How To Survive a Summoning 101: An Original Light Novel

edited May 2016 in Original Stories
Hey there fellow Wuxworldians!

I am a new author badly in need of some people reading his stuff. Please gimme your opinions and support me!

Extra Tags: Dark Fantasy, High Fantasy, Anti-Hero

How to Survive a Summoning 101



  
Synopsis:  
Where mortals are simply instruments for the gods, a man is summoned to do their bidding. He will stop at nothing to forge his own path through his accursed fate. In the land where there are no heroes, a lone man fights against the design with blood, violence and sarcasm.

In a world that is not set in black and white, everything has their own tales. How will he pick sides when none of them are what they appear to be? where betrayal is the paycheck, and lies are the payment.

Can he break the vicious cycle or will he be consumed by his own hatred? What will he do in a world where things can change in a moment? How will he cope with his own darkness?

Every power has its price.

Come delve into the epic world of Sangraal, violent and dark with its mythos as well as fresh with its new spin lampooning all the cliched J-novels ever.

Kill. Die. Tsukkomi.


Warning: If you are uncomfortable with dark, very dark storyline and mature concepts, this story is probably not for you


A request to readers:  Please drop in reviews. Otherwise I won’t even know how to improve or what you guys liked. Help me please. Feel free to ask any questions, I will answer them!

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ACT I- Advent
Prologue : Gods, Contracts and Frogs
Chapter 1 : Yanderes, Gifts and Nurse Uniforms
Chapter 2 : Knights, Grandmas and Dreamcatchers
Chapter 3 : Conflicts, Magic and Bottled Fireflies
Chapter 4 : Languages, Betrayers and Silent Evenings
Chapter 5 : First Battles, Auroras and Moon's Spawns
Chapter 6 : Dances, Rivers and Inquisitions
Chapter 7 : Mercenaries, Witch Trials and Whistles
Chapter 8 : Requiems, Sacrifices and Deaths

ACT II- Awakening

Soon to be updated (right now kinda lazy to update the rest)

Comments

  • edited May 2016
    Prologue: Gods, Contracts and Frogs

     Prologue : Gods, Contracts and Frogs




    Hello there!
    Durrendal here, just wanted to say this is my first attempt in WW and would really appreciate it if readers leave a message or comment to provide some feedback. Kinda encouraging for a writer, isn't it?
    Some Important Points To Help You Understand The Work Better

    1. The story is almost entirely told in a First-Person POV.  What the Protagonist and the other characters say are in quotations.
    2. What the Protag thinks is in Italics.
    3. Yes, 4th wall is broken several times.  Yep. that's a defining point of this story. Readers can expect to be casually talked to by the Protag sometimes.

    4. Yes, He does speak to himself sometimes referring to himself in 3rd person. There is a reason for it. Please wait for the exposition.
    5. A large part of this work is about parodying the popular and cliched tropes and plot devices in contemporary Japanese Web/Light Novels, anime and manga.  It can be meta at times with references, but I will point out the references with footnotes. I can't put footlinks so please check them at the bottom. Sorry.
    6. You don't expressly need Otaku knowledge to enjoy this story. It is made for non-otakus too.
    7. Don't worry about the quotes and blurbs at the start of every chapter. It is there ina hope that it will set the tone and mood for the chapter, at the same time flesh out the Mythos and history of the World Setting of the Story.   The Quotes are fictional, don't trouble yourself googling.

    Hmm, the grammar might be just a bit iffy in some parts as the story hasn't been proofread yet. However, Luciferia has very kindly agreed to edit/proofread the story. So, the chapters will slowly be proofread. As of now, The Prologue, Chapter 1, 11 and 12 are done. Will add to the list as more chapters are edited.


    Without further ado, here is

     

    Prologue: Gods, Contracts and Frogs

     

    I heard the sound of something snapping as the jaws of a monster clamped down on my arm, gnashing flesh and bone alike. More than the excruciating pain, the smell was what got to me. I couldn’t decide whether to howl in pain or proceed to promptly faint from the stench of the rotting teeth. Even if I didn’t die from the enthusiastic chomping, I’d die of septicaemia from the looks of these teeth.

    Oi monster, didn’t your mommy teach you to brush?

    Even while I was dying for the second time, mind you, my thoughts were clear. Needlessly clear. I could even feel the blood trickling down my arm, loosing its warmth. The harder I flailed, the more blood I lost. Damn. I thought I could see the pearly gates already. Oh look, flying piglets beckoning me to the great beyond.

    A shrill voice broke up my interior monologue. What does a guy have to do here to finish his last monologue!

    A pretty red head girl cackled in some unknown language while bobbing up and down, a few inches from my face. She occasionally shivered.


    Oh my, her cheeks are flushed too.


    The monster seemed positively ecstatic with each time her lower mouth crunched down on my arm. No, not that lower mouth. Her pretty naked frame was attached to the head of the monster that munched down on my arm like cheetos.

    Even the fucking demons in this fucking world are fucking annoying. Too many fucks in that sentence? Wait till you hear my story and you’d agree with my vocab.

    She drooped down  to lick the blood off my temple, which somehow had got torn up in the thrashing. Her form trembled, the little red tongue flickering.  I made my fingers into a V and drove them through her eyes. Then I proceeded to make whatever was inside that head into a nice bloody batter.

    “Your grammar skills are bad, Ojou-chan”, I hope this counts as a cool last word.

    The monster screamed, and spat me out of it’s mouth, while wailing in probably what was sailor-grade Demonese cusses. Red blood dripped down her busted eyeball, soaking up the lush grass underneath.

    Yes, yes. I love you too, sweetheart. My half chewed up arm started to throb, pain lanced up my entire body. I spat out a mouthful of blood. With a wry smile I fainted from the immense pain

    So, you ask exactly how I got to know this lovely lady? but before that you want to know what the actual fuck is going on?

    Let’s rewind a bit. Since the birth of time...no not that far, to just a few hours ago. There I had been, happy that I had finally got to pass the exam. I planned to withdraw some cash to celebrate with my friends. I mean, I did deserve to party hard after all the studying, didn’t I? I had gone to the bank and the eternally grumpy looking cashier was looking through my checkbook, when she simply…froze.

    Can’t I  not be criticized by at least you guys!? I know I don’t have decent savings! Dammit! I’m just 20!

    “If you know what is good for you, put your hands up and slowly get out of the counter, otherwise we will make swiss cheese out of you”, came a gruff voice behind me.


    I glanced back-- a man wearing a Tengu mask waved a gun at the cashier’s counter. Oh. So that’s what happening. A bank robbery. I calmly took my checkbook from the receptionist and tried to walk away.

    “What are you doing, asshole?” The robber guy shoved his gun at my face, demanding to know.
    I, in turn shove my checkbook towards him.


    “Look, see my bank account, it’s horrifying enough to give Stephen King some ideas. I don’t have anything to do here, isn’t it? Also, WHY A TENGU MASK?”


    Apparently, the guy took offence. Maybe he didn’t like Stephen King. He shove me towards the hall where his accomplices were rounding up people as hostages.

    “Shouganai*”, I sighed, prepared to spend some quality time with my hands over my head and threats thrown around. I crouched and sat beside a terrified mother and her child. I hope this gets over soon, I have dinner to make after this.

    After some time had passed, I could hear police sirens closing in. Finally, they decide to be here. The robbers froze for a second. The Tengu-Mask barked at his men. The robbers began to move impatiently. One of them hurried over to where I sat and grabbed the mother by her hair and dragged her towards the door. Are they trying to display her as a hostage to get away? Her child ran after them. Oh shit! I sensed the danger and tried to stop her but she ran fast on her little feet. The child grabbed on the leg of the robber dragging her mother and bit down on his leg.

    “You son of a …” the robber shouted and hit the little child with the barrel, then pointed the muzzle at her.


    Time stretched. I hadn’t even felt my muscles tense when I sprang up and clambered after the child so that she isn’t killed. What am I even doing? I barely shoved her away with a savage thrust when I heard a loud sound. The wide hall seemed to reverberate along with the split second flare of pain I felt in my chest. You know how people talk about how they saw a hole in their chest when they got shot or felt a paragraph worth of emotions when they do something instantaneous? They lie. What happens with a gunshot is, Bang! Sploot! You are dead!

    There it is. The tale of the wonderful first time hero Rigel and how he died

    The name is Rigel by the way, written with the kanji of…oh dammit. Too many years in Japan have affected my mannerisms.

    At any rate, I don’t know why the robber tried to shoot a little girl. Maybe the robber was new and got fidgety; maybe he was a new trainee. Who knows? Losing composure is unbecoming as a professional. Also, Fuck you, cuntheads. I hope the police drill you full of holes, assholes.

    ~~~~


    I am alive?! a dull throb spread though my body, while my eyes felt like lead.


    I woke up in a dimly lit room. Pitch black darkness extended infinitely except for a throne some distance away, facing me. The throne was curiously illuminated. The light is not...spreading to the surroundings?  The throne seemed to be made of solid gold and silver. Slowly, as my eyes adjusted, I could make out shapes of bones and skulls on that throne. Some parts of it shone like steel. But even more astonishing--there was a person sitting on the throne.


    At a glace, he was a remarkable person. Maybe 25-28 years old, with high cheekbones, an aquiline nose, and a head of rough shoulder length black hair. His skin glowed with faint luminescence. He flipped though a book on one hand and kept his chin on the other. His clothes were black and green, as if some snake had spit its venom on those clothes. He had a crown on his head, made of bones and--are those shadows coiling around it? what the... A chills ran down my spine. My hands shook a little.

    Wait, why is he wearing a robe? Why does he have a pair of swords attached to his hips? What is with his horrible fashion?

    “What are you supposed to be, O Lord of the faintly glowing cheeks and a tasteless throne?” I knew I was going to pay for this, but I couldn’t help quipping.

    “I am a god, and you are dead. Dead men don’t talk. I don’t hate impudence but only from women I want to break.” replied the god of horrible fashion sense.
    “You are the God? Shouldn’t you be like…all glowing and with angels instead of this depressing Evil Overlord setting? Also, I am dead!?”


    What! I too wanted to have a soulful last moment where I describe everything around, about and with me. That’s how people die in fiction.

    “I said a god. Also not of this world. And again, stop talking, mortal. Hear my words and depart, kin of the fallen”, he waved his hands, “You will be sent to another world. You will fight the demons there to defeat the demon lord. I will give you 3 gifts as mandated by the Covenant…”


    I hoped this was a dream. What the actual hell did I get high on this time?

    “Stop stop..wait. Why? Why was I chosen and why the heck would I fight battles for some other world?” I protested loudly.

    “Shut up, mortal. Know your place. You will do as I say because you have no choice, you are dead in your previous world, and have nowhere to go. You will do as I say because you are powerless to refuse. You will do this to provide us with entertainment. Do not think for a moment that you were chosen to be a hero, or that you are special. We gods choose mortals to play with. It is how we entertain ourselves. You are our pawns and nothing more”.

    “What? I wont do it! I refuse!” The dream grew more and more lucid. This couldn’t be real, could it?

    “You still seem to be misunderstand something”, came the reply in a voice like cold steel. The form of the god seem to blur, as he appeared right in front of me. As fast as lightning, he whipped a staff at me.With a resounding crack, my lower jaw broke and dislocated. He added on in a voice like dripping acid, “You have no choice. Either, struggle and entertain me or die deliberately on the other side. If you do so, I will bring you here and imprison you for eternal torture. You will beg me to kill you, and yours wont be the first skull on my throne either.

    I lay there in agony, unable to even make a whimper as I realized somehow, he hadmade me unable to talk. With a warm liquid dripping on my hands, I understood he had ripped out my voicebox too with his sword. I hadn’t even seen him whip out his sword!

    The  world contracted around me, my vision tunneled in sheer pain and horror. I frantically clawed at my throat, trying to put back the things that were starting to spill out of it. Blood gushed out of me, and disappeared into the dark floor beneath.

    “So, then”, he seemed to grow cheerful, “As I was saying, three gifts as per the Covenant and no more. The Gift of Knowledge, The Gift of Might and The Gift of Miracles. Honestly, I would have sent you with nothing, but our games dictate some base decorum, so there you go”.

    I felt the relapse of my long standing depression. The realization of being made into a pawn slowly sink in, and a dull ache set in my heart, Fuck this!! I hated the situation with all my might, I hated it with all I was. Yep, this is definitely real, with so much pain, no chance that this is some shroom. The thick smell of iron from my pooling blood wafted up, burning my nostrils.

    “Good. That is right. Hate with all your might. Hate with your being. Because down there, only hate can save you, kin of the Fallen”, said the spiteful god, sounding amused as he continued, “I need your consent to send you in another world, Rigel. Please say ‘yes’. If you think you will refuse, you know what will happen”. He shook his sword that he whipped out in a fluid motion. Droplets splattered my face. My own blood!


    His face pulled up in a grin,  “The Covenant only asks for consent, not how it is obtained.”

    “Do you wish to accept Lord Zain’s offer and act as his Vassal and be bound to the rules of The Covenant?”an impassionate androgynous voice resounded in my head.

    What? No pop-up windows? Sometimes I wonder what is wrong with my head.

    “I guess your silence means ‘yes’”, His Nastiness gloated.

    You son of a…you ripped out my voice box! Oddly enough , the pain from my ripped voice box had grown tolerable.


    The god made a sweeping motion and my wounds healed. The wounds start to close by itself as I felt nerves and muscles stitch together of their own volition.

    “Yes”. I said in a hoarse voice, “Do I get weekly holidays and insurance?”

    The god glared at me with his eyebrows raised up, “You really are...impertinent. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to choose you anyway”. he added with a dismissive gesture, “Off you go, go forth and entertain.


    He turned away from me, his leather boots squeaked loudly in that silent room,“If you have any questions, fell free to ask anyone who is not me. Though I might pop in when I feel like it. Hope you had a pleasant evening”.

    This god. I will kill him someday.

    I felt a searing pain flaring on by back, and then I lost consciousness. Not again

    ~~~~

    I woke up with the sun in my eyes. I lay on a bed of grass, looking up at the pleasant…what the actual hell? There were broken masses across the sky from horizon to horizon in a broad slanted belt. Looking closely, they seem to be clumps of broken landmasses.


    Are they something like Saturn’s Belt? More like belts of whatever-land-I-was-sent-to.

    There were two more satellites or planets visible in the sky close by. I hope they crash and destroy this world. I was lying in a broad vale, full of trees that extended on all sides. They were quite normal, almost same as trees back on Earth.

    I guess expecting glowing trees and talking plants are too much even for Fantasy settings, huh?

    As I was thinking to myself, a lovely and mesmerizing voice reached my ears. Someone sung  in a foreign and exotic sounding language. I picked myself up and jogged towards the voice.The voice gradually strengthened and it was as if…the voice was pulling me towards it.

    “Let’s try to get some info out of the splendid songstress”. I said to myself aloud, as if to dispel the fears of a new world. Talking to myself again, huh?

    I suddenly came to a clearing. It was a pond. Lush green and blue and red vegetation ringed the deep green pond.

    There you are, fantasy plants.


    Oddly, there were no birds or insects on the trees. The area surrounding the pond was silent, except for the ephemeral voice. Tracing the source of the voice, my eyes fell upon a girl. With her back facing me, she was bathing in the waters. Snow white skin rose from the waters. Red hair flowed down her back, dipping into the water. I took a gulp, Now this is a fantasy. On so many levels. I felt like a voyeur upon a sacred scene, even so I stood rooted to the spot. A sense of fascination and danger sent shivers down my spine. Or maybe it is her voice?.


    Suddenly the girl turned around and looked at me, in a flash covering herself up with leaves.
    I wondered what to do, when the girl beckoned me with inviting gestures, water dripped down her curves. I walked up to her, thinking of what to say… I felt so confused, walking as if in a happy haze.

    The girl smiled like an angel and rose up through the water. I mean literally above the water, the girl was attached to a 10 foot high frog like monster. The monstrosity hopped on its two hind legs just like a frog, had a mottled grey-green skin with reddish spots spread on its back.

    Far from running away, I stood rooted on the spot. My legs gave way beneth me. The frog opened it’s maw. Two sets of razor sharp fangs lined it’s mouth. Overpowering stench of rotting meat assailed my senses. The girl was attached to the frog’s head , much like the glowing lure attached to an  Angler fish, made to lure prey. The girl screeched in a shrill voice, unlike her godly singing before.

    I guess I won’t be taking you home tonight, eh?


    The monster leapt up unbecoming of it’s huge size and charged at me. My vision tunneled, focusing on the huge set of teeth which loomed in front of me like a badly maintained guillotine. Its jaws chomped down on my arm while it rammed into me at the same time, throwing me against a large tree trunk, blocking my escape. The girl bobbed up and down strangely from her lower body that was attached to the frog head by a thick tentacle...no, like a mermaid, only in place of a tail, this bitch had a demon frog.


    The girl smiled at me, her hands rubbed at her nipples, as if the situation excited her. Well, it probably does. Her mouth opened in a grin, a soft sigh escaped her lips as her lower mouth ripped at my hand.

    Here we are at the start of the rewind.




    *Shouganai= Japanese word meaning ‘Nothing doing’ or ‘It can’t be helped’. Much like Shikata ga nai, which meas the same thing.

     

     

     

    Author note: Guys please support me on royalroad too! please post reviews on the fiction page so that I know what you people think about the work.  Honestly, this story needs reviews and ratings so that even more people can read it. Please help me! thanks in advance!

    Link to RR- HTSAS1o1 on Royalroad


  • edited May 2016
    Chapter 1: Yanderes, Gifts and Nurse Uniforms

    Chapter 1: Yanderes, Gifts and Nurse Uniforms


    “…Then the hero Rolsberg swung his pitch black iron greatsword. As the Great God Kohril was dying with Rolsberg’s iron sword penetrating his chest, the god asked of the hero, “Why dost thou fight, O mortal? Your life is fleeting in front of us so why struggle needless?”. Rolsberg said, “ It is precisely why we fight, god, because we are mortals.”. The great god closed his eyes and said, “Thou might be right, for we the gods have forgotten what it is to have a life…”

    • --Extract from the Lost Scrolls of the Salinzet Mountains, 141 A.C.




    Tch. More monochrome spaces. These gods really need to let go of their monochrome fascination.
    A white space extended in all directions, endless. Standing a few feet from me was a…woman. Slender, tall and shapely. At least this one looks nice.

    The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the woman was a katana. Her angular,chiseled features were sharp as a well honed blade, eager for blood and fire. Black hair like torrid water framed her bewitching yet cruel face, laid bare for the world to see the weapon that was this woman. Her shallow,amused smile did not touch her crimson eyes. If eyes were windows to the soul, this woman’s soul must make s’mores out of men’s soul with its burning ferocity. Now this…has to be a god or I didn’t know one. Actually I knew just one. Ofcourse, I had to stoke this fire.

    “Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?” I asked aloud, while groaning inwardly, Awesome, Rigel! Now you are delivering lame, outdated pickup lines to divine beings.’

    The beauty simply arched one of her immaculate eyebrows.


    The  Heaven must have some damned good salons.


    “Men”, she sighed.


    The Goddess sauntered towards me. The total white space shifted and shimmered till it shattered like glass and gave way to a new scene. The ground was awash with blood, snaking along dry red soil. The earth eagerly soaked up the thick liquid, but the flow was relentless. Bright red blood dripped down copper spires that had jutted out of the ground. The stench of iron and death coiled through the stagnant air in thick waves, hitting my senses in intervals. Hundreds of writhing, spasming hands broke the surface and tried to claw at the god’s bare feet, desperate to drag her down and devour her. The goddess simply smashed her well maintained feet on them, crushing a few fingers here and there. The scene was surreal and terrifying, and I don’t mean her pedicured feet.

    “Nice land of death vibe you got goin’ there.” I managed to croak.


    My stomach dropped a thousand feet. The ends of my fingers went cold. Electrifying shivers ran down my spine.

    “Not my dream, Rigel”, She said, pausing, “It’s yours.”

    I thought that might be the case.

    “So, what does Zain want with me? And who are you?” I inquired, noticing her black ballroom gown with green shimmering snake head patterns. Yep, definitely Zain related.

    A languid smile spread across her face. “How did you know?” she asked, letting herself fall into a chair that had conjured up magically.

    “The green and black attire and the IKEA chair”, I shrugged, “In short, terrible aesthetic sense for a god.”

    “I can see why he chose you, Mortal”, said the woman. “I am Astria, a retainer of Lord Zain and your appointed Farsythee. The green and black are the house colour of Lord Zain. All of us who serve him must wear his house colors”. Ah! that’s it! the colour was absinthe green!

    “So...even your lingeri–” I couldn’t help myself, I had to retort.


    “I will dock your pay for sexual harassment.” she hissed venomously.

