Welcome, dear reader, to the first chapter of "Final Magic" remake! If you're an "old fan" that actually read the original version, than let me assure you – your mailbox isn't playing a prank on you! Yes, I've decided to give some of my stories here another go, but I'm starting from scratch with each. These remakes are gonna see many changes to the tales that I published back in the days, one of which is that I do not intend to make the intros quite as long; if you wanna know more about the story, characters or changes I've decided upon, than there will be author's note at the end of each chapter and you can check out those, but unless I feel there's a need for a longer intro, most chapters are intended to go straight to the action.
And now, since this has already gone of long enough, on to the story itself:
Chapter #1: A Brave, New World
Volume Cover: Barrick is standing in the middle with a ring of stone spikes rising from the ground around him
Title Page: a pistol laying on an opened, magic book
An explosion thundered through the air as a young, seven-year-old boy got blasted back by the sudden burst of force. As his back smashed against the tree trunk, pain shoot through his entire body as his bones vibrated. The world went into a spin before his eyes, making it impossible to focus. The youth attempted to rise back to his feet, but the vertigo quickly sat him down as a man walked over to him.
"I've warned you to pay heed to the acroglyph, Barrick" the man with gelled-up, black hair reminded him, kneeling next to the boy. "Are you alright?" he asked concerned, placing his hand on the boy's shoulder, allowing the kid to concentrate on something to help with his dizziness.
"No, I'm not!" the youth, Barrick, shoot back, venting his frustration. "These symbols are too hard! Shouldn't I first learn to channel the energy properly? Isn't that the normal course of the studies, master Kellan?"
"Yes" the man nodded slightly, sending him a worried look. "Sadly, these aren't normal circumstances my boy..."
"You are not going to preach that prophecy to me again, are you? It's stupid!"
"We don't get a say in what fate has in stored for us, Barrick" the man pushed firmly, his voice growing serious. "Master Cendric is convinced destiny has chosen you for the role and I, as your teacher, must make certain that you are ready when the time comes. You should know what is at stake..."
"Of course I do!" the child yelled back angrily, clenching his teeth: "I've been feed the same nonsense since I was able to stand on my own! And I still believe it to be a load of manure! People get to decide their own fate! There is no cosmic power pulling the strings! I refuse to believe that!"
"Believe what you will, boy" Kellan replied, calming down slightly. In the end, this was much to demand from a seven-year-old and he knew this much. "Doesn't change the fact that, once destiny calls for you, I would prefer you are ready for the worst... and if it doesn't, than, at the least, you have learned to handle yourself. Now rest a bit; we shall resume the lesson in a few moments..."
A loud horn hit the boy's ears, making his blue eyes shut open in an instant. The teenager slowly sit up, stretching himself just before adjusting his medium-length, black hair, clipped in a ponytail, while taking out a few stalks of straw out of it. Certainly traveling stowaways on a train in freight wagons was not particularly refined, but when you're low on funds, you need to get creative.
Opening the sliding doors, the teen glanced outside of the wooden wagon and realized the train has reached its final station: the town of Syndia. Without rush, the young man grabbed his dark blue overcoat, decorated with black markings and golden edges, putting it on, yet leaving it unbuttoned, due to which his plain, white t-shirt underneath remained visible. Flicking the dust off his black pants, he grabbed the sword – its wide blade with strange runes almost as big a him – and, once sheathed, placed it on his back.
"Another dream about the past" he said to himself with slight annoyance in his voice as he jumped off the wagon. "Didn't had those is a while" he added as he gazed at the tank engine at the front of the train; its chimney was still spitting out black smoke into the air, giving blue skies a shade of gray: With the invention of steam engine and all that, other crap, this world truly lost the respect it once had towards nature he thought with a sigh while his hand dug into his pocket. He slowly picked out a small sheet of paper and unfolded it, taking a good look at its content. Believing he learned what he had to, the boy hid the note before leaving the platform.
-A bit later, elsewhere in Syndia-
An elderly man opened the door leading to the tavern and walked in, making room for the young girl who traveled with him. Wearing a clean, silver armor that covered his chest, shoulders, elbows and knees he gave the impression of flawless posture, magnified by the stunning, white cape with a silver eagle with spread wings printed upon it and long, gray hair clipped in a ponytail, that complemented the look. His purple eyes scanned the inside of the local closely with his hand ready to go for the unusual, silver sword tied to his belt.
