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P-132 is a rewrite of Project 132 (beta) and, therefore, also a reboot of The Resolutions of 132 and Typical Tragedy. It has its basis in those stories, but does not take place in a world related to users or wikis, though it includes many of the former as its cast.
The story takes place on Trine, a planet with two moons housing a single, whirlpool-shaped supercontinent in an otherwise empty galaxy, devoid of all stars except the sun.
Two characters- Christopher Lockheart, based off the author, Tabuu- and Maximilian Cynd II serve as the primary narrators.
This story is written with the assistance of Tucker Wooley.
- Season 1: Golden Fang
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No such thing as...
January 3rd, Year B-263
Have you ever tried to imagine an empty universe?
Oh, God, you’re probably thinking, He’s starting this off with a question about life, the universe and everything. Too pretentious for me. Fuck this.
I’m not pretentious, there’s a reason I asked you that.
Okay, maybe I am a little bit pretentious. Or a lot.
Look, just stick with me for a second. Don’t be like that.
The reason why I started with asking you a question like that is because, well, I’ve tried to imagine an empty universe. When I was a kid, my pops asked me to and I shut my eyes, put my hands over them and said “It probably looks something like this”, because you aren’t born a pretentious asshole, you’re raised to be one.
He told me I was wrong, because I saw darkness. Like absence-of-sight is sight, right?
Well, he explained to me, it is. There’s apparently no such thing as nothing, and that still really, really confuses me.
There are two elements above all the rest in this world. Light and Darkness.
Everything you’ve ever touched, felt or saw is made from some combination of the two. Earth, for instance, is a perfect balance of them.
Neither of them create on their own- they need each other for that.
Creations can destroy, though.
A lot of people have learned that the hard way.
That aside, hey.
My name’s Maximilian Cynd. The second. Just call me Max, Maximilian’s my dad, and he’s a pretty great guy all around.
I turned twenty today. Being a prince among the only known humans on Trine made for a pretty great celebration, as it does every year. My father wasn’t able to turn up, though, since he and my mom have been off nobody-knows-where trying to find things outside of the valley these humans were born in.
My mother’s name is Meiro. She’s not even technically human like my dad is, she’s apparently a goddess. Her true form’s a great, white snake and she’s a creature of Gravity. She has siblings, though- the Great Beasts- and they created this planet we live on, Trine, before my dad came from Lum, the second moon in our sky.
On yeah, moons. Two moons. Sol, the first moon, and Lum, the second moon. No stars in our sky except the good ol’ sun.
I wish I could tell you a bit more than that. Why everything’s so weird.
But even my dad doesn’t have all the answers, and the dude’s a couple hundred years old.
You see, we- as in me and my dad- we’re the Cynds, and for some reason we live quite a lot longer than most humans do. My dad found the people we’ve started to rule over in this valley almost three hundred years ago after he descended from the moon, because unlike us, they aren’t immortal.
They have power, though, and my father has taught them how to use it. Maybe they aren’t as strong as us, but humans are apparently just as adaptive, because they’ve really started to figure out this stuff. At my party in the castle you had guys spitting fire and doing all kinds of crazy stuff.
It was sick.
Sick as in great, I mean. You know.
So I guess you could say I’m a bit of a spoiled, pampered prince. Son of a god among men and a literal goddess- pretty sick, if you ask me. I pretty much have everything I could ask for, and according to what they say I’m actually stronger than them, since I have both their powers and apparently magic just kinda adds up when it comes to frightening semi-bestiality.
Here at the bottom of the valley, we’ve gone from a little village to a huge friggin’ city, and we’re pretty proud of it. When you got people who can pretty much summon and control everything you need to build stuff with their minds, urbanization really isn’t much of a difficult task. It’s been two hundred years since my mom and dad came down here and we’re expanding into something bigger all the time, which is part of the reason why they’ve been outside of the city so much.
They’re trying to find the Great Beasts so that we can get their a-okay and assistance before we exit the valley, since the other Great Beasts- Cyria especially, the Wolf- can be very territorial according to my mom.
I’ve been told not to worry too much about it, though.
I mean, why would anything change?
Back to episode select.
Under an optimistic sun.
CLICK TO PLAY
“What day is it today?” I asked.
The man in front of me, obscured by bars of cold steel, sighed and closed his red eyes. “March ninth. One-thirty-two years after the fall of Blusk.”
I stretched and sighed, leaning forward and putting my hands on the bars.
The conditions of my prison were kept as dark and cold as possible, so as to prevent me from being able to regain energy and escape. Even if I did escape the cell, there wasn’t much I could do to escape the Palace, much less the man standing before me, his father, and the combined power of the Royal Guard.
“Thanks, Nalia.” I said, “I suppose you aren’t here to let me out?”
The dark-skinned prince lightly shook his head. “You know I can’t do that,” Nalia Cynd said, “And even if I could, what then? I’d just have to come after you again, and this time I won’t be allowed to spare you.”
I chuckled. “You think locking me down here ‘til I die is an act of mercy? That it takes the responsibility out of your hands?”
Nalia swept a lock of white, feathery hair from the front of his right eye and our eyes made direct contact through the bars.
“For me, it does.” he admitted, “I’ve left you to the mercy of this cell. Whether you live or die has been taken completely out of my hands.”
Nalia’s facial expression was distant and devoid of emotion, but his eyes betrayed what he was holding back. Guilt. Empathy.
“When we met before, you seemed rather eager to take that out of my hands.” I said, then paused. Blinked. “What’s changed?”
With the eye contact broken, the Crown Prince of Trine started to turn away to leave me to another day of darkness and silence.
At my question, however, he paused.
Then responded, “Simple. It’s up to you now.”
March 1st, Year P-132.
“What day is it today?” I asked.
“You have a phone,” Patrick Lockheart groaned, “Check for yourself.”
“But you see,” I said throwing a look at my older brother, “It’s less fun this way. It’s more interesting to make you say it.”
“It’s the first day of March,” the elder Lockheart said, “Your birthday is tomorrow. You can’t not know this.”
I shrugged. “There’s a lot of things I can’t not know, yet end up not knowing them. Just the other day, I found out that if you get on a horse while-”
“Are you going to subject me to your awful sense of humor some more,” Patrick Lockheart said, sharply interrupting me, “Or will you let me give you your birthday present?”
“It’s awful for you,” I said, “But for me, the humor is in your reactions, not my jokes themselves.”
“Chris,” he said, “I’m serious. I don’t get to see you very often, and you’re not a kid anymore.”
I paused, looked him in the eyes. Unlike mine, his were a bright blue, and tended to express his emotions very clearly. He was, in fact, serious, and I was being more than a little bit annoying.
“Sorry,” I said, putting my hands in my jacket pockets and casting my gaze downward, “I’ll cut it out. What’s up?”
A car passed our bus stop bench, pushing a cool breeze to my right side. I looked back up at him when this happened, momentarily wondered how a thin, blue-eyed blonde guy and a thicker, black-haired, brown-eyed guy could possibly be brothers from the same set of parents.
