The Goddess Whispers: Fate
Hunting for a Living
"Zeno!" yelled a red-haired young man as he furiously knocked on the wooden door of a ramshackle wooden house. "Zeno, you there? Wake up, bro!"
Zeno Reingard groaned as he rolled on his wooden bed. There were no pillows or soft mattress whatsoever and all that covered him was a very thin blue blanket. He pulled the blanket over his head. "No Zeno here!" he called.
"Haha, very funny dude!" replied the person outside. "Get your sleepy head off the bed, Zeno! You're gonna love what I have to say!"
"If it's more of those pretty Priestesses, Rachon," said Zeno, still glued into his bed. "Thanks, but no thanks."
Rachon sounded hurt. "Aw, Zeno. It's not about that, but it's just as good, though!"
"Then do tell. I'd decide whether to wake up or not after I hear it."
"Well, that's the problem," said Rachon, lowering his voice. "This is all hush-hush. You don't want anyone to hear about it."
Something in Rachon's tone made Zeno curious. He knew he was going to regret listening to Rachon's drabbles, but sometimes his drabbles got him some very valuable information. Although he was extremely irritating, Rachon Doug, his best friend in the tiny hunting village of Plume was also the best scout he ever met. As hunters, both Zeno and Rachon were living off the game of the nearby Cairus Mountains, particularly birds with expensive feathers and the occasional boars and deers for food. If anyone gets a very pricey target, it would have to be Rachon.
"Hold it," said Zeno, getting up and shoving the blanket away. He just hoped this was a good hunting opportunity or else, he was going to give him bruises that'll last months.
Zeno pulled the metal chains that locked the door. He opened the flimsy thing and as sunlight poured into the house, Zeno squinted and blinked. He focused his eyesight and the first thing he saw was Rachon's cheerful face and that very big grin he always showed when he was excited.
Rachon was wearing a neat blue tunic covered by a leather breastplate hunters usually wear. His legs were covered by brown pants and his feet with some comfortable black boots. His red spiky hair was kept in place by a long white bandana. In contrast to Rachon's ready-for-action attire, Zeno was just wearing a pair of short brown shorts and his brown hair was tousled and sticking out on different places. Zeno greeted Rachon with a scowl.
Zeno got to the point. "So, what is it, Rachon?"
"Aw, come on, Zeno!" said Rachon, waving his hands off. "Where're the courtesy and the hospitality? Can't you at least ask me to come inside your humble abode?"
"I can show you my courtesy and hospitality by walking you out, covered in blood. Your blood."
Rachon coughed. "I'm just kidding, you know?"
Zeno yawned. "Me too," he said with a shrug. "I can't risk anyone overhearing this conversation, so to the humble abode it is."
Rachon grinned as he went inside. "Hah! I know you couldn't resist my charms!"
"Let's see how your charms fare with my sword," said Zeno as he closed the door and putting the whole house in complete darkness.
"Whoa!" yelled Rachon. "Can't we get a little light here?"
As if in response, Zeno lit a glass lantern.
Rachon's face fell. "The windows, please?"
"Too much illumination," said Zeno as he comfortably sat at the wooden stools near his well-used square wooden table.
"What are you – a vampire?" said Rachon as he sat opposite his companion.
"As someone who hunts at night, yes, that's a pretty accurate description."
"Fine, fine!" said Rachon, losing to Zeno's sarcasm. "You're Mr. Nocturnal, best hunter in Plume, never misses his mark, blah, blah, blah."
Zeno gave him a frown. "I'm sure that wasn't the only thing you wanted to say, to rudely wake me up like that."
"I don't know about rude, but I'm certainly not your alarm clock!"
"Will you just stop it, Rachon?" said Zeno, losing the last shreds of his patience. "Can we just cut to the chase?"
Rachon raised his hands in surrender. "Yeah! Yeah! I'll get to it! Sheesh, no wonder you don't have a girlfriend."
Zeno stared at him with bored eyes. "And you do have one?"
Rachon resumed his big, if not cocky, grin. "Yup. Alesha and I started dating. Aren't you jealous?" Zeno replied with an annoyed snort. "Actually, that's one of the things I wanted to say to you. You know, just to remind you there is life beyond hunting birds and animals. That there are girls out there waiting for us to peek into their panties."
Zeno groaned. "If that's the only thing you've got to say, I promise you, you won't have eyes to peek with once I'm over with you."
"Your threats are really getting creative as time passes by," commented Rachon. "I don't know about you, Zeno, but girls are into you. All of the girls in this village, minus Alesha of course, like you! I just don't know what they like about you."
