Author Topic: Fleabane -- Origin of Flea, the Sky Djinni  (Read 5658 times)

tushantin

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Re: Fleabane -- Origin of Flea, the Sky Djinni
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2013, 08:39:51 pm »
"The fires will keep raging for ever more. Then let it singe itself; burned shall it be away some day. Though fire breeds more fire, there will come a time where two fires shall devour each other, leaving nothing but ashes in their wake."


Chapter 6 -- The Lion's Dream

Several years ago, Falco de Faye had conquered more than he ever desired. And his conquest fueled yet more desires, and at a very young age -- and barely yet a man -- he claimed his rightful title from He who cherished him more than the very stars in the sky.

"Rise, Lord De Faye," said the King of Guardia, still alive and well, as he lifted sword off the bowing tradesman's shoulder.

Young Falco rose with a bright smile upon his face, all the while a another young boy -- the Prince himself -- frowned with envy.

The King announced: "Today you have proven to be the youngest Baron our Kingdom has known. You have excelled in mathematics, religion, politics, trades and swordsmanship beyond any scholar or warrior, and have also shown potency in owning and governing lands. This very day marks you as Guardia's precious Cherub, the Morning Star!"

"I am honored, your highness," Falco spoke with his infallible silver tongue. "I will do as much good for the people as I can."

"Leave that matter to me," the King advised. "These greedy wolves merely seek to exploit a noble one way or another. You must not show your weakness, for your destiny awaits in the stars."

But the Prince's irritation could not hold his patience:

"Father, how does he get to be your precious Cherub and not me? He will go so far as to steal what he can't have!"

The King laughed heartily. "My son, this is why he is special. He shall make a great change one day."

Falco de Faye had a heart in grey, trapped in a storm of conflict though his smile never faded. The Lord's precious Cherub had a heart of steel. To live for thyself, to love thyself. He sought his cheer in every penny he earned. Yet one woman stole his heart; though the countless arguments they've had, the many names they've called each other, that woman's smile was worth more than anything gold could offer.

And just when he thought that "Love" might be the missing ingredient to his empty soul, he wasn't satisfied just yet. There seemed to be something that his aching existence yearned to have himself complete. The only bliss was a moment's light into the sun, but when it was gone, he felt he simply.... did not exist.

The carriage sped towards the Northern Zenan, as the coming of the full moon wordlessly announced the celebration of new King's coming at Guardia. Wolves in the path quickly gave way to the merciless momentum of the strange machines strapped on horses.

Upon that carriage, besides the driver, Nobu and another worker sat behind, looking into the wilderness with great alertness that was almost inhuman in nature. Within the closed doors of the carriage itself sat Falco and Matilda, seated across from one another, while it rocked back and forth. But there was also a third person in there, and perhaps a very important one, according to Matilda -- maybe even more important than Falco himself.

"I beg your opinion, my dear love," Falco sat disappointedly, his chin resting on his palm, "as to why, oh why, we must bring this uncouth little urchin with us to the ceremony?"

Milly, the orphaned child, looked questioningly at Matilda, as if to ask what "uncouth" and "urchin" meant.

"Don't call her that!" Matilda snapped, ruffling the child's hair. "She has neither seen a royal ceremony before, nor has seen the King from up close. It was her innocent wish, you see."

"So you hours upon hours just to bathe her, and prepare her for this," Falco continued, then smiled at his beloved wife, adoring her eyes. "I really admire how caring you are at heart, though seemingly feisty in attitude."

"Someone need to be," Matilda scoffed sarcastically, opening the fan that Falco gifted her with to let Milly play.

"But she isn't even your child," Falco pointed.

"She might as well be," Matilda raised her eyebrows.

Falco had the urge to have the last word, but dropped the topic, knowing her response to be along the lines of the urban civilization's many shortcomings. Falco's own views seldom matched his wife's, and he hardly believed that his world could ever be better off without all the advancements that Guardia's progressive nature brought about. But he did sympathize with her feelings, and admired the strength of her love -- for her heart was so gentle and big that it became a home to a child with no place to go and to a selfish man who claimed his right to every place he saw.

Then Falco looked at the smiling child, who seemed to be quite fascinated with her new clean-and-civilized clothes and the passing view beyond the carriage, and wondered what Matilda in this young lass. Was it sheer innocence? Was she special somehow? Was it a mother's yearning to care for a defenseless creature? He remembered how he once found her -- clinging onto his wife's clothes right after their marriage, the strange starving girl abandoned by the world begged for some food. When no one bothered to feed this innocent soul a morsel, Matilda did, and like an angel too. Falco himself was rarely fond of babysitting such children, but for Matilda's sake he always found himself tolerating.

And yet, he could barely understand why.

As they passed Dorino, they both looked out a window to the sound of mournful wailing, a firelit glow spreading over their faces. Across a river and towards the settlements, armored men that seemed like Guardian knights dragged away men out of their houses near the edge of town. Elders and women screamed, but very few dared to interfere. The noises terrified poor Milly.

"It seems Guardia is intending to recruit the sons of Dorino as knights," Falco smiled. "Isn't that lovely? If the recruitment is due to urgency, then Porre will be asked next. Nobu will finally have a chance to serve with our peers in arms."

But Matilda was hardly cheerful about the idea, and a sudden blankness veiled upon her astral features.

"Falco," she asked slowly, "what do you think of this world we have built?"

Falco guessed where this conversation may lead, but found himself smiling as he thought of the answer.

"I think we are at the dawn of humanity, taking the first step towards greatness. Brick after brick we build and lead ourselves to a bright future where prosperity is abundant. Our lives couldn't have been much easier."

Matilda's face was riddled with disappointment. "And you're aware I do not think the same way."

Falco's smile faded. "Which is why I worry."

"All this happiness and prosperity have been built on the backs of common workers."

"They are all happy serving our great empire--"

"Think back to last evening, Falco, where you introduced me to the captured bandits who attacked you. I don't know what transpired, so in trust I take your word about their crimes. But chained to one another at the wrists, trapped in holding pen beyond town and knowing they will be traded as slaves to those who can afford it... I saw their eyes, Falco, they were filled with grief that was not due to their failure, but grief that was their companion since a very long time ago. Who is to say they didn't act out of desperation?"

There was a large pause, but Falco didn't dare to speak just yet. There was more to come from this interesting woman, and he intended to know everything she had to say.

She continued, looking down at nothing. "The empireís subjects arenít the least bit happy. They live in fear each day though they are promised haven. Haven they get, but for a dear price. They have no choice but to follow; it so seems they are forbidden to live their own lives."

"Donít mind those bandits," Falco waved an imaginary air away. "They chose their lives; to seek pleasure from malevolence. You must realize that people live in trust and benefit for one another, and a single individual corrupting would rot a whole basket into chaos. This chaos then breaks the cycle of systematic quality accomplishment, and people begin to suffer. In order to save people from such suffering, don't you think taking away a little freedom is a small price to pay?"

Falco waited, but Matilda did not respond. She, too, intended to hear fully what he intended to say, and he continued.

"Children, ignorant of any consequences at a greater level, will always make mistakes for the sake of self-gratifications at someone else's mistakes. We prevent these children to commit any reckless actions. Do not worry of the commoners, or the Mystics for that matter. If they have half the pitiful mind left in them they shall understand."

"But in the end..." Matilda whispered in disappointment, "we are the same as them..."

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

When dusk called for the ending of the day, somewhere in the middle of the sea sailed several ships, delivering an omen from one land to another.

The tall figure of the great Warrior-King Ulfus calmly towered his fellow subordinates effortlessly as he gazed into the distant dying sun, as the vermilion skies slowly pulled all the light away into the horizon, leaving it barren. The lights emerging from the doors and windows of the ship's cabins silhouetted his face sufficiently to hide something very important from everyone else; within these shadows of confidence and calmness lurked, a great storm of despair and fear that rattled his very organs and bones beneath the meaty flesh. The mountain was but a flower within.