The girl, though in her teens, seemed at least three times younger than him; she had very long, black hair tied in a long ponytail that reached bellow her knees. The hair was held together by a yellow ribbon, yet two strands still managed to stick out. Her violet eyes matched the man's, yet her attire was quite different: tight, high, black stockings and short, white boots covered her legs, while the rest of her body was wrapped in an equally tight, black material, that showed of her curves. Gold and white pieces of armor gave a little color to her attire, supporting her rather large chest and serving as protectors on her hands and shoulders. The shoulder pads also carried a long, white robe with a symbol of the golden sun on her back.
Once the girl sat at one of the tables, the man walked towards the innkeeper and asked with a hint of exhaustion in his voice: "We would like a room for the night. Do you have any available?" the owner only nodded at this before glancing over to the teen, yet the knight couldn't tell whether he was captivated by her beauty or just curious. Regardless, he's been traveling with her long enough to treat her appearance gaining men attention as the usual occurrence. "We would also appreciate something to eat" he added, shifting the man's attention to himself. "I don't have any, particular wishes regarding myself, but my companion won't eat anything meat-related."
"Coming right up" the innkeeper stated and headed for the kitchen while the knight return to the girl. He scanned the tavern once more, not surprised eyes were settled on his companion, but nothing indicated trouble brewing. Still, he couldn't shake the bad feeling...
"Is something wrong, sir Rogwood?" the girl asked with concern clear in her voice, snapping the man out of his thoughts.
"No, it's nothing" he assured her after a short pause, taking the seat in front of her. "But it would be wise to stay on our guard, lady Milia. After all, Siracol is still a few weeks journey from here and while it seems we've managed to get by mostly unnoticed up til now, I heard Dragon Claw has a strong presence in the area. Hopefully we'll reach the temple before they realize our mission, but it wouldn't hurt to keep a low profile until than... which is near impossible with you around" he added with a smirk, making the youth blush deeply.
A few moments later the innkeeper returned with their order, allowing the duo to refill their strength. But just as the old knight was taking another bite, a suspicious ruckus reached his ears, making him quickly glanced towards the entrance. Slightly surprised that nothing happened, he narrowed his eyes and was about to return to his meal, yet another, cracking sound, much louder than the first, echoed from the street, loud enough even for Milia to hear.
"Did you hear that, sir Rogwood?" the girl questioned, looking over her shoulder with a worried expression. Her voice got a little uneasy as a third crash could be heard: "What is going on out there?"
"I don't know, lady Milia" the man responded, slowly rising up from his seat. With a straight face he headed towards the door: "Please stay here" he asked as he passed by her, his hand resting on the handle of his sword. Carefully he exited the tavern, looking over the street and soon enough his eyes caught the cause of the commotion; at the center of the road two youths were engaged in a duel with four men keeping close to the struggle. However the battle appeared to be fierce as some debris and wood pieces lay scattered around the area.
The older of the two was a man in his mid-twenties with medium-length, blond hair, having two strands of it frame his face that sported a pair of hazel eyes and a cross-like scar on the left cheek. He was wearing a purple, short-sleeved, unbuttoned waistcoat with a large symbol of a black dragon decorating its back and white pants, but the thing which caught the most attention in him was the fact that his right palm had metal plates screwed to it by large bolts.
Just as Rogwood finished his inspection, the man swung his right arm horizontally, aiming at his opponent's face, only to have the latter duck under the assault. The punch hit a wooden support of a potion shop, snapping it in two without even slowing the attack. The blond's adversary, however, seemed unfazed by the scene as he simply spun on his foot, delivering a kick to his stomach.
Immediately the blond gasped for air, bending forward slightly, which gave his opponent all the opening he needed; in a flash he sprung up, smashing his knee into the man's face, this time sending his head back from impact. The man used his metal-plated palm to grab his nose as it started bleeding, taking a few steps back.
Only now did Rogwood managed to take a good look at the man's adversary; a youth, roughly nineteen years of age with long, black hair, clipped in a ponytail, blue overcoat with black markings and a huge sword carried on the back, which was rather impractical as the knight noted. The boy's expression remained surprisingly emotionless as he kept his blue eyes on his opponent, allowing the man to regain his composure.
"What the hell are you idiots waiting for?" the blond yelled, turning to the quartet that stood behind him. "Get the brat!"
The four goons only exchanged glances quickly before rushing the teen, grabbing daggers and knives from their pockets. The youth, however, merely went into his fighting stance, apparently not planing to go for his weapon as enemies drew nearer.
When the first bandit came into range, the teen thrust his right arm out front at such a speed, the thug had no time to dodge, receiving an opened palm in the chest. The impact made him freeze for the briefest of moments, giving the youth time to form a fist, thus grabbing him by the shirt. With a forceful pull, the mysterious warrior dragged the goon forward, delivering an uppercut to his chin.
