It's been couple months since I posted the very first draft on here. Now there's almost been 100 views. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read it!
I'm updating the prologue now to my first edit. I appreciate all of the critique I've been given, and it has helped me a lot in making some changes into the story. Yes, the prologue is an insane 20-something pages long, but I hope it is enjoyable all of the same. I plan on making this an epic novel, in terms of size and hopefully opinion, so expect to read a lot if you tune in later on. The first chapter is also going through editing, with me adding the first and second chapters together to make it flow better.
One of the main things you'll see, if you read it before, is the added depth on the characters Raziel and Yumie, while taking out some facts that don't make sense at this point in the story (but will be explained later on). I've always had a problem expanding on the main characters, and I made it a goal to do so this time around.
Also, the count went from 4,337 words to 5,357. See? You guys do help.
Please, continue to critique and give your thoughts on this, as it means a lot to me! This is a way of proving that I am listening. Thanks guys! - BM
Raziel looked back at his country, for what he figured was the last time. Deep down he had hoped for a pleasant, warming image to send him off as he set sail to Lunia. He hoped for the image that Vahalla was known for, with its lush greenery that blanketed the land, the crystal blue seas that glimmered and sparkled in the sunlight. He hoped to see the lively activity of the townsmen, the daily hustle-and-bustle of the cities that gave the land such vitality.
Instead, he saw only the image of Valhalla from its recent years. The land was barren, a sickly shell of its former self after having its natural resources sucked dry. After King Schwalheit passed, hundreds of men thirsting for power pooled their resources in order to compete in an arms race. They began acquiring whatever weapon they could to stake their claim to the throne the king left behind in his passing. With these weapons brought tension. And the tension in turn led to fighting.
Much like the fires that spread in their wake, battle after battle between heavily armed forces washed over Valhalla. The land that had given birth to such an honorable people now was given up for sacrifice by those same people, all for a chance to stake their claim for the throne, the seat of power.
The storm of violence passed throughout the land. The ambition swept through the allies of every town, bring terror with it. It gave way to bloodlust, men obsessed with ridding themselves of all opposition. With this bloodlust, the strong scorned once peaceful villages, disregarding heritage and ripping family trees apart from the roots up.
The response in turn was more bloodlust, this time out of revenge, desperation, and fear. Thus, a need for even more powerful and larger quantities of weapons, tapping into the country, taking what little was left.
But these technological advancements came at a large price. The land was drained of all of its resources, leaving no rich soil, no nutrients to the land in which the people could use to survive. And thus, many fell from famine, dying at the hands of the world, as well as the hands of other men, with no way to survive.
Raziel too, experienced the hardships that came with a nation in turmoil. Visions of flames and bloodshed filled his mind. No one, not even a nobleman's family was safe from the chaos of war. The boat he was riding was representative of that. His escape was a product of a world turned upside down.
With a sigh, he looked away from the parting image of Valhalla and down to the cracked gem that dangled from a string around his neck. It radiated a small pulsating light, a sign of the energy that was contained within it. It was the last thing he had to remind him of his homeland, a small gift from his father.
What is so important about this crystal? Raziel thought to himself. It isn't enough to strengthen a weapon…and it definitely doesn't seem valuable. Why was he so adamant on me having it?
In the end, thinking about it wouldn't change anything, so he abandoned the thought, deciding to just follow his father's wish. He sighed and turned back to the deck of the ship. He looked around as he passed through the deck.
This too, was a depressing sight for him. Families were scattered about the deck, huddled together to preserve what warmth they could between them as the chilling sea breeze passed through. Most of these families normally could not afford to even ride the boat they were on. Raziel guessed that they all sold what little they had so they could set out east. They too were trying to escape the turmoil of their once-beloved country.
One family in particular caught Raziel's eye. They were a little worse off than the rest as they owned only the clothes on their backs, though even those seemed as though they would fall apart by the wind at any moment. He assumed they must have snuck on the boat before it left the dock.