"You're no stranger to the dark sea," said Captain Owen of Choras, an armored man with an eye of the hawk, "and you know it seldom is the same. What storms await prowling in the night is anyone's guess."

"If only there were ways to predict what the Black Winds have in store for such pedestrians," Ulfus sighed.

"I still think your highness worries too much," Kelva yawned as the cold breeze and darkness made him drowsy. "I know Captain Sirius kept moaning and scaring everyone, but Choras is still the best military power in existence. On top of which, Captain Owen and Sirius went to pick the best of warriors for this mission. It'll be a cinch."

Owen raised his eyebrows. "You may be exceptionally gifted with a spear, Kelva, but you certainly are not the most experienced in warfare. Things are far more complicated than you think, and you will know soon enough why."

"I still don't get you people," Kelva shrugged. "How complex can killing your enemies really be?"

Before Owen could reply, Ulfus gestured him to wait, and asked Kelva:

"Look at all the people behind, Kelva. What do you see?"

Kelva turned to notice that the warriors besides him and Owen seemed to be busy checking their armors and weaponry.

"They seem pretty serious," Kelva stroked his chin, "but confident in their strength too. A man about to die would demand a last party thrown somewhere, and live like it's his last."

"What do you see, Owen?" Ulfus asked again. "Any hope? Any optimism? Any zeal?"

Owen did as he was told, and he let his sharp eyes scan about the limbs and faces of every soldier aboard the ship.

"All I see is is death in their faces," Owen shook his head. "Something beyond the sorrow of the unexpected, not knowing if tomorrow will ever come again."

Kelva, puzzled, raised his eyebrows.

Ulfus nodded. "A dying man would prefer to live like it's his last. But the men of the Youth of Honor are above such sentiments, and they know well how superficial these moments are -- much like a puff of smoke, gone in the next -- and the only thing to behold is sheer memory of those they leave behind. That memory of sorrow, if it does not crush them, becomes their greatest strength. Death reigns in their eyes because they know it, fear it, yet their brave relentlessly against it. These marvelous youths have enough energy to brave against the unknown well, much like you, Kelva. And yet, I woe that such youths are needed to give throw away the very lives that could have been, one with dreams and love of their own, for the sake of others. And I put them on a guillotine. It was me who demanded them to fight and die for --"

"Pardon me, your highness," Captain Sirius interrupted as he emerged from the cabin, "but I find that offending. You demanded nothing of us. You only asked earnestly. It was we, the undying Youth of Honor, who lent all our strengths to the great Choran dream you had; we did so willingly, and are not ashamed of our choices."

Owen continued. "Since the past three decades, our King has rarely ever spoken of his own wishes or desires, selflessly committing into the service of the commoners, like a good father would."

Kelva finished energetically. "And if this means that we, the Youth of Honor, must give our lives away in exchange for that great dream our King envisions, then we will gladly accept our fate. We'd emerge as heroes, anyway."

Ulfus's expressions changed, from worry to rage, though the his concerned heart remained.

"I asked for your arms, your strength, your zeal," Ulfus growled, "but not your willingness to die. Put aside your childish dreams of glorious death, because no matter who you are, what you do, how you die, you ultimately cease to exist and never return. Know that we are at the point of no return. Know that, every life is divine, a precious gift blessed by our mother nature, our Honor, and to give it away just like that is a crime. You must live, and strive, to safeguard the lives of those you've sworn to protect. If your instincts tell you to rebel, then rebel against those who oppress you! I want your fear of death to be your greatest asset, and to live you MUST win at all costs!"

Demanding and ordering as he paced to and fro, Ulfus left the commandeering to Sirius eventually, and marched into his room to channel his rage in meditation. The faces he saw outside horrified him, made him guilty, as the idea that some -- if not all -- of those young men may never see the light of the next dawn. The night was long and cold, but beyond the storms that were destined to arrive, all would be over -- at least he hoped so. And his hope, though gravely, reflected back to him from a distant ancient mirror, ornamented with strange sigils that none of the continents in existence could ever decipher, not even the best scholars of Choras.

Standing at the bow of a sturdy wooden vessel, the mirror showed him his aging face -- once which handsomely wooed the ladies and won the men in his adventurous youth, but now saddled with worry and sorrow of his very people -- and the growing stubble transformed him into that man from his memories, one he remembered from the illustrations, his Great Ancestor from about two hundred years ago. He was the spitting image of Cambyses himself.

"Cambyses, my forebear..." His thoughts echoed, if not from the mirror itself then at least his own grieving soul.

"You sought nothing but prosperity for us. You defied fear and stood strong for your people."

It was said that when the War of Three Kingdoms raged, after Anteus perished, Cedric Guardia had offered Cambyses of Choras a chance of alliance, where Choras would exist independent under Guardia's reign so long as the Suzerain reserved its right to intervene in politics and trade. This would-be Emperor of Guardia desired to control Choras without the need for shedding more blood, and in return Cedric promised to not attack its people. A threat disguised as a friendly proposal, it was an offer Cambyses could not refuse. Even then, Cambyses pointed Guardia's hypocrisy and walked away rather than be willing to sell his nation into the hands of a demon.

"But who knew your courage would be the victim of greed..."

What followed was obvious: Cambyses perished. Some say Cedric conjured a divine flame that charred Cambyses away at the very moment, others say that it was a blonde woman poisoned his food and leaving him to rot. But despite the outcome, the only one to benefit from this good King's demise was Cedric himself.

"Our lands... our culture... all leaned upon the hope of democracy. We, the Monks of Choras were but servants to the peopleís welfare, and thus stood as leaders to show them the way. But our freedom was taken away by those who believed they had the Divine Right to teach us how to live and who to bow to. Whether we accepted or not, grief was imminent."

Though grief strung together shadows of fear in the forests of Choras, a single light emerged at an isolated corner, a spark of innocence from within the a young child, only six of age, named Ulfus. That spark, lit the woods of nature into fire, which boiled upon a cauldron a soup of great concern and curiosity. But had the young Prince any idea on what that soup might boil into?

"I donít understand!" The boy complained. "Why donít we fight them? Donít we have every right to live as we wish to live?"

His father -- then King of Choras -- of the dying leaves of the forests, who provided his child with firewood, himself feared the blazes that may hurt the thriving greens that stretched in its land's embrace.

"Fear and anger breed more anger, and even more suffering," the King shook his head. "When you confront fire there is threat of being singed while raging the fire even more."

But young Ulfus knew nothing of letting things rest, and soon grew upset: "Arenít the people suffering even today? We cannot just let this charade go any longer!"

"Donít be a fool, my son! Do not waste your life so carelessly! Every life is divine, a precious gift blessed by our mother nature."

His father, like a stomp resembling a clasp of thunder, scared the poor child and his vulnerably flaming dreams. But this father was also gentle, fearful even, for he lightly rained upon the boy's cheek with tears of worry, without extinguishing that flame, and hence embraced him close, speaking softly.

"Do not taint your purity with anger, Ulfus," the dear father explained. "It is up to you to purify the hearts of men if I ever fail."

"But still... the fires will keep raging for ever more..."

"Then let it singe itself; burned shall it be away some day. Though fire breeds more fire, there will come a time where two fires shall devour each other, leaving nothing but ashes in their wake."

The cauldron boiled slowly, but surely. When innocence poured concern and curiosity into the mixture, churned with even more experience and understanding, what resulted was a soup of courage, strength and will, wisdom, and love -- a certain meal fit for a king. But was it all enough to power the needs of Hope? Did he have what it took to purify the hearts of men?