As the man fell on his back, the second thug managed to beat the distance and aimed to pierce the teen's stomach, yet the boy merely leaned right and grabbing the bandit's outstretched arm by the wrist with his left hand dug his right elbow into his face. The sudden pain made the goon drop his weapon while the brunette quickly repositioned his right arm, using it to hit the one he was holding near the shoulder from below. Using the momentum, he lifted his adversary and tossed him at the third opponent, who was still a bit far, making the two collide hard.
The last bandit thrust his dagger at the youth's face, forcing the latter to sidestep the assault and than spin on his foot to dodge the second blade coming at his chest. While in the spinning motion, the teen directed a kick to the back of the thug's head, the impact pushing his enemy forward a few steps. The boy had no time for a follow-up though as the first man has already got back up and resumed his attack.
Attempting to stab the teen's leg, he forced the youth to take a step back and quickly switching the course of his assault, the bandit cut from below in an effort to slice his target's chest vertically, forcing the boy to back away even further... further, right into the range of the fourth thug who jumped up, aiming to bring down his daggers at the youth's shoulders from above.
To the surprise of both men, the teen grabbed the first bandit by the hand when he unleashed his third attack and pushing it upwards, used the dagger to block one of the blades coming from above. The sudden obstacle put the airborne thug out of balance, his right side now dropping quicker than the left. The boy used their shock well, launching a kick to the goon that was still above ground, while ramming the elbow of his free hand into the other's head from the top, knocking him to the ground.
Despite this success, the youth had no time to dodge another assault as the blond he fought at the beginning charged into the skirmish again, punching him in the face with his metal-clad fist. The force of the blow pushed the teen back, making him come to a sliding stop a few feet away, his head tilted to the side.
"What is this all about Rogwood" the old knight suddenly heard a worried voice and turning his head in the direction it came from, he spotted his female companion standing beside him, visibly disturb. He scolded himself mentally for being so caught up in the fight that he stopped paying attention to his surroundings.
"Lady Milia, I thought I asked you to remain in the tavern" he reminded her, trying to sound stern, though he found himself unable to do that. "Evidently it's not exactly safe for you out in the open..."
"Forget about that for now" the teen turned to him, a hint of accusation in her purple eyes. "Why are you not interfering? This is clearly an unfair struggle since that boy is outnumbered five to one!"
"Look at the symbol on their clothes" Rogwood merely replied, shifting her attention. "They are clearly members of the Dragon Claw. They're the very people we've been trying to avoid. If I were to step in, we might alert their organization to our mission and you know how crucial it is for you to reach Siracol. We cannot risk your well-being for the sake of a single stranger..."
"You are a paladin of the Silver Wing, sir Rogwood!" the girl suddenly snapped, taking the man completely by surprise; they've already traveled together long enough for him to notice she was always rather shy and soft-spoken. This sort of outburst was not something he'd expect to see from her: "You made a vow to protect the weak and innocent! And, right now, it looks like that boy could use help! I cannot allow others to get hurt just on my account! What sort of a person would I be if I was fine with that?" her voice trembled at the words, though not from fear as the knight could easily tell. No, this was conviction.
Meanwhile, the boy wiped his lip as a small drop of blood escaped a crack in it. Looking around, he noted the five men have boxed him in and were slowly closing in, weapons at the ready. Narrowing his eyes, he glanced down as his hand shot downwards, extending its pointing and middle fingers. In a blink of an eye, his hand began moving in all directions as his fingers carried a strange, golden trail behind them.
Than, just as abruptly, his arm stopped and the golden lines formed a symbol that began shining brightly. The teen pushed the strange construct down, making it disappear into the ground and less than a second later a sturdy, stone pillar shoot up from the street, smashing the first bandit's chin as it launched him into the air unconscious.
The other thugs froze in shock at the sudden development, giving the youth enough time to rise back to a standing position as he now held his arm forward, drawing another symbol in front. The instant the ritual was complete, the lines shun brightly again as a ring of air formed around the symbol. In a fraction of a second the wind picked up, launching a horizontal tornado at the two bandits standing near one another, blasting them back right into the stone wall of a building with tremendous force.
"Now I get it" the blond announced, setting his eyes on the teen. "This is why you're after the bounty on my head; you're that brat that has been causing us trouble lately... the young mage who started hunting our members for rewards... you're Barrick the Ecomancer!"
"Certainly took you a while" the youth, apparently Barrick, responded, his face still calm as he gazed at the man with a bored expression.'