    “You don’t pay me.” I interjected helpfully.

    “And you can quit anytime you like.” she said with a mocking smile.


    Way to rub it in, lady.

    “At any rate, I am your Farsythee, which means I am your liaison between Lord Zain and the Covenant. On occasion, I might even help you understand the world.” the frustrating woman continued smugly. I want to punch her face!

    “So you are my personal Navi (1). A tutorial.” I sighed.

    “Yes, Rigel..I am your Nav...Farsythee.” She seemed annoyed, maybe she sucked at Zelda, “Rigel, you talk too much. If you listen more and talk less, you might just survive this world. However, men like you die easily so I don’t expect much out of you”. She flipped her hands.


    She must be a hit at the parties.

    She spoke on in her best fantasy story narrator impersonation, “The Immortals of this world grew bored of millennia of creation and destruction. Civilizations of people came and went, the gods got tired of their games, replaying the same story over and over. Terrible ennui drove the Immortals to wars and wanton destruction among themselves and creation itself. A god’s war is also the war of his people, so this resulted in widespread loss of lives. The Creation itself was in danger.”

    Someone should get them Internet. I imagined Zain typing ‘lol’ while watching cat videos on Youtube, an inadvertent grin on my face.

    “Mortals, who were mere followers of the gods, rose up in revolt against them. Amidst oceans of blood and forests of bones, Gods and Demons fell in battle. Mortals, pitiful as they were, managed to turn the tides of war through immeasurable sacrifices. Needless to say, the gods were horrified. All the immortal beings convened and came to an agreement”. Astria paused, a condescending expression on her sharp features,  “Still with me?”

    “Where does the Human Instrumentality Project come in?” I quipped.(2)

    “The what?” she seemed utterly confused.

    “Nandemonai.” I replied nonchalantly, “Please continue, oh-obligatory plot explanation device”*


    “I will see that you die first.” she bristled.


    “Nice gown by the way.” I offered as a way of appeasement but she wasn’t convinced.

    She persisted in her rejected-narrator-for-LOTR tone, “Anyway, the assembly of the Immortal Covenant decided to stop all direct aggression among the immortal beings. Instead, they proposed playing games of war and aggression to settle their differences. These so–called games would make the whole world its stage, and it’s inhabitants into the game pieces”. She confirmed my worsening fears.

    At least have an original setting, you stupid gods! Haven’t these guys heard of  copyright violation lawsuits?

    “So, Astria, in short I have to build a harem of beautiful slaves that are convenientlyin love with me, and learn magic that is conveniently gifted to me to defeat Zain’s opponent, right?” I splayed my hands, a smirk on my face.

    Come on, follow the template. I already know all you guys are more cliché than a generic harem comedy. I can see the ending!(3)

    Silence reigned supreme. The goddess kept looking at me with a frozen expression, her body as rigid as a mass of tempered steel. I could almost see darkness smouldering in her eyes. With a motion fluid as a bird of prey, she drove her hand into my chest. At first the pain didn’t even register, andhen it hit like a tsunami, every strand of my nerves on fire, awash with pain.

    “Enough of your prattle. This is not a joke, Mortal, at least not for you. Any more words, and you will truly die. True wisdom lies in acknowledging your place.” declared Astria, her voice laced with poison and contempt.

    She seemed to be searching for something in my chest cavity. Her slender fingers prowled through my body sending shock waves of pain and violent spasms. I threw up blood in my throat, the blood choked me slowly. I didn’t have the strength to claw at her wrist, embedded in my chest.

    I could sense my body growing numb from the blood loss, the blood pooling at my feet. Wh...why is the world going black?

    Suddenly, Astria gripped my still beating heart. Even though she literally held my heart in her hands, I couldn’t feel its movements. Had I lost that much blood already?

    “Know this, Mortal, your life lies in our hands. The Covenant forbids us from interfering with the happenings in Sangraal or its inhabitants directly. However, this applies to only this world. Otherworlders like you are just mere tools brought in to influence Sangraal indirectly. Through promises, whispers and lies, you people are to be played.” Astria declared in a frigid tone.


    She...She is smiling!. A violent, vicious smile while she squeezed my heart of its blood.

    The hands writhing in the ground with their fingers clutching at the air and each other like some insect’s antennae simply went wild.. They tore up others that were in their vicinity, and their hate knew no bounds when they sensed Astria. It seemed like they would devour her, rip open her flesh and rend her bloody limb to limb if they got hold of her.

    “Your dreams are disgusting, Rigel”,  Astria shivered as she smashed more of the hands, “You cannot escape. You are not permitted to suicide. Grow strong and kill the gods you hate so much. That is the only escape, Rigel”.

    She withdrew her arm from my chest, I spat out blood on the ground. My blood mixed in with the crimson soil. Astria lightly put her hands on my chest. My whole body burned up from extreme heat the flowed from her hands and engulfed me. I made bestial screams as warmth like hot wax filled my chest. After what felt like eons, the pain subsided.

    Astria started speaking in an almost apologetic tone. “You see, you remind me of someone. I want to kill that person and salt the earth with his blood for all he has done.”

    Nice. A homicidal yandere goddess. That’s just what I need. The wounds in my chest knit, healing of their own accord.

    “Unwitting or not, you have paid the price of blood. So I, in return, will bestow knowledge upon you.” Astria stated in a demoralized tone.

    Whats with gods showing up and inflicting life-threatening injuries every time! It’s getting boring, I want a refund! Okabe-san, please change the World Line before all this! (4)

    In retrospect, I should have known that something wasn’t quite right. I mean the whole situation was out of whack, but something was even more so. I had faced more life-threatening violence in last few hours than in my whole life. But why am I so calm? It was as if I was accepting things easily. Too easily in fact. But then, I didn’t know what was happening. I wish I did.

    “The Covenant decreed that every otherworlder summoned by the Immortals must be given 3 gifts and no more.” Astria explained before exhaling, “‘Gift of Knowledge must be the first, Might the second. The third and final gift shall be the domain of the god contracted’. These are the actual words I believe, that were spoken by the Covenant.”

    “Through the Gift of Knowledge, you can easily learn whether it’s language or magic. Through the Gift of Might you will have better physical and regeneration capabilities compared to the masses of the race you belong to. Since you are a Vassal of Lord Zain, your last gift is…” Astria flashed a smile full of pity, “Sacrifice”.

    I had a sinking feeling about what the last “gift” was. It couldn’t be anything good. My nails dug into my palms hard as she finished, “You pray for something and then pay a suitable price for it. The bigger the miracle you wish, the steeper the price. It has to be something dear to you.”

    “You said ‘since I am a vassal of Zain’. Does this mean other summoned people do not have to go through sacrifices?” Why do I even ask, of course I drew the short end of the stick.

    “All power has a price, Rigel. Never forget that. No matter what kind, if you desire power, be prepared to pay a price”, Astria said in a grave tone, “Even if it’s different, everyone pays the price; even the gods”

    I remembered the tale of Odin, the King of Norse Gods. Dude hung himself from a tree branch for 9 days, pierced by his own spear; to gain power.

    “That will be all for now, Rigel”, said Astria.

    “I want dental care.” I told her flatly.

    “Denied”
    “Hazard pay”.
    “No”.
    “Legendary Sword”.
    “No can do”.
    “Harem of pretty slaves”.

    “Get it yourself.”
    “Extraordinary hero cheat power”.
    “Pay the price”.

    I sighed. Of course. Things wouldn’t be that easy.

    “It is about time you wake up, Rigel” Astria turned around and motioned to leave.

    “You turned out to be unexpectedly nice, Astria. You did open up a hole inside my chest, but nice”, I said honestly.

    Astria paused while walking away, half turning towards me, “Rigel, the only thing worse than malicious gods are nice ones. Trust no one, not even yourself”.

    “Astria?”
    “Yes?”

    “I will kill you”.

    Astria smiled for a moment, “I will look forward to it then. By the way, Rigel, do you like nurse uniforms?”

    “Huh?” I was dumbfounded. I mean, suuuure, I like ‘em as much as the next guy but what as she...

    “I hope you don’t”, she stated as the the dreamscape of horrible hands and bloody spires folded unto itself, disappearing from view as I woke up in full clarity.

    I opened my eyes. The ceiling was unfamiliar. Wooden lattice beams supporting a dark coloured wooden roof slanted upwards. Medieval setting, check.

    Sounds of someone speaking an unfamiliar language drifted to my ears. In all honesty, it sounded like someone punched a goat after gagging it. When I turned my head towards the source of the sound, my eyes popped out of my head and fell to the floor. Well, almost. A woman stood at the far corner of the room. She was saying something but all I could do was stare. It was a hippo on two legs.  What the fuck?

    Nope, I’m not hating on the “generously endowed with fat individuals”; it was an honest to god bipedal hippo, and it was wearing a nurse uniform. Everything was spilling out and not in a good way.

    I closed my eyes and pretended to go to sleep. She still spoke to me in what sounded like someone-strangled-a-mountain-goat-ese.

    Those was my first few moments in the village of Shrafingshire.

    At least I wasn’t killed by a truck.(5)




    Notes:
    The A.C in the quote above the chapter is indicative of the time in the world of Sangraal. A.C= After Covenant, B.C= Before Covenant.
    Meta References.
    (1) A reference to the game series Legend of Zelda.
    (2) A reference to the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion
    (3) A reference to Okabe Rintarou, from Steins;Gate and their storyline, basically reset the story to beginning so all the horrible stuff doesn’t happen.
    (4) A reference to the numerous number of Summoning/Reincarnation Japanese Web novels where the MC or the important characters are killed by a truck which sends them to the alternate world.
    Syosetsu is full of trucks killing people and here are some of the more popular translated ones for reader’s reference.
    Mushoku Tensei, Oredungeon, Yuusha Party, Devils Spice, Hakomari, Gifting(somewhat), Simple life of killing demons, Tilea's worries.


    *Nandemonai= Japanese word meaning ‘nothing/ no matter’


    Author note: Guys please support me on royalroad too! please post reviews on the fiction page so that I know what you people think about the work.  Honestly, this story needs reviews and ratings so that even more people can read it. Please help me! thanks in advance!

    Link to RR- HTSAS1o1 on Royalroad

  • edited May 2016
    Chapter 2: Knights, Grandmas and Dreamcatchers

    Chapter2: Knights, Grandmas and Dreamcatchers.

    “…and then, the creator, Azulai cut open his palm. His dripping blood created the rivers and the seas. Not satisfied yet, He shed his hair upon the void, creating valleys and mountains. Pleased with his creation, Azulai flew over the lands and seas. Azulai’s dripping seed fell upon the earth, and sprang forth his greatest creation yet, mankind…atleast that is what the humans believe. Ofcourse, we the Elves know it to be a pile of rhistal shit. We all know that Riliadvael sang the world into existence…”
    - The World According To The Elves, Caelwyn Silentleaf, 11287 A.C.



    A sword was pointed at my face. A young boy of about 18 was staring down the length of the blade, with his left hand on the grip in a one-handed stance. Needless to say, he looked like he wanted to gut me. Not being to able to understand what he was saying didn’t exactly help my cause either.

    “Err…” I raised my hands up.

    That seemed to incense the kid. He sprang back and tried an overhanded chop at my head. Wtf? No Miranda Rights? is everyone in this world so murderous?

    I tried to sprang and crawl back on my ass at the same time. Failing both, I ended up sprawling on by back in an awkward manner.

    A sharp metallic sound rang out dangerously close to my face. Another blade had lightly parried the incoming sword accompanied with a sharp shout. I couldn’t see the wielder of the second blade, but I could assume it was someone who did not want me dead. Yet. I couldn’t turn my head as I was fully sprawled on the ground and frankly, too afraid to move. The person walked around me and asked me something. The owner of the second blade was a burly, well built man in his middle ages. He had a weather-worn face with a few days worth of auburn beard. He wore dark coloured leather jerkins and pants, along with metal gauntlets and a shoulder guard on a single shoulder. Both the gauntlets and the shoulder guard were too small to have any effect. In other words, he was showing off.

    Heh? How did I know the pieces of armour were ineffectual?

    The person spoke to me for a second time. By his tone, I guessed he asked me if I was okay. Either that or he asked me if I like baked pig intestines. I tried to thank him in six different languages, but none of them worked, probably because they were from Earth.  I thought I was given the gift of Knowledge, so where is my language comprehension? The gods tricked me!

    The man stretched his hand, and I pulled myself up holding it. I dusted my ass with whatever little dignity I could  still muster and tried to walk off. The kid was still glaring at me with murderous hostility. The eyes of a killer…or your best friends eyes when you tell him in no uncertain terms that his waifu is shit(1). Oh yeah, I crack jokes at life threatening situations. Sue me.

    The man took a stern tone towards the kid and probably scolded him. I just stood there trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.

    Oi Ossan, aren’t you making things worse by scolding him? Won’t he just take this as a disgraceful insult and try to chop me up in secret?

    The guy gave me a last hateful look and left as the older guy finished up his piece. He then motioned me to follow him. I followed him. I just hope this wasn’t a pickup attempt. You know how the stories go about saving the damsel in distress. I know, this is a forced joke but honestly, nothing made sense and joking to myself is the only way I could handle the confusing situations.

    I had  always felt isolated from the rest of the world. It wasn’t as if there had been some great tragedy or betrayal, even so I always felt disconcerted from the world in general. Before long I isolated myself from people and started to talk to myself. Often, when I went hiking or camping alone, I would talk to myself to fend off the growing sense of loneliness. I wonder why I would do that if I didn’t even like people? I wonder why was I thinking about this after such a long while?

    Shikata ga nai. The old guy walked in front of me while I followed him behind, taking in the scenery. We walked across a wide, artificially leveled ground. There were a few guys sparring with each other using wooden or blunt metal swords.  Was this a Knight Training Grounds?

    Sloppy swordplay with wasted movements ,was what I thought. Wait what? How would I know that?

    The people practicing on the ground looked at me with curious expressions, stopping their bouts. So I am the new animal in the zoo, eh? The Ossan gestured them to continue. Walking across the field, we came up to a long, two storied wooden building with a slanted roof. We entered a small room filled with different shape and sizes of glass jars. Sitting on a chair in the room was…the bipedal hippo I saw when I had woken up. Having got tired of lying down, I had walked out of the room when I was left alone for a long while to look around for a bit, and then the boy with the sword had attacked me.

    The old guy talked with the Hippo for a bit. The hippo looked at me and smiled. Her lips curled up in a feral grin and those pillar like teeth flashed in what she probably thought was a charming smile. That was simply ghastly. Ever seen a Hippo smile? I wish you don’t have to. She then talked for a little while with the old guy and nodded. She made a weird gesture at me with her fingers. I didn’t know what to do, so I gave her a thumbs up.

    The old guy motioned me to follow him again, and walked out of the room. I followed while turning back to look at the hippo for the last time. She was apparently engrossed trying to make a thumbs up with her fingers and examining it closely.

    Outside the compound, a small dirt road led to a wide settlement that looked like a village. Oho, so it’s this template huh? The starting village setting. I was still trying to tackle this world like a JRPG.  There were many one or two storied houses on both sides of the road, made of wood. Children played around, chasing each other . Some came near us, the Ossan ruffled the head of a child while the rest looked at me and tried to pull at my sleeves and pants. Come to think of it, I am still wearing clothes from my previous world. A faded black T emblazoned with ‘All Your Base Are Belong To Us' (2)  and blue pair of Jeans.

    Thank You gods, for making me stick out in this world, even more than I already do. Then again, the ones I know would most likely select something black-green and robe-like. Praise The Sun!(3)  that I was transported in these.

    The village looked like one of those idyllic old Balkan villages. The women wore simple but colourful clothes, sort of  long hemmed robes with wide sleeves. The men wore simple shirts and pants, in dull, dark colours. The people had a whole bunch of hair colours, blond, brown, black, you name it. The village looked prosperous and cheerful.
    Everything was fine. But there was that. Yeah. The people were all looking at me, pointing fingers. Some young girls were giggling. Well, that can’t really be helped since I was new in town. The old man looked back at me with an apologetic expression.

    We kept walking till we reached what was probably the outskirts of the village. There were few houses and people now. I could see a few waddling ducks here and there, except that they were scaled and had long lizard-ish tails.  Trees and bushes grew along the road. The tress were both of evergreen conifers and deciduous varieties. Some even had fruits. Flowers bloomed in bunches along the wayside, red and blue, they looked like lilies back on earth, and were borne on bushes and thickets. An average village, except for the lizard-ducks. And triple horned pygmy cows. Yes, that was a real thing.

    I was led up to a two-storied wooden house. The house looked old and a bit worn down. Warm sunlight fell on its porch. I could see colourful glass bottles hung on a row from the roof along the porch , accentuated here and there with dreamcatchers. Long-stalked flowers with the colour of fire bloomed all over the house’s modest garden. There were a pair of blue-tinged fir-like trees standing like sentries on the road leading up to the house.

    The old swordsman hailed for someone loudly. After a while, sounds of someone shuffling heavily punctuated with sounds of wood striking on wood could be heard. The oval doors opened and an old lady came out. She stood at the door for a moment and looked at my face closely. Turning towards the Ossan, she pointed at me and asked something. After receiving an answer, she beckoned me closer.

    I walked up to her timidly. Yeah, I decided to act timid and obedient. Can’t have alarming and aggravating people unknowingly after the fiasco with the kid earlier. The lady grasped my shoulder with her feeble and shaking fingers and kissed my forehead.

    The way they greet each other here? Or was it a sign of affection?

    The old wrinkly face was interspersed with smile lines and a crooked nose. A kind face, the kind of face that has known happiness and sorrows both and decided that the latter was irrelevant. She reminded of my grandmom who passed way when I was small. My face and body which were tensed till now, relaxed. Her height barely came up to my chest. I bent and kissed her forehead in return, despite of my earlier misgivings. I will call her Granny, because you can’t help but trust and love a person with such a  kind and genial smile.

    The granny was surprised and drew back. Did I make a mistake by returning her gesture? As soon as that thought crossed my mind, she broke out in a missing toothed grin and embraced me. Her grey hair shook with laughter. She even smelled like my Granny when I was small. She said something while smiling, even if I didn’t understand what she was saying, I knew that tone. The tone grandmothers around the world use when comforting their grandkids. I couldn’t reply anything except for a feeble ‘tadaima’. Even if this wasn’t my granma, for the first time I felt as if I was welcome in this world.

    Hearing a loud bark behind me, I turned around and saw the Ossan make the same gesture the Hippo-nurse made, a sort of bringing all your fingers in a fist, with your palm outwards and then rapidly stretching them to their full lengths.

    Probably the equivalent of a bye here. I did it back at him. He smiled genially and started walking back the way we came.

    The granny led me back into the house while calling someone. She seemed to be asking for someone to come down.

    Huh? The language skills seems to be getting better. Dokuro-chan(4)   did say I would ‘easily learn’. So it does mean I won’t have the capabilities at first. Gotta learn it, but it will be faster

    With sounds of rushing feet came down the prettiest girl I ever saw. When she moved, it’s as if river gushed forth.

    Flowery diction? Nope. She had some ornaments in her hair. I later came to know that it was something call RiverSong Shells, magic shells found in rivers that imitated the tinkling of a flowing mountain river. Poets in this land must have had a hard time serenading their women what with all these magic items murdering all romantic metaphors and similes.

    The girl seemed to be called Arin. The thing that you noticed first when you saw her were her eyes. The eyes spoke of starlight reflected on the depths of the river. Mischief created ripples in those eyes. I didn’t know it yet, but Arin meant ‘Dreamcatcher’ in their tongue. She had caught my attention alright.

    The black haired girl was surprised at seeing me. She looked at me and started talking in a rapid-fire burst of words. I just looked at her sheepishly, overwhelmed by the sheer torrent. I looked at the grandma for help, she said something to Arin. She scrunched up her nose and looked disappointed.

    Pretty girls could wait. First things first. I pointed my fingers towards my mouth in what I assume would be an universal language. You can’t blame me, I got killed once and almost killed 3 more times all without dinner. I was hungry.

    I was led to a low table. Not a Kotatsu-low low but just lower than normal tables. I was given a couple of thin, circular bread like food with a side dish of … What is this? Potato? Atleast the parallel world had potatoes.  I ate a bit of the circular bread. The wheat grains were coarse. And the potatoes didn’t taste like potatoes. Dammit.

    Someone snapped their fingers. Looking up, I saw Arin reach her hand towards by bowl. She picked up a bit of the bread, used it to wrap some of the not-potato dish and ate it.

    Oh. So that’s how you eat it.

    She then proceeded to pick up another piece, then another. Before she could  take any more, I shielded the bowl and glared at her. She returned my glare, then widened her eyes before breaking into a breezy laughter. Her hair sang the song of flowing waters with her laughter. I unintentionally smiled while digging into my food. Seemingly, bullying of the new kid done, she left.

