, who was literally boiling at this point: "What you're trying to do, kill me, you asshole?" she yelled with a pulsing vein, while her companion merely sweat dropped, still having her boot on his face: "You welcome for saving you…"
"Anyway, we should take this lame excuse for a bear and…" Soria began, but words suddenly froze in her throat. He managed to point something with her shaking finger and the instant Balt looked over his shoulder, he jumped forward, grabbing his friend, in order to avoid a huge paw with claws that came at them from above. The assault hit the ground, making it crack loudly, while the behemoth stood on his two legs with a wide slash going through the center of his torso.
"Damn, it's still alive?" Balt asked surprised, preparing himself to continue as he got back to his feet.
"No, I'm sure dead beasts get up on a regular basis around here!" Soria shoot back, her teeth changing into fangs and her eyes becoming completely white as he yelled at her friend. "Do something!"
"Okay, okay, chill" the boy asked as her scream reached his ears. "You, ugly, why don't you just drop death?"
"What the hell is that suppose to do? You try to convince it to die?" Soria yelled again and upon receiving a nod as an answer, she sweat dropped: "You're so stupid."
Suddenly the air got ripped by a vicious roar and in a flash the behemoth charged forward, extending its claws. Immediately the girl jumped out of its way, yet Balt stood firm and pushed his sword out front, making the huge claws clash against his weapon's blade. As he was pushed back by the force, he quickly maneuvered and running to his right, he blasted the monster's paws to its right as well, creating an opening.
In an instant he slashed the beast's left side, making it roar with both pain and anger, as it spun around, aiming its claws at the boy's head, yet Balt ducked under that assault and cut the behemoth's hand from below, making its blood spray upon him a bit. The monster instinctually retreated his wounded paw and now facing its opponent, it charged forward at the swordsman, who still had his knees bended.
In a flash Balt jumped up and somersaulting in mid-air he struck the beast's back as it came below him, thus making it let out yet another roar. As his blade sunk deeper, the monster grew more and more furious, trying to shake the swordsman off by tossing its body in every direction, yet to no vial.
Seeing this, Soria closed her eyes and pointed the gem on the end of her staff at the beast, reciting magical incantation, while the crystal began shining red: "Ignus, God of Fire, give me thy power and initiate this flame! Let it burn with your will, carrying your judgment! For thee are the true master of the flame, make those who oppose your power perish!" and with that her eyes shoot open, while her cloak flew up due to the sudden gust of wind that engulfed her: "Fireball!"
Hearing this Balt gazed at his companion and seeing the end of her staff suddenly getting encircled by flames, his eyes widen, while he jumped off the beast. A fraction of a second later a large ball of fire shoot out for the red gem, heading straight at the behemoth and meeting it heads on, making the monster let out the loudest roar yet.
In an instant flames engulfed the beast, burning its fur with a sizzling sound. The monster howled to the sky, creating an opening Balt was waiting for. Immediately the boy jumped forward and rolling on the ground, he came to a stop right before the behemoth, swinging his sword for below. Instantly the beast's abdomen got cut, riding him of another fair among of blood. Without another sound coming from its mouth, the behemoth fell to his back with a loud 'thud'.
Calmly the boy hid his sword and gazed at the monster laying before him: "Okay, this time I don't suppose it'll get up" he stated, turning to Soria, who just walked right next to him. "Now, the only problem is how are we gonna prove to the mayor we did slay it? And don't even think about my carrying this furry bear-alike back to the town, coz I refuse!"
"Just cut off one of its claws, genius" Soria shot back bored as hit his her companion on the head softly with the staff.
Balt and Soria, with that first one carrying a massive claw on his shoulder, finally reached the gates Furnkin. The sun was slowly beginning to rise from behind the horizon, warming all the travelers with its first rays, however the chill, morning breeze was still very unpleasant. The road leading to the draw bridge that preceded the wide gate, at night shut by metal bars, was now filled with wagons and people wearing colorful clothes, some even having their faces covered with masks.
"Damn, all those people came for the carnival?" Balt asked slightly surprised as he looked around.
"What are you talking about?" asked Soria, glancing at her friend. "I'm positive all of them wearing masks and party clothes is just a weird coincidence. How stupid are you to ask a dumb question like that? Of course they're here for the carnival! That's the same reason why you wanted to come here in the first place, beetle-head! We only went after that behemoth to earn some money, since we spent most of our savings in Thull!"
"Geez, no need to get all cranky" the boy responded annoyed. "Lets just get the money for killing that behemoth and join the fun. I…" but before he could finish a weird sensation hit his body. Acting completely on instinct, he turned around and spotted a group of three man. Just as his eyes settled on the one that seemed like the leader, the man also turned around, thus revealing that he was a man in his mid-twenties with long, blonde hair, made into dreadlocks, wearing a red bandeau on his forehead and a black t-shirt with a red vest on that, with baggy pants in the same color. He carried a large sword with a saber-like blade on his back. But the thing that attracted Balt's attention the most was a medallion with a strange, black crystal on it.
The man smiled wickedly at the boy as their eyes meet, but quickly turned around and followed his companions, disappearing in the crowd. Seeing her friend's behavior, a worried look crossed Soria's face, as she spoke up: "Are you okay?"
"Yeah… it's probably nothing" the boy replied, managing a smile as he glanced back at the girl.
The young mage kept looking at her companion suspiciously, yet decided to say nothing. Without another word, the two walking through the gates of Furnkin, unaware of the fact that the mysterious man with the black crystal was not the only one whose attention they drew.
For in the crowd stood another figure, dressed completely black in a robe and a spiky hat with a brim. The figure seemed to be propping itself with a long stick, that was ended just like Soria's, with a gem, however in this case, the jewel was light blue. The shadow cast by the brim of the hat covered the figure's face completely, even when its eyes followed the two teenagers into the city.
After all, those years, it'd appear I've finally found it the figure thought to itself happily. It sure has been a long time. To think it was hidden like that. It's no wonder I could not find it up till now. What's more, those, two kids doesn't seem ordinary. But either way, that is not important. My mission comes first and if they are to get in the way…
---to be continued---
And so the first chapter ends. I do hope that you enjoyed it and that you'll leave me a review once you're done reading. It'd really mean a lot. Thank you in advance. Best wishes and have a great day. Take care and until next time, hopefully!