"Well, it's not like we had your picture or anything, so do excuse me for not realizing this sooner" the man with the metal palm replied, a tiny smirk appearing on his face. "You have gained quite a reputation among our members though; we're actually authorized to kill you on sight! Once I present your head to our leaders, I'm sure to get a promotion."
"Overblown ambitions tend to be the cause of the hardest downfalls" the young mage informed him, not at all shaken by the statement. "With a bounty of merely fifty gold pieces you're rather a small fry, but I'm currently low on money, so you'll have to do" he proclaimed, making his opponent's eye twitch from anger.
In a flash the blond dashed forward, but to Barrick's surprise, just as he was about to beat the distance, the man jumped up and putting his body into a spin, aimed a kick to the teen's left. Acting on instinct, the boy blocked the attack with both hands, making his opponent smirk at the sight; while his body continued to drop, he launched his metal-plated fist as the youth's chest.
Before the attack connected though, the young sorcerer put his left leg into motion, ramming his knee into the man's arm, throwing his punch off course. Without wasting a second, he straighten that same leg, delivering a kick into his adversary's chest instead, knocking the wind out of him. The Dragon Claw member got blasted back, rolling on the street for a few meters before finally coming to a sliding stop, his face twisted in fury.
Pulling himself back up, his fist tightened, eyes still set on the teen. This time, however, he was in no rush to charge the ecomancer, awaiting for the youth to come near himself. And, soon enough, Barrick resumed their duel, dashing at the blond. As the distance between them disappeared, the man narrowed his eyes, throwing his left arm upwards, opening the fist.
Taken off guard, the boy ran right into a handful of dust his opponent collected from the street. Blinded, the mage stopped in his tracks, rubbing his eyes that began burning slightly, yet the blond had no intention of wasting this chance and threw a straight punch to his face. What he did not expect was the teen to locate the assault as he heard the steel fist ripping through air; Barrick leaned right at the last moment and as the attack went by his ear, he grabbed the Dragon Claw member's wrist with left hand, while holding his upper arm with the right.
Using the opening, still blinded, the youth rammed his adversary and quickly raised his right arm, ramming its elbow right into the bandit's chin. The impact pulled the man's feet of the ground and the teen was not about to let the momentum go to waste as he immediately tossed the blond over the shoulder.
Releasing his grip, he heard the Dragon Claw member's body hit the ground and using that sound as guidance he brought down his left arm, delivering a powerful punch straight into his opponent's gut, riding his lungs of air. Barrick than straightened himself up, blinking a few times as his vision remained blurry.
What he failed to realize was, that even his opponent was beaten, there was still one adversary left; the fourth thug inched closer and closer from behind, daggers at the ready as his eyes set on the boy's throat. Just as he was about to attack though, pain shoot through his body as he felt a sudden impact on the back of his own neck. Taken by surprise, the bandit dropped to the ground, knocked out cold, drawing Barrick's attention to the commotion.
His vision returning, the young mage looked at the fallen form of his enemy and than shifted his gaze towards an old knight that stood above the goon, sheathing back his sword. As their eyes met, the ecomancer whispered a simple 'thanks', relaxing his body.
"Everybody hold!" a loud order echoed through the street as a ground of men dressed in blue uniforms began swarming around them, halberds aimed towards the two fighters still standing.
"Ah, the cavalry" Barrick noted calmly, reaching for his pocket. "Late, as usual... but, at the very least, this saves me the trip to your headquarters" he added, picking out a sheet of paper. Upon unfolding, he held it out front so that everyone could take a good look at the picture of the blond with metal-plated face that he just beat. "I would like to collect the bounty for Izen the Ironfist... this guy here" he pointed at the bandit's battered form with his head.
"Are you trying to be funny, brat?" one of the men shoot back, visibly angry. "You wrecked half the street!"
"He refused to come peacefully" the teen merely shrugged, folding the wanted poster back. "A bit of collateral damage was unavoidable... but no-one got hurt and, as a bonus, you can take his lackeys too, free of charge" he proclaimed with a smile, but that only seemed to agitate the officer further.
"Listen you..." he began, but was immediately cut off by Rogwood:
"Corporal, I do believe there is no need to escalate the situation further" the knight announced as calmly as the mage. "While I have not witnessed the start of the battle, these men are Dragon Claw members. As such, they are wanted by the law. Being the officer of World Republic military, it is your, sworn duty to take them into custody. While the boy's manners and methods could use some polishing, he hasn't done anything that would warrant an arrest at this point and I am ready to take responsibility for his action on the authority of the Silver Wing."