    While eating, I looked around me. The interior looked like a normal log cabin like those in Canada or States except the absence of modern appliances. There was a bookshelf, but few books. The house was fairly large, with bottles hung all over. What’s with those fucking bottles? There were a lot of earthenware and cheap China on the wooden shelves. An open space adorned the centre of the room, not covered by the wood floor. I could see soil beneath.

    I sat and thought of what was needed to be done. I needed information first and foremost. For that  language comprehension was needed. I could understand the broad nuances now, but it was nowhere even near rudimentary comprehension. I wondered what I needed to do to learn it.

    Those fucking gods could have made this easier.

    After I was done with  my eating, I  went to find granny. I saw her making stick latticework for supporting plants in the garden. I tried to help her. Might be that listening to someone talk would help me understand the language better.

    The granny was surprised to see me try and help, but after I botched up a few times, she sternly took the tools from my hand and called Arin. She asked her something while pointing at me. Arin looked at me compassionately. Then she pulled me up from my crouching position and pulled me towards the gate.

    Wait what? They were kicking me out for this? Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

    I have been picking clovers for some hours now with Arin on the vale beyond the village outskirts. I say clovers because they look like it, but all of them are 4 leaved and the size of my palms. Apparently the granny asked her to take me along so I don’t meddle with her gardening. The whole while, Arin kept talking to me. Of course, I didn’t understand a single word of it. I did try to gesture that I didn’t understand, but she just laughed and kept talking. Is this one of those high-energy genki girls?(5)  They tire me out.

    Suddenly, Arin pointed at something near my feet. What now? There was a clump of very beautiful white magnolia like flowers near my feet.

    She wants those flowers?

    I plucked them and gave them to Arin. She looked at me incredulously. Then she hit my foot with all her might. Fuck. You done messed up, son. I wish I had a Babelfish(6)

    I plopped down on the grass in sharp pain, holding my feet when I noticed something. A sixth finger on my feet. It was a leech like insect sucking up my blood. Arin had tried to warn me about it by pointing. When I didn’t understand, she drove her feet down to squash it, she failed though.
    I pulled the leech apart from my feet. The sucker had sharp suckers. When I looked up, Arin was smiling at me holding the flowers.

    Flowers never hurt, I thought to myself.

    We rested under the shade of a huge tree. Arin’s basket was full, our collection done for today. I laid back against the tree trunk, looking up at the sky. The unfamiliar sky was the same azure as on earth. A broken belt of rocks stretched from one horizon to the other in a narrow slanted belt. Two planets were visible in the sky apart from a blazing sun.

    Arin was still looking at the flowers. I picked up one white flower and planted it on her hair, black as midnight. She looked up startled and touched the flower in her hair. Then her eyes widened.  Arin’s face broke into a shy smile and she told me something.  I didn’t need to know the language to know what it meant.

    I looked up at the sky again , it really was as azure as the one back home.

    Meta References
    (1) I believe you know the  famous meme.
    (2) Reference to the famous translation faux pas in the 1998 Video Game, Zero Wing and the even more famous memes that use the line
    (3) Reference to Solaire and the hugely famous meme from Dark Souls.
    (4) Reference to the titular character from Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan/Bokusatasu Tenshi Dokuro-chan. Basically, Rigel is referring to Astria, equating her with Dokuro who kills/mutilates/cleaves/beheads/executes the MC for no apparent reason, multiple times each episode.
    (5) Reference to the slang-term used in Japan to describe a type of people who are overly energetic  and enthusiastic to the point of exhaustion. A link for better comprehension. And yes, that is a real thing in Japan among real people. Not just anime.
    (6) Reference to the insanely famous and immensely good British Radio/Tv/Book series ‘The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy’.  The Babelfish is a fish that you can insert into your ears to   help yourself understand any language in the Galaxy.

    Author note: Guys please support me on royalroad too! please post reviews on the fiction page so that I know what you people think about the work.  Honestly, this story needs reviews and ratings so that even more people can read it. Please help me! thanks in advance!

    Link to RR- HTSAS1o1 on Royalroad


  • edited May 2016
    Chapter 3: Conflicts, Magic and Fireflies

    Chapter 3: Conflicts, Magic and Bottled Fireflies

    “…Richvarrion, the prince of beasts came upon Erliasil upon the sacred forest. Erliasil was the human princess, unrivalled in beauty and grace. Besotted with each other, the beast and the human lay. The humans and the beasts, common in their mutual hate did not share their enthusiasm. They accused each other of sedition and went to war. For 10 days and 10 nights, war raged. Richvarrion and Erliasil stood grieving in the battlefield, surrounded by thousands of fallen kin. Out of sorrow, they took their own life to end the war. Touched at their sacrifice, the god Allurian descended. He held their bodies and declared thus, “I shall divide the beasts and humans, since this day. Let each race seek their lands far away from each and never come in contact. Thus I decree, for the lands of beasts and humans to be separate, forevermore…”
    - Translated extract from the Epic ‘Undgezush Traal’avil, date unknown
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It had already been 4 days since I came here. My language skills are still shit, even if I can pick out names and a few words now. Everyday I get up at crack of dawn, well before Arin tries to dump cold water on me. Yes, she did that the first 2 days, while laughing mischievously. I would have killed her if she wasn’t fast as a trang. Oh, trang is like a hare, but with little winged ears that it uses to flop and glide on air when not running on ground. Very tasty meat though.

    Everyday I help either Obaa-san or Arin in their daily chores. Well, I try to. Often I botch up things simply because those are too friggin weird. One thing though, my physical abilities seemed to have increased. Not as if I am a different person, but I do have much more stamina and general strength. One more thing, the swordskid from earlier comes around this house a lot. It seemed to me that the kid liked Arin. The way he looked at her screamed the innocent first love kind of vibes. However, Arin didn’t seem to either notice or was totally uninterested in him. His name was Karro by the way.

    When Karro had learnt that I was staying at the house, he glared at me like he wanted me dead. Really, very and utterly dead. I wish I had Chokushi no Magan(1) , just to see when that kid would plunge that sword that he keeps lugging around, in my chest.

    Today, after collecting Thalis blossoms with Arin, I went to the Knight Training ground. I wanted to see the people spar. However, there was only Karro today at the grounds, hacking away at a training dummy. He saw me and gave me a nasty glare and said something. I didn’t want to pick a fight so I turned around and tried to walk away from the grounds. This seemed to incense Karro and he spat on the ground. Then he pointed his sword at me and charged.  I picked up a short, thick wooden stick that was lying around for training purposes. The kid rushed me and slashed diagonally upwards left to right. I managed to barely avoid that attack by jumping.  Fuck.

    He kept shouting something. I didn’t pay heed to it, my find was focused on his blade. It was blunt. As soon as I had realized that, my fears went away. I took a stance and countered with my…wooden stick.

    Oh yes, I hadn’t been sitting around lazily these last few days. I religiously went to the knight training grounds and watched them spar. Each passing moment, I understood more and more. The motions they made grew more meaningful to me. I watched them hungrily, drinking in the atmosphere around me. The Gift of Knowledge had helped me to process the information and  improved my learning curve, even if by just watching.

    The strokes, the slashes they made were beautiful. Not that they were perfect, but the act itself was beautiful. I felt that I wanted to spar with them, to fight and make them submit…That’s a rather dangerous line of thought, I had thought to myself.  I had come back to the house everyday, shaking and with a quick breath.

    The kid was surprised when I lunged at him single-handed, he avoided my strike by stepping-sideways. Too bad, it was a feint. I curled the fingers of my free hand into a fist and punched his chin. Karro’s eyes widened and he jerked his head quickly before my fist could connect. The fist ended up grazing his cheeks. Suddenly, I felt something off and I quickly jumped away. The pommel of the blade in the guy’s hands stabbed empty air, where I had been just a moment ago. Blood was rushing to my ears, I could feel my face and chest grow hot.

    A grin splitting my face, I charged at the guy, my wooden pole outstretched at his torso. Before he could parry it, I stabbed it onto the ground before his feet, disrupting his balance. The guy stumbled at the unexpected move. I saw the split-second chance and jerked myself up, propped on the wooden staff with my right hand, swinging my whole body into an arc to kick the guy.

    His eyes widened but he couldn’t stop the stumble and the half-lunge he had committed himself to. Just when my savage kick was about to connect to his side, the elbow I had used to prop myself up, folded. I had done a move that my body couldn’t perform yet. The balance broke and I folded like a deck chair. My body slammed into the earth, and sharp pain lanced up my ribs.

    The guy didn’t relent though. He swung his blade straight at me and held it to my throat. He was shaking, his hands on the handle dug down savagely. I could see coiled rage in his black pupils. He tightened his grip and uttered a few words in a low growl. Red fire trickled forth from the sword guard and ran down the length of the blade. Enveloped in flames, the blade stood a few inches from my eyes and throat. The heat from the blade singed the skin of my throat near the blade tip. I could feel more and more blood rushing to every nook and cranny of my body as my heart thumped hard enough to burst through my chest. I was naïve to think watching was enough. I needed to train rigorously to even have a fighting chance.

    The guy flew to the side. That’s how it looked, but what happened what that the Knight Ossan from before had sent a punch to Karro so hard that he was thrown back and crumpled. Karro’s sword lost it’s fire, but retained a faint orange tint. I just realized how dangerous it was. People die when they are killed, dammit! (2)

    The ossan started scolding us very loudly, visibly distressed. Karro grew more and more pale and shaking with  every sentence. Suddenly he stopped, noticing something. He came and sat beside me, probing my ribs with his fingers.

    The pain was so intense that  for a moment, that I screamed out in dear agony. Lances of hot fire swept up my  right side, making me wail like a gutted pig. The Ossan picked me up and made me put my balance on him, while he helped me to the infirmary on the Knight Training grounds. I recognized the room I had woken up in after the tête-à-tête  with Astria. I lay down on the bed, holding my right side and trying to suppress my scream. The adrenalin rush from the fight earlier had left me, the pain of the fall came back to me all at once. Fuck. I broke my ribs, I think.

    I hadn’t noticed, but the Ossan had gone away, while the Hippo nurse sat beside me. Karro stood at a corner, his face ashen.

    Running footsteps reached my ears, and Arin burst into the room with a worried face. Her hair had come undone, the RiverSong shells nowhere to be seen. After her, grandma trudged in on her wooden walking stick, supported by the Ossan. The first thing grandma did was to slam her wooden walking stick lightly on my forehead, as if to admonish me. I tired to make an apologetic face.

    What happened next, surprised me even more. Grandma sat beside me on a chair and uncovered my shirt. She kept her hand on my seemingly broken ribs and started chanting in a sing-song voice. The tone and temper of the song reminded me of Ave Maria. The wound slowly started to heal. The speed was much  slower than when Zain or Astria did it, but the wounds were getting healed. I could feel my ribs snapping back into its place and mending. A slight tingling and sensation of warmth exuded from my skin. There was sort of a pink-ish light seeping in from the gaps between her palms touching my flank.

    After like 15 minutes, she got up and ruffled my hair. The internal wounds were mended, but the blue-black bruising and swelling remained. The Hippo nurse inched towards me with some cotton cloth and an ointment  that stunk.

    Arin walked up to Karro and demanded something. Her curled up fists were drawn taut at her sides and her voice quavered. Karro spread his hands, trying to explain something. Arin’s face grew crimson and she slapped him with enough force to make him take half a step backwards. She then walked out of the door. I tried to stop Arin and clear up the mess between her and Karro, but the Hippo nurse didn’t let me up and shook her head telling me not to interfere.

    After my poultice was done, I was led to grandma’s house by Arin and Ossan. Grandma stayed back at the infirmary to talk with the Nurse. Ossan issued some instructions to Arin and left us after making me lay down on the bed that I used. After I was settled in, Arin said something in a stern tone. She had been quiet all the way from the infirmary. She looked at me angrily, and then left me in a huff.

    “Thank you”, I said when she was about to leave the room. Then she turned around, looked at me and smiled having guessed my meaning.

    I spent the whole day in bed, counting the beams. I winced when I tried to walk. I shouldn’t have flown off the handle at that time.  But somehow, those few moments of aggression felt like a rush. I had felt really refreshed and alive  those few moments, possibly even excited I realized with mild surprise.

    When had I become such a fight junkie?

    More important than that, I had seen two pieces of powerful magic today. I had to learn the language and then the magic quickly. I didn’t have time to dawdle. The next time I saw either of those two gods, I wanted to melt their faces off.

    Arin came into my room towards the evening. She sat down on a chair beside my bed and put down the tray she carried onto the bedside table. Gruel with thin bread. I didn’t know what this gruel was made of, but it was good when I ate it yesterday. Somehow, didn’t want to find out what animal the meat came from.

    Arin wore a simple white robe that came till her knees. The rough weave of the fabric complemented her unreasonably good looks, lending her an irresistible charm. I was quite sure that I was staring. She was aware of it too, as evident by the faint blush that crept up her snow-white skin.

    Arin tried to feed me the gruel with a wooden spoon. I protested, saying that I could eat by myself. I mean, my ribs were hurt, not my hands. This wasn’t Toradora(3). I didn’t need to be fed by a girl when my hands were fully functional.

    She just wouldn’t listen. At one point I wondered if I was going to be more injured trying to stop her feed me than getting chopped up by Karro. She fed me the whole gruel and kept talking the whole while. She knew that I didn’t understand, still she chattered incessantly. And she didn’t even look like that she minded my silence. She would gesticulate and talk without a care in the world.

    She cracked open a book she had brought with her. Then, her voice changed. With a voice like melting honey she started reading. The voice was warm and soothing at the same time. Also, I knew that tone.

     
    Huh? Is she reading me a story? How old does she think I am?

    I wanted to stop her, but I decided against it. I could guess that she felt sorry about the whole Karro incident and wanted to make up for it. I wasn’t going to refuse her efforts. I listened to her patiently, even if I didn’t understand.

    By now, the sun had fully set. I hadn’t understood the function of the bottles hung all over the house when I had first come here but later that night, I was stupefied. The bottles had something inside them. Each bottle would light up at night of it’s own accord, glowing with a swirl of flickering and fidgety source of light inside it. The lights were either yellow or green tinted, cold to touch and not very strong. But all those bottles together were sufficient to light up the house. Each sunset, the houses of this village would light up in these bottled lights, making it seem like thousands of fireflies were dancing.

    Arin’s figure was illuminated by the warm light of the firefly bottles, as I liked to call them. Her figure looked like a queen of the fairies in that shadowy light. As she read through the evening with the light of a thousand fireflies as her accompaniment, I wished I understood what she was saying. My breath had caught at the spectacle. I want to know what Arin is saying, I want to know what she is thinking.

    As a girl weaved tales in a unknown language through the night in her voice of melting honey, my eyelids closed of their own accord. Her feathery whispers conjured strange magic in a land of fireflies. The kind figure of a girl keeping her lone vigil made me wish I knew this world, and her a bit better.

    While going down under, I thought to myself, Maybe being fed like that isn’t so bad once in a while.

    Night had set, the clockworks began to turn. Like every other night since time immemorial, this night too, the fates began to unravel. The stars of a lone sleeping boy and the girl keeping vigil beside him, had shifted.

    Meta References 
    (1)  Choushigi no Magan, or Mystic Eyes of Death Perception is an ability from stories set in
    Nasuverse/Type-Moon Universe. Seen in Kara no Kyokai and Tsukihime.
    (2) Reference to the infamous translation gaffe and the famous meme from Fate/Stay                  Night where the MC Shirou Emiya drops the genius line(not): “People die when they              are killed”
    (3) Reference to the Light Novel/Manga/anime Toradora

    Author note: Guys please support me on royalroad too! please post reviews on the fiction page so that I know what you people think about the work.  Honestly, this story needs reviews and ratings so that even more people can read it. Please help me! thanks in advance!

    Link to RR- HTSAS1o1 on Royalroad


     

  • Chapter 4 : Languages, Betrayers and Silent Evenings

    Chapter 4 : Languages, Betrayers and Silent Evenings


    “…the dwarven blacksmith had finally figured out how to make Bloodsteel. He would marry a new woman each year and on the night of their anniversary he would plunge the Orichalcum sword he painstakingly made the past year, into her heart. You see, the Bloodsteel could only be made by tempering it in the heartblood of a dear one. That is why, you should never make cursed weapons. Powerful they might be, but every power has a price…”

    - Tales From The Mines, Orgax Bloomfax, 1456 B.C


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I woke up with soft sunlight on my face. I slept in late, but luckily, no cold water today. Maybe she wasn’t so annoying after all? I dressed myself in a loose shirt and ill fitting pants that I had been given by grandma.  I wonder whose those were. Come to think of it, I hadn’t seen Arin’s parents.


    I came down from the 2nd story loft. The room was tiny, but very cosy. I loved the fact that it had a circular large window through which I could see the forests beyond the hills and the single moon at night. Yep, 1 moon at night, 2 at day. I did think the ones in day were planets, but they were too close and yet not crashing, so had to be satellites. Then there was the beautiful Ring across the sky. At night, the edges of the Ring would glow with reflected sunlight, making a wide swath of light extending upto the sky at both horizons.


    I walked down the stairs extending from the upper floor to the first. Arin heard me and poked her head through the open doorway, and asked, “are…alright”?


    I smiled at her, remembering the scene last night and replied, “Yeah It doesn’t hur….” WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK? How did I understand what she said?

     

    She looked at my thunderstruck face. She came close and asked, “..trouble?” I shook my head and patted her head with half a mind.


    “Don’t pat…not… kid” protested Arin, drawing away.


    Oh yeah, I forgot. That head pat gesture  is pretty much demeaning outside Japan.


    First, I needed to calm myself and figure things out. For that, I needed food. I gestured towards her.

    “Alright, wash …hands…not sick”. She was totally treating me like a kid.

     

    I went to wash outside, and heard a fragmented song in grandma’s voice. So I can understand other’s voices too.


    While eating, I tried to deduce what was different today from yesterday. I realized with a start, I wished for this. Last night, when I wanted from the core of my heart to understand Arin, the gift had probably activated.


    These gifts are real sketchy. I want a talking shield with explanations!(1)


    The comprehension wasn’t total yet, I was still understanding the language in fragments, much like learning a new language back on earth. Listening more and more would probably increase the comprehension.


    “Arin! Obaa-san!”, a loud hail was heard outside in a gruff voice. It was the Knight Ossan. Probably came to check on me. Grandma came round the garden, and opened the door for him. “..Morning, Gustaf”


    So his name was Gustaf. I waved at him. He came in and asked grandma how I was. Grandma just pointed at me and said “Ask the kid yourself”


    I lifted up my shirt and tapped myself on the ribs, “No problem” I declared.


    They stood with their mouth open.


    I knew why. I spoke up in their language. I did consider hiding that I roughly understood them, but it would be counterproductive. I needed information. I needed books, knowledge and hiding my ability would hinder all of that.


    “You…know language?” Asked Gustaf.


    “No. Heard everyone…know little” I offered as best as I could. Even if I could speak better, I wouldn’t. It would be suspicious to have learnt a language so fast. It is quite suspicious even now.

     

    “Oho. Quite a fast learner, aren’t you?” Gustaf beamed, “So, lad, where did you come from?”


    “Don’t know. Forgot everything. Remember nothing”, I lied through my teeth, my face revealing nothing. Oh yeah, I picked the easy amnesia route. Now I just need to make them believe it.

     

    “Nothing except name”. I pointed at myself, “Rigel”.


    “Rigel, I don’t believe you lost your memories. But, everyone has things they want to hide. I won’t probe unless you give me a reason to. Understood?” Gustaf saw through my lie at once and replied sternly. I could hear the veiled threat in his steel like voice.


    “Okay. That would help a lot. I promise I won’t harm anyone” I came clean. There was no point in fighting a lost battle.


    “I am only giving you a chance as a thanks for taking care of the Grilnder problem” Gustaf said.


    “Grilnder?” I asked, honestly confused. What was more confusing was that the language perception suddenly seemed to skyrocket. All hail plot armour!


    By now, even Arin had gathered in the room. She and Grandma heard my confession about my memories. She didn’t seem alarmed though. They took me in knowing full well the risk, so it isn’t surprising for them.


    “Oh yes, I forgot that you don’t actually know the language”, replied Gustaf. “The monster you killed before passing out. It lured men away from the neighboring villages and ate them. We made a group from our Guard corps to kill it and found you grievously injured beside the dead body of the Grilnder” he said in one breath.


    “One question” I said, “Why did you believe I don’t know the language but didn’t when I said I forgot everything?”


    “Because, kid, I verified it by trying to startle you many times when we were together.” He replied coolly. “Not reacting when I asked you to take your pants off in a deserted place was what finally convinced me” he added.