“I can’t stay in town as long as I’d like to this time,” he said, “In fact, I only have today before I have to get back to work. The Anti-Monarchy movement is getting a little more active, lately, and I may end up being very busy in the coming weeks dealing with them.”
I blinked up at him as the pieces clicked together in my head. “You’re...not staying for my birthday?” I asked, feeling my heart sink.
He nodded. “I know, it’s not fair...up until now, I always got the first week of March off, but the Guard needs me now more than ever and that means I can’t stay as long as I’d like...”
“I haven’t seen you in months, bro...” I said, “What do they need you for, anyways? You’re the head of the Royal Guard, can’t you just get someone else to fill in for you? It’s just a week...”
“Unfortunately,” Patrick said, “Javelin wasn’t available this week. Because, again, the AMM. There’s been a lot of threats in Colony 1 and 5 and we have good reason to believe those aren’t empty threats.”
I sighed. “I feel like you’ve just put me up and out of the way sometimes, man. I’m, well, here,” I said, beckoning to our suburban surroundings, “In the newest, least-populated colony on an island in the sky. I could not be more out of everyone’s way if I tried.”
“Because you’re safe here,” he said, “You’re my brother, and I’m one of the highest authorities in Trine. Do you have any idea how many people have it out for the Lockhearts?”
“I’ve heard this a thousand times, just-”
“No.” he said, growing firm, “You stop. I know it’s hard on you, but it’s hard on me, too. You think I like putting my only family up here? That I like working day-in and day-out without being able to spend time with my own brother?”
“Stop.” Patrick said, “This is the only day we have. Things should blow over soon enough, and then I’ll come back, okay?”
“Alright.” I sighed.
I moved to sit on the bench at the bus stop and my brother sat beside me.
He’d just gotten off the bus and it was early noon, so there wasn’t much reason for us to sit around here twiddling our thumbs.
At that moment, though, I wanted a little quiet time. To think.
My brother and I sat together and stared ahead, at the occasional passing blur of traffic, lost in our own respective thoughts and wondering where we’d be going from here.
The answer, it turned out, was “food”, namely “expensive lunch at the local Fraglan Family Grill”.
Fraglan Family Grill was a popular local restaurant in Colony 132, run by a family of skilled Fire Element users who promised that the Fraglan Family’s progenitor, a man named Phil Fraglan, had been personally trained in the usage of the Fire Affinity by none other than Barchetta Vulc himself, a legendary master of the Fire Element and one of nine founding members of the original Royal Guard.
All things considered, this was probably bullshit, but it didn’t make the food any less tasty.
While me and my brother were eating, we caught up on the trivial little things that had been happening in the past five months since we’d last gotten the time to actually talk.
I found that he’d actually gone on quite a few exciting adventures, including one that ended with a classic sword battle with a mysterious Sage- one without an elemental Affinity, which meant they could use all of them.
Me and my brother, we’re Lockhearts, so we’re all Darkness Affinity users.
Our ancestor, Edo Lockheart, was someone who was actually important- the first-known Darkness user in Trine and another of the nine founding members of the original Royal Guard, which was specifically devoted to guarding Maximilian Cynd II, the second King of Trine.
Max and the original Royal Guard disappeared in an event called “The Fall of Blusk”, wherein a great battle happened at the bottom of the valley in the middle of our continent (the valley that, incidentally, the very island I live on floats hundreds of miles above) that resulted in our first settlement, Blusk (or “Colony 0”) being completely frozen and the valley itself flooded with water.
The battle was said to be against the legendary “Great Beasts”, living creatures of their own elements.
In the aftermath of The Fall, our calendar changed accordingly. Years preceding the fall (B-1 to B-263) were referred to as B years (B meaning both Blusk and Before) while the years afterward were called P (P meaning Post) years, this one being the 132nd.
“So what have you done since I’ve been gone?” Patrick asked, biting and beginning to chew a piece of barbequed ribs.
Played video games. Wrote dumb stories. Jacked off.
“Nothing of note.” I said, truthfully.
He shrugged. “Not even with Tucker?”
“Tuck had to go back home a month ago,” I said, “I’ve been all alone up here, unfortunately. There was a chick I was into a while ago, but one time we kissed and it kinda tasted like soap, so it ended up not working out.”
“That’s life for you. You handle it well?”
I lost all grasp on my sanity for a good month or so. Healthy emotional response.
“About as well as I usually do.” I said, not technically lying.
He winced. “That bad?”
I shrugged it off. “Not that important, anyways. I’m about to turn twenty, man, I’m amped for that, if only because it means I’ve made it through a whole other year toward the inevitable, unknowable blackness of death.” He raised an eyebrow and I added hastily, “Also being of legal age to join the Royal Guard. Why’s it at 21, anyways?”
“Max didn’t want people committing themselves to battle and all that as young as he was.” Patrick said, “You join up young and you decide it isn’t what you want- what then? At that point, you’ve spent up to half a decade working toward something you didn’t really want.”
“Well,” I said, “The Royal Guard has always been led by a Lockheart since the beginning of the Post-Blusk years. Our family’s pretty deeply tied into it.”
“I never felt obligated to it,” Patrick said, shrugging, “It’s just what I want to do. Help people. You don’t have to join if you don’t want to, you know.”
“But Pat,” I said, calling him Pat (which I never do), “If I don’t join the Royal Guard, how else am I going to embarrass you?”
“Any number of things, probably.” he said, “Remember when you were going through that weird phase and the media got their attention on you?”
I faintly recalled getting into very large, very public disputes in places appropriate for fourteen year olds, like bars.
“I was hoping to keep it repressed, actually.” I admitted.
We both paused for a second.
“I missed you, man.” I said, finally.
Night fell a few hours after we ate, and after a fine dinner at a local Hibachi grill, Patrick took me away from town.
We walked miles out, across a field and through a forest, until we reached the edge of the island and a waterfall that came with it. Though our night sky lacks your stars, we do have two moons, and the light reflected from them played interesting effects on the water falling miles out of sight, into the Great Lake of Trine below.
We watched the waterfall for a while, then Patrick broke the silence.
“Anyways,” he said, “About your gift. When our grandfather, Stane was still around, you may recall him training you in the physical aspects- the swordplay- of the Lockheart Style. Do you recall the weapon he used?
I blinked and furrowed my brow in concentration. “A black-handled claymore with a white blade, right? What of it?”
“That weapon,” Patrick said, “Is a weapon passed down through the generations, originally owned by Edo himself. You still have yet to awaken your Darkness affinity, so you can’t make proper usage of the blade, but...”
Patrick outstretched his right palm before him, grasping at a great, white, ornate blade that materialized in his hand, “This is still rightfully yours, until the time it comes for you to pass it on.”
In his left hand, a black leather scabbard appeared which he sheathed the blade within before turning to face me entirely and holding them out to me.
“I’m...” I was at a loss for words. I knew this day would come eventually- I thought it may even be today- but no matter how much I’d expected it, my mind was still completely blown. My own sword? A family heirloom?