But what was most noticeable was their child, a girl who was tiny even for her young age. She had short brown hair and freckles, traits she got from her mother who was holding her close. She was crying about being hungry as he passed by. As she continued to whine, he looked up to the parents' faces. Both of them seemed pained more and more with each complaint, knowing she was suffering, yet unable to help her. Regardless of how they were able to get on the boat, it didn't leave them with anything to use to buy food for their daughter, let alone themselves.
Raziel approached them, removing something from a pocket inside his jacket and placed it down without saying a word, taking the family aback. It was a loaf of bread, one he was saving for himself for the next few days. He barely acknowledged their gratitude as he walked off and headed towards the chambers. He figured he wasn't very hungry anyway, and if he had to eat, he could scavenge something for himself easier than they could.
Raziel made his way to his quarters and quickly fell onto his bed, head in his hands. As he lay on the bed, looking down at the crystal that rested on his chest, he wondered what the future had in store for him. He had planned on becoming a Knight for the Valhalla army, something his father pushed for him to do since he was young. But that was no longer an option.
Ever since he could remember, he wanted to help others. He wanted to protect those he cared about. He decided at a young age the only way to do that was to become stronger. Strong enough to where others could rely on him, to where people would want to rely on him. He figured a knight was the easiest way to do just that: protect and serve others while promoting his own strength.
Without that, what was there for him now? When he arrives in Lunia, what should he do from there? He could go to his father's acquaintance's estate, as was planned, and work for him as a mercenary. But what would that do for him, other than give him a temporary high, a sense of work and effort without the pride that comes with having a profession, like the pride and honor enjoyed by the Valhallan Knights. The more he thought about it, the more he questioned his future.
But the only reply he got in return was drowsiness. He decided to give up on his pondering, since he was on the boat anyway. If he truly wasn't interested in doing what was planned out, he could always try to find something else. A single thought slipped into his mind as he closed his eyes.
The world will work itself out, one way or another. It always does.
And with that, he drifted into a deep sleep.
After only a few hours, Raziel snapped his eyes open. The boat jolted to the left and right, waves violently rocking the boat. He sat up, shaking off his grogginess and assessing the situation. He then waited a few moments as the boat settled back to normal.
Then, he heard several loud bangs from above him and the boat shook once more, this time with more fervor than before. He rose from the bed, picked up his sword that rested on his bedside, and ascended the stairs to the upper deck.
He swung the door open, only to be greeted by calamity. People ran every which way, trying to avoid something he couldn't see because of all the confusion. They tried escaping down to the lower decks, others up to the mast. There were even those who braved the torrent waters, jumping overboard.
Finally, he saw what they were running away from. Almost as if a sea was parting, people ran to the left and right of him, clearing a path for a black figure that was charging directly at Raziel. It was wolf-like in appearance, its stout body and savage-looking fangs came rushing at him on four lightning fast legs. But as it got closer, he realized it wasn't a wolf at all. The creature had scales that covered his body, glimmering in the light. The being, leaving a trail of black slime behind as it ran, picking up speed as it neared Raziel. It's fangs bared, the creature prepped for an attack.
In a flash, it leapt into the air, poising to strike at Raziel's head, but Raziel was ready for the beast. In one quick motion, he sunk his blade in between the jowls of the strange creature, splitting it in two.
But it wasn't a satisfying kill. The creature immediately evaporated after being slain, leaving only a black smoke as Raziel looked back.
Despite his confusion, he didn't have much time to think about it though.
More of the monsters leapt onto the deck, hunting down anyone it could they could get sink their fangs into. Several of them came after Raziel, their eyes locked on him and ready to tear him apart.
With no other choice, Raziel rushed through the pandemonium, hacking his way through the beasts. As they pounced, he slashed in whichever angle would kill them the quickest.
He swung upwards for a quick vertical slash, leading to a rising diagonal cut to another, which was followed by a change of hands to a horizontal kill. In any way he could, he cut through each of them with acute and deadly strikes.
In blinding fashion he whittled the foul beasts' numbers down until only a few remained. He searched the area , trying to find the last of them. After hearing a number of sick snarls, he ran over to the only corner he hadn't gone to yet.
And that's where he finally found them. There were three in total, surrounding a family in a corner, ready to devour them whole.