The memories blurred into the reflection of the ancient mirror once again, and Ulfus gazed in confusion.

"I never understood you, father..." he whispered to himself. "Even today I fail to understand your reasoning."

Sounds of footsteps parting further down the deck filled the empty cabin, but Ulfus remained unmoved, still peering into the distant past that only he could see beyond this magical mirror, a memento of the spirits that he believed guided him to this very day.  

"Cambyses. Though slain by Cedric your dream remains with your kin through this, the greatest and most perfect treasure you plucked from the sea."

His mind renewed with confidence, his rage channeled willfully into an unchallenged force, Ulfus marched towards the men who stood ready under the dark clouds. His face could be seen in the night, but a powerful aura could be sensed from the Warriar-King's mere presence in such a way that it inspired everyone he passed by. Blood of valiance and heart of a lion, the King rose to reclaim what was rightfully theirs.

-----------------------------------
« Last Edit: January 09, 2013, 09:00:23 pm by tushantin »

TheMage

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Re: Fleabane -- Origin of Flea, the Sky Djinni
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2013, 12:51:59 am »

 Yikes! Yours really scared me.  :shock: Then again, if it's any consolance, I do believe that real-life influences usually become the best driving forces when creating quality art. And if it can scare me, it can definitely move someone else too. One example would be Final Fantasy 7, whose entire story was influenced by the series creator's mother tragically passing away.

 
Oh that is scary. I guess i'm more bitter than I realized! My emotions tend to be really strong and I do believe out of them I could create some amazing things! I just have to work on the good emotions rather than the bad. Man, that relationship was six years ago and i'm only now starting to get over it at a deep emotional level. lol!

Quote
Now, I'm not saying that emotions necessarily need to come only when something bad happens; as artists, we also have the license to embrace other people's feelings to inspire more creations that may benefit someone else in return. Though "embracing" those feelings is the hard part to accept and conquer, we actually begin to appreciate every tiny thing that exists in the world, not only being able to contemplate on why it's needed or how it strengthens us, but also how it can be best used (or avoided / tackled altogether).

In other words, it'll be easier to recognize what kinds of guys (or girls) hold meat grinders for that soul purpose; the rest, you'll know what to do.  :lol:

haha yes.

on the story-

Oh Falco can be so selfish.

Ahh so Ulfus is Cambyses's heir. I'm glad I re-watched a few videos on the CE memorial.

Quote
Some say Cedric conjured a divine flame that charred Cambyses away at the very moment, others say that it was a blonde woman poisoned his food and leaving him to rot. But despite the outcome, the only one to benefit from this good King's demise was Cedric himself.


I was amused that you included both ways Cambyses could die. I forgot Marle and the player had a choice whether or not to interfere which changed his death.




tushantin

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Re: Fleabane -- Origin of Flea, the Sky Djinni
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2013, 04:40:15 pm »
"We have a predator among us at this very moment. He's right here, always calculating, waiting for the best opportunity to stab another's back. One could only wonder when that opportunity arises, and what trusting fellow or friend will fall to its vices."


Chapter 7 -- Worth Fighting For (Part 1)

With each step towards the majestic Castle Guardia, the white noise of the nobles chattering grew louder, indistinguishable from the pool that was much the same wherever the Faye found themselves. But it wasn't as if they were lost in such a massive pond either; eyes from around the castle turned to greet the great Duke of Porre and his wife. The greatly colorful pride that scattered within these walls somehow lost their luster and turned green with greed and envy, some still golden in admiration, as the other nobles criminally scorned at the luck of this young man -- not only had he been blessed with intelligence, looks and physical capacity that gave him absolute power over politics and people, but to have married that one beautiful woman whom countless men had longed for in the past. Some even began to speak behind Falco's back, perhaps rumoring on how the marriage was only meant to provide him with more power than he already had.

Perhaps what shocked the onlookers even more was the sight of an unnaturally beautiful child tugging along with Lady Faye with an uncertain expression of something new and shocking that played on her delicate face. If she was Falco and Matilda's daughter, the bystanders discussed, then keeping her from their knowledge was sinful enough as it was. Due to this prospect, she too attracted gazes both lovingly warm and contemptuously cold, which scared her.

Falco knew that you are what you judge; and he also knew that it's always the ripest of apples that end up being the target of another's craving and stone flinging. They abhorred him because he was important. They greet him because they need his acquaintances. In fact, he would even be offended if even a single soul in this overly-crowded hall did not know who he was or did not care if he had blessed these walls with his grace.

Falco was also aware that beneath the mask of sincerity, these Nobles from across all kingdoms fashioned a much more carnivorous appetite for predation, like wolves in sheep's clothing searching for a prey to pounce upon. But the Duke was always prepared: his bodyguard at the far civilian-only corners was only a decoy, a distraction for his attackers, while their actual protector was Nobu, the seemingly-underpaid worker who took care of their horses -- and indeed, it was thanks to him that the Duke had survived most of his encounters, especially when the bandits attacked his caravan.

There was a secret that only this disguised guard and Falco shared, not even with his wife, that Nobu was actually one of the finest swordsmen in Truce who once worked as a Squire. Before he could achieve his Knighthood, he was banished from the kingdom under the accusation of treachery he did not commit. With nowhere to go and no way to prove his innocence, Lord Faye found him and described to him of the ego-centric Empire and its people's ways. Falco gave this man food, shelter, respect and a new life, in exchange for his services as a hidden mercenary, and he soon became the most trustworthy companion in many adventures. Nobu could not bribed because Falco paid him more than anyone ever could to a hired mercenary, and he had more to offer too, and Nobu could not be corrupted either because Falco knew exactly what to offer beyond money itself, something that none of the wealthiest in all continents had ever understood. 

Stalking past the windows and doors, under the pretense of peasanthood, Nobu kept a trained vigilant eye on his master and the environs surrounding him, ready to pounce with hidden weapons at Falco's signal. Nobu knew the castle like the back of his hand, having been there countless times before; if there was one reason nobody recognized him at all it was because he was trained to change faces well, knowing how to disguise in such ways that one wouldn't remember what he looked like. Having known just where and how the attackers might endanger the lives of the Faye, he swiftly and secretly surveyed the environs and strategized on the probabilities and actions.

Falco always felt confident and secure, knowing such a powerful guardian had his back, though he had longed since learned not to trust even his closest companions. But if there was one thing Nobu could not rescue him from was a direct attack to his reputation and image. And such dangers were imminent as the Faye walked closer to throne, where the new King sat, helping himself to grapes until a servant whispered into his ear, perhaps announcing Falco's appearance. Milly, in all eagerness, wished to jump towards this great ruler and admire him curiously, but knowing this man's temperament Matilda did her best to restrain the girl at all costs.

Between the Duke and this new King, only one deserved to be the proper heir to the throne; and it certainly wasn't the one who now claimed it.

"Ah, Falco de Faye," King Van of Guardia called, mischievously. "Someone, please get garlands and plenty of rose petals; after all, his Grace, Lord Faye has arrived! Guardia must be blessed, indeed!"

"Good evening, Van-- I mean... your Highness," Falco bowed, "and thank you so much for
inviting us to this wonderful celebration! But I must reject the garlands. Much tax has been levied upon the neighboring town, and I wouldn't entertain trifles at the expense of commoners."

Van scoffed. "That is all well and good, but I must ask; since when did you begin to worry of the commoners? I see your sense of fashion seems to have been borrowed by them. I'm surprised Lady Faye didn't suggest the right attire."

Matilda sighed, and ruffled Milly's hair. When would she ever get used to their childish bickering? Despite her subtle gestures, Falco merely smiled as calm as he could.

"Oh, but I think these clothes are gorgeous!" Falco admired his own attire. "But I do appreciate your concern, my liege. You know I've been a busy man, sailing to and fro the world over and keeping the Guardian treasury stable. How will I ever have time for wearing exquisite dresses and eating grapes?"