“Wield this sword well and true,” Patrick said, setting it down into my open hands, “Like Edo said, there is honor in a blade.”
I nodded. “Thank you, Patrick. Really, this is...”
He smiled. “Trust me, I know. I was pretty psyched when I got mine, too. The katana of Alexander Lockheart.”
My mood sank, though not because of my gift.
“When will I see you again?”
“Truthfully?” Patrick sighed, shrugged. “I don’t know, I wish I did, and I hope it’s soon. Just...promise me you’ll keep it together, all right?”
I nodded. “I will,” I vowed, “I promise not to get into any trouble until you can get me out of it.”
My brother and I shared a laugh by the water.
Sometimes I wish I could relive that moment.
Before everything went to shit.
Back to episode select.
Breathe it in.
CLICK TO PLAY
January 5th, Year B-263
Maximilian Cynd II
So a few days after I turned twenty, I heard reports of a man teaching people how to use Fire magic, assuming they were born with an affinity for it. As a Cynd, I lack an elemental affinity- which means I can use all of them equally. Since I have very little skill with Fire manipulation, I decided that a good way to learn would be from the guy they’re calling the best.
So I left the palace that night in casual clothes- white sneakers, blue jeans and a white T-shirt- and set out on a leisurely walk through the city of Blusk, happily greeting whoever happened to walk by as I made my way to the place where the Fire training was happening, the Arden Pit.
The Arden Pit was a bit outside of town, away from the big buildings and grassy suburbs. It was closer to the point where the valley began to steep upwards, and as a result the ground was mostly clay.
My directions were somewhat vague, but after I spotted a pillar of smoke in the distance I put two and two together and chose to head in that direction.
When I got there, I discovered the source of the flame.
It was coming from coals in this huge pit someone had dug out of the clay, and there was this guy standing in front of it, in his bare feet, stomping and shouting and spitting fire. Every other move he made made the fire rise or glow brighter.
“Vulc! Vulc! Vulc!” the people around the Arden Pit screamed, cheering the man on and, surprisingly, not paying much attention to me. You know, me. Royalty.
So is this what a normal person feels like? Watching the spectacle instead of creating it? I scowled to myself. This is boring.
The man named Vulc stopped for a breather and laughed, his eyes wild and his face alive with joy at the recognition he was making for himself. He was a brown man, muscular and wearing nothing but a pair of baggy, loose-fitting jeans with a belt wrapped around them, but there was a charm in his expression, behind the short, curly black hair, a man who spoke, felt and breathed passion as hot as his flame.
A men on the right side of the pit manned a pair of drums plugged into electrical amplifiers, hammering a heavy rhythm for Vulc to writhe to. Also plugged into amplifiers, except on the left, was a guitarist.
He put his hand up in the crowd respectfully went silent. “Okay,” he called out to them, “Who’s ready to try out the dance? If you can make this fire rise, perhaps you have the ability to create it!”
That madness of his was a dance?
I pulled my shirt over my head and tossed it to the ground beside me. “I’ll do it!” I called boldly, tired of this Vulc guy stealing my thunder.
The music the people on the drums and guitar were playing stopped immediately as the attention of Vulc, the musicians and the crowd snapped to me.
His expression changed when his eyes met mine and he realized who I was- and I, too recognized him.
It was an expression of fear and respect, completely unlike the cheer and passion he’d been exuding not a minute earlier. I recognized that expression from the guy at my birthday party who breathed fire, the way his face looked when he met my eyes.
A face that said please don’t be angry, your highness.
He’s scared of me, I realized.
“Hello, your highness.” he called, in a lower voice, as the fire behind him began to gradually shrink, “I apologize if we’ve displeased you.”
I sighed. “Of course not!” I responded, flashing my trademark grin as I started to walk toward him, “I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about! What’s your name, son?”
I stopped a few feet in front of him, the fire blazing to our left from the pit. I saw the look of hesitation on his face, so I decided to start with mine, even though he already knew it. “Maximilian Cynd, Junior.” I said, holding my hand out for a shake, “But call me Max. You?”
He grabbed my hand uncertainly, but when his eyes met mine he grinned and the fire glowed in response, “Vulc,” he said, “My name is Barchetta Vulc.”
Barchetta took a deep breath and exhaled, and the fire beside us lowered to the point where it was nothing but glowing coal beneath the pit.
“So how does this work?” I asked.
“Take off your shoes.” he said, nodding at my feet, “Um, your highness.”
“Call me Max.” I said. “And why?”
“You need to feel the ground to know if the fire is becoming too hot,” Vulc responded, “There is a such thing as too much flame. Everyone else here’s barefoot, too.”
I nodded and kicked my shoes and socks off into the pile of coal, setting my bare feet on the hard, hot ground beside the fire pit.
“So how does this work?” I asked him.
The two-man band started playing again and Vulc flashed the same grin he had when he was dancing. “Fire,” he said, “Comes from the mouth. You have to breathe and scream and shout for fire. You want a dance for passion, and you want to breathe in that so you can make flame. Are you ready, your high- Max? It won’t be easy.”
I tilted my head and smirked. “I like a challenge. Let’s do this. Mirror your moves, correct?”
“I’ll start so you can get an idea on the rhythm,” Vulc said, “Watch.”
The man continued his frenzy, but this time I watched him carefully. He stomped with the rhythm of the drums and moved his body to the strums of the guitar, breathing in and out between every pause in the song.
“Max!” he said, “Come on!”
I nodded and started as the song increased in pace, mirroring his moves as best as I could, deep in concentration.
The fire wasn’t rising at all, and I scowled in irritation.
“Breathe!” Vulc said, “Breathe it in! Don’t hold your breath waiting for fire!”
I exhaled and started to stare at his chest, matching the rising and falling of it as he danced and sang.
The embers glowed a little brighter.
“Yes, yes!” Vulc shouted, “Go, Max! Come on!”
I grinned as I started matching his steps and breaths, moving like a reflection of the man before me as the fire started.
This is...this is great!
I showed my teeth in a wider grin and he laughed. “Here I was, worried princes didn’t know to live a little! It’s gonna speed up, Max, don’t hold back!”
He stuck out his tongue as the dance intensified, displaying a tattoo of a flaming, red salamander on it.
As the dance increased in intensity, I found it harder to keep breathing but I kept on anyway, despite the smoke and heat and sheer energy in all I was doing, the feeling of the crowd shouting our names as we danced by fire.
The ground was hot, I was hot, but nothing had ever felt quite so right to me as that dance in flame. Vulc challenged me to roar, and all traces of hesitation I'd previously had were lost.
“Are you sure?” I shouted over the raging flame, “I might just embarrass you!”
“You’re welcome to try, Max!” he shouted back, “Bring it on!”
The song became a brutal pounding of drums, and we stomped the ground to match it, pulverizing the hot clay at our feet as it intensified.
It hurt, but it was a good kind of hurt, the kind that just made the high I was on that much better.
I realized that this man in front of me was a friend- I had a friend now- and we were having a hell of a good time, dancing and shouting for a crowd.