    I stared at him agape. No one said a word. After a few moments, Arin broke down in hysterical laughter. I underestimated these people. Even if they were kind, they were not reckless.

     

    Gustaf continued, “Besides, you were on watch the entire time, kid. Our Village Head is kind, so she would took you in so as not to trouble anyone, but we can’t very well have her harmed, do we?”


    “Oh okay” I managed to reply back, “So Karro was on guard duty?”


    “Yes, he practically begged me to be a part of the assignment when he heard you were living with Arin”


    “Uncle Gustav!” Arin protested with an indignant face and then looked at me and said “I don’t li…”


    “ Gustaf, I want to learn Swordsmanship and Magic” I cut in, not even paying any heed to what she was going to say.


    “ I see. Yes, I almost forgot what I came here for. I heard that you were loitering around the practice sessions and finally even got into  a brawl with Karro. If are going to pick up a weapon, might as well train. We need every hand we can get, and you too need back to give to the village”

    Gustaf replied.


    “Yes. I would love that. But what about magic though?” I asked.


    “Eh. I dunno about that, you need aptitude for it and not many have that. You will have to test yourself and see.”


    “When do we start?” I asked eagerly.


    “Eager, aren’t you?” Gustaf said, “Is your injury even okay? The healing magic healed the cracked ribs but there should still be pain”

    “Nah, I am okay” I beamed. My mind was screaming, Magic Swordsman! Magic Swordsman! Magic Swordsman!


    “That’s a bit on the quick side” he looked troubled, “but not anything abnormal, isn’t it”? He asked the last part looking at grandma.


    “No, it’s okay. Brats just heal fast” grandma replied smiling.


    “Yeah, idiots heal fast” Arin said scathingly.


    “Come on now, kid. Lets beat you u…in shape” Gustaf said with a suspicious glint in his eyes, walking towards the exit.


    “If anything happens to me, you all know Gustaf is responsible” I told those two half-jokingly. With my luck, they are gonna get Kenichi on me(2)


    “Don’t kill him”, said grandma.


    “stay away from Karro. He doesn’t like you”, Arin offered as a way of advice.


    “Whose fault you think that is?” I retorted while leaving the house.




    We went to the Knight Training grounds through the village plaza. The plaza was bustling with people and life. It had that energy and vividness you see in South-East Asian markets. Hawkers and peddles were displaying their wares loudly while barkers tried to pull people into their shops. People wore colourful dresses and bargained the prices savagely. Lots of snacks and other finger foods were being sold in stalls. The market was crowded enough that we had to squeeze our way in, breaking into strange poses to pass people, as if we were dancing. Fruits and vegetable were piled up in the stalls, fish and meat were a bit less. The fishes looked strange. And yep, as I thought, there were meat from lizard like animals and a really plump bird that looked like a cross between a cotton candy and a chicken.


    “The bi-monthly market in Shrafingshire gets lot of people” Gustaf said noticing my curiosity.


    “So the name of this village is Shrafingshire?”  I asked.


    “Yeah”


    I had decided not to ask about things like the moons, the sun etc. It would be very  troublesome to explain why I don’t know of these things being a resident of this planet. The difference in culture  excuse can cover a lot of things, but not all.


    We finally reached the Training Grounds. Gustaf turned to me and declared, “From now on this is your temple. Forge your body and mind. We welcome you to the village guard training grounds, uphold it’s honour and spirit” he looked proud “Also, don’t die”. Fuck.

     

    He gave me a wood sword and showed me how to swing in downwards. “300 swings by afternoon”, he ordered.


    Yep. Totally like Kenichi.

     

     

     

    I came back at evening with sores and bruises all over my body that day. I did some weight training back at earth so I am not entirely new to training but…this was grueling. My arms hung from my sides like lead weights. I had pain in muscles I didn’t knew I had. The entire body felt like one throbbing mass of aching pain. But I was happy. For god knows what reason, I didn’t hate this. I slept like a log that night.


    Next day, I was barely able to move my body. But since I was let off training, I decided to accompany Arin in her herb-gathering.


    “…You know I was so surprised you could talk, I mean you picked it up so fast..” Arin kept talking the whole time we were out picking flowers and weed meant for medicine. Things had hardly changed now that I could properly communicate. She still talked all the time while I kept listening. It was so tiring.


    At noon, we were sitting on the hill under the shade of a tree, eating lunch. Azure sky spread horizon to horizon while vast clouds traversed leisurel, occasionally drifting under the ring. I leaned back against a tree trunk  while sucking on the nectar of a flower while Arin gathered up the remnants of our meal. It would have been awesome if this girl would just stop talking.


    Today, she was wearing a yellow robe with red pattern on it. Her long black hair was let loose on her back. She looked like some pretty dainty flower atop a hill. A flower that talked all the time.


    “Then you know, I had this white pinnetten mouse that..mmfm” I clamped her mouth with my left palm while I pushed her against the tree with my other hand. Her eyes went wide and she started flailing her hands and feet trying to push me away. I held fast and pushed her even strongly against the rough bark.


    “Sssh..” I put my finger on my lips while my other hand still held her mouth fast. “Why don’t you stop talking for a while and relax? Let the nature talk, let the wind sing. Calm down and take in all this” I swept my hands to show the mountains, the forest and the green grass we beyond us.


    Hearing that, she stopped struggling and looked at me with downcast eyes. She then looked up, her body shaking slightly and breath coming in sharp gasps, a questioning light in her eyes. Ofcourse, a girl would look at you strange if you said all that, I chided myself.


    “Anyway, that’s what I like to do anyways. Just keep quiet for a while and let me sleep” I removed my hands from her mouth and slid back to lean against the tree, closing my eyes. Silence of two people enveloped the shade. Wind rustled, making the grass sing its song with it. Arin was silent for the first time.


    Did I go too far maybe? I felt myself nod off while I wondered.


    “… Serlia once told me that there are blue coranths over the hills, I have never seen them myself but…” I could hear Arin talking when my slumber grew thin after a while. I cracked my eyes open just a tiny bit and saw that evening had come to the world. The Sky had got a painter’s palette of violet, gold and orange. The single moon shone near the horizon as the last vestiges of light remained in the sky. I seemed to have slid from my position against the trunk and my head had dropped onto Arin’s lap. She cradled my head while she talked incessantly.


    “… then Rivalzol  went for a bear-hunt and came back 3 days…” I closed my eyes once again and went to sleep. I could spent my entire day in silence while Arin talks not even demanding that I pay attention or replyMy body relaxed and let go of the tension that had made me tense as a spring with all the training.


    Maybe not having to talk once in a while is good.


    I didn’t let her know I was awake and turned my head around her lap, facing her this time while still  keeping my eyes closed.


    But I suspected  she already knew, that I was awake.


     



    3 weeks  have passed since then. I have become a master of the swords, defeating the sword saints.

    Not. I have just broken into intermediate stage. The people over at the guard training are surprised at my quick pace of learning though. I try not to stand out too much, but I often go overboard when I spar.


    Turns out that you don’t turn a swordsman just by holding one(3). The people who I thought were Knight Trainees were acrually village youths being trained by Gustaf to act as guards. There were a lot of monsters and thieves around these parts so every cluster of villages have a guards training facility to help raise guards to defend it.



    Shrafingshire is in the far western part of the Holy Ebraven Kingdom. Surrounded by the Ishkal  Mountains on the three sides, the Morrilet dukedom, of which Shrafingshire is a part of, is considered  very remote.


    The planet is called Sangraal in human tongue. 5 human empires comprise about 40% of the world. Divided into 9 continents, Sangraal has quite a number of sentient races, unlike Earth. Humans, Beastmen, Elves, Dwarves, Dragons, Demons are the most widely spread sentient species. Each race has it’s own language, customs, systems of magic and religion. To be exact, even within each species there are lot of differences due to customs and ideologies.


    A real fantasy world is much like earth. Homogeneousness in the behavior of each race  is the mark of a lazy author.

     

    The history of Sangraal is pretty violent. Wars, aggression and internal strife are common occurrences. However, the world is generally polarized into 3 mutually warring sections. The Demons, The Dragons and the rest of the races. That doesn’t mean the rest of the world don’t fight among themselves at the drop of a hat.


    Not very different from our world after all, eh?

     

    The books provided precious little about the gods except the usual myths and praises. But one noteworthy thing is the War of the Gods, that took place about 15000 years ago. Yeah, this world’s history is pretty long compared to earth. Apparently, the incident corresponds with what Astria said. Gods went to war with each other for total domination, dragged the mortals of the world with it and almost ended up destroying the world. The mortal races banded together and went to war with their own gods.


    This had greatly shocked  the gods. They had pushed the mortals beyond the breaking point, not anticipating the backlash. Afraid that this would spell the end of creation, the Gods had called a Covenant and stopped the war. As decided by the covenant, the Gods left the earth and ascended to the Immortal Plane, a place that doesn’t exist in time or space, stopping all direct interference with the mortals and the world in general.


    Then they fucking used otherworlders to fight their wars in secret.

     

    However, the gods looked awfully afraid for beings with ultimate powers to have called a covenant when the mortals revolted. Something didn’t add up.


    I had once asked grandma why did the villagers and humans followed the gods if they had once fought against them.


    Grandma-Wasslia’s eyes had widened and she had taken a sharp breath inwards. “15000 years change a lot of things, Rigel. People forget the past and find ways to blame their ancestors for the misfortunes”, her voice sounded bitter. “People have reconciled with the gods, calling the generations that fought against the gods delusional. They are termed the Fallen Kin, the Betrayers and the like for their treason towards the gods. People hold the betrayal responsible for the appearance of the monsters and the black spires after the war.” Grandma added.


    “The races would rather forget the betrayal, or the gravest sin as they call it. The fallen kin are blamed for the Ascension, the departure of the gods leaving Sangraal. Rigel, do not question the gods in public”, grandma  Wasslia had said with a heavy, quavering voice, “People are not kind to those who do”.


    She had some unpleasant experiences.


    Now that I had some time after my swordsmanship has stabilized somewhat, I decided to broach the topic of magic. When I asked Gustaf about it, he asked me to talk to Grandma Wassilia because except Karro, no one in the guard training knew about it. She was also teaching me to read and write Aruvahn, the language of the majority in the Ebraven Kingdom.


    When I asked her, Grandma gave me a book about introductory magic and its theories. She warned me though, “Not all people have aptitude for magic. The only way to know is try casting and see if you can do it. Lots of people start early in their childhood but only become able to cast after many years”.
    She had added after a pause, “Don’t be sad if you don’t succeed. Everyone has things they can and cannot do”.


    With trepidation, I had opened the book.


    Zain and Astria were nowhere to be seen. It had been a month without a god opening a hole in my body. Maybe my life isn’t Rigel-chan’s daily life yet (4)




     

    Meta References.

    (1) Reference to Naofumi’s Shield from Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari.

    (2) Reference to the brutal training regimen of Kenichi from History Strongest Disciple Kenichi

    (3) Reference to the amazing number of shounen heroes who seem to miraculously be able       to wield  a sword after getting it for the first time. Come on, you know the shows.

    (4) Reference to the Ero-guro manga Mai-chan’s Daily Life/ Mai-chan no iru nichijou. Basically Rigel is alluding to how the gods would induce lethal injuries then heal him, kind of like the Mai-chan manga where she would self heal after the lethal injuries by her ‘customers’. Warning- Do NOT read Mai-chan. It is a very underground sort of manga. Counted as one of the craziest and wtf mangas among the top wtf stuff from Japan.

    Author note: Guys please support me on royalroad too! please post reviews on the fiction page so that I know what you people think about the work.  Honestly, this story needs reviews and ratings so that even more people can read it. Please help me! thanks in advance!

    Link to RR- HTSAS1o1 on Royalroad


  • Chapter 5 : First Battles, Auroras and Moon's Spawns

    Chapter 5 : First Battles, Auroras and Moon's Spawns

    “…there were four moons in the sky. The four daughters of the sun god, Azrakh. Red coloured, Eranth; the blue  Olynth and Silann the white, fairest of them all. Valaren the black, favored by her father adorned the sky by his side at day along with Eranth.  On midsummer each year, the sisters would come together and celebrate the birth of…”

    Extract from the Igniz Ras’pell, A human epic, ~6000 B.C.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------


    I tried for the umpteenth time. Smoke curled up from my fingers but no fireball came out. I was trying to cast magic after learning from the magic books  lent by grandma. I did ask her how I could do magic, but she simply said that she never learnt it formally. She tried and tried and finally did it. It seems to be a matter of feeling.

    According to the book, Sangraal was suffused with a mysterious, invisible particle. Known as Aurora particle, it was everywhere. Theories were numerous about its origin, but no conclusive evidence was found for any of the theories. Whenever magic was used, Aurora particles would be utilized by the caster and transformed into magic. However, the aurora particles didn’t disappear but merely transmuted to what they called Exhausted Aurora particles which make up the magic.

    Theorists proposed that the Exhausted Aurora or EA underwent a cyclical change to replenish the Aurora otherwise they would be exhausted. Anyway, Humans used magic by absorbing the available Aurora in the environment and transmuting it into magic. What the book doesn’t tell you is that it’s bloody difficult to do.

     Apparently, every species on this planet had an inbuilt magic circuit in their heart. They could use that to issue commands to the Aurora particle, or AP entering their body to transmute into the type of magic they wanted to cast.

    I don’t know if I even have a Magic circuit.

    That’s what I had thought until I  had tried to chant the magic. Nothing had happened at first few tries but my palm had grown hot. After about a hundred failed chants, here I was with some smoke puffing up my hands.

    I sighed. “Harharl Infigare!(1)” I shouted, exasperated and desperate.

    Nothing happened. Of course not. It was just an anime.

    “Rigel! Stop! What are you doing!” Arin shouted from behind me and ran towards me. She dropped all the herbs she was carrying and broke into a fast run in panic, her face ashen.

    Why was she panicking so?

     Err…fireball mag..” I was cut off  mid-reply.

    “That’s not what I am asking. Why are you trying to cast without a conduit?” she demanded while inspecting my hand.

    “Conduit?” I asked.

    “You asterhunkel, why didn’t you read properly? The Aurora converts right after you let it go out of your body, so what do you think happens when you are not casting long distance magic?”

    Oh shit. I would get burned.

     My eyes went wide when I realized. Arin guessed that I understood the implications so she just arched her eyebrows at me.

    “Seriously, are you really 4 years older than me?” She chided. “Even kids know this”.

    “How do I get a conduit?” I asked.

    “For you…you have to buy it” she said after thinking a while, “Lets go to the river while I treat your hand”

    We started walking. Now that I notice, my hands did sting a bit. The attempts had burnt off a thin slice of skin from my palm.

    Today was another of my rest days. I had come to collect herbs with Arin, as usual on my free days. I got a small compensation every week for becoming a village guard, so I thought of paying some back to grandma for taking care of me. However, I knew she won’t take anything, so I usually bought groceries and stuff without telling her first and presented  it. Grandma Wasslia did object when I brought stuff home, but she was happy too.  She would kiss my head every time I did that, as if her own grandson had done something nice.

    I was really lucky to meet someone like her when I came here.

     Arin and I sat on a boulder beside the stream. The said stream flowed under the hill, with its origin somewhere in the Ishkal mountains in the north. The stream was called Natril and was rich in fish and other river life forms.

    Arin dipped my palm in the cool river water, washing away the soot and grime. Then she mashed up some herbs growing beside the river and applied on my hands.

    “Keep the herbs in the place with your hands. I am not going to tear up my robe to make a poultice”  Arin instructed me.

    “Hai hai, Ojou-sama” I replied jokingly. She looked at me with suspicion in her eyes at the Ojou-sama.

    “You don’t know how to compliment a lady properly, do you?” She said.

    “If I see a lady, I will” I replied with a straight face.

    “No lunch for you today”, she was incensed.

    We sat at the bank, watching the river flow by. It was relaxing. The sound of the river mingled with the sounds of RiverSong shells in Arin’s hair. The girl and the river watched each other silently, as having an invisible dialogue between themselves.

    I had  always wondered , but Arin became uncharacteristically quiet whenever we were at the river. She would stare at the river without getting tired. I wondered what she was thinking.

    “You know, Rigel, I feel like I can be at peace when I am near the river” She suddenly spoke up. She shivered while speaking, “After my parents…died, I had no one to talk to. The kids made fun of me, hated me while I kept crying all the time”

    Arin’s voice had become heavy with emotion, quavering. “ This is where I escaped to when I remembered my parents and cried a lot. No one saw me crying here. The River didn’t demand from  me to talk, it was happy to talk to me, flowing by me while I watched”

    I could only manage to listen in silence. This was the first time she had spoken about her parents. I wouldn’t have guessed that Arin hurt so much underneath.

    “I talked to myself all the time to stave off the loneliness, but this river gave me peace.” Tears glistened on her red cheeks.

    Before I could do something, Arin wiped her tears and collected herself, “Sorry for saying all these. Rigel, I am glad I met you. You remind me of the river, always listening to my ramblings” she said with moist cheeks and glistening eyes.

    I stood up and walked away from her. I could feel her eyes following me. A few white flowers bloomed on the bank, a little away from us. I picked one and returned. It was the same flower that I had unintentionally given Arin on the first day.

    I crouched down beside her holding the white magnolia like flower in my hand. She seemed to understand my intentions and tensed a bit. After just a moment, she seemed to relax and turned her head, a shy smile on her lips. I planted the flower on her black hair and plopped down beside her, leaning on the boulder.

    I couldn’t say anything. So, the girl with river in her hair and the boy who dreamt of death sat side by side, looking at the river. No words needed to be said. Because their conversation was one of silence. A silence of three parts, the boy, the girl and the trickling river.


    I found out the problem about why I can’t cast. I couldn’t control and properly channel the Aurora particle inside my body yet. Grandma scolded me when she heard my reckless attempts. It seems that uncontrolled AP could sometimes invoke magic inside the body, causing the spellcaster to die. She had heard of a mage whose AP had run rampant inside his body, invoking the spell for fire. His whole right hand had carbonized from the inside. He lived, but lost his hand.  I decided to concentrate on AP channeling for now.

    The magic for humans in this world seemed to be divided into Elemental magic and Soul magic. Everything that had to do with elements was classified as former and rest of the magic like summoning or healing as the latter. There was no classification like Light or Dark magic. It all involved on the intention of the caster. The same summon spell was used both when conjuring undead and when conjuring holy beasts like the Unicorn.

    I continued studying magic while I improved my swordsmanship. I was finally green-lighted to go on subjugation and extermination quests with the village guard corps to suppress the monsters.

    Gustaf divided the 15 members into 3 groups of 5 each. We were going to suppress a mob of monsters known as Kivalas, a group of four legged dog like monsters. They had a reddish brown shaggy coat of fur and razor sharp claws. What made them really dangerous was their tendency to roam in packs and call out for reinforcement when faced with danger. More than a few villagers had fallen prey to their vicious fangs.

    I didn’t know what Gustaf expected by putting me and Karro in the same group.

    Was he expecting rivals-turn- friends shounen shit?

     For today, we were given actual swords and weapons instead of the blunt training ones. Everyone was eager to earn some reputation for themselves. The three groups walked at a brisk pace, separated from each other by 50 metres in an inverted arrowhead formation. We were walking towards the Nurengraz forest, located on both sides of the road that leads to the next town, Haven.

    We were walking through the forest when suddenly Gustaf put up his hands in a fist, signaling us to stop. He conveyed by the hand signals that were drilled into us everyday that he had detected some enemies. Sounds of metal clanking softly could be heard as everyone readied their weapons. I unsheathed my sword and unhitched the unadorned shield made of thick wood covered with leather. It was okay with fangs, but bad at blocking metal weapons.

    Howls reverberated through the trees and the underbrush rustled. By the howls, there were at least five Kivalas. Sweat trickled down my temple, as I tightened the grip on my sword. All at once, the Kivalas bounded into view, leaping up from the thick bushes. The battle had started.

    Gustaf barked orders and the inverted arrowhead expanded it’s wings, allowing the Kivalas to run inside the middle of the V. Though they were pack animals, they did not have much intelligence to gauge the trap. The men surrounded the Kivalas and bore down on them with their weapons.

    Our group of five had taken the left flank. Two Kivalas bore down on us, snapping at the vanguards me and Shayn. We two used shields, so we took the burnt of the attack, the Kivalas slamming against our raised shields. These dogs were strong.

    The monsters snapped their jaws, their razor claws trying to break the shield. The monsters tried to jump over the shields by climbing it. Karro and Grant swung their swords, trying to disrupt the Kivalas. Karro’s sword went through the right flank of one of the monsters, warm blood splashing down on my face and hands.