King Van, holding a bunch of grapes just above his mouth, noticed the immediate taunt. His face boiled hot in sudden rage, and he tossed the fruits to the ground.

"Of course not! You work hard. It's a pity you work in such a low class. Seems like a perfect waste of your talents and service."

"Ah, yes," Falco pretended to be thoughtful, then continued with a slight sarcastic tone, "but nevertheless, I do congratulate on your earning your rightful throne. Forgive me for not attending the coronation, but you know, my work is more important than --"

Van hissed venomously. "Have you forgotten before whom you speak, Falco?"

"I think you mean Lord Faye," Falco corrected.

The King snapped, jumping to his feet in volcanic rage. "I demand respect! Or it'll be dungeons and potatoes with you! Oh, you haven't seen the insides of these cells, have you now? They are worse than hell, you can take my word on that."

The servant holding the platter of grapes, who once announced Falco's coming, whispered to his King.

"Oh, forgive me, My Liege, I mean no offense," he cautioned. "Your Royalness would not want to lose the temper, seeing as we have quite an impression to make before plenty whom will aid thee."

As Matilda glanced around, King Van realized that his outburst attracted much unwanted attention towards him. One thought that ran through his mind was to sentence the first one to talk behind his back to death so as to save his image, but he also knew well that prevention was always better than cleaning messes. Van glared at Falco, who hadn't a bother to confirm what was going on, and cursed his mischievous smugness.

Matilda sighed, shaking her head. The sooner this strange game of thrones would end, the better.

"How should I torture thee?! Let me count the ways!" Van gritted his teeth, then feigned a confidence smile, wondering how to pronounce the Duke's name in ways it would sound like an insult. "So, Lord Falllllcoooo, I hope you had a safe journey?"

"Oh I have, Your Majesty, despite going through countless of dangers in the mountains and the sea, to the forest of Medina, I am finally home. The days gone by were long, and many a monsters out there but hope to prey on the unwary."

"Oh, I've heard of the caravan attack," Van added. "Hope none of our goods are damaged. When it comes to preying, there is hardly a predator better than the human sort, and that is no wonder why we chosen in the great selection of nature. Always lurking, always hiding behind the masks of falsities, always keeping one eye at a greater ambition. That is far more than animals preying for their meals, is it not?" And here he turned to Matilda, lowering his voice with a more serious tone. "I believe, Lady Faye, that we have one such predator among us at this very moment. He's right here, always calculating, waiting for the best opportunity to stab another's back. I, a worried king, would only wonder when that opportunity arises, and what trusting fellow or friend will fall to its vices."

Matilda turned, and before she could question she saw a strange glint in Falco, which subsequently hid under a thoughtful expression. Falco smiled.

"And you may count on me to protect the Kingdom if ever one appears to abuse the throne to his vices."

In silent fury, Van bit his lips, thinking: WHY doesn't he just die?!

Falco continued. "Your father trusted me as his shining star and glory, and I vowed to safeguard the destiny of Guardia. Never shall I allow strange and ambitious kings with vested interests bark selfish orders upon the subjects, and will make certain they are eliminated with extreme prejudice. I suppose this was why he knew I was suitable for the --"

Van snapped, screaming aloud. "YOU WORTHLESS SWINE! I WILL END YOU--"

In his anger he stomped his foot, but earth strangely quaked and cut him off. Everyone in presence who witnessed the scene were sufficiently shocked by this strange correlation, rushing hither and tither to the safest zones, be it against the walls, behind objects, under the tables, or even out the door. But surely the King's wrath couldn't invoke the divine judgment of earth itself? If so, even the King found himself stupefied at such strange phenomenon, staring at his foot as he curiously tried stomping again.

But nothing happened.

Falco, Matilda and Milly, along with many curiously others who had taken to hiding, peeked from beneath the table, pondering what just happened. King Van Guardia caught sight of the familiarly obnoxious face and stomped again, and again, and yet again. Even then, nothing happened.

"It was just a coincidence!" A Baron laughed from behind the curtains.

A few of the attendees laughed first, then slowly the others followed. King Van twitched, but the Faye joined in to the humor. As the sighs and giggles escalated, the walls shuddered once again with a louder, more ominous quake, and the Baron by the curtain tripped, falling headfirst and bringing entire sets of tapestry down. Then another quake, sounding like an explosion, followed. Then another. Each one sounding louder than the previous.

Soon, the terrified people were accompanied by even more guests -- a storm of soldiers, marching in, securing the entrances and surrounding the King.

"All soldiers, prepare for battle!" A General commanded, entering the court. "Protect His Highness with your lives, if need be!"

"What is the meaning of this?!" The King demanded.

"It is King Ulfus of Choras, your Highness! Choras wages war upon us!"

The furious King yelled. "Ulfus, that no good traitor!"

"Your Highness, take arms now while there's still time!"

Van felt offended me. "What do you mean by 'take arms'? Who are you to order me?"

"Er... I meant.... For your own safety, sire," the General tried to explain. "The King Sword? That is how you must lead us to battle!"

"The King Sword....?" Van blinked.

Falco coughed. "My liege, the King Sword was given to you at the time of the coronation; a holy sword that you must use for Knighting your fellow, authorizing locations, and even leading your men to war. You must use it to protect yourself and your people. You... have it, don't you?"

"Oh, yes, I do!" Van feigned a laughter, but was instantly cut short again with the sound of yet another explosion. "I think I kept it... in my room, yes! Let me get go get it... General, to keep the fight going until then."

"But your Highness, this is your first battle!" The General implored. "What about your soldiers' morale?"

Van scowled. "Morale! As if such expendable forces NEED morale! Are you telling me that without petty sentiments your men would not do what they were born for? Are you telling me they would not defend the very nation they dreamed for patriotically? What kind of a hypocrite are you? Now go out there and DO YOUR JOB, or else there will be more trouble than what the treacherous Choran blood brings."

King Guardia stormed out of the room faster than the momentum of the Sun Keep winds. The General sighed, looking at all the nobles in the room and their arrogantly scared expressions. Why was it that he and his comrades needed to protect these kinds of people again? What was the point of sacrificing himself or other commoners for the luxury of these lot, when such sacrifices were hardly appreciated, let alone rewarded for something beyond their brutal and belittled lives?

The disheartened General felt a gentle tap upon his shoulder.

"Forget the coward," Falco whispered. "I'll lead your men, and their morale."

"But Lord Faye --"

"This may be the King's war you're fighting," Falco interrupted, "but remember that this is your country that the Chorans attack. If we give up now, there will be not a shred of life or identity left of us. Everything will be plundered."

"Lady Faye, I'm scared..." Milly tugged Matilda's dress.

The Duke looked at the girl with contemptuous eyes, but seeing the girl's tears made his heart melt, not only with compassion but also sympathy. He wanted to ruffle her hair, but then he shook the warm thoughts away, replaced with cold and calculated ones. He then made a swift and secret gesture, summoning Nobu's presence almost instantaneously. Before Falco could say a word, Nobu had understood the order already.

"I'll protect Lady Faye with my life, my Lord."

Falco looked in Matilda's direction, and saw a stronger force and emotion in her, something he never did since the time he realized he loved her a little too much. In the height of danger, this delicate woman might seem to be a damsel in distress, but was strong willed, witty and physically competent enough to make others chew their own words. Quite fitting for a Queen.

"No, just protect the girl," Falco joked in one of his more feminine tones. "If the Chorans ever get to Matilda first, I think we might just win the battle hands down."

Smiling at Matilda, then nodding the General, he unsheathed his Flameberg and set off to the fields.