The song neared its end and we started a rapid march back from each other, ready for the final pounding of the drums before we gave it all our all.
The song ended and, as one, me and Max stomped our right feet forward, leaned with them and roared into the sky, releasing white-hot twin columns of flame that illuminated the night sky.
The fire I summoned...I’d never seen anything like it.
I slumped in exhaustion with the end of the dance, putting my hands over my knees and realizing I was drenched in my own sweat but simply hadn’t noticed or cared over the duration of the dance.
Vulc, however, looked he wasn’t tired at all.
Geez, I thought, He’s been doing this all day, hasn’t he?
“Check it out, everyone!” he shouted to the crowd, “Our future king knows how to party!”
“Max! Max! Max!”
I gave a little laugh and pushed myself into standing straight, still panting with exhaustion. I put a sweaty arm over my equally sweaty forehead and rubbed in some vain hope of eliminating the perspiration, but it was no use.
I desperately needed some water, but at the moment I didn’t care.
“I’ve never done anything like that in my life!” I said, “That was awesome!”
Barchetta just laughed. “I’m glad you enjoyed yourself! Do we have any more volunteers?”
A young couple squealed from the crowd, the chick looking wild, sweaty and excited and the guy pretty much matching that.
“Come on, then!” he beckoned, “Let’s see how hot you burn!”
I made my way into the crowd as the couple walked up together to take my place and the music began to change to some song about a ring of fire that I blocked out.
I was just about ready to leave until a guy with blue-rimmed glasses offered me a bottle of water.
“Thank you.” I said, starting to open it, “What’s your name?”
He was shorter than me, maybe five feet tall. He had long, brown hair and looked a bit skinny and pale for this kind of thing. “Name’s Cobold Vaten,” he said, panting excitedly, “Wild night, right? Barchetta’s my friend.”
I smiled at that. “You have a good friend there.” I shut my eyes and started to drink from the bottle, exhaling softly from my nose after the first gulp of water went down, filling me with the strange kind of euphoria only a drink can give you after a long period of exertion.
“Yeah, he’s great. You know, I’ve been outside of the valley!”
I raised an eyebrow at him.
“I’m serious!” he said, “Me and my family used to live up there!”
I shrugged. “Why didn’t you stay?”
He frowned at that. “The Golden Fang drove us out. We had nowhere to go but down.”
“I see. Sorry to hear.”
He shook his head. “It’s no problem. But hey, a friend of Barchetta’s a friend of mine!”
He held out his hand for me the shake, and I couldn’t help but admire his confidence. “I guess so.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Cobold.”
“Thanks, your highness.”
“Just...call me Max.”
January 9th, Year B-263
In the day following my first meeting with Barchetta Vulc and Cobold Vaten at the Arden Pit, I thanked them both for their time and company and returned to the Palace, waiting to hear the latest on my parents for the next two days.
The news came on the second day, while I was relaxing on my father’s throne, reclined on it sideways and toying with a ball of fire in my hand.
A man dressed in white made slow steps across the red carpet leading to the throne, the sounds of his feet tapping the ground echoing in the great hall of blue and black marble.
The light from the window behind me illuminated the bottom half of his face as he kneeled before me silently.
“Master Max,” he said, “I have an important message from your father.”
I sighed. “Stand up, Cecil. You know I’m not a fan of the formalities.”
The man’s shoulders shook with silent laughter and he smiled as he rose to his feet, removing his hood and grinning at me.
Cecil Cynd was a pale man with ivory hair and blood-red eyes, qualities shared by my father.
To tell a Cynd apart from a regular human, one need only pay attention to certain characteristics. From our birth, our hair is pure white and our eyes the color of our blood. Our skin varies from person to person- you’re either completely pale, like my father or Cecil, or completely dark, like myself.
“It’s good to see you, Cecil. What’s the news?”
“Our father is travelling with your mother to the Gilded Deserts,” Cecil said, “They’re going to be negotiating with Skell around there.”
I shuddered at the thought.
Skell, as his nickname implied, was a skeletal Great Beast. Unlike the others, he had no human form and he fed on residual energy- he would habitually devour human beings and large masses of animals all around Trine, but most especially if you made the mistake of entering the Gilded Desert, his domain. His element is Earth, and besides my mother, he’s possibly the most powerful of the Great Beasts.
I had met him once, as a child.
He told me, as a mass of bones twisting around to form what roughly resembled a human face, that I seemed like a good meal.
The other Great Beasts have species rather like them- my mother has the Serpents of the White Mountains, for instance- but unlike the rest, Skell is the only known member of his species, whatever he even is.
“When?” I asked.
Cecil closed his eyes and shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said, “I just know the location where it’s happening.”
“The peak of Calvary Mountain, overlooking the Gilded Desert. Skell insisted that be the place.”
Of course the sick fuck would choose Calvary Mountain. That’s where people used to bring him sacrifices.
I sighed. “Sounds fun. Any other news?”
“Yes, in fact,” Cecil said, “There’s a man who has been requesting an audience with you since earlier this morning.”
“What’s his business?” I asked, uncertain. People generally didn’t ask for me.
“He says he wants to, uh...” Cecil scowled and raised his hands upward, creating quotation marks, “‘Hang out, bro’.”
Barchetta and I waited on the sidewalk outside the marble gates leading to the Cynd Palace, awaiting a response from the man in white we’d asked for an audience with Max. The sky was clear and blue, with the sun shining bright overhead, but my friend didn’t seem to particularly care, too busy staring forlornly at the man across the street, leaning against the entrance to a small pub called The Dionysus Brewery, the first founded in Blusk or, indeed, in Trine.
The man outside Dionysus was enjoying a cigarette, and Barchetta seemed to enjoy him enjoying it, unconsciously inhaling every time the smoker exhaled, as if hoping he could catch some of the smoke from this distance.
I sighed in annoyance and punched Barchetta in the shoulder.
This snapped my friend out of his mesmer, and we made brief eye contact before he gave a look of guilt and snapped his head up and away from me, looking at the sky.
“Man,” he said, scratching the back of his head, “How long have we been out here?”
“Not too long, I hope,” said a familiar voice from behind us, “I don’t like keeping my friends waiting.”
We turned around to see Max walking toward us, dressed in an unbuttoned violet dress shirt with a white T beneath, blue jeans and a pair of sneakers.
He didn’t look anything like how he did at public events with his family or the press, in other words. Even now, it seemed rather strange that a member of royalty would dress normally around me and Vulc.
The marble gate between us disappeared with a wave of Max’s hand as he came closer, with a wide grin on his face at the sight of the two of us.
“So what’s up?” the prince asked, putting his hands in his pockets.
“Well,” Barchetta said, “Remember what Cobold told you? About our home?”
“You guys used to live outside the valley, right?”
“Yeah.” I said, “We’re going up there soon, though, and we were wondering if you wanted to come with.”
Max blinked. “Wait, why?”
“You remember that bit about us being forced out of our homes?” Barchetta said.