"Your order may be recognized by the Republic, but I'm not particularly keen on being undermined in my own town" the officer responded as his men gathered the unconscious bandits scattered around the street. "I will let it slide this time, but I do not want you two causing trouble around here. If anything happens, rest assured there will be consequences... regardless to your 'authority'" he assured him, briefly glancing at the young sorcerer. With a resentful 'tch', he tossed the teen a small sack of coins and followed his squad, leaving Barrick and Rogwood alone.
"While I appreciate the assistance" the boy stated, taking out a couple of coins from the sack and offering them to the knight. "One must wonder – what is your angle for doing this?" he asked, throwing the man a suspicious look as he noted the gray-haired warrior refusing any payment.
"You don't need to worry about that" a soft, cheerful voice reached his ears, making him look to the side to spot a girl, roughly his age with long, black hair and white robe. A small, friendly smile was plastered on her face as she walked over to the two, making Barrick's heart skip a beat at the sight. "Sir Rogwood in a paladin of the Silver Wing; he helps people of his own, free will. He doesn't have any fishy agenda."
"Actually, lady Milia" the knight replied stopping the girl in her tracks. "In this, particular case, that's not entirely true" he proclaimed, shifting his gaze at the young ecomancer...
-That time, outside the city-
Tens of wooden huts stood bunched together tightly in the center of a plain with just a single road going through it and a rail track leading to the train station, over which hung a cloud of black smoke, spitted out by the tank engines which used the place to 'rest' before resuming their journey. A small cemetery covered the fields to the south, with a chapel climbing into the sky over the forest of cold, stone crosses. A peaceful village, like hundreds if not thousands other that could be found around the world.
So this is Syndia the traveler thought to himself, looking the town over from a nearby hill. What a backwater dump the man grimaced as his crimson eyes scanned the area. His skin was pale as snow, while a storm of long, black hair fell free around his head from beneath a black, pointed hat, which was bended in the middle. He wore a mostly black outfit with an orange, unbuttoned vest – sporting a symbol of a black dragon - on his shoulders, while metal protectors covers his arms and knees. A long scythe with a huge blade, stained with blood was attached to his back, completing the look. Why would that brat even want to come here? Well, not like it matters, I suppose. I just need to find the ecomancer... and kill him and with that thought a disturbing smirk crossed his face as he headed towards the city...
And this concludes the first chapter of "Final Magic" remake! Hope you've enjoyed it. As you might have noticed there are some changes to the story itself. As a bonus I intend to make a section in every chapter pointing out those little adjustments, just for the heck of it for "old-time readers" or even new fans that are curious as to how the tale was changed. Those sections may include spoilers for those that haven't red the original version of the stories, so you should read them at your own "risk".
Changes to the original version (might include minor spoilers): from the three stories that I'm currently remaking, "Final Magic" is probably the one that will see the least changes. While in every tale the core plot remains the same as it was, I did make some shifts here and there so that the read is more enjoyable or incorporating other ideas for the development to feel less random. If you've red the previous version of FM, you might've noticed the flashback at the start of the chapter is different to the one I originally used; considering Barrick was an infant there, I came to realize it made no sense for him to remember those events and went with a bit foreshadowing scene that also introduces his master earlier than in the original draft.
All fight (whether we're talking FM, "Dragon Blood" or "Forgotten Sands") are written from scratch so they proceed differently and while the core elements of the original version are still here, I've changed some to be a better read. For example, as I was preparing this remake, I realized all three of these stories were tremendously similar in their first chapter development: a girl walks into a tavern, gets in trouble and gets saved by a boy with unique abilities. Seriously, that is how the two, main protagonists met each other in every, single one of these three stories ^^' So I've decided to change this, leaving only "Dragon Blood" with this resolution. Now it is technically Barrick that gets saved by Milia and Rogwood rather than the other way around and Izen does feel a bit more formidable than he originally was.
As with all stories, I've also changed the design of most characters (some only slightly, some almost completely), but FM actually has its main cast of the first story arc kept mostly in tact with the most changes befalling Milia, I believe. Still, as the story progress, you'll notice a lot more changes to the plot, more visibly in the second arc... but lets not get ahead of ourselves ;)
And with that I can officially end this chapter. For now I'm not gonna make promises regarding the frequency of updates, but I am hoping to make this a regular thing. Of course if this endeavor sparks interest, it would certainly help my motivation. Also I'll be posting this story on my DeviantArt account (my username there is Rongal); if, for whatever reason, you prefer to read those stories there, be my guest – I would actually like to know which of the two is more adequate as this remake is also a bit of a test run for a different project I'm hoping to get of the ground at some point.
Thanks for reading and have a nice day.