It wasn't until Raziel got closer that he realized who they were.
It was the family he had helped earlier.
He sprinted as fast as he could, hoping he could make it on time. But the beasts weren't about to wait for him. They were in the perfect position to devour their prey.
Jaws opened, ready to rip them apart, the beasts leapt at them. The mother, with a sharp cry, instinctively clutched her child, ready to protect her until the end. The father was about to move forward to sacrifice himself, one last act of love before their lives ended.
But he was stopped.
Raziel made it in time, fortunately, jumping in front of the family and knocking the father back. In a singular, sweeping motion, he swung his blade through all three beasts, catching them all in midair and slicing them apart.
He looked back to the family. The father, seeing their newfound savior, bowed his head to the ground in gratitude.
"You...this is the second time that you…" the father started, unable to finish his words as he fought back tears.
But Raziel didn't look satisfied with just his gratitude.
"Did you save any of that bread for me?" He asked.
"The bread. Do you have any left?"
"N-no…I mean, we were hungry…" the father tried to explain.
Raziel let out a sound, defeated. He knew he should have kept a little for himself. He was feeling the effects of it now. But it wasn't the time to think about that. He had to get them out of here.
"Whatever. Get to the bottom of the ship. Now!" he ordered.
The family promptly did as they were told, but by the time they reached the middle of the deck, the boat was nearly turned over as something viciously rocked it from the side.
Waves started to rise higher, until it was larger than the boat, and kept rising in an abnormal fashion. It wasn't until the water came down and washed over the boat that Raziel realized something.
Something was coming out of the water.
Raziel held his ground, greeted by rushing water caused by the surfacing creature.
Thinking quickly, he dug his sword into the planks of the deck and held on tightly as the wave hit him with its full force. He survived it, holding on to his sword with only one hand. He
The family wasn't so lucky. The wave caught them off guard and they were swept up by it, thrown overboard.
The father grasped onto his wife, who was holding the child, and clutched the side of the boat, holding on for dear life.
"Hold on!" Raziel yelled.
As the boat stabilized, he jumped up to his feet and ran towards them.
However, as he helped the struggling man up, he was immediately covered by an enormous shadow. He was being targeted by a towering being above him.
He looked up to see the most horrific monster he's ever seen.
It was pure black, oozing the same oil and ichor that fell from the smaller beasts from before. Its scales were massive, coating its body like armor. The grotesque monster had three heads with long, winding necks that reminded him of a gruesome, distorted dragon from the books of lore in his home. Its eyes were pure green, flickering in the light.
The sight of the beast left Raziel speechless.
With a loud roar, the demonic figure slammed its foot into the side of the boat, smashing its side in the process, its large talons tearing through the wood like paper. The boat lurched, sending Raziel's side upwards.
The force was strong enough to break the grip Raziel had on the man, sending the family to the depths of the ocean as Raziel was flung back down closer to the threat.
"NO!" he screamed as he flew backward.
He landed hard on his back as the boat stabilized once again. He winced. The fall hurt, but that wasn't what pained him.
He stood up slowly, gripping his blade. He glared at the fiend before him.
It roared yet again, testing Raziel's conviction. But he didn't falter by the sound. He pointed his sword toward his opponent, ready to strike. He wasn't going to fail again.
He leapt forward, striking at the only thing he could reach, the beast's talons. But they were harder than he imagined. The bout ended in his weapon snapping in two, the upper half whizzing through the air before being plunged into the mast.
He jumped back, defenseless. He put everything he had into the strike.
All three heads of the monster were now locked on to him, ready to finish off its prey. It reared its heads back, building up a flame so bright that it rivaled the intensity of the sun.
Raziel covered his eyes to shield himself from the blinding light. He was racking his brain for a way out of this. He couldn't reach it to disrupt the attack. But he also didn't have enough time to jump overboard and dodge the blaze. This was checkmate. He was doomed to die here.
Raziel took in a deep breath; one he thought would be his last. Perhaps it was just meant to happen this way, after all. He thought he was destined for more. He thought that maybe if he had gotten stronger, he could have saved this world from any more destruction. He thought that even if it was one family, he could save them.