“We didn’t get to take anything with us,” I said, closing my eyes, “And we try to go up there whenever we can to get our stuff back. Me and Vulc weren’t the only people who lived there, you know- there’s a lot of things people left up there that they cared about, and we were hoping to make today our last trip into the Golden Fang’s territory.”
Max’s expression was unreadable. While he considered, his mouth was shut and his lips were flat and thin, his eyes devoid of emotion.
“Alright,” he decided, returning to his normal grin, “I’ll come and help out. Why me, though?”
Barchetta put a hand behind his head. “Well,” he said, turning to me with a grimace, “Let’s just say that we’ve gotten into fights there before and need a little more...security.”
He raised an eyebrow. “You engaged the Golden Fang?”
“Not Cyria or anything!” I cut in, mentioning the Great Beast, “Just some lower members! The wolves aren’t that strong!”
Max shut his eyes and sighed. “Okay, let me revise my terms. We’ll go up there and grab your stuff...but if I sense anything, we get out of there, okay? The negotiations with the Great Beasts won’t end up going very well if Cyria gets involved in this.”
Barchetta looked ready to argue, but I pat his back and said “Yes, your highness” before he got the two of us into trouble.
My friend thanked me with a silent nod and Max sighed. “Just call me Max,” the prince said, “Where are we headed?”
“Past the Arden Pit,” Vulc said, “Ascending the clay and then exiting the valley.”
“Alright,” Max said, turning and starting to walk, “Let’s go and get some fresh air.”
Back to episode select.
We need to fetch back the time they have stolen from us.
CLICK TO PLAY
March 2nd, Year P-132
I held my family-heirloom claymore one-handed, straining with the heavy blade and wondering how on Trine that Edo, a primary magic and mid-range fighter, managed to combine an entire set of swordplay styles into one- the Lockheart Style- when his primary blade was one as heavy and unwieldy as this.
I groaned with exertion and let the heavy blade relax at my side.
Edo had somehow possessed the strength to wield the weapon one-handed and use it to parry enemies as fast as Light and Lightning users, who generally used much smaller, lighter weapons for battle. He was hailed as the greatest swordsman in the world, and despite the many who attempted to take the title from him, none succeeded until his own son, Alexander Lockheart, defeated the man in his prime, earning the right to his father’s blade and passing it down to his own son.
Alexander’s son, Vincent, used Edo’s claymore to win Alex’s own katana from him. Vincent’s daughter, Meyneth, fought Vincent with the inherited katana to win the claymore.
The Lockheart Succession Line progressed as such- one generation would earn Edo’s blade, then the next would earn Alex’s, and so on. In the case of siblings, any could earn the blade, but it was a race, usually won by the eldest child. Whoever inherited the blade would, in turn, inherit the name “Lockheart”, and those who fell behind would have to let go of the family name, though generally the parting was made on good terms and with significant compensation for the losing party.
This Succession Line worked perfectly fine across the generations of the Lockhearts, except that me and Patrick’s mother, Michelle Lockheart, died before either of us were of age to truly earn our inheritance. (An only child could earn their inheritance at any age- siblings would have to wait until the youngest became eighteen years old.)
After Michelle’s untimely death, me and Patrick were taken in by our grandfather, Stane Lockheart. Stane decided that, due to the circumstances, the Succession Line in its original form had to be broken and that he would train us both to wield both Edo’s claymore and Alex’s katana.
Stane died during my training two years ago, leaving it incomplete.
I struggled with the weight of my inheritance but lifted it once more, growling with determination and raising it above my head, stabbing the blade skyward, toward the mid-noon sun shining down over my humble little backyard on my birthday.
I’d never really completed my Lockheart Style training, so I wondered if I was even worthy to wield the sword of my progenitor. In addition to my sword training being incomplete, I still had yet to unlock an elemental Affinity- which sure as hell better be Darkness, or that’s another awful disgrace on my family name- and learn combat skills that weren’t hitting things with a sword and hoping they died.
I sheathed the blade in the scabbard over my right shoulder and sighed.
It was my twentieth birthday, I’d finally acquired something I’d wanted for as long as I could remember...but the utter lack of everything else I needed to feel happy- my last family member, my friends- made me feel as isolated as I truly was, stranded in the suburbs in the middle of a small island in the sky.
January 9th, Year B-263.
Maximilian Cynd II
The sun turned red as afternoon began to fade into dusk, and I sighed in exasperation, wiping a coating of sweat from my forehead with one arm while the rest of me held firmly to the solidified clay I was climbing up.
“How much further?” I shouted downward.
Barchetta Vulc and Cobold Vaten looked up at me from about ten feet down, one of the lenses of the latter’s glasses covered in bits of clay
“We should be coming close to Terra’s Gate soon!” Cobold called back.
Terra’s Gate? I asked myself inwardly.
I considered asking what they meant by Terra’s Gate, but climbing a mountain isn’t exactly conducive to conversation so I decided instead to keep pulling myself up, stopping occasionally to rest.
The climb continued for some time, and I briefly questioned to myself how we’d be getting their stuff back down, but again I decided to save pesky questions for later and focus on climbing the literal mountain in front of me.
Just as the sun finished setting, I made my way to the top of the cliff as dusk turned into night and our two moons, Sol and Lum, became more visible in the sky.
I waited at the ledge for Barchetta and Cobold to arrive behind me, which in itself took about five minutes.
When they finally did and they both collapsed in panting heaps at my feet (while my Cynd blood had already done its job of completely rejuvenating me), I gave them a few moments to catch their breath before asking the biggest question that’d been sticking in my head since earlier in the climb.
“You mentioned something called Terra’s Gate earlier,” I said, watching as Cobold tried vainly to clean his clay-stained glasses with his clay-stained shirt, “What is that?”
Cobold looked past me, squinted and pointed his finger in the direction he was looking. “Right behind you, Max.”
At first, I didn’t notice anything. The lighting, combined with the fact that pretty much everything was either clay or a tree, made what I was supposed to be looking at very difficult to discern. The light from Sol and Lum, however, began to do their work and I noticed a formation of black marble about twenty feet in front of me that was glowing lightly in response, as if polished.
Terra’s Gate was a black marble archway between two great stones, effectively blocking off access to leaving the valley.
My heart thudded as I realized that this was the farthest from home I’d come without either of my parents and I found my mouth had opened in a gasp, whether of awe at what I’d seen or fear at stepping into what was, for me, uncharted territory.
“You! What are you doing here?”
I jumped out of my daze and frantically looked around for the source of the voice.
Realizing it didn’t seem to have come from either of my sides, I turned my gaze to the moon shining above Terra’s Gate.
A man was sitting atop the Gate, legs crossed in a meditative stance as he looked down at us from fifty feet above us with what seemed to be an interesting combination of disinterest and disdain. His arms rested over his crossed legs.
He was dressed only in a pair of rough, torn, brown pants, the rest of his body bare of clothing but completely filthy from contact with dirt. His skin was a dark tan and his eyes were as black as the marble he sat on, looking down on us with Lum, the second moon, shining behind him.
“Is that...?” I asked.