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Re: Fleabane -- Origin of Flea, the Sky Djinni
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2013, 09:04:22 pm »
(NOTE: Penultimate chapter following. This chapter contains majority elements that were never planned by either FaustWolf or me at the inception of the project, so consider this thought of as I've been writing -- that is, I wrote this chapter entirely unconsciously, without planning or whatsoever. Brace yourselves!

Also note, there's a scene in here -- one containing Falco's craziness against Ulfus' intentions -- which I initially thought it was something even Flea would go on to do in the Zenan forests to kill countless Guardian Soldiers when Cyrus was still alive. While I didn't get to write that fiction through completely, I decided to use it here. And another thing: why do you think the Choran castle is always empty and forgotten? This chapter might give you a clue.)


"I know people, and I've seen heroes who die in all glory altruistically. But while their people sing praises, they simply turn them into idol incarnations of their own agendas, not sharing the slightest dream, hope or aspirations of those who gave them what they have, not even being the least appreciative. Human beings are a selfish, ego-centric lot."


Chapter 8 -- Worth Fighting For (Part 2)

"Cowards shall remain in fear and ignorance, inflaming rumors forever more, but
we are not so weak," Ulfus of Choras valiantly roared at the day before the siege, with his armed young men rising up against Guardia's tyranny. "Everyone dreams of freedom, but few dare to take what is rightfully theirs. And then you realize that you were always the one to break the nest just so your kin can have the privilege to live happily. Don't we all want those smiles of our kin to return? Don't we all dream of paradise? Long have we suffered the from the Empire who took away our lives, our hopes, our faith, our rights and our identity. But not anymore. Tonight, we rise up against Guardia's tyranny. Tonight, we give them nothing, and take from them everything. Tonight, we strike back! For the Honor of Choras! Let us do or die!"

And so it happened: the erstwhile revolution swallowed up in the canyon of Truce. Destiny was at hand and it seemed nothing could have stopped the brave men of Choras. Ulfus knew every nook and corner of the passages and openings towards Guardia, due to which he had an advantage. Or so he thought, for he didn't know what lurked in the shadows, and what he didn't know would hurt him.

Peace, as the great Cedric of Guardia had long envisioned and sustained, was finally broken. The treatise between the Empire and a smaller kingdom collapsed into war in the sudden night, and the moon illuminated the fallen blood and lost lives. Border-keepers were the first were to go, and their signal did not reach the Capital fast enough to allow the barracks to prepare against the invasion. The revolution swallowed up the canyon of Truce like a hurricane, and the thick forests and swamps did not stop the great advances.

"The castle has been secured by every means possible," The General announced, until interrupted by a scout coming into the tent, upon whom his gaze turned. "What's the status?"

The scouts nodded. "The castle has been greatly damage from the east, but --"

"We are aware of that!" The General yelled. "Anything else we DON'T know?"

"Our search party could not find a trace."

"....not one canon or catapult?"

"Neither. However, some scouts have been sent to the forest of Truce at the furthest east, and the bridge at the south-east to gather information."

"And the conclusion?"

"We found some aliens emerging from and fleeting towards Dorino. No word from Truce, though."

"How much time has it been since the Truce party was dispatched?"

"Over two hours now..." The scout sounded worried.

Falco pondered. "That's far too long. Either the party is trapped, lost, kept hostage, or worst case scenario, killed off. We are pretty sure that we were attacked from the forest canyons of Truce, where the canons may be hidden."

The General nodded. "But where must have they entered the continent from? We've always assumed the Truce canyon was treacherous to attackers, hence left it unguarded. Shall I send the first wave to Truce, and second to Dorino?"

"First wave to Truce is necessary," Falco added, "but to Dorino you must only send in a stealth platoon, and have reinforcements ready if necessary."

"But.... I don't get it," the General blinked. "But the scout says the aliens emerged from there!"

Falco nodded. "And that is likely to be a distraction. The Chorans are hunters by legacy, and their tactics are superior to ours, which is why we did not try to risk their enmity. No, there's only likely to be a boat there, with a hide-out for stealth and diversions. Even then, our own stealth forces will need sufficient resources to target them, so give them what is necessary, at least for now."

"But they would be too few!" The General gasped. "What if we are wrong, what if that's where the majority of the forces docked? Our platoon will be annihilated!"

"Hence the ready reinforcements near the bridge. But if we send a whole wave to Dorino, our defenses would be weak."

"Alright."

Falco looked at the General's pallid face in concern. "You're worried about these soldiers lives, aren't you?"

"At the time of peace, there have not been many battles," the General admitted. "I see these soldiers serving the throne with all their hearts and patriotism. They love their Empire more than they love their own children. But they're treated like dirt, I tell you. 'Lives are easy to spend', the nobles tell us, as if this job was our choice. But I ask you: why does the Empire even need us then?"

Falco, with no answer to the strange question from such a hard-headed man, found himself confused.

"Let's talk about this after the war, and we'll make sure things change for the better," Falco ordered. "For now, we have no idea whether the attacks are from the north of canyon -- part with the least security -- where I find to be the most likely case, the eastern coast, Dorino, or somewhere else. Send in the first wave to Truce, and a stealth platoon to Dorino guarded by reinforcements till the bridge."

"And the rest stay on vigilance until further orders," General nodded.

"No," Falco eyed the General coldly. "You'll remain vigilant alright, but we need another stealth platoon head towards the northern canyon. Also I'll need a platoon. Let's see if my assertions are correct."

"Your assertions?" The General asked, confused.

Falco looked down at the map gravely. "That our trace has been wrong all along."

As the General commanded, the first wave of soldiers were sent to the forests head on, while the stealth platoons were dispatched to their respective directions -- one to Dorino, on to the north of Truce from a secret western path along the hills of the castle, and one left with Falco and stopped at that secret path. As time passed, the battle grew calmer as the assaults slowed down, and eventually stopped. The inmates of the castle grew confused and impatient, though the soldiers secured them from leaving. The villages surrounding truce were also heavily guarded and camped upon, as the natives of those villages feared the war crimes that any soldier -- no matter what his allegiance -- may inflict upon them in the name of justice. All was calm, and all seemed alright, until a horse-backed platoon scout delivered Falco a message:

"Our first wave has been swallowed up by the invasion in the forests. Very few returned alive, though greatly injured."

"I feared as much," Falco responded. "But what sectors?"

"Northern coast, moving southwards. But they're taking too long."

"This is suspicious. Have any soldiers seen the boats?"

"Yes," the scout admitted. "But only two, and they are all empty, and abandoned."

A sudden horror flooded Falco's mind. A whole wave wiped out seemingly by only two boats of soldiers? It was obvious that the forests had aided the invaders, but enemies just weren't enough to penetrate the castle's defenses. No, there was something strange here; were they indeed docked at Dorino? Or have the Guardians been misled?

"Does the General know?" Falco inquired.

The scout nodded. "He realized the source might have been at Dorino, so he sent another wave there."

"Oh, cruel lords!" Falco cried. "That man is incorrigible! If we're wrong, if the Chorans did not arrive from the east itself, then..."

Falco stopped, and realized what he assumed as a possibility back at the camp. He then turned to both platoons.

"The returning platoon must inform the General to divide the vigilant forces, part of which must secure both the western and southern shores. The northern is eliminated from the list of possibilities. The platoon assisting me will move towards the Manoria woods. Make haste!"

As Falco rushed westwards, the sounds of canons resumed, and he thought he heard the falling of walls, but as far as he concluded the wailing of anxiety towards the Guardian direction was irrelevant, especially when their dear Emperor was more concerned about his own safety than his followers'. Ulfus's men used the canyon's forests as an advantage to hide their canons and attack from the shadows. The Knights were pulled into unending paths, lost in nature's embrace despite of them knowing their way around. But the darkness blinded them and predators found them first. And all Van could do was look at his men dying hopelessly.