Zeno rolled his eyes. "Can we please skip this stupid conversation?"
"Well, fine!" said Rachon. "But as a friend, I'll give you one advice. That pretty friend of yours, Reeka – she likes you very much. And she's the biggest fish in the pond. Every man in the right mind wanted to hook with her! And with your present status with her, I can say you're doing good. Just one more push and bam! You're under her panties."
Zeno groaned. "Reeka's just a close friend of mine, she's like a little sister to me," he told him. "I'm sure she feels the same way. And Rachon, you're definitely a big pervert." He paused as he looked like he was thinking. "I wonder what Alesha would say if I told her you just wanted to be under her panties."
Rachon was horrified. "Zeno, I beg you! You can turn me into a bloody pulp, just don't tell her what transpired between us today."
Zeno laughed. "If you want that, then stop being such a pain in the ass and get over it."
"Well, okay," said Rachon as he turned serious. "So what I'm here for is to say that we got a very expensive hunt on our hands. Somebody wants a multi-colored Najika Tori. Dead."
"Najika Tori? Isn't that the bird that lives somewhere in the Feathered Peak?"
"Yup, very rare and very hard to find," said Rachon, nodding.
Zeno thought hard about it. "Feathered Peak is pretty hard to climb. Plus, it's dangerous."
"Yup, but you won't believe the price," said Rachon, his eyes sparkling. "500,000 Rone!"
Although his face was usually expressionless, Zeno managed to look surprised. "That much?"
Rachon nodded, grinning. "So? Do you take the job?"
It was Zeno's turn to grin. "You kidding? I'm in."
It was late in the afternoon when Zeno emerged from his house. He was now dressed on a more casual manner – a tight sleeveless but thick black shirt and a pair of brown pants. He also wore a pair of brown boots and a leather belt on his hips where his sword was dangled. Strapped on his back were a slender bow and a cylindrical container full of arrows. His dark black hair was now combed, although it still looked a bit tousled.
Zeno walked towards the western exit of Plume, which will lead him to the path towards the Carius Mountains, a range of very tall mountains situated in the southwestern territory of the Kingdom of Kole, near the border of the Rotidhon Empire. The Najika Tori, Zeno's bounty, lives on the highest point of the whole kingdom, in the Feathered Peak, on top of the highest mountain in the Carius range. It'll be a precarious journey but Zeno was confident. As one who lived off with hunting the creatures of the Carius Mountains, he knew his way around like the back of his hand.
Zeno stared at the receding dusk light with clear and sharp blue eyes of a distinguished hunter. He was still twenty-one years old, but being orphaned in a young age required him to hone his skills as early as possible in order to survive. The training had paid off as Zeno was now one of the most skillful hunters around and he was unbeatable in both sword and bow.
Zeno was about to start his trek when a sweet voice called, "Zeno!"
Zeno turned to look and saw a very pretty pink-haired girl coming towards him. He knew her well – she was Reeka Arnstone, his childhood friend and the one who had helped him countless times during his trying times. He valued her as a very good friend, but what Rachon said lingered on his mind. Does he really want to treat Reeka as more than a very good friend?
Reeka caught up to him, her very wavy and long pink hair being caressed by the wind. She wore a very simple blouse and skirt with flowery prints and a pair of sandals, but she looked beautiful in it. She was three years younger than her and at least five inches shorter, but she was very good-looking at such an age. Rachon was right – Reeka was the prettiest girl in the village. Reeka gazed at him with clear, hazel-colored eyes. "Are you off to another hunt?" she asked him.
Zeno pushed Rachon's words to the back off his mind. He treated Reeka as his little sister and that is what he would treat her in the next years to come. "Yeah, Reeka. Don't worry, I'll be back in the morning."
Reeka meekly nodded, but it was evident that she was worried. Zeno sighed and patted her head like she was a small puppy. "There, there, I'll be back soon, Reeka." He grinned as he turned to go. "Wish me luck!"
To his surprise, Reeka leaned into him and kissed his right cheek. Zeno blushed slightly but Reeka was redder. She shifted uncomfortably after she did it and said, "That's my good luck charm for you…" Zeno was speechless.
Very embarrassed, Reeka run off, leaving Zeno staring into space. Zeno shook his head and tried to focus – Reeka is just like a sister to him. He couldn't afford to let her hope something could blossom from their friendship. It looked like Rachon was right, and Zeno had to do something about it. But did he really want to do something about it? What if he really liked Reeka?