“Yup.” Barchetta said, gulping, “That’s Terra. He’s the gatekeeper.”
“That’s right!” Terra shouted, raising to his full height and standing atop his gate, “Me! The Gatekeeper! What do you think you’re doing here?”
“Terra-” Cobold Vaten started, raising his hand-
“Shut up, nerd!” Terra snarled, pointing sternly at him, “I’m talking to your leader! Maximilian Cynd the Second! A god damned prince prancing about with you two lousy-”
I glared at him and he fell silent and rolled his eyes, growling and jumping forward.
He landed from the top of the Gate smoothly, making a three-point landing with his right knee, left foot and right hand.
He stood and brushed himself off, making a respectful bow to me and changing his demeanor. “I apologize, your highness, for my rudeness. My name is Shinn Terra. According to an agreement between your father and the Great Beasts, me and my family have kept this gate for centuries to preserve-”
“Open the gate.” I said, firmly.
“Open. It.” I repeated. “My friends here won’t be coming back here after tonight. We have property to recover, and then we’ll come back home and you won’t see or hear from us again. You have my word.”
Terra nodded. “Yes, your highness. Please stand by and allow me.”
He turned his back to me and reached forward, firmly grasping the air in front of him and pulling it apart, opening the great Gate with a smooth motion.
“I will reopen the gate when you return.” Terra said, “Go. The village isn’t far ahead.”
“Thank you, Gatekeeper.” I said, walking past him and beckoning for Barchetta and Cobold to follow me. “Come on, you two!”
I looked forward into the night as we walked further into it, into a thicket of trees so dark I couldn’t see the other side.
“It’s just through here.” Barchetta said, conjuring a small flame in his left hand and raising it before him, “We won’t be long.”
I heard the Gate close behind us.
“I hope not.”
March 2nd, Year P-132.
The day passed into night as I, again, found myself at the waterfall that fell from the island.
I could see clearly the point to the left of the stream where me and my brother had stood, and I already felt sad just looking at it, wondering when I’d get to see him again and if yesterday would be the last time. He says we shouldn’t talk about it, but I do my research- the Anti-Monarchy Movement has gained a lot of power over time, and he’s been put in the hospital with critical injuries more times than I’m comfortable with.
“What are you doing out here so late, kid?”
I nearly jumped out of my skin.
I grabbed the handle of the claymore over my right shoulder and rapidly turned to the source of the voice.
A man in white, hooded robes stood some distance before me, leaning against a large oak tree beside the stream. He had a tall, imposing figure, but his head was down and his arms were crossed, so I couldn’t see his face or anything else discernible about him.
“That depends,” I asked, keeping my voice calm even as I silently freaked out, especially since he could probably push me to my untimely death if he wanted to, “Why are you here?”
“He’s going to die, you know.” The hooded man said, keeping his left arm below his chest as he raised a pale right hand to the side of his face, “Your brother, I mean.”
My heart sank. “What do you mean by that?” I demanded.
He shrugged. “I mean that Patrick Lockheart is marked for death. Simple as that. I thought it was right to let you know that. Before he, you know. Died.”
“So you know who you’re talking to, huh?” I muttered, fear quickly being replaced with a cold surge of fury and adrenaline, “This isn’t some shitty prank. You know who I am.”
“I know everything about you, Lockheart. If I should even call you that, I mean. Lockheart’s such an old name, and it’s been used by much better people.”
I unsheathed my claymore and grasped it firmly with both of my hands, holding it before me and slowly beginning to step toward the man in white.
“That is a nice sword you got there. Do you think it belongs to you?”
“Shut your mouth!” I shouted.
“I’m just saying, kid. You know as well as I do you didn’t earn it. Do you think it knows too? That you aren’t its master?”
The man in white stepped forward, putting his right hand over his chest as he walked.
“Everyone and everything has heart, boy. Has soul. Even me.”
“Do you, now?” I snarled as he came closer, “I’ll show you heart! I’ll show you yours when I rip it out of your chest!”
He chuckled at hearing that.
“Good. Good kid. I like to hear that.”
He extended both of his arms outward from his body, momentarily forming a cross. Impossibly long, silver blades without handles burst from the wide sleeves of his robes and he grasped them with his hands firmly before setting them both over his shoulders.
The blades were relatively thin, but each was as long as I was tall and didn’t curve whatsoever.
A white feather caught my eye.
It fell from the sky between us, drifting on the cold wind.
“I hope you aren’t having second thoughts, Lockheart.” he said, just as I was, “Because you’re going to die right here. You’re going to die, do you understand that?”
“So that’s why you’re here.” I realized, letting my sword hand fall to my side. “You’re here to kill me.”
“Yes. I’m here to strike the heart out of your body.”
He held out his right-handed blade and I didn’t move as he did, allowing him to press the razor-sharp tip of the blade against the left side of my chest.
“Put that sword back in its sheath. Don’t dirty that blade with your blood.”
I obeyed him silently.
“Step back. Slowly.”
I did as I was told, putting my hands outward in surrender and stepping back, slowly but surely, toward the edge of the island, listening to the roar of the water as it fell into the sky.
“Lockheart.” He said, slicing through my shirt and skin over my heart, “Why are you scared?”
“Because you’re going to kill me.”
“You’re going to die one day, anyways. What difference does it make?”
“I don’t want to let them go.” I stammered, “Patrick and Tucker, they’re all I have left.”
“So you live for them, then?”
“I don’t see them here, boy.” he said, “It’s just you and me. You aren’t long for this world, either. Say it, now. Say goodbye, and I’ll kill you.” He dispelled his left-handed blade and raised the right over his head as he stepped forward, preparing to deal the killing blow. “Say it and I’ll kill you quickly.”
“Good-” I stuttered, “Goodbye!”
His blade fell and my chest tore.
I was blinded by red and overwhelmed with pain, losing strength with blood and stumbling back-
My feet left the ground and I reached for the edge as it fell away from me, as I fell into the sky.
I guess this is it, then.
I didn’t want to die like this, but I guess you aren’t supposed to have a choice, huh?
I laughed. The island was almost completely out of sight and my vision was fading anyways.
Hopefully I’ll die before I hit the water.
Back to episode select.
Light up the Lockheart.
CLICK TO PLAY
January 9th, Year B-263
Maximilian Cynd II
A mile into the forest and the trees began to clear up.
“We’re getting close.” Barchetta said, leading me and Cobold through the darkness.
The thicket of trees cleared and Barchetta dispelled his flame when they did, leading us into the moonlight.
And there it was.
A small village, built in a grassy clearing, with a broken, circular wall of black marble surrounding its perimeter. As we came closer, I observed the houses that had been within- most of them were built of the same black marble that made up The Gate and the wall around the village, but many had been razed or severely damaged in the assaults the Golden Fang had made on the village.
“I don’t sense them anywhere around here,” I said aloud, “Did they just force you out out of spite?”
“Essentially.” Barchetta said, stepping over the rocky pavement, “Cyria doesn’t like humans very much. He doesn’t even think we belong in the valley- if not for your mother, he’d have us all dead. Anyways, we’re here.”