    The hurt Kivala howled, it’s ferocity increased to manic levels. Illya was trying to poke out the eye of the other Kivala by his spear. The monster easily dodged it and jumped up at him, using Shayn’s shield as a springboard. My blood went cold. Shayn screamed.

    “Karro!” I shouted. He looked at me and understood my intention in a flash.

    “Crazy fucker”, He mumbled, “Go”. I slammed my shield up at the chin of the Kivala in front of me, that was trying to climb over the shield to get to us. The Kivala made an odd sound as blood and spittle went flying out of its maw when I slammed the shield under its chin. Then I got up and ran backwards to help Shayn, while Karro held off the Kivala.

    The Kivala was eating Illya’s hand as he screamed. His eyes had gone white as he howled with all his might. The Kivala just continued to chomp on his arm, as sounds of bones being crunched emanated from it. Illya hadn’t been able to block the Kivala when it had  come too close for the effective range of the long spear. The Kivala had simply slammed the wooden spear aside and clamped its jaws on Illya.

    I ran and slammed against the Kivala’s flank with full momentum. The shield was put up near my face, not letting the Kivala attack me. It went flying and slammed against a tree trunk. I walked over Shayn, setting up a defensive posture in front of him. The Kivala jumped at me using the tree trunk for leverage. I put up the shield and it slammed against it. I used my sword to reach around and pierce it’s flank. The monster let out an enraged howl and jerked violently. The sword went flying away due to the momentum. My hands went numb and I gulped.

     Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

    The Kivala, enraged beyond anything, bit at the wood shield. It’s sharp fangs pierced the wood and…stopped midway. The Kivala had snagged its teeth on the wooden shield. I held the shield with all my might as the monster shook it violently, trying to dislodge it, while I  took out the hunting knife Grandma-Wasslia had gifted me.

    I slammed down the knife on the Kivala’s eye and held it there, screwing it in until it reached the brain. Warm blood spurted out of the wound, splashing my face again, the salty blood smelling of iron.

    “Fuck you” I shouted as the Kivala spasmed while taking its last breath. A strange pall had come over me as I felt intense bloodlust within myself. It didn’t have anything to do with revenge or defence. I wanted my enemy dead as I bathed in its blood, simple as that. I wanted to dominate, to have their fates in my hand. My body trembled and I took a deep breath. Then I charged.

    While I rushed past, I noticed that Karro and the others had finished their Kivalas. I jumped into the fray at the other flank of the formation. Only one Kivala remained. It was proving to be troublesome as it shook off the weapons that had pierced it. I jumped down in front of it and slammed my shield on its skull. I kept slamming and slamming till it had deformed, grey matter oozing out of its ears.

    The battle was done.

    Everyone looked at me strangely. Gustaf came over and punched me on the gut. “What the” I managed to groan as I keeled over.

    “Your own safety takes priority first…I believe I told you that” His face was like black thunderclouds, his voice shook in rage, “Also, you lost to bloodlust. You will die if you do not discipline yourself in battle”

    “Sorry” I managed to croak. Fuck. Really what was I doing? It felt so good…killing them

     He ruffled my hair, “Thank you for protecting  Illya. Because of you, he will live”.



    We stayed there for a few more hours, cleaning up the bodies and treating Illya’s wounds. The elders dismantled the monster’s corpses, stripping it of useable materials like claws, fangs and fur.

    However, what was  really valuable was the Core.

    Core was a rough crystal found at the centre of the monster’s heart. It was said that this was the magic circuit of the monsters. It grew throughout its life, absorbing and storing AP like a battery. Unless a monster died of unnatural causes, the Core would slowly grow, crystallizing the heart and ultimately killing the monster when the heart totally converts to a Core.

    “Good work” I said to Karro honestly. “Yeah, you too” He replied a bit warmly. Maybe the battle had brought us close together.

     So, everytime you have a fight with a friend, don’t fret! Bring him to a life threatening adventure! Want to grow close to the girl of your dreams? Don’t worry! drop yourselves together in a cage of feral beasts!

    I was given a small green, rough cylindrical crystal, tapered into fine points at both ends. It came from the Kivala I had killed defending Illya. It was my reward. I saw something move from the corner of my eye and spotted Gustaf handing out another green crystal towards me.

    “Take it. Its from the other one you killed”

    “But other also participated in it. I just finished it off” I said.

    “It’s alright, everyone wants you to have it as a reward for your good performance” he replied while smiling, “Besides, we were having a hard time and this crystal will help you grow”.


    Apparently, there were many uses for the Cores. One can go to a Church or a Soulcaster to fuse the Cores to one’s own being, making them powerful. However this process often resulted in failures and sever backlashes, so it wasn’t popular. Most people went to an Enchanter Blacksmith to fuse the Cores to their equipment, making it stronger.  There was always the option of selling them for money too. Lot of magical equipment and tools needed Cores to function.

    When I asked Gustaf if I could fuse them to my weapon, he said that the village couldn’t do it. I needed to head over to the nearest town, Haven for the process. I was told to wait after the Midsummer Festival when some people from the guard corps would go to repair and resupply the corps.

    One more thing that I had noticed was when I killed a monster, I could feel some invisible wave flow into me. I don’t know what it was, but I asked others and they said they didn’t receive anything of the sort. This was probably a hallucination brought on by the excitement of the bloodlust.

    After that day, we went on Kivala subjugation quests regularly. In the course of that, Karro and I had become fast friends, spending a lot of time together. I knew he was jealous of how close how Arin and I was, he never let that come between our friendship. He even tried to teach me his magic technique of coating his blade with fire. But, my AP channeling was too coarse for it to work.




    It had been almost 2 months since I came to this world. I now knew some swordmanship and very little magic. I had saved up a little from the quests, with 21 Cores to my name. I planned to kill the gods of this world, but for that I needed power. I didn’t know it then, but not having power would cost me dearly.

    As for my skills, here is the status window…NOT. This isn’t that kind of story, people. This is not a VRMMO or those fantasy stories where powers are so easily got and conveniently displayed in a menu list. And yes, I am breaking the 4th wall, and yes by mentioning the 4th wall, I am breaking it again.

    I looked up at the sky while returning from my 11th subjugation quest. Somewhere, near the forest we had just been,  Kivalas were howling. Maybe they felt pain too, when we killed their families?

    I wondered how my family back on earth were doing.




    Arin and grandma were waiting for me that evening with worry on their faces. News had traveled that a few people had died this time, so they were very tensed. I could see dried tears on Arin’s cheeks.

    I sat with Arin on the steps of the patio. Like always; the Faeler, those bottled lights, were shining; spilling their soft yellowish green light on the garden. I was chatting with Arin about all things that mattered and things that did not. I felt like Arin was getting close to me day by day.

    “I am dying to the eat the surmar tomorrow” Arin was saying with a glazed look in her eyes.

    “Is that so”, I crouched near the flowers with the colour of fire, growing near the patio.

    These flowers were called Vertes, or the stealer of emotions. They glowed like fire at night, taking in the AP and diffusing them in form of light. At any rate, they were breathtaking. Like little balls of fire, pulsating and living. The most astonishing part about the flowers was that it could change the colour of its glow depending on the emotions of the person nearby. For this, it was used in trials and torture to verify the truth.

    Even flowers in this world are dangerous.

     “Don’t even think of that”, Arin was stern, “Do not be the kind of man who gives a girl flowers from her own garden”

    Truly, even flowers in this world are dangerous.

     The Vertes glowed a bright orange. I wondered whose emotions they were.




    Later that night, I felt someone enter my room. I opened my eyes carefully, and saw Arin tip toeing beside my bed and promptly slamming her hands on my mouth, so that I couldn’t shout.

    What the…

     She motioned me to shush by putting her finger on her lips.

    I sat up on my bed slowly, and in a dry voice whispered, “Please let me go, Arin-sama…”

    “I am not here to rape you, Rigel” she stared at me with unamused eyes.

    “I know. So what do you want?”

    “Come with me. I need to pick some Lorras flowers for tomorrow and you don’t want a dainty maiden alone out at night, do you?” She explained.

    “Sure. Where is the dainty maiden I need to guard?” I asked.

    “Keep that up, and no girls will dance with you at the festival”



    Tomorrow was the Midsummer Festival, the only night when all 3 moons were in the sky. The villagers would have a huge fire and dance around it. People would cook food in that fire and sing and dance. It was the biggest festival in these parts of the Kingdom,  so everyone was looking forward to it.

    Lorras flowers were these small white blossoms that grew only at night and withered at dawn. I could guess why she wanted those. They were used to make perfumes.

    She collected Lorras, while I just looked up at the sky. The constellations were unfamiliar. Even the stars were different. Fuck I can’t even say that we look up at the same sky like a shoujo protag(2) I really wondered how my family was doing without me.



    “Come with me, I want to show you something”, Arin said while beckoning me from the top of the hill. I followed her. Blue-white moonlight filtered down the shady trail we were walking on. Arin’s white tunic flashed in and out of view through the shadows. I felt like I was chasing a specter.

    We came upon the flowing Natril at a sort of a guarded bank. Boulders separated that part of the bank from view. Tall trees ringed the bank while the white magnolia flowers bloomed in a white carpet in the bank. Hundreds of those flowers reared towards the sky, as if absorbing the moonlight.

    Arin and I sat on the bank, while she kept looking at the flowing river in moonlight. Shadow and light played hide and seek on the surface. We were silent. The river always made us silent.

    Arin suddenly spoke up and said, “Rigel, do you know the story behind how rivers came to be?”

    “No, I don’t” I said honestly.

    “Once upon a time, there was an Elven maid, the fairest among all. Her name was Sylvanna. She fell in love with the son of a commoner, Rashel. They loved each other like the earth loves the sky. But their love was not to be. Sylvanna was the princess of the Elf kingdom. The king confined her in a tower, devoid of light. Rashel was exiled to the far off seas, where he rowed the ship as a laborer. A year went by, Sylvanna pined for her love, in the tower of darkness, alone. At last, she wasn’t able to endure anymore and tried to plunge a dagger to her heart. She was stopped by the Elven goddess of love. She appeared before Sylvanna, drawn by her passion for her lover. The Elven goddess asked if she wanted to be with Rashel, leaving everything she was and would be. Sylvanna consented without a second thought. The goddess changed Sylvanna into water and made her flow from the tower. The Sylvanna that was now a river charged through the mountains, the forests and the plains, finally plunging into the seas where her beloved Rashel toiled. When the river had plunged into the seas, Rashel knew that his Sylvanna was no more. Out of grief, he plunged into the seas, ending his life. The sea and the river met, joining each other for eternity. That is how, the first river came to be” Arin spoke while looking at some far away place, lost.

    “That is a sad story, Arin” I replied.

    “Yes. But not for Rashel and Sylvanna” Arin smiled, “I too want to reach the seas, where my parents are”

    Once again, I didn’t know how to comfort Arin. I just looked at the girl made of condensed moonlight. There was only one thing I could do, for now.

    I picked one of the white magnolia looking flowers and presented it to her. When in doubt with a girl, always give a flower!

    It was as if someone electrified Arin. She shook like a cold blizzard had blown over her. She asked me with watery eyes, “Do you know what these flowers are called?”

    “No, I don’t” What the…what’s happening?

      “These are Sillanerna”, she said holding it in her hands, “The spawn of Sillann”.

    Arin once again faced the river, however this time she had a smile on her lips. Her cheeks were dyed deep red, and her face downcast, her black locks hiding her face as if to avoid the gaze of the trespassing moon.

    I remembered thinking at the time; God...this woman is  beautiful.

     


    Somewhere in the forest, the pack of Kivalas kept howling through the night, as if they were mourning for the dead.



    Meta References.

    • Reference to the fire invocation spell from Magi: Labyrinth of Magic and Magi 2: Kingdom of Magic
    • Reference to a line by Takasu Ryuji from Toradora Light Novel.

     Note: The last part of this chapter’s title is my homage to the epic fantasy series, Malazan Book Of The Fallen. Moon’s Spawn is the floating fortress of the Tiste Andii in Malazan. No part of Malazan plays any part in my story. I took the just the name because it was too beautiful

    Author note: Guys please support me on royalroad too! please post reviews on the fiction page so that I know what you people think about the work.  Honestly, this story needs reviews and ratings so that even more people can read it. Please help me! thanks in advance!

    Link to RR- HTSAS1o1 on Royalroad


  • Chapter 6: Dances, Rivers and Inquisitions

    Even more surprises this chapter!

    Chapter 6: Dances, Rivers and Inquisitions

    “…The hero of the north fell in love with the shrine maiden of the south. The hero would try to woo the maiden with all his might. The maiden, being devoted to her god, would walk past, unheeding. After they died, the gods granted them immortality for their work by turning them to stars in the sky. The Hero in the North sky, the Shrine Maiden in the South. They remain forever apart. However, on New Years Night every year, the Hero and Maiden would be in the sky together. The Hero would show his love by throwing stars at the maiden. The maiden, always unheeding would dip down in the horizon after 3 bells…”

    - Elvish Astronomy, Hailias Swiftstream, 4592 B.C

     

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 

     

    I clutched the Kivala fang necklace in my palm. The thing had just come from the jeweler. I did say jeweler, but all he did was drill a hole and put a leather cord through them. He didn’t even charge me for it but winked at me like we were sharing a private joke.


    Today was the Midsummer Festival. According to the customs here, today people give gifts to the members of opposite sex they are close to. I was going to gift the fang necklace to Arin and a claw necklace to Grandma-Wasslia. It was almost evening, I had to go get ready for the festival.




    “Drink! Drink! Drink!” the guard member corps shouted as I slammed down my 3rd tankard of Kuruth ale. Shortly after, Karro also put down his empty tankard. The people were boisterous, their shouts of joy permeating the air. Today, everyone wore their fanciest, most colourful clothes. Most people wore the traditional clothes of this region; for men it was mostly dark coloured knee length robes with bright embellishments. For women, it was sort of a very frilly skirt, with full sleeves and gloves.


    Light of the huge bonfire scattered sparks up in the air, the faces of the people suffused with the firelight. People roasted food in the fire while drinking to their heart’s content. Village minstrels strummed their weird lute like instruments, while some banged on small drums. The celebration was one of life and happiness.


    I was on my way to finish my 4th tankard, when I looked towards the bonfire and…I forgot to drink. She was there, looking at the fire. Arin wore a deep red skirt that reached upto her ankles, while a slit on one side reached till her hips, emphasizing her curves. The red corset-like part of the dress defined her fine lines. My friends became surprised, seeing me hold up my tankard up near my lips, not drinking.
    “Hey Rigel, what…” said someone.

    I plonked down the tanked on the counter, “I’ll be back (1)”, I mumbled in their general direction.

     

    I walked towards Arin, the bonfire playing on her fair skin, drawing patterns in fire and light. She sensed me, and turned towards me, a shy smile on her lips. Time seemed to stop. She had the Kivala necklace on, the lone fang gleaming on her chest. A single Sillanerna flower adorned her tied up hair, black as sin itself.


    Fuck, Rigel. You are a goner


    “Evening, pretty lady. Are you new in town? Haven’t seen you round here” I said with a grin.


    “Yes, my good sir. Would you perhaps like to show me around?” She replied with an equal smoothness, offering  to link my arms with her.


    “With pleasure.” I obliged, her warm skin brushing up against my robe.


    “Also, Rigel, you do not tell a woman that she is beautiful. You make her feel it”, Arin said clutching my arm.







    We danced that night. With fire, with passion. Time held no meaning as we were in each other’s arms. We snaked around the fire in rapid steps, engaging, disengaging; pulling close, getting far apart.


    It would have been a problem if this was a fast paced dance from back earth. However, due to Gift of learning and the simplicity of the dance, I was able to follow through. Ever heard of the expression two left feet? I was more both-my-feet-cut-off-and-dangling-from-my-neck bad.

     

    Arin’s face was flushed deep red from the proximity to the blazing bonfire and the dance. Heat came off in waves as we clapped again and again for the fast paced music of the lutes. I didn’t know how long we had danced for. I pulled her close for the last time, my hand on her exposed hips, and the other hand on her back. I could feel her racing heartbeat through her skin. It was as if her skin would singe me. Our faces were close enough for our breaths to mingle. Arin shivered on my hands, her breath coming in ragged gasps. Then I broke up the embrace; feeling a grin split my lips.


    Arin looked positively mortified and disappointed at the same time. Only a few couples were dancing at this late hour. Most had passed out here and there, while most of the people went to see the traditional storytelling of the Sun god and her daughters; with dolls.


    I could see Karro at a distance, passed out on a pool of vomit. I had seen him a few times when we were dancing, but he seemed to try to avoid me. I even heard our friends try to stop him from drinking too much, but he drank anyway. Wonder what that was about?

    Well, I could guess. Sorry Karro, but Arin is mine.

     

    “Rigel, I need to get some fresh air” said the lady of contention while draining down her tankard of spiced mead.

    “Sure. Where do you want to go?” I asked since by now the whole village was sweltering due to the huge-ass bonfire.

    “River; come with me” She demanded. I liked where this was leading.

     

    We settled down beside the river bank, the same secret spot Arin had showed me last night. Hundreds of Sellanerna bloomed today too, as if celebrating the night of 4 moons.


    Arin looked at the flowers and shivered, as if someone had caressed her, “Rigel, do you remember the story about Rashel and Sylvanna?”

    “Yeah” I said half heartedly. You can’t blame me, Arin looked that much beautiful by moonlight. She was positively ravishing. It was as if she was conjured straight out of fantasies, the kind of fantasies that you learn to forget when you grow wise.


    “Do you know what Rashel courted Sylvanna with?” She asked, a soft smile on her lips, “A Sellarnerna flower everyday”.


    So that’s why she acted strange every time I did that. I thought of  all the times I had given her Sellnernas unknowingly.

     

    “I thought you were an asshole when you first gave me that flower. I mean, what were you thinking; giving a girl you met the first day Sellanernas?” She was rambling in a low voice, as if convincing herself, “Then I realized, you are just a fool”.


    “I didn’t know about Sellanernas until now…” I said honestly.


    “That flower is used to court noble ladies”, She said, a bush creeping up her uncovered nape, “and you did it to perfection”


    Arin stood up, her whole face red. She drew a sharp breath and fluidly took off her dress.




    There stood in front of me, a woman. Made of condensed moonlight, her beauty rivaled that of the moon itself; all four of it. I was not proud of it, but my mouth hung open at the sheer beauty of her. A low growl emanated from my throat, as I sat transfixed at the scene. Her modest lines were soaking up the moonlight, a faint glow gracing her snow white skin. She was naked, except for the necklace made of a single Kivala fang, nestled between her modest breasts.


    She walked towards me, then crouched down to my eye level. She crawled across the length  of my outstretched feet, bringing her face close to me like a prowling animal cornering its prey.


    Did victims of Medusa felt like this?

     

     

    Her breath fell on my face like a warm gust. I drank her breath in, noticing the white Sellarna in her hair shaking. Her whole body shook as she crouched on fours across me, pinning my body underneath her. I put my hand across her white nape, kissing her deeply.


    Fuck, you are beautiful.

     

    Arin’s hands clutched at the Sellarnas I had laid her upon as we made love. He back arched up in ecstasy with every motion as she shivered responding to the bestial growl from my throat. She kissed me again and again as we danced again, under the moonlight. Her skin mingling with mine, we panted into the night, till we weren’t individuals, but one. Our cries brought the world to a standstill. The small animals in the bushes were startled at our savage gasps. I traced her lines again and again with my fingers, in a desire of mutual annihilation. We made love, with the stars and the moons as our witness, eternity in our grasps.





    Arin lay in my arms as we gasped to regain our lost breaths. Cool river air played on our skins. She had nestled her head on my chest, as we lay leaning on the boulders.


    She wasn’t experienced, and this by no means was the best sex I ever had. But…this had been one of the happiest times of my life. We were fools, but we were happy in our stupidity.


    She looked up at me, tears glistening on her eyes. “Arin…” Why was she crying?

     

    She understood my worry, “No Rigel…I am just…too happy”, she smiled.


    “Rigel…this was my first time…”, she seemed to want to say something.


    “I know”, I could guess what she wanted to convey, “I intend to marry you honorably”. I kissed her head.


    “I  did already get my engagement gift”, she said with a happy voice, “The Kivala necklace”.


    I was confused. She realized that and continued, “The mark of a man’s might, a symbol of the battles he fought and the enemies he has defeated is the gift.” She ran her fingers though my hair, “Normally I wouldn’t give myself up for a mere Kivala fang…but you are special, my Rashel” She nestled her head once again in my chest.


    Fuck the gods.


    She felt me rise again, and looked up arching her eyebrows, “Again?” she asked.


    “But this time…”, I could feel a savage grin split my face as I drew her closer, untying her done up hair, “ I like you hair flowing”.