He couldn't do any of that. He failed. He let everyone down. The pain was unbearable, to the point where he was glad this was the end, after all.
Grasping on to the crystal, he said a silent apology as he braced himself for the beast's attack.
In that instant, the crystal started glowing wildly with a blinding blue light. Raziel flinched by the light that exploded from within his hand.
The gem detached from the string and slipped into his chest, as if he were made of water. He looked in astonishment as his chest shined brilliantly with the same blue light the crystal was emitting.
And suddenly, pain came. It shot through his chest like a dagger in his heart, stabbing pains attacking him from the inside. He cried out in agony as the pain forced him to his knees. Kneeling in pain, the light started to spread from his chest through his shoulders, until his whole body was in pain, like blades impaling him.
He gasped. Time froze. The world around him was motionless, stuck in a blue matrix.
Yet somehow, he could still move. He turned his head as much as the pain would allow him before it shot through him again. When he looked around, everything was in a standstill.
He suddenly heard footsteps in front of him. But it couldn't be. Who else was on the deck, other than him?
As they approached, Raziel looked up at the figure. Their face was completely covered by the hood they were wearing. The figure was completely silent, standing imposingly over Raziel as he writhed in pain.
It took Raziel a while, but finally he mustered up enough strength to say something to the person.
"Who…who are you?"
Still they were silent.
"Nothing? You're just going to watch me squirm? Are you that type of person?"
Still, the figure remained quiet. Raziel gave up on the effort. He clutched his chest, trying to control the agonizing pain.
Finally, the blue-clad figure spoke.
"Don't be afraid now."
The voice was lifeless and apathetic. His words rang out, echo-like.
"What do you mean?"
"You have a chance to rewrite history. You couldn't this time. But do not fear. Your story is beginning.."
"What…the hell are you going on about? What story!?" Raziel yelled, gasping after he strained himself.
"The darkest shadows are only brought forth by the brightest lights. Though the darkest has yet to come, do not worry."
With this, the figure turned around and began to walk away.
"What are you talking about?" Raziel asked in a much softer voice. The figure stopped in its track.
"I've failed. How can someone rewrite history when he couldn't even save a single family?"
The figure didn't turn to face him, but again spoke aloud to Raziel.
"If no one failed, the world wouldn't put such emphasis on success. Your time will come."
And with that, the figure walked away.
"Wait!" Raziel yelled. But it was too late. The figure had vanished.
The pain from the yell was excruciating. As it took the air out of his lungs, he closed his eyes.
When he opened them again the monochromatic world was filled with color once again. The dream was over. Time resumed, and the monster was ready to strike.
Raziel had almost forgotten about it entirely. Now wasn't the time to be downed.
He cried out from the pain that shot through him like a thousand arrows as he forced himself to stand. He faced the beast head on, squinting as he peered toward the radiant fire.
The light inside of his chest glowed intensely. He looked down to see a mysterious energy circulating rapidly. The light began to spread throughout his body, engulfing him entirely. Though he didn't understand what was going on, he was ready. The pain he felt before had left him completely. He ran toward the beast at full speed.
In that instant, the fiend let out the flames it had been building up. The fire was heated up so much it was blazing blue and white as it shot out at Raziel.
He braced himself for the blaze as he screamed, preparing himself for the worst.
In that instant, the light that was within him burst out of him towards the flame, shielding him from the attack. It circled around him as if he had some sort of divine shield. He looked on in amazement as the light protected him from the entire blast.
Completely unaffected by the blast, he continued to race toward the beast. He had no clue what he was going to do even if he could reach it, but he knew it was better than waiting to get finished off.
He leapt toward the demon, sailing through the air with no regrets. He reached back toward the demon, prepared to strike him with everything he had. As he prepared himself, he looked down at his chest, only to see a blue light where his heart was supposed to be. It made no sense. It didn't have to. It was all about to end, anyway.
Then, with one final yell, he struck out at the beast. The light exploded out from his chest, shooting out like a shockwave, encompassing the monster, the boat, and everything within sight.
