"Mister, I am not a violent man." Began Erwin Kai, the heavy drawl of his rural accent slurring his thick pronunciation. "I am a man of determination, a man of conviction. I am a man of the light and fortunately for both of us, that light has brought us together. So why're you treating me like this? Huh?"
The man he'd come all this way to see continued cowering, trembling as blood oozed down his wrinkled face. It was a pathetic display for a retired soldier to show, but Erwin resisted humiliating him over it. He hadn't traveled all this way just to pick on the elderly, no—Erwin was here for answers and although he despised hurting people, his faith told him this was for the greater good. After all, a truly innocent man would understand the grave importance of Erwin's mission.
An innocent man would jump at the chance to help.
So when the man replied with a weaselly silence, a beaten whimper, Erwin sighed.
"You're really breaking my heart here sir." He crouched down low to get a better look at the man's bruised, weathered face and tired, blue eyes. When this man had been younger and stronger, he'd surely have been a more cooperative force, but he was just a source of information now, a very stubborn source. "Say something… I can use already."
"I have… nothing to say that hasn't already been said!" Pleaded the elderly man, fresh blood dribbling from lip to chin. "Now leave!"
"I'm trying to leave!" Erwin shouted back, "honest I am. But I need more than what you gave me. Where is it, exactly? What town? What Kingdom? Spit it out before I do more than knock ya around a bit."
"I-It doesn't work like that." The older man grumbled, his wrinkled hands reaching for anything they could grab at, groping the empty air in a slow panic. "It never has… I can only sense the direction… not pin point its exact location."
"The Seer before you could." Erwin countered, "so do it."
"He had… more control over it. Honest he did, I have no reason to lie to you!"
"Damnit." Erwin ground his teeth and stood up, the metal weapons clinking underneath his heavy duster. "This is bull. Pure bull. I mean, I thought you were a Knight once, a soldier for the Gray Crown?"
"Then how about showing me a little more purpose then?" He fixed his gaze forward and tried one last time to reason with him. "We've been given an opportunity to fight back. Don't you see? You're the only fool in this entire world who can give me the answers I need, and the answers I need are going to make sure the Five Kingdoms continue to thrive and prosper. The world is in danger here, so dig deep and help me already!"
"I… I can't."
Erwin flung a leg out, kicking a nearby chair into an explosion of splinters. Then he pulled himself together and tried to steady his nerves, rubbing his thumb and index against his forehead.
"Sorry…" The man continued, "but the beatings don't matter. You could beat me a million times over and it won't change the outcome." The older man dragged himself a few feet to the side and pressed against the wall, leaning back against the wood as his ragged breathing grew heavier. "I never mastered it the way you suggested… I am sorry."
"Sorry doesn't do a damned thing sir, surely you know that by now?"
"Then what would you have me do?"
Erwin bit his lip and tried to think around his situation. Mother and Sister always said he had too much rage inside his heart, that he was a boiling pot of water with no lid. He tried many things to get that anger under control, he even tried stamp collecting. But he ultimately came to realize that only fighting for the Light kept him sane, kept him in control of his natural transgressions.
His faith kept him rooted and grounded, it gave him purpose—and although he hadn't gotten all the information he needed, he had gotten enough to start.
Which meant the old man's usefulness was all used up.
"Fine. I get it."
The old man squinted.
"I appreciate the help here sir. Really I do." Erwin brushed some of those sandy blonde strands of hair away from his face. "Sorry about all this, but what I'm doing has to be done, in the name of all that is good."
"Good?" The man coughed blood into his leathery hands, then cracked a grim smile, "what good is there in beating an elderly man senseless?"
Erwin sighed and rubbed his hands together, dusting them off. "I didn't want to handle it this way, but ya didn't give me much of a choice now did you? You were given your magic to fight back against the coming darkness, everyone lucky enough to inherit a blessing was supposed to use it for a specific purpose. But it's been so long that we've all lost our way. We spend our time using these gifts wrong," he flexed his fingers, feeling the magic fires burning in his blood, tingling with righteous ferocity. "These days, we use our magics to further our own agendas, to fight against our fellow kind—to prove to the common folk that we are better than them… we forgot the Benevolent Ones even existed."
The old man's face twisted into something, detached—confused.
"I see now."
"Oh?" Erwin arched a brow, hopeful that he made his point.
"Yes I do. You're just a freaking lunatic. A madman with too many knives… that's all you are. And let me tell you, having power doesn't mean you have to use it. I did not ask to inherit it, I just woke up one day and it was there. Before that happened, before I used it to become a soldier, I was a damned Onion Farmer. I don't know what you drank, or what you smoked—but you're crazy."
Erwin twitched, the words stinging harder than he anticipated.
"Did you hear me?" The old man wheezed with laughter, "You're crazy!"
"Oh, I heard you. But I need you to hear me too." He looked down, his purple eyes hard and serious. "The Ones who dwell in the darkness, those who fought the Benevolent Ones? They're coming back. And the vessel they choose to carry them will be the catalyst to our people's destruction. If that vessel isn't found and killed, we'll all die, every single one of us, and you failed the Light by not being able to identify who that vessel is."
"Yeah?" The old man looked up at him and there was fire in those eyes, rebellious anger and stubborn hate. "Well whoever that person is, I pray you never find them. And honestly? Screw the Light, screw the Benevolent ones, and screw you too."
"Spoken like a truly treasonous fool." Erwin raised a single hand to the sky and focused on what he wanted to do, focused on the one of a kind magic flowing through him until it heard his call and bloomed to life. Responding to his need as easily as the brain moves a limb, the power caged inside uncoiled and flared out, causing his hands to glow a vibrant blue.
In that moment, he could feel everything with a hyper sensitivity. He tasted the baked bread he had for lunch, felt the wooden grain of the floor beneath his feet, smelled the smoky flames his partner lit outside the cabin—he could even hear the man's heart thumping against his shriveled chest.
He felt all of it in one sudden wave, all of it pushing against his senses until he pushed back, forcing the magic wildfire to explode from his body amidst a shower of blue sparks.
The old man moved to shout, but Erwin's magic unmade his voice, in fact, it unmade everything about him, contorting and twisting his body as every part of his physical self was pulled and broken apart.
Only a blood stain was left behind, but the rest of him was erased—evaporated.
"You did this to yourself." Erwin rationalized, studying the spot where the man once sat. "Rest peacefully, you coward. And may your power reappear in a stronger, more agreeable host."
Cruel as it was, he did what needed to be done.
After all, only one person in this world could hold onto a particular power at any one time, and only after that person dies will that same power reappear in another. People think they just get lucky when they wake up one morning able to throw fireballs or fly through the sky—but luck had nothing to do with it.
It was a call to arms, a sword they are handed so that they can fight back against a single enemy, an enemy that could be anywhere right now, an enemy that he now knew lived somewhere to the Southeast.
He didn't know where exactly, but he trusted in his Faith, knowing that by answering its call, he could save the world from ruin.
It was his destiny.
He wouldn't have been given the power to erase all things, if it wasn't.
"Through me." He assured himself, stepping through the threshold and waving for his partner to torch the cabin, "the Light will never be extinguished. It will live on, burning and shining—forever."