Falco sometimes hoped they had a better leader to protect them. To serve them.

A better leader like Falco, perhaps.

Before Falco's platoon could enter western forests, they concealed themselves towards higher grounds, being wary of any marksmen in sight. Finding the perfect location to observe as they moved to the shores, they witnessed another Guardian wave enter from below, searching every nook and corner.

"I hate that man," Falco sighed.

"You mustn't think ill of him, my Lord," the female platoon leader said. "If he does not act with brute force, the new Emperor promises to have his head."

"Only brutes act with brute force and have people's heads," Falco corrected.

As they watched, it all seemed as if the path of uncertain directions that the Knight Captain led his men towards was isolated. The area seemed safe -- or so Falco thought, until he moved on and reached the western shores. There, docked near the shores, were countless ships though far away. The camp situated far to the northern side. The area was accessible, and yet the Knight Captain led the soldiers aimlessly, circling around in the woods itself.

"No wonder the first wave perished," Falco sighed again. "Are these captains new?"

"Yes, my Lord," the platoon leader affirmed.

"What happened to the genius lot of the past? Zhervez? Dogh? Collin? River?"

"They were all executed --"

"Executed!" Falco exclaimed in shock.

"-- due to various reasons," the platoon leader continued. "Zhervez was executed because he wasn't a Zenan native and the Emperor feared he was a spy. Dogh was executed, despite his great services in the past, because he didn't believe in serving the new Emperor, and wished to retire. Collins was executed for failing in his Knightly missions. River was executed because the Emperor... fancied his sister, which didn't sit well with the Knight."

"And the woman returned his feelings?" Falco scoffed sarcastically.

"No. Thus the Emperor had her arrested on sedition charges."

"Ouch! All the more reason for this wretched Empire to crumble, unless we do something about this. Let's go; we need to inform that clumsy Knight Captain of our search, before he trips onto a pebble."

But no sooner did they walk closer than, within a moment's span, a quarter of Guardian solders fell from their horses -- some shot by arrows, others struck by spears, and some more by traps. Within seconds the Knight Captain was surrounded by the invaders, and he ordered his men to attack. Every Guardian soldier, despite their directional incompetence, showed sufficient proficiency in swordsmanship and were more than a match their opponents. But the Choran soldiers -- trained in high hills for endurance and the art of war -- were still at an advantage, especially considering they've outnumbered their foe. At most it took five minutes, and the victory was decided, with the Knight Captain being struck by an axe.

"He was weak!" The youngest of them exclaimed. "How do such weak people end up being Captains?"

Falco squinted upon a distant, bulky figure that escaped the moonlight quickly, but the moment was enough to find out. Ulfus, the steadfast.

"Kelva, Owen, Sirius Ė stay within the shadows, out of the moonlight," Ulfus commanded, "but we'll get in now that we have chance. Sirius and Owen can take southern entrance. Kelva and I can sneak in through the west."

"This is bad," Falco whispered. "Our numbers have depleted enough -- no thanks to the brute General -- and our defenses may not sustain the assault. The nobles will be slaughtered."

"We must go and inform the General quickly," the platoon leader suggested. "Besides, the Chorans may find us."

"Good point. You go. I'll need a word with this fellow."

The woman knew exactly that if she argued against this, he would cut her short -- just like he did with the rest --  and insist until he had his way. Instead, she turned to her group and ordered:

"Nova and Percy, inform the general. Adam, you'll stay here with me and Lord Faye."

"But,... hang on!" Falco protested.

"You will need to plan our strategy, at least to give you an escape route," the platoon leader stated as Nova and Percy rode away to the east.

Before Falco could protest further, a new idea sparked into his mind, and he shared it with his fellows. Only a moment or two later, Falco descended the hills and approached from the front instead, screaming:

"We surrender!"

The Choran archers readied themselves. Ulfus raised his eyebrow at the familiar voice. What emerged from the shadows of the woods was but a lonesome Duke.

"Hold your fire against the man," Ulfus carefully emphasizing, then turned to Falco. "What trickery is this?"

Comforted Ulfus' words, Falco halted a few dozen meters away from Ulfus and got of his horse. Almost immediately, an arrow struck the horses neck, and few more killed whatever life the animal may have. Falco eyed the Choran leader undeterred, despite being secretly frightened of the prospects of dying at the hands of lowly commoners and monks.

"That was a cheap trick," Falco said sweetly.

"We're at war," Ulfus smiled menacingly. "You can't leave now."

"If I meant to leave, I would not have appeared before you."

"And you did promise our crossing of swords."

"And we surrender."

"But you did not cross swords yet," Ulfus pushed approaching closer with his Guan Dao. "Unsheathe your blade, Faye. Just you and me."

"I told you we surrender," Falco insisted, his one hand on his rapier, as he circled around. "You wanted Guardia's fall, and it's right here at your foot!"

"Oh, but Guardia will never fall until everything about it dies," Ulfus howled menacingly, "its monotheism, its essence, its nobles! And you've chosen your allegiance long ago."

"Et tu, Brute?" Falco asked.

The Chorans blinked angrily, wondering if the Duke just called their King a "brute".

"Destroy everything," Falco wondered, still circling opposite Ulfus. "That's become quite common among tyrants. The new King just slaughtered most of the competent Knight Captains and now rules the world with an iron fist. Would a murderous tyrant like yourself be any different?"

"It's very obvious you've come here to die," Ulfus declared in cold rage. "You aren't here to surrender either, it seems. Perhaps to talk me out of it? Perhaps to buy time? Unfortunately, half my army is waging still waging their war at the southern coast as we speak."

"Maybe," Falco informed, "but without their leader, they are nothing. If I die I'm certainly taking you with me. Unless you simply walk away and go into hiding. So choose your options very carefully."

"Walk away and leave this precious opportunity? And allow the Empire its opening to cripple my country? Dear Duke of Porre, when I embarked upon this quest I was prepared to die, like every other soldier. This is something I have to do for my people --"

"-- who wouldn't care a candle-flame's worth for your sacrifice," Falco interrupted. "I know people, and I've seen heroes who die in all glory altruistically. But while their people sing praises, they simply turn them into idol incarnations of their own agendas, not sharing the slightest dream, hope or aspirations of those who gave them what they have, not even being the least appreciative. Human beings are a selfish, ego-centric lot."

"Says the Duke who is exactly that kind of man from within," Ulfus scoffed.

"And I don't doubt it," Falco confessed. "But not you, Ulfus. You're not like that wretched Emperor, nor like the selfish and narrow-sighted Elders. You're the Good King that your people always looked up to, the kind everyone needs. You're too good to perish. Your death is something I would personally hate to see."

"And yet you threatened me a mere moment earlier. Tell me: how could you take my life if I simply ordered my archers to kill you right now?"

Falco smiled menacingly. "Because you'll have no choice but to run or die."

Ulfus, confused, squinted around swiftly, but carefully. Then, just behind Falco, he spotted a faint light, which that horrified him. Peering further, he saw a raging storm of flames rushing towards them, burning every flora in its vicinity.

"Forests stand between Guardia's supremacy and you, fueling strength to your guerrilla warfare," Falco mused ecstatically. "If we can't remove you, then why don't I just remove the forest? Hmm?"

"This man is insane!" A Choran soldier exclaimed.

"Not insane," Falco pouted. "Just a misunderstood genius."

"Those with axes, disperse and cut down the line of trees half a kilometer back, while Gregory leads the rest to siege the Castle!" Ulfus commanded, to which soldiers left him; then, he turned to the Duke. "If I don't have your head, then your precious Emperor surely will."

"Enough talk," Falco waved, unsheathing his Flamberg. "Run now, or just dance. If the latter, bring your best warrior."