     

    In love we are free, but being free we doom ourselves, I remembered the line by a famous poet of this world.







    Last night, I too got a gift from Arin. No, not that kind of gift; I mean that  too, but she gave a single glove. The glove was a conduit for performing magic. It didn’t let the caster’s arm come to harm, at the same time helped to channel the magic with proper focus. It was like a simple tanned full fingered leather glove, that came up to a quarter of my arm. She had bought the glove from the blacksmith as a gift for me on Midsummer Festival.


    I wore it on my left hand and went to the forest beyond the vale to practice some magic. Arin stayed at home to talk to Grandma Wasslia about our engagement. I walked into the forest and was thinking about stuff when I heard a loud noise and scuffling in a distance. It sounded like human voices. I ran towards the noise.



    What I saw after that, made me angry. A single white horse was bound to a tree, while it lazily chewed grass. Some paces from it was a young man of about 25, wearing expensive clothes. What pissed me off? There was a girl of about 9-10 years near the guy. The guy was holding her down, while the girl kept crying and pleading. The girl was naked and bleeding from various cuts and bruises on her body.


    Yep. Rape.


    I could feel blood rushing to my head, My teeth gnashed against each other, while I gave a hoarse shout. The guy suddenly sat up, hearing my shout, looks of wonder on his face. I ran up to him and kicked him in the ribs. The guy keeled over, groaning. I smashed my feet down on his hand. The guy howled like a pig and drew his sword. A real one, not the training ones that we weren’t even allowed to carry.


    I gave the guy no leeway and kicked him again, in the face. The guy felt backwards, sprawling, holding his bleeding nose.


    “vat are vu buing?” He asked in a rage, his face going crimson.


    “Beating you up” I replied, barely holding onto my reason; walking towards him.


    “Vu you go vuu ei am?”,  He screamed, slashing wildly with his decorated blade.


    “No, and I don’t intend to”. I sidestepped his sloppy slash and smashed my right hand into his face.


    The sword went flying out of his hands, and I continued to pummel him. I left no part of his body untouched. As my fist was introducing itself to his guts and abdomen, I felt a tug at my wrist.


    The small girl had hung onto me, while tears streaked from her face. I propped up the guy’s right hand on my knee, while driving down my elbow. A sickening crunch signaled that it was broken. The man screamed in agony and fainted. Then I stripped the man of his shirt and walked away.


    I wrapped the little girl with the shirt and started walking out of the forest. While passing the horse, I untied its rope and slapped the horse’s rump with force. The horse became scared and ran away into the forest.


    I soothed and coaxed the little girl while I carried her towards the village. The girl didn’t stop crying and kept asking for her mother.


    Assholes.

     


    I delivered the girl to Grandma Wasslia and went up to the Guard Corps building to report to Gustaf. With veins popping on his forehead, he made a few senior guards go out in search of the person while he dragged me back into training. However, the guards didn’t find any trace of the guy except for torn clothes and a blood-trail that lead back to the road towards Haven.


    That had been the beginning of the end. How I wish I could change the things that had happened back then.




    3 days after the incident, the guard corps were busy in training when a small boy came running to the compound, severely out of breath. He sat down on the dust and started to gulp for air like a beached whale. All of us surprised, we went to the boy and asked what was wrong. He barely managed to croak, “ Grandma Wasslia..gulp..soldiers…surrounded…gulp…beating them up…go fast”.


    I surprised myself when I started running like a released spring. I could feel my heart about to leap out of my throat. All I saw were blurs of colours as I raced toward Grandma and…Arin. I could hear people shouting as they saw me run like a demon, but I didn’t stop.


    I was almost out of breath when I reached the familiar house guarded by the blue-tinged trees. About a  couple of dozen of buff men wearing full leather armour milled about in the compounds. A man on full plate armor was barking orders to them while sitting on a sable coloured horse. My eyes searched for grandma Wasslia and Arin; spotting them talking agitated to couple of men. Arin was gesticulating wildly, trying to make some point while Grandma was trying to hold her back. Talking to them was a white haired man with a bushy white beard wearing a white-gold robe that covered almost all of his body. Beside him was a young man atop a Serrad, wearing expensive clothing , his arm nestled as if broken. It was the guy I had apprehended in the forest.


    “What are you doing?” I thundered at the man.


    The guards took defensive positions, aiming their spears and swords at me. The man atop the horse gestured them to stop. The young man maneuvered his Serrad towards me.


    “Bishop, this is the filth that dared lay his hands on me” said the man in a haughty tone.


    “Who are you, gaudy?” I asked the man, irritated beyond reason.


    Fuck, I pissed off someone with authority. Let’s hope this ends with just an apology.

     

    “Who am I ? Who am I!” The man went crimson in the face, “You dog dares!”


    “No, seriously… who are you?” I had to play the ignorant foreigner card to muddle through this. 

     

    “You are in the presence of Lord Icchvarrion sol Varasti, son of Baron Rakkharrion sol Varasti, Lord of Varasti Barony”, replied the plate armor.


    “Now that you  know, kneel you dog” spat out the Lord of assholes.


    I can do this. Numerous NHK guys have given me free TV when I went full Gaijin on them. If I can beat NHK, I can beat this ass. *

     

    “You have been charged with obstructing an official of the Kingdom in line of duty. Furthermore, you have inflicted serious life threatening injuries on a member of the peerage”, this time the Bishop talked in a gravely voice, “So your punishment is…death by quartering.”


    Oh shit.

     

    Before I could say anything, Arin spoke up, “He doesn’t know the laws of this region, Lord Icchvarion, he is a stranger to these parts”, her voice shook in nervousness.


    A soldier came forward and slapped Arin knocking her over, “Shut up you mongrel bitch. You dare address the Lord directly!”


    The wind seemed to stop. Before I could blink, I had sprinted in front the soldier and rammed my sword into his head. The man crumpled like a wet blanket, with a huge dent on his helmet.


    “Restrain the rabid dog! Protect the Lord!” Shouted the plate mail guy.

    The soldiers immediately surrounded grandma, Arin and me, their spears and swords pointed at us.


    “Restrain yourself, Icchvarrion!” thundered a voice from the gates. Gustaf had come running along with a few village guards.


    “Tch. Even the insolent ex-knight is here”.  Icchvarrion made an unpleasant smile, “You are finished, Sir Gustaf…I mean formerly Sir Gustaf”. He turned towards the plate male guy, “Sir Asarth, if you will”.


    “Guards! Prepare to intercept the rebels! Show no mercy. You are allowed to kill on self defence” Barked Asarth.


    “You will now know what it means to anger me, commoner shits”, Lord Icchvarrion said arrogantly, a smile curling up his right lips.


    A loud sound of wood striking wood resounded through the compound. “Bishop Andalus, I implore you to stop in the name of the great god Talaviel!” said grandma in the highest voice I had ever heard her use. She had stood straight up, no trace of the chronic shaking visible in her form.


    “Do not sully the name of the great god, Wasslia”, The bishop said in the same gravely tone, “I thought you were a fool when you exiled yourself from the Church, but to directly go against the will of the King…UNFORGIVEABLE!”


    “Does the will of the king pertain to raping a 10 year old girl?” Grandma asked, still enclosed within the encirclement of the soldiers.


    “You do know that the slaves are property of the owner. The punishment was light considering she ran away”  said the Bishop.


    “Enough talk, Bishop”, Icchvarion drawled, “We finally got the chance to bring the rebels to heel. Let us quickly dispose of them”


    “Certainly. Let us teach them what it means to go against god and kingdom”, said the bishop while gesturing.


    The soldiers strode forward, attacking the village guard. Due to the unexpected attack, two of the guards screamed when the spears perforated their chest. Two soldiers slashed their swords at me, no intention of taking me prisoner.


    Fuck, they came just to kill.

     

    Suddenly Arin stood in front of me, spreading her hands. “Stop! I won’t let you harm my Rigel!”


    “Arin…” I tried to shove her behind me, to keep her safe.


    “Ohoho. How amusing” The lord jumped down from the Serrad, walking towards me. Then he walked past Arin and stood in front of me, his face inches away from me. Then he said in a quiet voice, “Do you know how much indignation I faced when I had to walk back to my mansion half naked and bloody? Do you?  DO YOU!” A manic gleam came upon his eyes, “I will take everything from you, till you feel the same suffering; the same horror.”


    “You bastard…” My nails dug in so hard in my palms that I could feel blood trickle down my fingers.


    “Take them”, the lord said, striding away.


    I tried to slash at him with my sword, but it was a blunt training one, so it only ended up bouncing off his chainmail undershirt. At the same time, the soldiers drove their weapons against us, one spear piercing my thigh and a soldier scored a deep cut on my flank.


    I dropped down on my knees with blood trickling down my torso. I tried to pull out the spear with both my hands but the soldier simply pushed it deeper in a screwing motion. My leg was on fire,  screamed with all my might. I tried to stand up and use my sword as a basher, but the pommel of a blade smashed against the back of my head.


    I could see soldiers grab Arin by her hair and throwing her away like a rag doll.


    I was so powerless.

     

    Gustaf ossan was fighting against a whole group of soldiers, the other guards already cut down.


     I was so weak.

     

    A sword slashed against Gustaf’s belly, spilling out his entrails.


    I could do nothing

     

    A soldier slammed his spear handle on Grandma’s back. She fell down face first, losing consciousness. Something snapped inside me, I could feel things crumble inside my stomach.


    I will turn them helpless too.

     

    As soon as I thought that, I could feel my left arm grow cold and leaden. When I turned my head, I saw something strange. Black claw like marks gradually getting branded on my arm, wrist to elbow. It was as if shadows had crept up from under my skin, freezing it on the way. I screamed, as the freezing grew intolerable.


    No, not claws, it’s like spiralling swirls.

     

    Shadows flowed down from the brand, enveloping my arm in it. The arm grew beastlike, sharp claws replaced my fingers. I didn’t even knew whether I was screaming from the spears embedded in my body or the freezing in my arm.


    The soldiers had also noticed the change.  They drew back, confusion clouding their faces. Before they could blink, I had pulled out the spears with my hand.


    No, it wasn’t me. The arm moved on its own.

     

    The arm grabbed the head of the soldier in front of me, faster than he could react. Black talons dug deep into the skin. The soldier screamed. I screamed too, half out of terror; half out of a strange sense of satisfaction, even pleasure.


    I didn’t feel any pain from my wounds; I could hear myself draw huge breaths like a pair of bellows. Sweat trickled down my spine and temple like rivulets. The arm hadn’t let go of the soldier. It had raised the soldier up, in a superhuman feat of strength. By now, I had lost all control of my arm.


    With a sickening crunch, the head crumpled inwards like an empty box. Even if I couldn’t control my hand, but I still had tactile feedback from it. White and grey pulpy substance crushed under my palms, consistency like rotten cheese. Blood and brain matter spew forth like a torrent, drenching my face and the soldiers behind him. Shattered splinters of bone jutted from his decimated head, as the arm dropped the still twitching body.


    A moment of silence ensued. Then the screaming started.


    “It’s a demon! A fucking demon! Run!” the soldiers ran like terrified ants, helter skelter. Arin looked at me strangely, as if she couldn’t recognize the man standing in my place anymore. I felt something in my leg give out, as I held her gaze, accusing me. I knelt down on the ground that had soaked up blood. My breath fell in laborious gasps, as the shadows dissipated from my arm; turning it to normal. I had no more energy left to fight.


    “To have actually harbored a demon! These lowlives!” the Bishop came towards me, his arms outstretched with the palms facing towards me.  A golden half-dome encircled me, gradually tightening in area. “Warriors of the Kingdom! Hold fast and hit the demon from outside the holy barrier. Do not kill it!” He barked, tension clouding his voice for the first time.


    Spears and swords assaulted me like rain. Spears opened up holes in my limbs and torso, the shafts burying into the ground, pinning me. My entire body was on fire, blood gushing forth in torrents, as I lay writhing.


    “I..Is the demon captured now?”, Icchvarrion asked, ashen faced. He had backed away in a corner when I went on a rampage.


    “Yes. It is but a lowly demonspawn. It can’t hold against my barrier”, relied Bishop Andalus.


    “Then”, Icchvarrion came in front of me and gave a nasty smile, “Lowly demon, let me take everything”. He pointed at Arin and asked, “Isn’t this the girl you are engaged to? I asked everything about you”.


    “Don’t do…anything to her” I  growled, my nerves tensing.


    “I won’t. On the other hand, she will”, He seemed awfully pleased with something, “Arin…was it? How does it feel being fucked by a demon, eh? He is the reason for all this, you know?” He strode towards her. Then he bent down and grabbed her by the hair, “ I will torch this entire village and kill everyone, even your precious grandma, for harboring a demon”. He said with hate dripping from his voice as a malicious smile marred his lips, “ Only you can save them. Order the soldiers to kill the demon, in your own voice and you can save everyone. Except your fiancée of course”, he laughed.


    “I…I don’t”, Arin seemed to glance between me and grandma.


    “Ugh. Show grandma some love”, ordered Icchvarrion. A soldier immediately drove a spear down on grandma Wasslia’s leg. Arin screamed, her eyes went white. A soldier brought some burning wood, and approached towards grandma.”


    “NOOOOOOO! Arin screamed, her voice broke midway turning hoarse. “Kill him! Kill the demon! He tricked me into thinking he was a human! He is the reason we all are dying!” She screamed, sobs punctuating her voice.


    “ See Rigel, everyone thinks only of themselves”, Icchvarrion smiled in glee, “But then again, you are a demon, you know all about it”.


    I just looked at Arin. Her eyes accused me of having betrayed her. She clutched her body close, as if  disgusted that I had soiled her.


    Even you, Arin.

     

    I just planted my face on the blood soaked mud. I had resigned myself. I didn’t want to fight anymore.


    “But Lord Icchvarrion…I want the demon for research” spoke up Bishop Andalus.


    “Shut up. He will die”, Icchvarrion commanded.


    From the corner of my eyes, I could see a soldier pick up a executioners sword and proceed towards me.


    Chop off my head huh? Classic. I am gonna join the Starks(2)

     

    Arin wailed as the sword approached me. I could see Black light pouring out her body…it enveloped me in a storm like swirl, throwing off the soldiers. When I realized what was happening, I was already 10 feet up in air, with a forest under me. Unfamiliar scenery rushed up to meet me as I was falling towards the ground, in an entirely new place.


    What the…

     

     

     

     

    Meta References

     

    • Yes, you know the reference. The Terminator.
    • A Song of Ice and Fire reference. For the TV fans, Game of Thrones. A joke on how most of the Stark men end up losing their heads. Specifically, the scene where Ned Stark’s head was being chopped off by the Executioner Sword of House Stark, Ice.

    * This is a real life joke about Japan. All of you who have lived there must know the terror known as NHK subscription takers, am I right?

    For those who don’t know, NHK is the premier government operated TV channel in Japan. TV sets in Japan operate by capturing the air waves. Now, you need to pay a subscription fee to access NHK. However they have no way of knowing whether you watch NHK or not. So they would send people door to door to collect the subscription fees. Those people practically coerce, insist, bang on doors and stuff, all in all very irritating. They won’t even listen if you tell them you don’t watch it as they have no way of knowing if you watch or not. So…some foreigners, don’t look at me like that, like to pretend they don’t know Japanese at all. They do all the in your face Gaijin attitude that irritate the Japanese people to ward off the NHK guy.

    And, this is the joke Rigel makes. He wants to act like a total gaijin so that the lord lets him go on account of being a foreigner.

    Author note: Guys please support me on royalroad too! please post reviews on the fiction page so that I know what you people think about the work.  Honestly, this story needs reviews and ratings so that even more people can read it. Please help me! thanks in advance!

    Link to RR- HTSAS1o1 on Royalroad






  • Chapter 7: Mercenaries, Witch Trials and Whistles


    Chapter 7 : Mercenaries, Witch Trials and Whistles

    “Once upon a time, Iruvana, daughter of the god Uruth wanted to experience life as a mortal. She incarnated herself as a human and married the King Galavandar, the High King of the Ifnetian Seas. In time, she bore a son. However, the divine blood shewed itself by granting the boy strange magick. Upon seeing that, the King ordered Queen Iruvana to die by stringing her on the walls of the Capital City, on suspicion of having lain with a demon. Goddess Iruvana had locked her divine memories, making her unable to refute. As she lay hung on the wall, the entrails of her eviscerated son around her neck, her father, the Lord God Uruth came upon her disguised as a crow. He asked, “Grant me thy soul”. Iruvana, devoted to her King, said “Nay. Be content with my liver and depart”. The crow ate her liver and departed. On second day, he came again as a fox. Iruvana said the same, offering her tongue. On the third day, Uruth came again as a snake. Unable to endure the pain, Iruvana gave up her soul, regaining her divine form. For 40 days and 40 nights, storm raged on the Empire, at the end of which nothing but dust remained of The Capital and its King”

                                                                          - Gods and Mortals, Sage Kagashan, date unknown.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I hit the tree canopies before I could realize what was happening. My fall was broken by the numerous tree branches hitting me from every direction. Finally, I broke through the branches and whammed straight to the ground. The spears that were penetrating me had come off during the fall and now clanged down from the branches, like rain. The sword fell blade first and sunk into the earth inches from my crotch.


    Bloody fucking hell.

     

    Unbelievable fatigue assailed my body. My muscles were screaming for release. Blood drenched my whole torso. Torn meat and skin showed through the gaping holes in my body. Red drenched bone peeked out here and there. My eyes closed by themselves. I couldn’t keep my lids open even while trying. I was dying.




    A terrible sense of danger woke me up. It was as if alarm bells had started ringing in my head. I opened my eyes at once and saw…glowing small fireballs by the tens at a level of about 2 feet above the ground. As my eyes adjusted, I could discern the black masses behind the fires.  Kivala packs had surrounded me, probably drawn in by the smell of blood. They won’t let go of an injured, easy prey.


    Fuck.


    Sweat trickled down my temple. With a shiver I realized their fangs were glowing in moonlight.


    How do I fend them off in my injured sta…dafuq?

     

    My wounds had healed. Not that I was fully fit and fine but there were no wounds and the scars had healed up to, I discerned with a touch. I didn’t know what was happening, but this was an opportunity.


    I picked up the executioner sword that had fallen with me. It was to be used two handed but made in the length of a one-hand, so a very bad one to be stuck with. I would have liked a shield but… oh well, beggars can’t be choosers. The sword came off the ground when I pulled it out by the hilt. Damned thing didn’t have a tip… so no stabbing.


    I took a stance. I put both my hands on the hilt, looking at the green lights reflected from the Kivala eyes. Ages seem to pass as we stared at each other. Tension, thick and palpable like fog seemed to drift up between me and the monsters. My muscles started to hurt from the tensing when suddenly the lead Kivala jumped up, as if a certain milestone had passed unknown. The monster had pounced on me, his paws aimed at my shoulders. I swung up the executioner sword and slashed at it’s chest. The blade dipped in and out smoothly, trailing blood droplets and shreds of meat behind it. The Kivala had died before it hit the ground with a  dull thud.


    As if on cue, the packs of Kivalas closed in at once, howls reverberating the air around me. I slashed at the front runners, aiming for quick dodge and slashes. The sword cut off the front legs of one but went too wide for a quick slash recovery. A Kivala slammed into my stomach, throwing me  backwards.


    This bloody sword…I had forgotten this shit is top heavy to cut heads better. The balance is out of whack.

     

    By now, the monsters had surrounded me and came at me from both sides. I swung the  sword in a wide arc, taking advantage of the momentum of the heavy blade. For the first time in my life, I understood the idiom flying heads.  The sword was good at what it did, that is beheading. I slashed at the oncoming Kivalas in huge arcs, often hitting two at opposite ends, turning my  body in a screwing motion as if trying to hit a homerun with baseball bat.


    In spite of that, I was only a lone man and there were tens of Kivalas. I was accumulating more and more wounds from their fangs and claws. There were deep claw scores that tattered my clothes. One of my slashes got caught in the spilled intestines of a monster, while another bit me from behind. I let go of the handle as it had got royally snagged, and punched the biting one in its eyes.


    Now, I knew that my strength had increased a lot. Those wave like masses that had hit me every time I had killed something? Those were probably some sort of power that passed from the dead to me. Somewhat like exp from monsters in a game, but in this world, it somehow just increased my power.  But what did happen, sort of exceeded my expectations. The Kivala’s face caved in as my hands went wrist deep into its brain, blood spraying into my open mouth.


    By now, the number of Kivalas had decreased quite a lot. Only a few remained. Their eyes were losing their green glow as day slowly broke. I went near the dead Kivala and tore open its entrails to recover my sword. The Kivalas backed away, seemingly scared.


    I swung my blade in a wide circle, to disperse the blood droplets on it. The blade had made a constant whistling sound throughout the battle as it cut the air. That was caused by the 3 holes near its square tip.