The next thing Raziel knew, the world around him had gone from being an all-encompassing bright light to a still white.
The island of Jaiya was a gem in an otherwise decrepit world. The emerald sea glistened in the golden rays of sunlight, shimmering as waves danced throughout the sea, greeting the white, sandy shores periodically as the tide rolled in. Trees of all different sizes with leave of all different shapes swayed as the sea breeze rolled through the land.
The inhabitants of Jaiya were of the same nature. They were a jolly bunch, always as warm as the weather on the island, living their lives as peaceful as the land itself.
However this day was a bit different for them. It was a special day, a time of festivity for the islanders. For today was the first time in 30 years, and only the second time ever in its history that the island was christening a new Evoker, prepping to send them off onto their journey into the mainland.
At least they were hoping so. Many of the islanders stood outside the Temple of Aivalia, patiently waiting for the news that the girl had succeeded in the trials of becoming an Evoker. As they waited, they chatted about her, passing on what information they knew about the chosen one and offering hope that she made it through the trials.
"I heard that this time it was Lord Jine's daughter."
"You mean Yumie? I can't say I'm surprised. Even in death, Lord Jine gives us his blessings!"
"I heard she's even younger than Jine was when he completed the Trials!"
"That's amazing! Still, she's so young! …Will she really be okay out in the world?"
After what felt like an eternity of waiting, the doors to the temple slowly cracked open. A hush fell quickly over the crowd as a girl slipped through the door. She barely had enough strength to stand, dragging her feet as she exited the temple. She looked around when she noticed the crowd's eyes collectively falling on her. Though it took all of her energy, she forced a wide smile as she looked out into the crowd.
"I did it! I've become an Evoker!" She exclaimed.
She was answered by the resounding cry of cheers from hundreds of people, celebrating her success.
That night, the islanders held an extravagant party for her, in honor of her accomplishment. It was rare for anywhere to say they had produced an Evoker, let alone twice. This in itself made the people want to celebrate, even if it was mostly for some strange pride they had of being from the island, more so than Yumie's feat.
But even so, she was happy to see everyone so festive. They pulled together whatever they could to make this a memorable night, so she decided she would take it all in.
There were all sorts of exotic foods from the island brought for the occasion. The people were completely drunk off of the excitement, with music bellowing throughout the island as they danced the night away.
She wanted to celebrate too, of course. But Yumie was too busy to actually enjoy the festivities. She had to make her rounds to all of the leaders of the island, receiving their blessing and wishes for her journey. Such was the life of an Evoker, the one who has to act as an ambassador both the island and the world itself.
Although, she did eventually find her way into some of the fun. After successfully dodging Menya, a cheeky old islander who had a penchant for being a little too friendly with the young females of the island, she made her way to one of the dances, putting on a mask to disguise herself.
She felt kind of bad for neglecting one of the elders of the island, but decided she would be able to do just fine without his blessings, especially if it meant sparing her the trouble of dealing with his foul breath or getting pinched from behind. Besides, the party was meant to celebrate her, after all. She felt she should be given a chance to partake in at least a little bit of the fun.
She squeezed into one of the circles where a lot of people her age were dancing and blended right in, swaying her hips to the music and singing the songs she grew up with. Had things been different, she thought, this could be a life she lived day in and day out. A stress-free life; enjoying her youth by partying all day and night, flirting with the guys on the island.
But that wasn't her fate. She was born, raised and now ordained to be an Evoker. She had a duty, and she wasn't going to fail.
After a couple of dances and singing a few songs, Yumie finally broke away from the jubilee and walked away towards an abandoned bonfire, ready to relax a little and regain her focus.
She took off the mask and sighed as she looked up toward the night sky. The stars above sparkled brightly in the pitch black sky above her. She smiled to herself. She was glad that it was such a pleasant night. The jubilant people, the bright, starry sky, everything was a sight for sore eyes.
It took her over a month, stuck inside the temple, praying to the Faith held within. She studied everything she could from the ancient texts in order to get the Blessed to accept her. She felt great when it happened, but hoped that it didn't take that long every time. Even if it did, she had no choice but to go along with it, but she prayed that it didn't. Nothing was duller to her than to stay in a temple for a month with nothing to do but pray and study.