"You're looking at him," Ulfus said, as he lunged towards Falco with his great Guan Dao.

It was hard to say that Falco de Faye hadn't anticipated any of this.

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Re: Fleabane -- Origin of Flea, the Sky Djinni
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2013, 07:51:33 pm »
(NOTE: This is the final chapter of Act 1, where I stopped last time too. Act 2 will be a condensed form of the past scripts, and as such will conclude within that section itself. The final act, the coming of Janus, is what eventually connects two distinct stories. You will also notice that I've changed the story of this chapter compared to the previous scripts -- and that's simply because I can. XD

Also note: Kudos to those who can find a familiar mythology reference.)


"Tonight, the moon shall be tainted crimson. "


Chapter 9 -- A Sealed Fate

A wildfire raged, consuming every unfortunate life in its path, not only burning amongst the trees and grass but also in the hearts of ravenous soldiers thirsting for blood. Every single individual in the fields either fought to claim as many heads as they could or to survive as much as they could while still remaining loyal to their pledge. The body count increased even further as the Guardian forces joined the battle, half of whom took advantage of the fire to find the Chorans and slay them.

This was quite unexpected: at one point it seemed the Chorans placed a check on Guardia's supremacy, but with only a single turn Falco de Faye had turned the tides of war.

Ulfus roared like the wolf and charged towards the Duke with his Guan Dao. Falco anticipated this first assault, parrying with his Flamberg -- metals clashed, the former blade sliding off the jagged edge of the latter. Ulfus winced, his weapon vibrating ominously and stunning him for a moment. He saw his opponent grin malevolently. He saw death.

Falco moved in towards the opening with the sharp tip of his sword. But the giant was fast; rotating clock-wise, he elbowed his foe's face. The impact sent Falco a few paces back, blood dripping from his mouth as he staggered to look into the giant's eyes.

"What was that!" Ulfus thundered. "My Guan Dao should have broken your ostentatious sword!"

"This isn't just an ostentatious sword," Falco wiped the blood of his mouth. "It's a special blade I commissioned for; as slender as rapier, but as strong as katana. And you just had to ruin my beautiful face, didn't you?"

"People lose limbs in war," Ulfus scoffed. "You're worried about your face?"

"Beauty signifies power. For this damage, all bets are off."

Falco lunged with his Flamberg, knowing what his opponents' eyes told him -- the giant was prepared for the metallic clash and tactical stun. Ulfus grinned at his foe's stupidity, for his weapon was twice the size of his foe's, and swung with the Guan Dao. Falco ducked and struck the metallic handle, vibrating it with the jagged edges, stunning the wielder. The Duke saw the opening yet again, but noticed Ulfus' knee approaching. Falco anticipated this and lunged to the right, swinging towards Ulfus' head. Ulfus bent backwards, somersaulted overhead and kicked the Guardian Duke on the face, sending him staggering back.

Relentlessly, and despite recovering from the blow Falco dodged the next attack of the Guan Dao, and the next of Ulfus' palm strike, aiming for the torso. Ulfus side-stepped, allowing the dazed Falco to pass, gripped and twisted his wrist, and head-butted him in great fury. The sharp pain in his wrist and head made Falco lose his grip on his weapon.

"...struck me... multiple times... in a row..." Falco panted in agony, dizziness and rage, his face bleeding greatly. "Never before has anyone... able to do... that... That's something to expect... from the King of Choras..."

"You may be an excellent swordsman, but you're no warrior," Ulfus insulted. "You a pathetic mook, a pompous jester, a big show! A trickster like you has hardly known what the monks of Choras have endured in their decades of training. Though, no one but you has every dodged my blade before, so I'll give you that."

Falco struggled, Ulfus twisted his wrist even more. Falco screamed, kicking Ulfus' knee. Ulfus yelled, his grip loosening, and attacked Falco's torso with the butt of his weapon. Falco, with a desperate attempt, dodged the attack and palmed the metallic handle in order to disarm his foe.

But a sudden red light emerged from hand and broke the weapon in two halves, heating and melting the ends of impact. The strange scenario shocked Ulfus, but Falco remained undeterred. The Duke aimed a hammer-end of his fist at Ulfus' neck, stunning him in pain, and ducked quickly to grab his sword and swing for an upwards-cut. But before Falco could launch the attack, knuckles of a great fist struck his stomach, like a large rock smashing a wooden plate. With the Duke too damaged to move, Ulfus raised his hands again and pummeled Falco with his palms until he could no longer stand.

"You had the chance to become the sun," Ulfus spoke as he stepped on the tradesman's back hard enough to break his spine, "but you chose oblivion instead. It's time to end this, and I sincerely hope you do not regret this decision."

Dying for that one Empire he was never loyal to, that one Emperor and his people who would never appreciate his sacrifice, for that one woman who still hoped to see him home and have a good argument for the next week, Falco found himself having every right to regret.

Ulfus witnessed the casualties piling in the battle amidst burning flora, with the numbers of Guardian soldiers decimating by the moment, and the battle slowly coming to a standstill. Many cheered on for the oncoming victory, many joyously assaulted the castle's defenders, and breaking in. Ulfus lifted his broken Guan Dao in order to separate Falco's head from his body.

But paused at an ominous mention.

"It doesn't make sense!" Sirius scowled. "We outnumbered them! We ought have seized the castle by now!"

"But the Guardians in the villages, and even the castle, hardly retreated," a soldier mentioned. "We beat the soldiers in combat and tore through to search for the Emperor -- it was just too easy to be true. But our men, though unchallenged, have suddenly disappeared!"

"What do you mean, disappeared?" Sirius barked.

"Just... gone!"

"How difficult can it be to kill a weak little boy?" Ulfus roared.

Before Ulfus could say anything further, the triumphant cheers of his soldiers -- who captured a few Guardian soldiers as war prisoners -- suddenly transformed into outbursts of astonishment and ridicule. Peering ahead as the fires had begun to die out, Ulfus saw what the rest had been gawking at -- a lone armored Knight, whose torn rags, pale face and rusted metal gave him the appearance of a walking corpse. But the emblem engraved on the armor was Guardia's own, and Sirius demanded him be caught too.

"So tonight," Falco coughed, "the moon shall be... tainted crimson."

The shadowy figure was a strange sight in the battlefield; hard to recognize, and it walked at a graceful and patient pace, approaching what remained of the legion. One of the Choran withdrew their spear and called out for him to surrender, but the shadow approached without hesitation. The Choran decided then to cut him limb from limb, and charged towards this figure at the speed of a panther. A spear was swung, and a flash could have been missed if one so much as blinked.

Then, the Choran stumbled lifelessly to the ground. The shadow moved on.

"Who are you?" Owen demanded.

But there was no response. The shadow walked closer.

Sirius ordered several men to surround the figure, which they did with great arms -- few with spears, few with axes, few with swords, and few archers behind. But the pace of the shadow did not slow down. Those with swords attacked first, surrounding him and swinging from every direction. Another flash, and the shadows' movements were barely seen as he walked safely out of the enclosure. The swordsmen dropped dead.

The axe wielders attacked together, with massive blades threatening to tear this stranger in pieces. But the shadow had only to grip their arms and twist it around to strike their own comrade, then grab that wielder by the neck and use him as a shield against an incoming spear attack. The shadow dropped the body, and broke the spear, then jab the broken metal into the spearman's heart.

Then two other spearmen attacked, along with the archers who aimed in great precision. Using his ragged fur cape of winters, he absorbed the arrows' blows, then used the arrows against the spearmen.

What followed was too brutal to witness or mention. The shadow moved on.