We stopped in front of one of the few undamaged buildings in the village. It was a grand thing, with columns and stairs and stained glass windows on its face and side.
“What is this place? And what are we getting from here?” I asked.
“This is our town’s Sanctuary,” Cobold said, walking up and placing a palm on one of the columns, “The Golden Fang promised not to destroy it if we all left. Me and Barchetta told everyone to leave their most cherished possessions in the cellar, so that whenever we could sneak back up here, we could grab them and take them back down. Come on in.”
Cobold and Barchetta opened the door to the Sanctuary and I followed them inside.
The marble inside was enchanted in such a way that it always seemed to be reflecting light, meaning that despite how dark everything was outside and that this place didn’t have any conventional electricity, visibility was high on the inside.
I looked around the room while we walked through- rows of chairs had been demolished, leaving scorch marks on the floor and walls. In the back of the sanctuary, a few steps raised the floor for an altar, behind which a broken stained glass window let in moonlight that illuminated the altar.
I followed Barchetta and Cobold to the altar, leaning against the wall beneath the window while the other two stood around the altar.
“The cellar is under here.” Barchetta said, coming to stand on the right side of the altar and pushing against it, “Once I push this-” He panted with exertion and pushed harder, “We can get the rest of our stuff!”
The altar slid out of the way, revealing a hole in the floor, leading into darkness. Barchetta conjured fire in his right hand and squinted into the darkness below.
“Wait...” he said, “There’s supposed to be a ladder down here.”
He got on his knees and lowered himself toward the hole, putting his hand into the hole to illuminate it.
“Oh shit.” he swore, “They destroyed it all! They knew!”
Barchetta pushed himself off the ground and growled, trying to contain his anger. Cobold immediately moved to try to calm his friend, but backed off when Barchetta’s shirt began to catch fire from flames rising up his arms.
“Those stupid fucking beasts!” Barchetta shouted, “I swear, the next time I get my hands on one of them, I’ll-”
Barchetta’s rant stopped abruptly.
“Oh...” he removed the smoldering remains of his shirt, tossing them into the hole before us, “Oh shit, if any of them are around, I just...”
A series of deafening howls confirmed Barchetta’s suspicions, and my blood ran cold when I recognized the loudest and most distinctive of them.
“Cyria’s coming.” I said, “We’ve got to get out of here, now!”
March 3rd, Year P-132
I woke the next morning in a daze, my entire body- but especially my chest- numb, finding myself laying on a bed inside a small, circular wooden hut, my clothes hanging before a fire on the opposite end.
As I pulled myself into a sitting position, I noticed my clothes were soaked with a mixture of my blood and water, which meant I’d somehow survived the fall.
Forget the fall... I put my hand over my chest, seeing that my upper body was extremely tightly bandaged, How in the hell did I survive that stab?
The hut’s fireplace was directly across from the bed, with the door just a few steps to the right of it. I considered trying to stand, but something told me that wouldn’t be a good idea in my current condition.
How am I alive? Who brought me here, and why?
I felt uneasy. And, I realized, incredibly hungry and thirsty.
Conveniently, just after I thought that, I heard footsteps. I attempted to call out to whoever was outside the hut, but the words came out as little more than a hoarse whisper.
The wooden door was pushed open, and a tall, distinctive man walked in. His facial features and golden-blonde hair resembled Patrick’s, but his eyes, while familiar, didn't match- they were a bright gold.
He was wearing white khakis and a bright, blood-red shirt, and under his left arm was a basket of what seemed to be fish.
I began to mouth out “who”.
“I see you’re awake.” the familiar stranger interrupted, “Surprised you’d be up so soon after that fall of yours. But then, you are her son...”
He set the basket on a table to the left of the fireplace, pulled out a chair and placed it to the left of the foot of my bed and sat down, looking up at me.
I started to try to mouth out more words, but he cut me short again.
“Wait...you need water, don’t you?” He made an apologetic face that, again, reminded me uncannily of my older brother, “Sorry, not used to feeding people...I hope I caught enough fish for you.”
He grabbed a leather flask from a shelf behind him and handed it to me.
I popped off the top and spent a good five seconds gulping down all the water I could from inside it before sighing and putting the lid back on.
“Thank you.” I said.
He shrugged. “Least I could do. I’m sure you have a lot of questions...”
He stood from his chair and walked across the hut, kneeling down to take my clothes from drying in front of the fireplace. He put a grill over the flames, grabbed and oiled a frying pan, then put two of the fish he’d caught inside and placing them in the pan and setting them to cook over the fire.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“My name is Cyria.” He responded, moving from the fireplace back to his chair at my bedside.
That's a weird name. Kinda familiar, too... I thought.
“How am I alive?” I asked.
“You were dead for a little bit there.” He said, scowling, “Fortunately, the damage to your heart wasn’t that hard for me to heal. After that, it was a matter of patching you up and reviving you with a little surge of Light energy.”
I chuckled. “No wonder I feel like garbage,” I said, “You used the wrong element. I’m a Lockheart, man, we’re all about-”
“Darkness, right?” He grinned at me, displaying a set of particularly large and sharp canines.
I frowned in confusion. Everything about this man was familiar, but everything he was saying and doing seemed alien. “Why did you save me, anyways? And besides your name, who are you, actually?”
“I saved you because you’re my son.” He smirked again, “Does that answer your questions?”
"You're my...dad?" I muttered.
“You son of a bitch.” I growled, “Where have you been?”
His smile disappeared and he sighed. “I was in hiding.” Cyria said, suddenly looking older and sadder, “And I have been for the past hundred and thirty-two years.”
“What?” I sputtered.
“I thought you might react like that.” he looked downcast, “I’m not exactly what I might look like. I’m not human, like you or your brother. I’m what you would call a Great Beast, and a hundred and some years ago, I was known as the leader of the Golden Fang, a pack of wolves born of Light and named for one of my signature techniques.”
“Okay, maybe you're my dad, but you're clearly not a wolf." I blinked at him.
"The Great Beasts were all capable of assuming human form, you know." Cyria said, "It's preferable for being in hiding, as our natural forms- especially mine- makes it difficult to hide my energy signature, while with a human body I only channel and give off my energy when I need to."
"Why should I believe you?" I asked.
"Because you'd be dead if I were lying." he said, simply. "I'm Cyria, of the Golden Fang. And you're my son."
"So if you're Cyria..." I pointed at him, "That means you should know about the Fall of Blusk. Tell me where it started, then. How it all happened."
"Well," Cyria sighed, shutting his eyes, "The conflicts started around the time I met the son of Maximilian Cynd. The actual chain of events that led to the Fall, however, were for...other reasons."
"Like me being responsible for the death of Maximilian Cynd," Cyria muttered, "And making it so that his son swore revenge on me and the other Great Beasts."
January 9th, Year B-263
Maximilian Cynd II
The three of us started running as fast we could, escaping the sanctuary and starting to run across town.
A great wave of scarlet energy blasted the pavement apart before me and I came to a halt, turning to the source.