But at least it was over, she thought to herself. Now the adventure starts.
As she let her mind wander, thinking about what her journey will wind up like, a man approached her, moving out of the shadows.
Though he wasn't particularly huge, there was an opposing aura about him. He had a long, draping blue coat that went to his knees and a sword that was also longer than normal strapped to his back.
His eyes were fierce, hardened by the visions of battle and his face in general seemed to have been shaped and carved out of years of surviving by any means he could. He was an intimidating figure, especially compared to the round, friendly faces of the islanders that Yumie was used to.
She flinched and moved back a little as he approached.
"What's the matter? You don't recognize me?" He said with a snort of laughter. His voice was as gruff and rugged as he was.
"No…sorry. Have we met?" She replied.
"Well, I guess that was to be expected. I haven't seen you since Jine left this place years ago, when you were a small child," He shrugged as he sat down, digging his sword into the ground near him.
It was then that it hit her.
"You're…Sir Ouren, right? My father's Protector, yes?"
"Ah, so you know me after all," He said with a slight smile.
"Yes but…what are you doing here?"
"You must have heard of what happened to your father, ten years ago," He said matter-of-factly.
"Yes, I heard…" There was a little pain in her voice as she replied.
His face seemed apologetic, but he continued on.
"I'll make this quick, then. Your father, as strong as he was, wasn't able to stop Asra entirely. While he stopped the beast, he was not able to seal it, which allowed its remains to spread throughout the land and taint the souls of those who have past."
"I know. That's why I became an Evoker. I want to help purify this land and remove any trace of that vile demon for good."
"A strong answer," Ouren replied. "But as of now, you can't defend yourself from the creatures that have been tainted by Asra. You alone aren't strong enough to face the Departed. You'll need someone who can do it for you."
She scrunched her face in frustration. She knew that, but she had no other choice. Who could she contact that was strong enough to help her along the way?
Ouren continued, answering the question as if he read her mind.
"Therefore, I'm offering my services to you. I'm offering my skills as a Protector."
She looked up at him in surprise. "But…why?"
"Jine and I made a promise," Ouren replied. "We made it before we faced Asra head on. We promised that if either of us were alive after this battle, we would use what strength we have left to ensure that this accursed beast never gets a chance to taint this world again.
"Even if that meant we had to create new bonds with another Evoker to do so."
"But…why me?" Yumie asked.
"Partly because you're Jine's daughter," he answered. "But also partly because of a hunch. Something tells me you have the potential to do what Jine couldn't. You have the potential to seal Asra."
"Did my father have anything to do with this?" she asked.
"Who knows? Knowing him, he could have planned me coming to you all along."
"He didn't let you in on anything?"
"The only thing he told me was to tell you one thing."
"That he loves you, and will always be there to protect you."
Yumie paused. The information was coming at her too fast. It was an insane thought. The Ouren is going to assist her? On her dad's request? Her dad…
She never got to know him well. He was out on his journey when she was growing up. She didn't resent him from it, but she never thought that she would be one of the first things on his mind in the biggest battle of his life.
"I…I don't know what to say…" She replied, trying to get a hold of herself.
"How about a yes or no?" He suggested.
She gave herself a few moments to recollect her thoughts. Somehow, someway, her father knew what she was going to do. And instead of stopping her, instead of having Ouren go elsewhere, he was giving her the only thing he could now: his blessings, in the form of his friend and most trusted ally. She had no choice, really.
She faced Ouren, locked onto his eyes and gave her answer.
"I accept. I'm honored to have you as my Protector, Sir Ouren."
"Likewise. I'm honored to protect you," He said, looking pleased. "Now you have someone who can help you on your journey.
"Just be prepared. This is no field trip. You better be ready to sacrifice your body, mind and soul, to this."
"I am," Yumie answered, without flinching.
"Good. Then go and enjoy the rest of tonight. It's your day, after all.
"And because tomorrow we head out to our first destination."