Once again, Zeno shook off the thoughts. He sighed as he decided to confront Reeka after his job is done. With that, he turned to the exit and continued on his way, his mind still on Reeka. He didn't know what to do. He never knew about love. How does he know if he had fallen in love?
As the night began to settle in, Zeno's confusion was still in the air. For twenty-one years, he thought of nothing but to survive and live another day. But how does it feel to be loved and to love in return? He guessed he will never know.
"Open your eyes…"
Huh? Who was that? Is someone calling me?
"Open your eyes… Return to the world…"
World? What world? And why should I return?
"Open your eyes… Return to the world… Feel the pain and strife…"
What? What are you talking about? Please answer me!
"Open your eyes… Return to the world… Feel the pain and strife… Live and love like you never did before…"
Live? Love? What are those things? I don't… I don't understand!
"Open your eyes… Return to the world… Feel the pain and strife… Live and love like you never did before… The Goddess is being called…"
Am I… Am I being called…?
But the darkness… The darkness keeps me imprisoned…
When can I… When can I see the light once more…?
There was a full moon as Zeno crept upon the grassy outcrops and crooked trees of the Feathered Peak. He looked at the shining orb in the sky and the countless stars that littered the dark horizon and smiled. He was just in time; he knew it was just a few minutes before midnight. The Najika Tori was rumored to only appear during midnight to sing a very beautiful song.
From his hiding place, Zeno scanned the surrounding trees, hoping to glimpse a multi-colored bird upon one of its branches. There were lots of rare and sought-after birds – the crimson-colored Ruby Canary, the shiny plume of the Night Hawk and some chirping Blizzmories. But there was no Najika Tori.
Zeno remained on his spot. He wondered what his client wanted with the Najika Tori. Its song was said to cure any disease but he figured it was not what the client was after. A Najika Tori never sings after it is captured. The feathers of the bird were very beautiful and come in different colors, but it grays and withers after it is plucked. The meat of the bird wasn't very edible, too. It was no good as a pet as well for it refuses to eat once caged and usually dies in a few days. So why spend such a large sum of money for a bird that is that useless?
A low yet menacing growl caught Zeno's attention. It came from behind him and Zeno knew what it might be. And it sure isn't friendly. It growled once more and very slowly, Zeno tried to reach his sword. But then there was a roar and the creature jumped on him.
Quickly, Zeno rolled away but the creature was too fast for him. It's heavy and furry body pushed him into the ground, the creature perilously on top of him. It snarled and aimed to bite at him, but Zeno shoved his bow at its mouth, breaking it into splinters with its strong fangs but the pain from destroying the bow was enough to distract it. He pushed it away from him, aiming a kick at its large head. The creature was dazed for a moment and Zeno grabbed the chance to run.
Zeno sped out of his hiding place and into the clearing he was observing a while ago. His sudden appearance startled the birds and all of them flew away. Zeon was a fast runner and he was already a few feet away when the creature that attacked him burst out of the bushes and chased after him. He knew it was Velvet Panther – a vicious predator that liked to sneak up on its prey. Zeno had come across several of these flesh-eating bests and he knew well how to outsmart them.
Zeno scanned for a tree. Velvet Panthers were known as acrophobic animals and Zeno knew once he got up a tree, the beast would give up and leave him be. But Zeon realized a little too late that he had been running towards a tree-less clearing on top of the Feathered Peak. However, he continued to run but he was aware the Panther was gaining on him.
And then Zeno saw it – a small ruined temple in the middle of the Peak. He knew it as an old Temple of the Goddess and was called the Temple of Feathers or something. They said it was a midget compared to the flashy and large Temples in the cities, but Zeno never knew for he never dared to venture out of Plume and the Carius Mountains. But the Temple was a good enough place to keep him out of a hungry beast's dinner.
The Temple of Feather's entrance was blocked by the fallen debris and vines that accumulated throughout the years but the whole structure was still solid enough. As he neared the Temple, Zeno jumped off the ground and climbed one of the Goddess statues that stood guard on the entrance. He knew it was dangerous to climb a holy Goddess' replica, but he didn't have much of a choice now. He reached the Goddess' head and stood on it. With a very big leap, Zeon landed on the top of the Temple – its dome-like roof.
Zeno watched as the Velvet Panther came into view. It's cold, purple eyes stared at him with remorse. Zeno sighed deeply and managed to laugh a little. He had escaped a very close encounter with death. With a bump, he sat down on the edge of the Temple's dome.
The next few moments were a complete shock to Zeno. The Velvet Panther suddenly jumped towards the dome, pinning him directly towards the very hard cement. His breath left him and he felt very dizzy as his head hit the stone-walled roof. When he got his focus back, the Panther was over him, getting ready for the kill.