    Back in Earth, the Executioner Sword was made to whistle like this to strike terror into the hearts of the Executed whenever the sword is swung. The high-pitched whistle was called the song of the blade.

     

    The Kivalas now flinched every time they heard the whistle. Finally, they turned and ran, bounding away in short leaps, tails between their legs. I heaved a sigh of relief, as I propped the sword on my shoulders and took stock of the situation. I panted heavily, leaning on the sword.



    By now, the day had fully broken. Soft light had broken through the mountains, illuminating the forest beneath, while still some parts remained under the umbra of the peaks. The ring lay like a black belt across the sky. And I totally didn’t know where I was.

     

    I had never come across this place during  subjugation quests with the guard corps. Moreover, there were no traces of any of the jungle trails that criss-crossed the forests surrounding the road to Haven. But, it wasn’t surprising, considering I had probably crossed Haven.


    I could recognize the familiar outline of the Ishkal mountains, from a bit different  angle than I am used to. By the direction of the sun, Shrafingshire would be North from here. And the distance was probably a lot, considering the distance from Ishkal by eye.


    What the fuck did actually happen?

     

    From what I gathered, Arin had probably unleashed some teleport type spell that dropped me here. What I was really worried about is the black light that had flowed out of Arin when the spell happened. It was too close to the black shadows flowing from my arm, I  thought unconsciously clutching my arm.


    I need to get to Arin. I need to keep them safe.

     

    My teeth gnashed together as I thought about what had happened. I took  deep breath to relax myself after the heated fight with the Kivalas. I used the blunt tip of the blade to break a few oversized Kivala canines. Those things could grow up to 20 cms. I used the canine as an improvised dagger to retrieve the Cores and cut myself some meat. Then, gathering some fallen brambles, I stacked them up to make a bonfire. My magic invocation was still shit, but the fire spell could create at least a few sparks to start a fire.


    I could think more clearly after eating. I needed more power. The Black arm thing was very unreliable and I didn’t even know what that was. I couldn’t even get to work it again. Even after a lot of tries, I was still here with a very human arm. I needed to find a way to fuse the monster cores with myself. However, I didn’t have access to a Church or Soulcaster to do it. Moreover, they didn’t do it much in the first place due to the huge risks and chances of failure involved. And I didn’t think I would be too welcome at the company of other after the whole demonspawn thing.


    What’s up with that, I wonder.

     

    I cut off some pelt from the Kivalas and made an improvised satchel out of it where I kept the Cores. As I understood it, they had a chanting to fuse the Cores with your soul, So I had some experiments to do. But for now, only one thing was left to be done.


    I got up and walked towards Shrafingshire, where lay my hearts desire.  


    I will reach you.

     



    I cleaved open the head of a poison Tirath. The monster was like a five foot long lizard, with a sharp spiny tail and red coloured tough skin. The thing had a one foot long neck that could rotate 360 degrees and then some. These suckers were fast, nasty and plain ugly. What made them dangerous however was they injected paralyzing venom with their fangs. However, the paralyzing venom did nothing to numb pain, so you had to suffer the horror of getting eaten alive while you felt everything in excruciating detail. Yep, so gravy.


    I swung the sword again and half of the face of a lizard went flying. These monsters had strong skin that routinely deflected blades after chopping. The only weak area was the head and the neck that had too many vertebrae to facilitate the 360 parlor trick. I collected the monster Cores and walked towards the river I had found.


    I kept looking at the cores. A bead of sweat flowed down my spine as I was reluctant to do what I had to. A heavy sigh escaped me as I got to crushing the Cores. Yeah. That’s what I had found out after a bit of tinkering. I crushed the cores into powder, then I diluted them with water and gulped them straight down. Just like knocking back a few beers, right?


    Only that this particular one is fucking excruciating. The first time I had tried this, I had fallen off the rock I was sitting on, clawing at my throat. The Core fragments had shredded and tore the insides of my throat, tearing everything on their way down. I had fainted in a pool of vomited blood. However I had noticed the results almost as soon as I had woken up. If I eat enough Cores, I didn’t need to rely on the black arm that Arin hated so much.


    I wonder what Arin thinks of me now. That look…she gave me when she saw my arm…I can’t stand it. Can’t stand it, can’t sand it! She thought I betrayed her! She thought I killed everyone on purpose….

    Do I even have the right to go save her? Does she even love me anymore?

     

    Do I even have the right to save myself?

     

    I gulped the potion again, my fingers curling up to brace for the incoming pain.


    Probably I didn’t.

     

     



    It has already been the third day that I was separated from Arin. Three fucking days! How long do I have to bloody wander here!  I had already killed hundreds of monsters in these forests and consumed their cores. The monsters now ran away whenever they heard the whistle of my blade. I had killed so many that even the sharpness of an executioner sword was gone; leaving me to use it as a bludgeoning weapon.


    The whistling didn’t stop. It won’t; until it has met the girl with river in her hair. I’d endure the pain of a hundred Tirath stings if that would have brought me closer to Arin. I had been wandering through this god forsaken forest for days, without a way out. I need to go to her!

     

    Suddenly, I heard shouts of human voice, and  growls of the Kivala accompanying it. I ran towards the voices, without paying heed to things around me. I burst into a clearing, with a dirt road through it. I had been so close to a road!

     

    A pack of Kivalas were attacking two covered carriages. The Carriages were pretty big, with canvas covering it’s topside. The 2 pairs of Serrads that were reined to the carriages had went wild, scared of the Kivalas. Five lightly armoured men were defending themselves against the onslaught of the monsters. Two of the men were already severely wounded and bleeding. The men desperately tried to fend off the Kivalas with no avail. The monsters pounced on them repeatedly. Some even attacked the defenseless Serrads,  jumping on their flanks and the long neck to bring them down. A well dressed man was shouting, “ Defend the goods, dammit! I don’t want to die here!”


    It all took just a few seconds to register. The men were having a hard time, defending the carriages, their wounded, the Serrads and the whining man. I swung my blunt sword a few times in full circle and jumped into the fray. The Kivalas immediately changed their targets towards me, wary of the high-pitched whistle. Their rabid eyes wavered as I gave a bestial howl, not unlike a Kivala itself.


    Then, my blade was swung, smashing the limbs of a Kivala, all four if it. I kept extending the same swing till it reached a Kivala that been scrambling to climb the roof of the carriage. That Kivala had the side of its head smashed in, brain leaking out of its other ear. The armoured people didn’t miss the chance and plunged their weapons into the Kivalas. Some fell, while the others turned tail and ran.


    The men hailed for me, I put up a hand to acknowledge their shouts. “Thank You so much, said one man, “You saved us there, kid”.


    “Its alright. Do you know the way to…” my head swam as I pitched forward, fatigue and relief finally claiming my body.


    “Oi...what happened?” The man caught me. I could hear whispers as my whole body relaxed, coming in contact with other people. Merciful sleep washed over me.





    “Finally awake, eh, executioner?” a warmly smiling middle aged man said when he saw me wake up.


    “Where...what happened?” I asked, still groggy from sleep. I was in a moving carriage, with a few other men. The inside was dark with boxes piled up on the sides. The carriage shook and jerked with every movement. I could hear the sounds of whipping.


    “ Black Rhissot mercenary group’s carriage, in service to Merchant Kattors from Sonozoa”, the man said, “You?”


    “Rigel”, I said in a pained voice, my muscles screaming from the intense shaking, “an unfortunate adventurer”


    The man laughed loudly. His hearty voice spreading into the forest. “A lie, boy. Adventurers do not carry those”, he pointed towards the executioner sword, now propped up against the side of my carriage, “particularly not the ones in service to the King”.


    Why was everyone in this world so smart…where are the stupid muscleheads from the Light Novels…

     

    “Secret mission for Kingdom. Attacked by bandits. Left for dead in forest” I delivered, punctuating my words due to the shaking.


    “That’s alright. I didn’t want to  question our saviour anyways. We men in this line of work do not question”, He said with a somber voice, “But boy, how long have you been in there? Your sword is all banged up”.



    “Longer than I would have liked, uncle” I said.


    “The name’s  Old Krag. Behind you is Dead Raf, the one that looks like he ate a frog is Drunk Bale, the one that is scowling is dead-eyed Drast, and the one lying there is Frothe”, the man introduced everyone.


    Everyone put up a hand as a sign of acknowledgement while leaning against the carriage.


    “Well. You saved us boy, and fainted immediately afterwards. We dressed your wounds and stuff. Want something to eat?” Krag asked.


    Well….I was hungry… I replied, “yes, something quick but first answer me something. Which way is Shrafingshire?”


    “We would go to Vessar village so Sharafingshire is on the way.  It would take like 4 days to reach”, he said while giving me some bread and dry meat.


    “What! Why so long?” I asked, impatience colouring my voice.


    “Because it is 500 cress far”,  Krag was surprised, “Didn’t you know?”







    I sat listening to old man Krag’s stories by the campfire while sharpening my blade with a whetstone. Oil dripped down the cold steel, obscuring the mark of the Kingdom, a winged dragon.

    It has been 3 days since I started traveling with the mercenary group. I traded the leftover Cores I had for new clothes and equipment. As a thanks for helping them, One-eyed Drast had fixed my banged up sword. I thought of stealing a Serrad and run, but I won’t reach Shrafingshire without proper directions or food for the beast. Just be okay, Arin, just be okay. I looked up at the sky, the moon hung overhead. The ring glowed at the edges. The same sky, but Arin and I were worlds apart. She might not even want me back. Still, just be okay. I am coming.

     

    “Oi Executioner! Come here, listen to this!”, called out Krag. They had started calling me executioner on account of my sword. It was irritating, but that’s just how mercs call each other.


    “Remember the Mounted Royal Army guards we had come across today? They told a funny tale. Come and listen. It came from Shrafingshire.” He hailed loudly.


    My hurt lurched. I went forwards with unsteady steps. “They said a demon was caught in that village. A huge demon with black skin and fiery eyes! Fiery Eyes they said haha! It killed a hundred people, ate their heads right with his mouth!” He shouted , half-drunk, “Moreover, there was also a witch with him! The witch fucked him and called him to kill everyone. At the end, the Lord’s son caught him and subdued him with brilliant swordplay! Hah! As if people can win against a demon…specially that brat...hahha!”


    “What happened then? Tell me old man!” I shouted, unable to keep composure.


    “The witch sent the demon away with her power…after that they caught her and are interrogating her under the Church. They say the witch will be put on trial a month from now…but why are you so excited boy?” he asked, sobering up, “Perhaps…your mission was regarding the demon?”


    I couldn’t talk…in fact, I could barely hear the old merc. A storm raged inside my heart. I couldn’t hear anything as blood rushed through my ears. Breath fell in ragged gasps as I shook the old man by his collar, “Take me there right now! Fucking take me there!”


    “Uruvath’s spear…boy. Calm down! We can’t, it’s too far…” he said in a panic.



    “Take me there no..”, I staggered as my words lost its coherence.



    “Sorry, bro. Even if your family was killed by a demon, you can’t go rushing there. Rest for now”, I could see Drast holding his poison blowpipe behind me. That’s not it. Drast

     

     

    Then, everything turned black.




    I was back in Shrafingshire. People milled about in the hundreds at the outskirts of the village. It was a festive atmosphere as food was being sold, toys being peddled. People wore their most colourful clothes and walked boisterously towards the same direction. I saw several people I knew, as I called to them, they didn’t respond. They didn’t even seem to hear me. I ran towards Illya and tried to turn him around but my hands just passed through his body. I looked at myself; I was translucent and incorporeal. I tried to touch everyone and everything, but my hands just passed through everything. No once could see me, or hear me. I was alone in a throng of humanity.





    A loud cheer echoed and I looked towards the commotion. A large metal X had been erected and a  person strapped to it. For some reason, my heart fell through my stomach when I saw the figure. I ran through people to reach it. It was…Arin. She was barely recognizable. Her limbs jutted out in strange angles, bones and joints out of alignment. White bones poked through her torn skin, red muscles hanging from her naked body. There were holes dripping with blood on her, with severe burn marks on her white skin. The bastards had branded her with holy symbols.


    Her beautiful hair had been torn and vandalized. Claw marks gouged across her body, with deep incisions on her breasts, It was as if someone has tried to chop off her body parts and dropped her into a grinder. Long, savage whiplashes had cut open her body, splitting the girl open side to side. Her limbs had been nailed to the metal X.


    A….Arin! AAAAAAAAAAH! I wailed like a mutilated beast. My legs folded under me, as my hands clawed towards her. I couldn’t breathe, I gulped for air like a beached whale as I sobbed and cried. I crawled towards her, unable to stand. My voice, which had been shouting all the while in an anguished cry had turned hoarse, choked up. Unceasing tears had entered my throat, making me unable to breathe. I looked around, for help.


    People circled her from a distance and jeered at her, laughed at her. They made fun of her tortured body, her nakedness. Men and women who had known her since birth; people who had laughed and cried with her till few days ago spat at her with manic glee. They picked up stones and threw at her vulnerable broken body. Rocks flew through the air, hitting the poor girl. Stones ravaged her already mangled body, cutting open new wounds on her. I ran towards the people, to stop them from throwing. I pleaded, I cried, I threatened but they didn’t listen. My arms went through them, my futile attempts did nothing to stop the hail of stones. I clambered up the X, to shield her from the stones. The projectiles flew straight through my body, hitting her.





    I tried to talk to Arin, but she didn’t respond. She was already half-dead. Each time  stone hit her, she would groan and writhe, yet no one stopped. The place was drowning with voices pouring searing contempt at her.





    “Die, you witch! You dare call upon a demon!”

    “Die like the whore you are, opening your legs for a demon!”

    “Witches will die! All hail Great God Talaviel!”

    “just like her parents…”

    “You liked a demon cock? Should have asked us if you were so horny you whore!”

    “Praise be Talaviel! With your death we will be cleansed!”

    “Die, demon’s fucktoy!”

    “Finally, you show your true colours, daughter of the betrayers!”





    I was aghast at how people who called her their daughter once were hurting her, injuring her with their hate. The people had started chanting the grace of gods while they mercilessly killed a defenseless girl. I roared with anguish, with pain but what came out was a whimper. No one listened. No one wanted to.





    The Bishop Andalus strode forward, upholding a huge piece of glass. He proclaimed with a regal voice, “Now, let the great sun god, Azrakh cleanse this girl’s filth. May she be born anew in fire and join with the father of all. Praise be to Azulai!” With a violent start, I realized what the glass was. It was a piece of convex glass. He held up the glass to the sunlight and focused it on the huge pile of wood and bramble piled under the X. In a few moments, the wood began to smoke and burn.





    In the same bonfire the girl had danced a few nights ago, she burned.





    When the flames licked her feet, Arin screamed. I screamed with her too…or maybe the people screamed in glee. The girl pleaded people to  save her, the gods to release her from her agony. No one listened. When the flames had reached her torso, she had lost all energy to shout. Smell of burning flesh and hair singed my nose. There were armed guards, all around the pyre, condemning the girl, pissing on the flames, wagging their manhoods at her. No one saved her.





    My tears had stopped falling . The heat from the blazes evaporated my tears before they could form…or I had no more. Suddenly, Arin looked up, straight at me as if she could see me. Her lips moved, and though no sound came out, I could read what she said, “I love you, Rigel”.




    I woke up, screaming. I was still inside the carriage but I knew that what I had seen was real, it had happened already. I couldn’t understand what I was seeing around me, barely recognizing the mercenaries I had been traveling with look at me with panic. Tears stained my face, while my heart still thumped like a drum.




    “Which way is Shrafingshire?”, I was surprised at how hysterical my voice sounded.



    “S…straight forward along the road we are taking, a day and a half far” someone replied haltingly.




    I picked up the executioner sword and jumped from the front of the carriage straight onto the back of a Serrad pulling it.


    “Wha…what are you doing?”, Krag spoke in panic.


    “Something I would regret not doing till I die”,  I replied in a hoarse voice as I cut the reins of the Serrad and kicking it mercilessly to run forward, towards the village of Sharafingshire.


  •  Chapter 8: Requiems, Sacrifices and Deaths


    Chapter 8 : Requiems, Sacrifices and Deaths

    “ There are no heroes, little one. With each swing of the sword, two people die, on each end. The only difference between a hero and villain is how the people worship them to be. Never pick up a sword, little one, unless you are prepared to be both the hero and the villain, the slayer and the slayed”

    - Old Kruruvath saying, Tales of the Wild, Silax Gorosh,1125 A.C


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    I had ridden for a full day without stopping. By the time I neared Shrafingshire, the Serrad had grown ragged. Serrads were like Velociraptors that were a little smaller than horses. They generally had deep green backs with bellies the colour of rotten hay. Even though they were meat eaters, they were very tame and obedient and were used to pull carriages due to their strength and speed.


    Night had already fallen when the Serrad finally broke it’s leg. I was catapulted violently forward when it happened, smashing me into the ground. The Serrad was frothing at the mouth and its eyes were clouding with blood. The beast had done its work well, bringing me almost to the village. I wish I could do something for such a loyal steed but right now, I could do nothing. Rather than letting it suffer, I soothed it by cradling it and closing its eyes. Then I drew a dagger that I had got from the mercs across its neck. The beast died twitching as blood gurgled out of its slashed throat.

    May you be reincarnated as an overindulged otaku in our world, my friend. I shivered at the unpleasant sensation of the invisible wave hitting me every time I killed something.




    I skirted around the village in the soft moonlight. There was eerie silence through the village, permeating its very air. I walked through the oft visited roads to where I had seen the dream. There lay the X, with something barely recognizable nailed to it. Arin had turned into a black, charred mass. Apparently, they had decided to finish the trial quick and spread false information about its deadline to prevent demons from rescuing her.


    Even though I had prepared myself for this scene ever since I ran with the Serrad, I still couldn’t bear it. I broke down in choked sobs and animal groans. However, things were needed to be done. There was no one near the body. A wooden sign planted near the site explained why.



    “By the Order of the Church, no one is allowed to approach the site of the Witch Trial for 7 days and 7 nights. The body would be left to the natural elements for spiritual cleansing and the punishment for colluding with the demons for all the world to see. At the end of 7 nights, the public are free to cut parts of the Witch’s body and take them as wards against evil. Praise be to Talaviel”, said the sign.


    I clambered up the X and cut Arin down. Crows had pecked out her eyes and tongue. Most of her body had charred black, carbonized. They hadn’t given her peace even after she had died; driving a wooden stake through her chest. When I tried to carry her, her poor body broke down into pieces, ash and dust. I couldn’t even hold her for one last time. The bastards had taken even that from me.



    I gathered her body parts and ashes onto the jacket I had bought from the mercenaries. Then balling it up, I made an impromptu pouch to carry her. I knew what I wanted to do. I carried her to the secret place we had made love in, beside the river.



    Today too, the moon was high up in the sky, its soft light playing games of shadows with the forest. Today too, the Sellanerna flowers bloomed in the hundreds, soaking up the moonlight. Today was exactly the same as that day, only the girl wasn’t alive. I burnt the rest of her body in a small pyre I made from wood and oil I had gathered on my way here. When her whole body was turning into ashes, I gathered all the Sellanernas on the bank. After that…I scattered her ashes in the river she loved so much.



    “Flow with the river, Arin. Flow till you reach the seas where your parents lie. Flow till you get your hearts desire”, I heard myself say in choking sobs. I floated the Sellanernas in the river after her. Hundreds of flowers followed the girl in her last journey, as if they were guiding her to the seas.



    The girl who had river in her hair and the seas in her dreams…finally merged with the river.



    I cannot follow you yet, my Sylvanna. I still have work to do. Wait for me at the seas, I will follow you soon enough.

     

     

    “There you are, you bastard”, I heard a half-cry behind me. I turned around an saw Karro inching towards me with a naked sword. He looked…ghastly. Unkempt hair fell over his face in lanks, his beard overgrown and slovenly. The clothes were tattered and covered with filth. Only his eyes shone deep red in the moonlight.



    “Karro…why didn’t you stop them?” I asked, unable to keep my fury.


    “Stop them from w

    hat? It is you who caused this! You are the reason she is dead!” He shouted. He came forward, swinging his sword at me, “You filthy demon seduced her and made her your servant! She died because of You ! You! You!”



    I tried to reason, “I did no…”, “Shut up you mongrel. I knew she had chosen you when she had wore Sellanerna in the festival. But you just used her for your depravity, you demonspawn!”, Karro cut me off, not wanting to hear.



    I swung my sword to block his blade. We exchanged furious blows. Oddly enough, Karro had grown much stronger than I had last seen him. Maybe too strong. “ Every night I had dreams. Dreams that I knew to be true! Do you know what they did to Arin? They maimed her! Burned her!”, he couldn’t speak without sobbing, “They raped her day and night, till she forgot she was human! When the lord was done with her, the guards had their share and fucked her like a pig!”