The town was already crawling with members of the Golden Fang- wolves composed of pure Light energy prowling around the ruined houses. Their leader stood atop the sanctuary, defined by his shining red eyes, glowing with the energy used in his Howl technique, which he’d just used to almost kill the three of us.
“Silly humans.” Cyria boomed, “I would’ve thought after last time that the two of you wouldn’t come back here. Apparently our warning wasn’t enough.”
The wolves surrounding us began barking and howling at the moon.
“I suppose it doesn’t matter, then, if we kill the three of you where you stand. I’m sorry for your friend, but none of you filthy humans should have come back here.”
Cyria raised his head and howled with his brethren, producing a sphere of crackling, blood-red lightning that was dramatically expanding in size.
“Wait!” I shouted, “My name is Maximilian Cynd!”
The sphere of energy dispelled abruptly and in an instant, Cyria stood at ground level before us, the wolves fallen silent as Barchetta and Cobold stood behind me and he began to approach.
“T-the second!” I added, panting.
“I see.” Cyria said, the wolf bowing his head, “I never thought the next time I saw Max’s son would be intruding on my territory. But then, I’m hardly surprised...after all, you humans seem to think you own the whole world...”
“What the hell are you talking about?” I demanded, “We think we own everything? You have forced my entire species into the bottom of a valley!”
“Your father is of the second moon,” Cyria said, “And humans were created to work the land, not own it. Had I known humanity would’ve become the plague it did, I wouldn’t have played any part in creating it.”
“So, what? People decide not to be slaves, so you force them from their homes and make them live in the valley!?”
“You were created to serve us. Serving your purpose is hardly slavery. We are gods, boy. You don’t question divinity.”
“Anyways...” Cyria said, turning around and starting to walk away, “I won’t be killing you three. Meiro would be so displeased if I did, after all. Instead, I’ll just tell your mother you stumbled into my territory, and my soldiers did as they were told...a tragic accident.”
“So that’s it, then?” I shouted at the wolf’s retreating back, “I never knew a Great Beast could be so cowardly!”
“Leave us.” he said to his pack, “I’ll deal with these three on my own.”
One of the wolves to my far right barked in protest, and Cyria was on him in an instant, biting the member of the Golden Fang in the neck and forcing him into submission.
“I said GO.” Cyria repeated.
He released his underling, and the members of the pack individually disappeared in flashes of white Light energy until the three of us were alone with their leader, who started prowling in a circle around our group.
Me, Cobold and Barchetta put our backs to each other as he did so, waiting for him to make the first move.
“I don’t want to incur the wrath of your mother...” Cyria admitted, “But then, an agreement is an agreement. Perhaps I can’t kill you...but I can teach you a lesson. Your friends, however...”
Cyria faced me directly. Despite the wolf’s facial features being composed of Light, I could tell he was sneering at me, baring his canines and grinning in a way that befitted a wolf.
Cyria pounced toward me at blinding speed, slamming into my chest so hard the front of my ribcage shattered and I blasted backward, knocking Cobold and Barchetta aside and slamming to the pavement with the wolf on top of me.
Cyria held down my arms with his paws as I tried to fight him off me, laughing as I struggled against the great wolf’s weight.
“Pathetic.” he said, “Your father fought much better than this when I met him.”
I breathed in deeply, ignoring the pain from my shattered ribs.
“Maybe I’ll just finish y-”
I roared, breathing a torrent of fire into Cyria’s face and blasting the wolf off me.
I forced myself to my feet as I felt my blood start to regenerate my injuries, and I breathed in again, exhaling and conjuring fire over both of my fists as Cyria picked himself up off the ground, standing between me and my two friends.
“Congratulations, child. You aren’t totally useless.”
Barchetta punched the air toward Cyria’s back, sending a column of flame at the Great Beast, who impossibly dodged the blast unscathed.
Barchetta and I both started furiously blasting volleys of fire at the leader of the Golden Fang, but he dodged them all easily, swiftly dodging every burst of flame, no matter how quickly we fired.
He’s just so...fast...
“I’m growing bored of this.”
Cyria disappeared, leaving the ground between me and my friends in flames.
“Son of Maximilian...”
I turned sharply to the source of the voice, seeing Cyria some distance before me, his maw open wide as scarlet lightning started to materialize and fill his mouth.
“The technique that killed you is called Howl.”
He punctuated the end of his sentence with a sudden howl, blasting a maelstrom of blood-red lightning energy right at me.
The strongest technique in Cyria’s arsenal. Enough power to destroy my body, down to the bones.
I shut my eyes as the wave neared and there was a great explosion, strong enough to rattle the ground at my- wait, what?
“Get back, your highness!” Shinn Terra shouted, standing before me.
Terra had conjured a great wall of stone from the ground to block Cyria’s attack, but I could still hear and feel it starting to force its way through his barrier.
Terra crouched low to the ground, pounding his palms into the pavement to conjure more pillars of earth to blast the Howl energy into the sky.
Terra leaped from his crouching position and grabbed me with his right arm, his feet supported by stone pillars rising from the ground and moving forward at a breakneck speed. With his other arm, he grabbed Barchetta, who grabbed Cobold.
“You can’t outrun me, Gatekeeper!” Cyria shouted.
“Hang on tight.” Terra warned.
“Wait-” Barchetta shouted, “Hang on for- YOU CRAZY SON OF A BITCH!”
Terra used his earth manipulation to blast the three of us skyward, narrowly avoiding another surge of Howl that detonated and destroyed the village behind us.
At the apex of our flight, I was absolutely delighted that we had somehow gotten away, seeing as Cyria can’t fly.
“Wait...Terra, how are we getting down?” I asked, quickly realizing the critical flaw in his plan.
The Gatekeeper shrugged.
We passed over the Gate- and the cliff we’d climbed to reach it- before we began to lose horizontal momentum.
“Oh, shit.” Cobold muttered.
As we began to fall into the valley, I found I had time to think in the estimated five seconds before the four of us splattered all over the place.
Well, that was fun, I guess.
“Stop!” Cobold screamed.
And then we did.
Terra held the three of us aloft in midair, a sphere of wind holding us all afloat.
I turned to my left to look at Cobold, hanging in Barchetta’s grip and looking over at me with a smirk on his face behind all the dirt and sweat.
“What?” he said, apparently very pleased with himself, “You didn’t think Barchetta was the only person with an Affinity, right?”
March 3rd, Year P-132
“I was ruthless,” Cyria finished, at the end of his story, “It’s thanks to me that the Fall of Blusk occurred and what followed- the hunting and extermination of the Great Beasts and their brethren- happened. Whatever happens to you now is my responsibility, and that's why I'm here.”
“But why?" I asked, "Why would anything happen to me, I’m just...”
“You’re a chimera,” Cyria explained, “A child of a Great Beast and a human. Your brother, Patrick, is my son as well, but he inherited none of my power. You, however...”
He leaned forward and pressed his finger against my chest.
“You’re like me.” Cyria said, “More than human. One of the Golden Fang.”
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