Zeno knew it was already too late. It looked like he would really be dead by tonight. For shame, for he was right. He would never know how it feels to love and be loved in return. Zeno chuckled to himself – here he was in the midst of death and all he thought about was something he never had. Won't he miss the things he had – friends, money, his house? He guessed it didn't matter, since he couldn't bring them to where he'll soon be heading, wherever it may be.
Zeno stared at the eyes of his soon-to-be-killer. The creature eyed him with such a cold look that he made him shudder. This is no ordinary Velvet Panther, he thought. But ordinary or not, the fact was he was going to die and there was nothing he could do about it.
The Panther growled and Zeno waited for the kill. He stared at the brilliantly shining moon, the last thing he will ever see. And then he noticed the moon was shining more radiantly than ever and then, a very bizarre thing occurred.
As the Panther reached to close his jaws at Zeno's flesh, a brilliant beam of moonlight struck down towards the center of the Temple. The sudden burst of light blinded the Velvet Panther but Zeno looked at it with very wide eyes. To his surprise, it was no ordinary beam of light, as the spot it illuminated – the very top of the spherical dome – began to crumble, letting the light pass through the building.
With a loud breaking sound, the whole dome cracked like a fragile glass. The Panther sensed the danger and jumped out of the roof into the safety of the ground but the stunned Zeno was less lucky. As he stood unsteadily, the stone beneath his feet gave way and Zeno found himself falling towards the interior of the Temple.
He did not know how, but Zeno managed to land safely on his feet, although his legs hurt on the impact and he had to kneel in pain. The whole roof fell with him and he was pretty fortunate none of the large broken fragments of the dome flattened him.
As the crashing sounds of falling debris and stone faded, Zeno was treated to a very strange sight. The mystifying pillar of light from the moon shone directly towards the Temple's altar – a small alcove with the biggest and golden Goddess statue glued on its wall. The beam was like a spotlight and it shone the small cemented but decorated table on the center of the altar. Then, a small circling tornado spun on the pillar of light, like it was a shield protecting it from harm. But it was neither the wind nor the light that caught Zeno's attention.
What caught the young hunter's attention was the person hovering in the moonlight. Emerging from the roofless top was a young girl with long, flowing white hair. She was bathed in the gleaming moonlight as she slowly descended towards the altar. And she was the most beautiful girl Zeno ever saw.
The girl's spotless hair was being caressed by the slow breeze that continuously circled around her and the pillar of light. She had smooth and silky porcelain skin, like a pampered princess's. Her eyes were closed, but Zeon knew they must be brilliant blue. Her body had the perfect curves on the right places, her skinny yet very elegant legs were a sight to behold and her breasts were more than ample. Wait, breasts? Goddess, thought Zeno, she was naked!
Flushed and as red as a tomato, Zeno tried to close his eyes and stop gazing at the body of the young girl. But he couldn't stop himself from peeking once in a while. He had done this the whole time as the girl slowly descended from the heavens; until she reached the table and the light gently settled her on the table, with her sitting on top of it.
Zeon stopped closing his eyes and peeking again as he wondered what will happen next. The light slowly faded and soon only the normal moonlight illuminated the place. The circling winds settled as well, disappearing with the light. And the girl sat on the altar's table, her eyes still closed.
Warily, Zeno tried to get closer. Everything that happened was bizarre but he wanted to know what it was all about and more importantly, if this girl was okay. Slowly but steadily, Zeno made his way over the fallen debris and pieces of the roof and soon, he reached the altar.
His heart beating too fast, he gazed once more at the naked girl sitting atop the table. As he wondered what he would do, the girl opened her eyes and Zeno stared at her eyes – it were the color of the azure sky, just as he had thought.
"Who…" the girl asked. "Who are you…?"
Author's Note: Hey! Hey! mjinx here and I finally posted the first chapter of the story. As I said before, The Goddess Whispers is supposed to be a game. It's divided into three Acts or parts of the story. So, here we are in the first Act, REBIRTH. And this is Act 1-1 Hunting for a Living. All the next chapters would be labeled as such, e.g. Act 1-2, Act 1-3, etc. and if we get to Act 2, it'll start with Act 2-1. So, yeah, this story would be like that.
So back to the chapter. This chapter, we meet Zeno Reingard, who is the main hero of the Fate version of The Goddess Whispers. Actually, in the game, he and his story is the first appear, even before we get to meet the protagonist and the main heroine of the story. Well, we'll meet her in the next chapter, though.
Well, that's it for today. Please review and thanks for reading! ^_^