    With every word he said, I could feel my head swim. My body grew hot due to anger, my fingers tightened their grips  on the blade. “All because of you! Why couldn’t you keep your claws off her, fucking filth!”, Karro was totally manic now, frothing at the mouth, “I saw her being tortured every night in my dreams, I waited outside the gates but was beaten by the guards…all I wanted was for her to be happy…but you ruined it all!! She was killed like an animal!”



    By now, my breath came in rugged gasps, as my knuckled tightened enough to their breaking point. I couldn’t hear anymore, but I had to. Karro was slowly overpowering me now, his blade aflame at this point.



    “I asked for power to kill you, to make you suffer like she did…and he gave it. HAHHAHA, now I will kill you, maim you, torture you fucker! You will die like the shit you are! HAHAH I have power to kill a demon now!”, Karro had an insane look on his face, his facial expression twisted beyond recognition. A manic light played in his red tinged eyes. He took a deep breath and spat out fire.



    Yep. Spat out fire, I repeat. He didn’t pay heed that it burned his own mouth and his lips but he spat out fire to kill me. His fist went aflame, as it punched and cornered me. I had no chance of winning, now that he could use higher level magic.



    “Die, bitch!”, He laughed like a deranged person, paying no heed to his burning hands. Smells of burning meat came from him, but he didn’t seem to be in pain.



    It has come to this. I will kill the one responsible. “Karro, I am sorry but I can’t let you win”, I knew what I had to do, I had known this for a while now.



    Karro’s eyes went wide when he heard me. He backed off and started chanting an unfamiliar spell. Too late I thought as I completed my invocation in my mind.



    The power that clads the powerless in their journey. The power that rises from corruption. The power that sullies the sullied, come forth as I offer you my sacrifice; Hand of the betrayer.

     

     

    Shadows swirled up my left arm and covered it in jet black armor like skin, the fingers sharpening into tough claws. The freezing sensation was worse than the last time, threatening me to lose consciousness out of pain. However, this time, the hand was in my control. I closed the gap between me and Karro, and before he could complete his chant, I thrust my black hand deep within his chest.


    Bones crunched as my hands pierced him. Karro spurted blood out of his mouth as his flames died down. He flailed  weakly as he was staked by my arm. His lifeblood dripped and flowed down my arm, as if soaking it up. I held his heart in my hands as I squeezed it, the sharp claws perforating the drumming heart and finally bursting it. Red blood flew everywhere inside the hest cavity. It felt like squeezing a lemon.



    I had given my first sacrifice for power, the life of my best friend.



    I gently laid Karro’s body down. After a while, spontaneous white flames erupted from his body and claimed it in few seconds, as if it was paper. However, my suspicions were confirmed. The same wave that hits me after I kill monster hit me after I killed Karro, much more stronger.




    I laid down, leaning against a boulder. I needed answers, and for that I needed sleep.




    Sure enough, I was where I wanted to be. Rather, who I wanted to be with. The landscape had turned even more violent. There were X poles everywhere, littering the red earth as far as the eyes could see. A cloudless, angry red sky spread through the horizon where four black moons hung. Countless hands  rose up from the ground, clawing the earth around them, as if trying to rise out of a grave. Fire burned over streams of bright red blood.

    Yep, my dreamscape alright. So inviting.

     

     

    And a few feet from me stood who I wanted to see, Astria. This time, she had worn a torn black gown that billowed behind her.



    “Nice clothes”, I offered, “Now, answers”.



    She knew what I was talking about. Astria sighed and spoke, “Nice to see you too, Rigel.” I scowled at her which just made her assume a somber expression, “I assume you are asking about why they called you a demon and about the…girl?”



    “Yes”, I replied.



    “Origin of all magic is the same, the Magic of Ancients. It is the power of all immortal beings. Gods and Demons are not so different from each other; only which side of the fence you are looking from”. She took a deep breath, “The current magic used by the Aesvegr, the younger races are degraded forms of the ancient magic, weak and crude. From that perspective, the magic of gods and demons are not that different. You didn’t have any magic in your previous world, so never wondered how you could use it now? When you contracted with Zain, a magic circuit was inscribed on your body”.



    Astria came forward and took my left hand, tapping it with her fingers. The black pattern from before resurfaced, however this time, it wasn’t freezing. “This, Rigel, is the circuit that lets you manipulate Ancient Magic; the magic of gods and demons.”



    “I can understand that you gave me some unusable tools, but why was Arin able to use it!”, I shouted, unable to control my anger.



    “Life and death, creation and destruction, is the strongest of all magics. Even immortals are not exempt from it. You had sex with a woman, Rigel. The younger races have forgotten about the power of the most ancient of all  magics. The act of sex is the birth of new life; the crux of life magic itself. It holds unbelievable power; the power used by every race since the dawn of time.”




    Astria continued after a pause, “When you spilled your seed inside her, it invoked the life magic; the sharing of emotions and your very being with each other. It set up a conduit, allowing you two to exchange each other’s powers. However, she was a human who didn’t posses any magic, hence you got nothing, while she got access to the Ancient Magic inside of you. That is why, she was able to invoke the spell to teleport you and heal you, in accordance to her intense desire to save you.”



    Fucking gods and their machinations! What the actual fuck!

     

     

    “Doesn’t that mean every time someone fucks someone, they will get magics?”, I asked, anger making my voice quaver. My knuckles were clenched beside me.




    “No. The degraded magic of the younger races cannot do that; they have forgotten the importance of life magic. However, you possess the circuit of Elder Races, making you able to do that” She replied in a serious tone.



    “So you mean the Arin died because I made love to her?”, I couldn’t keep the despair clouding my voice, the sounds came in half-sobs.



    “Yes Rigel. She died because of you. Her blood is on your hands. You doomed her by loving her and she suffered because she loved you. You are not alone, immortals have descended throughout the ages in the mortal realm and lain with mortals…to invoke the magic”, Astria delivered in a cruel tone, devoid of any mercy.



    This broke me. A blade materialized in my hands while I throttled Astria. Then I plunged the blade in her heart. Astria did not stop me. She caressed the blade with her fingers and with the other hand, touched my face, propping up my face towards her.



    “This is just a dreamscape. If you really want to kill me, grow powerful and then do it. That is the only way to kill us, the gods you hate”, she said in a soft murmur, looking straight into my eyes as I sobbed like a child, tears dripping down my face.



    She turned to leave, the blade dropping out of her chest in its own accord. While she was walking away, she turned towards me and said, “Know this, the girl really loved you. Magic from the Exchange cannot be used by a human unless she really gave her everything to you; heart, body and soul”.



    I crawled up in a fetal position and sobbed, my breaths choking and mangled. I lay under the red skies and in a land of a thousand crosses, where no one could hear my silent screams for all eternity.






    I woke up after sometime. The discussion with Astria weighed heavily in my mind. It was as if I condemned Arin to die myself. I had taken the world lightly, not learning its inner workings. I felt hollow enough to die, but I had work to do. Something that Karro said interested me. He kept talking about gaining powers and that someone had told him to kill me. His dreams of Arin were also probably the work of this entity, seeing how I too had got visions. Moreover his remains vanished without a trace. Yes, the gods were involved.

     

     

    I stood up and wore the jacket I had carried Arin’s remains in. The thing still had some of her ashes stuck to the inside. I picked up my bloodied sword and swung it to disperse the blood droplets.



    Tonight, gods and men needed to die.








    The Church of Talaviel was situated not far from the village. When I reached there, I saw a few guards in front of  it. The Bishop was in there. I walked up to the guards.



    “Who goes there!”, a guard challenged me, pointing his pike. I didn’t give the guard a reply. He didn’t deserve one. I recognized that face for being one of the soldiers who had disgraced Arin in her pyre. I swung the blade with both hands aiming at his torso. He tried to guard using his pike, but the thing broke in half, the sword continued its slash and cut the man in half from the waist. The top half toppled forward while the bottom shot backward towards the second  guard. Blood and intestines dangled forth the severed torso. The bottom half hit the approaching guard, disrupting his balance. I strode forward and slammed the blunt tip of the weapon down on his face, smashing it in. A violent sound of crunching metal reported his death.



    The last two guards were shocked at the spectacle. The stood dumfounded, shivering in fright. The moonlight was too weak to let me see their expression but I doubt it spoke of bravery. I swung my sword to make it whistle, and the guards ran away, screaming. I strode forward towards the church, slamming it open with a kick.



    “What is this ungodly commotion!”, the bishop Andalus stood in front of the altar, his face indignant. His face changed colour as he saw me, bloody and smeared with brain matter. “Gua...guards!” He shouted, scrambling backwards behind the altar of his god.



    “They are dead, bishop”, I was surprised at how cold my voice sounded.



    “Wha… Talaviel wont stand for this affront, lowly demon!”, he screamed in fright, throwing a large fireball at me from behind the altar.



    I raised the large shield I had picked up from the equipment the guards threw away when they ran in fear. Heated flames washed over me, singing my hair and coat.



    “Talaviel won’t stand at all, priest”, I chimed in, “When I am done with him”.



    After the fire had subsided, I ran forward and swung the sword overhanded at the altar, breaking it into two. The bishop rolled to the side, escaping my blow.



    Tch. But this way, it will be more interesting.

     

     

    Immediately, a golden barrier like the one he had used that day  enclosed me, sealing me in. The barrier didn’t budge when I hit it with the sword. A sharp metallic sound rang out when I hit it again and again.



    “Ha..hah..hahah! A lowly scum like you can’t break a barrier made by me!”, he had regained some of his composure.



    Shadows flowed from my arm and transformed it into the black clawed forelimb. Unlike earlier, I could freely control it now. I pushed at the barrier with the black left arm, dragging the claws across it. It stung like hell.



    This is nothing compared to how Arin must have felt when she burnt.

     

     

    With the sound of breaking glass, the barrier shattered.  Andalus’ face went ashen when he saw his precious barrier break. I jumped forward, driving the top end of the sword into his chest. The blade didn’t go through as it was blunt, but it broke a few ribs, caving it inwards. He tried to crawl away, dragging his white robed fat body. I let him go.



    He dragged himself to the far corner of the Church, and started chanting. I could feel power concentrate from his words, so I used the Black hand to shield myself. But…nothing came.



    Andalus gave a cry of anguish, coughing up blood, “Why hast thou forsaken me…Talaviel!”



    I approached him with a wry smile on my lips, “The gods never were on anyone’s side, priest”.



    I stepped on his legs as he was trying to get away and cut it off at the ankles. Bright red blood flowed like a river from his cut stumps as he wailed like a gutted pig.



    “AAaaaaAaaa..why is this happening!”, he wailed, “Spare me! Spare me!”, he cried in deep anguish. His eyes had gone white in fear, as he clutched at the ground.


    “Did you spare Arin when she begged for mercy, priest?”, I asked him, stooping to his eye level as the thousands of candles burning in the hall reflected our shadows on the walls. Without waiting for his answer, I separated his arms from his body.



    The bishop sobbed and begged. He cried, pleaded for mercy. He threatened, just like how I had tried to when they were burning my Arin. “The gods wont stand for this! They will kill you!”, he screamed between sobs and tears.



    “Then let me send you off with your god”, I said as my lips curled up in feral glee. I picked up the hymn book that he used to preach to the people about his god. It was a leather bound monstrosity, gaudily decorated with gold and silver. I smashed the book on his face. His teeth caved in, bloody and broken from the blow. I kept hitting him with his god’s words till his head became nothing more than a bloody pulp, deformed and crushed. I didn’t stop even after he died, spewing grey matter all over my face.


    Then I dragged his body, devoid of its limbs under the picture of his god, Talaviel. I swiped a tri-headed candelabra that was as tall as me. With a monstrous throw from my black arm, I threw his body upwards while at the same time, grabbing the candelabra and stabbing him through the chest with it. He hung from the wall, a few feet above the ground, the candelabra piercing him like a massive trident. I staked him just like he had staked her.


    The bishop hung dead pinned on the picture of his god, as his blood dripped on the alter from where he preached about his words.


    His dripping blood reddened the pages of his god’s teaching.



    I washed my face with the holy water kept at the entrance in a basin.  Couldn’t go to a noble’s house with such a dirty face, could I?

     

     




    Lord Icchvarion had a lavish house. Golden light spilled from the windows into the garden outside. The house was pretty quiet, given his penchant for regular balls and parties. Maybe the guy was taking rest after systematically raping and killing a girl? The dozen odd guards standing outside the mansion had already lost their limbs or heads, sometimes both. My clothes now smelt of iron from the blood of people and ashes of Arin. I savagely pulled at the sword that had gotten entangled in the intestines of the last guard while he twitched feebly staked o my sword. I jerked the blade to dislodge the dead guy. The few more guards inside the mansion didn’t prove to be much difficult. The only thing that I was having problem with was the invisible wave that jarred me whenever I killed a person. The sensation was greater than killing a monster.



    “Good Evening, Lord Icchvarion. I hope you are in good health”, I said while I strode into his room with my best smile. Just because I was there to torture a person didn’t mean I should forget my manners, does it?

     

     

    “Th…the..demon is here!”, he screamed hysterically. Another round of frantic guard calling ensued. These guys stupid? How would I be here if I hadn’t already met them? Surprisingly enough, two guards strode forward from corners of the room.



    I didn’t even bother with the sword. I just punched the guy in the face with my black arm before holding his head in a death grip. He screamed as I kept crushing his head. His eyes grew clouded with blood discharge as I pummeled the other guy with my free hand. Icchvarrion just wept in a corner, unable to move. Finally unable to hold the pressure, the guard’s head burst with spraying blood and brain matter. I dropped the body and approached Icchvarrion.



    “Sp..spare me..I will give you gold! Lots and lots of treasures…just let me go!”, he wept.



    I was growing tired of the spare me  charades. I didn’t even bother replying. I used a mace picked up from the dead guard to smash his limbs. His fingers grew distorted as the joints broke with cracking sounds. The proud lord wailed as his limbs grew bloody and shattered. Bones jutted out from his broken hand, at impossible angles. These were the hands he tortured Arin with, weren’t they?

     

     

    I could hear myself laugh with a manic glee. When his limbs had grown more twisted than a wire puzzle, I chopped them off with the sword. Each time my sword sung its song of whistles, the man flinched and begged me to kill him. He started bleeding out from the stumps, the puddle of blood grew under my feet. I left the guy and went to his fireplace where logs were burning. I picked up a  poker that was glowing red hot.



    When I came back, I saw him trying to crawl towards the door. He left trails of blood as he tied to wriggle and writhe. He wasn’t very successful as his limbs were absent. I dragged the guy back and cauterized his wounds with the hot poker to prevent him dying of bloodloss. He whimpered every time the red hot poker seared his stumps.



    I got tired after all the fighting and torturing. Revenge is hard work, y’know? I sat down on a plush chair while looking at the limbless lord. I poured myself some of his fine wine. Damn. That really was very fine.

     

    “…th..the kingdom will find you! My fa..father will burn you on a stake you filthy demon!”, he still had the energy to whimper curses at me.



    “You will be killed like the girl! Like a dog! Ahahha!”, he seemed to have lost his marbles by this point. But what he just said…



    I noticed the guard I had pummeled with my normal right arm still writhing on the floor. I called him, “Oi old man! Do you want to live?”. He whimpered and flinched when he heard me. “Old man!”, this time I said in a loud voice.



    “Ye..yes please!”, the guard croaked while he pissed his pants. Pungent smell wafted through he room.



    “Then come over here and cut off this guy’s dick”, I ordered in a cool voice.



    “Yo…young masters!..no no…”, he whined an objection. I swung my blade, and it whistled. The whistling gave him shivers. He crawled over to the prone body of Icchvarrion.



    “No..no! anything but that! Please!”, Icchvarrion went mad, apparently understanding what was going on.



    “Didn’t Arin plead like this too, eh Icchavarrion?”, I was surprised at how ugly my voice sounded.



    “Stop! I will gi…give you everything in my vault…please don’t cu…cut it off!”, he screamed desperately.



    “Oh? Where is the vault?”, I asked. Icchavarrion showed me a picture on the wall. Sure enough, there was a safe in the hole in the wall under the picture. Nice.

     

     

    “Old man, please castrate him from the roots”, I ordered while I went to loot the vault in the next room. I could hear whimper and screams from behind me. He talks a lot, this is annoying me.

    “Stuff it down his throat after you are done”, I told the guard, “I don’t want to hear his voice anymore”. The guard looked at me as if I was deranged or some demon. Hah! gotta live up to my reputation, ain’t it?

     

    The vault had a large amount of gold coins and high powered magic stones. Magic stones were crystals of highly condensed form of monster cores or pure magic supplied by a caster. I found another interesting thing in the vault. A scaled leather pouch that seemed to have no end. Like those bags with unlimited carrying capacities you see in RPG games. I swiped it and put everything in it. It didn’t have much weight.



    When I was turning back, I saw something deep within the vault, hidden. A bastard sword with a deep blue guard and handle, inlaid with a few magic gems. The sword looked sharp enough to cut even air. I couldn’t recognize the metal the blade was made of. For some reason, I could read the inscription on the blade, written in an unfamiliar language. It said the name of the blade, Thirst. Needless to say, I pocketed it.



    When I was returning, I saw something shine at one corner of the room. When I went to check it out, I saw it was the Kivala necklace that I had given Arin. It was smeared with blood. I didn’t want to imagine what it was used for. I picked it up.



    The lord was still breathing after getting his manhood cut and stuffed down his own throat. This is one tough bastard. I decided to end the farce. I swung my executioner sword, taking his head. His head rolled away towards the corner like a spinning top, if a spinning top could have a contorted expression.


    “Leave old man, this mansion won’t be safe anymore”, I told the guard who I had promised to let live. I didn’t mind of he couldn’t move and died here though. He scampered and crawled towards the exit door.



    I opened Lord Icchvarrions liquor cabinet. Wines and other otherwordly liquors were displayed rows upon rows in expensive looking decanters. I took one and sipped. The rest I carried back. I unstoppered the decanters and doused Icchvarrion’s body with the high grade alcohol. Then I lighted it on fire. I didn’t forget to light the dude’s silk curtains and clothes either. The guy had an obscene amount of silk curtains.

     

     

    Smells of burning meat and hair were wafting out when I came out of the mansion. The lord’s mansion was on fire in a few moments. I walked out of the compound when I saw a tall man leaning against the outside walls. He had a white toga wrapped around him, with golden edges.



    I swung my blade and made it whistle, but then put it down.



    “Prudent choice”, the figure said.


    “Well, I am not stupid enough to try fight a god”, I said with a guarded expression. Yes, the guy gave off the same feeling of oppression and cold detachment as Zain and Astria.



    “I am Talaviel, the god of righteousness and justice”, he declared with a lofty voice, “and you just killed my priest”.



    “Are you here for revenge?”, I asked.



    “No, to thank you. That priest was corrupt and drunk on power. It is well that he who strayed far from the path has been killed”, Talaviel replied.



    “Why didn’t you stop him yourself?”, I asked.



    “Do you think gods have much choice in who worships them? Besides, we can’t directly interfere in affairs of the mortals in this world. My priests are chosen by the clergy, not me”, Talaviel said in a somewhat heavy tone.



    “You interfered in the fight, didn’t you?”, I asked to confirm my suspicions.



    “Gods cannot interfere, unless his worshipper asks for a wish, tapping into the god’s power. I couldn’t stop him directly, so when he asked for a spell bestowed by me, I refused him”, a small smile flashed across his well featured face, “Otherwise you would have been a smoking crater by now”



    “Don’t expect to get thanked, Talaviel”, I said. Shit, do I have to fight this guy now?

     

     

    He seemed to have been expecting my reply. “However, mortalkin, no matter how corrupt the priest, he was mine. By killing him, you have made an enemy of the Holy Order of Talaviel and me. Expect no mercy, mortal.” A cold chill ran down my spine. My hands slick with blood, started to sweat.


    A loud crash sounded behind me and I turned to look. When I turned back, Talaviel was gone. I resumed walking down my path, in the light of the burning mansion.





    The moon was high in the sky, the ring glowed at its edges. Under it, a man walked with his blade. He swung the blade as he walked, as if that was a game. Whistles came from them, but no one knows if it was the man or his blade.


    Author note: Guys please support me on royalroad too! please post reviews on the fiction page so that I know what you people think about the work.  Honestly, this story needs reviews and ratings so that even more people can read it. Please help me! thanks in advance!

    Link to RR- HTSAS1o1 on Royalroad


  • Guys and girls let me know how you find the story!!
  • edited May 2017
    Weren't you previously on royal road?
    P.S. I suck at dark fantasy kind of setting.
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