Soldiers hidden by the darkened forest attacked with a variety of stealth weapons, such as knives and chain-sickles, and even those attackers failed as the bodies of Choran blood piled up before their own leaders, and this mysterious shadow closer even more. This strange man or monster, or ghost, single-handedly seemed to have turned all of reality into a great nightmare, an impossible situation that none would know to tackle. But as the rest of the Chorans trembled in shock and fear, one young lad took up his axe.

"I'm not going to waste time in this charade," Kelva charged. "Men, at my command!"

Barely a second passed, and both of Kelva's comrades perished against the unarmed stranger, whose hands closed towards Kelva's throat. Kelva ducked and swung his axe against the Knight's torso. The Knight only barely stepped backwards, avoiding the attack, and attempted to disarm the boy. Kelva tossed his weapon quickly from the right hand to his left, swiftly rotated around the knight and swung counter-clockwise against the foe's back. It almost seemed as if he had won.

Almost.

"How brave," the shadow mumbled.

A sword penetrated Kelva's torso, and he coughed blood. The knight's sword retracted again, and he swung the boy. An explosion followed, and Kelva's corpse, ashen charred, landed at Owen's feet.

"No..." Ulfus mourned.

Soon followed footsteps, not of the armored soldiers or their horses, but those countless unarmored footsteps of villagers nearby, and they saw the strange phenomenon with their own eyes. Matilda appeared, though Nobu and Milly yet unseen, and she witnessed her beloved trampled below the foot of the Choran King.

"Falco!" She screamed in tears.

But though the Duke noticed, he could barely utter a whisper.

Sirius, the Choran Captain, gritted his teeth. "Grr! If we lose today there is no hope for victory... We are lions and our pride is greater than our death."

Owen confirmed. "This soldier hides explosions and a mere bag of tricks, but he can never win against our might."

Ulfus left the broken body of his former foe and joined his captains. "This settles it. We win today or we back out and never come back."

"Are you finished talking?" The shadow took his battle stance, for the first time since he arrived. "Fine, then I'll attack."

Falco de Faye, his body broken in dismay, witnessed the battle that transpired with the meager light his eyes could allow him. He forced himself to stay awake, knowing that if he gave in now he might just die. The crimson blood scattered across his face betrayed his intentions, and he struggled to watch. If he were to die right now, then this memory would be worth taking with him.

The Choran captains and their King braced themselves as the dark knight charged, but in a single blink of an eye he vanished and re-appeared right besides Sirius. The startled captain bravely grabbed the shadow with all his might, only to have the sword penetrated through his torso; but he did not let go. Taking advantage of the foe's constraint, Owen pierced the stranger through his heart.

But did they win?

The stranger, unaffected by the attack, swiftly grabbed Owen's head and snapped his neck. Barely did the shadow retrieve the blade from his torso, his next adversary -- Ulfus the Steadfast -- swung his massive, but broken, Guan Dao and cut through the stranger's back. Yet, the stranger felt no pain, and with amazing speed he swung towards Ulfus' head. With great athletic proficiency, Ulfus dodged the attack, bent on his palm and kicked upwards. The shadow dodge and grabbed the King's leg's with an attempt to break it. But Ulfus was quick, and he swung his Guan Dao against the shadow's hand. A scream followed.

It wasn't the stranger's.

A single flash, followed by a great explosion, sent the burnt and near-blackened Ulfus through the air, landing several meters close to Falco's vision. His skin seemed charred, and his torso cut by a great wound that could kill a man. Ulfus braved to stand on his feet, but the feet of the stranger pushed him down even further than what the earth could allow. Ulfus coughed blood.

"Retreat!" The Choran soldiers escaped. "Retreat! Retreat!"

"No, you don't," the shadow called.

As the injured Ulfus watched through eyes that dared not to look away from the face of death, the enigmatic shadow drew one hand before him and conjured a strange light that shun brighter than anything he had every seen. He sensed a strange, fearsome aura from it. This strange light resembled a flame, but that which seemed frozen in time. With a mere request, the knight's wounds healed, reverting him to his older and undamaged self. Then, he aimed the flame towards the Chorans.

A flare blasted with great intensity towards the retreating Choran soldiers, blinding everything in sight. When the flare died out, Ulfus witnessed in horror that not a single muscle or blood remained in the bones that fell to the ground. And this terrified him even further when he recalled the same flame that killed his forebear, Cambyses. He knew the name of the man who wielded such a flame. He knew that legends spoke of this murderer's eternal life.

And if so, this man who who bested him and killed his men, wielding the eternal frozen flame, must be....

"....Cedric... Guardia..." Ulfus muttered in agony and hate.

"Interesting," the shadow said. "I never knew lesser monkeys still knew my name."

Ulfus chuckled painfully. "Who wouldn't know the name of He whose mass murders have earned him reputation?"

"Says the one who brought his men to slaughter innocent villagers and nobles."

"Did you leave us a choice?"

"Did your forefather, Cambyses, leave me with one?" Cedric explained. "I did give him a choice. And despite his hubris, as he willingly plunged his people into the abyss of destruction, I took heart and saved them instead. But your stupidity and ignorance cost you greatly, and even your people suffered consequences you could not hope to comprehend. Just like your forefather, you certainly are."

"Go on... then," Ulfus rebelliously endured. "Finish it. That is all you do. That is all people are to you... But beyond all that power I can see fear in you. You kill and destroy just to satisfy your self-righteous void within, just to get what you want, and parade about how noble your intentions were. You fear letting them live because you fear to fall as a king!"

Cedric pondered. "I'm curious to know. I have given you power, wealth and prosperity beyond
what you could ever --"

Ulfus bellowed. "And leave the commoners starving, tortured, and slave-driven into despair? To remove their identity, their right and their faith? To take away from everyone whatever makes them human? Don't make me laugh! To be a king and die for my country was my rightful destiny, while you steal our resources only to give a handful. Let's face it... You have not given us everything; you have not given us our freedom. But there is still one thing Choras always keeps; that is our pride!"

Ulfus laughed his heart out, until Cedric pressed his feet upon the broken man's torso. The King coughed, screamed in agony, his eyes threatening to shut in unconsciousness.

Cedric finished. "Well then. Let us crush that pride for good."

Falco witnessed as Guardian soldiers emerged from the crowd and tying one end of the rope to Ulfus's legs, the other end tied to a carriage to drag him with. At first he had considered this King to be a foolish and altruistic hypocrite, but now half-wondered if the situations were really so grave it would drive the Chorans to rebel. He had always believed the Guardian Empire was that one light of human progress that could hardly be questioned. But is that lack of questioning making them blind after all?

And was he but that one pawn in the greater chess-piece, the one unintentionally oppressing the commoners and other civilizations? He recalled the words the Porrean Elder told him, and he recalled the words of Lady of Medina. Then he realized the sincere emotions within Ulfus when he met him at Medina. And then, as he looked into his worried wife's eyes far away, he realized her own words.

"Is that really what you were trying to tell me, my love?" Falco wanted to say.

"Let me go!" Matilda struggled to go to her husband as the Guardian soldiers held her back. "He needs me!"

But the apathetic soldiers refrained, keeping her at bay.

"Poor Lord Ulfus..." One villager said.

"What do you mean POOR Ulfus?" Yelled another. "He wanted us dead!"

"Lord Ulfus never meant us harm..." Someone said. "He always cared for the people."

"Guardia is a monster," said an old man somewhere, "treating us like we're disposable farm animals... Now that Lord Ulfus is being taken away from us, there truly is no hope..."

Falco looked upon Ulfus' body dragged away by the carriage, but the giant was breathing, groaning in great pain as the blood from back and head left a trail behind. Then he attempted to locate the the legendary founder as best as he could. Try as he might, blood began to obscure his vision. He felt someone lift him up and carry him somewhere, but did not know who it was. Voices blurred as his senses numbed, and he decided to whisper one question before he was gone:

"I never left a loophole... was always precise to acquire what I need... I made certain... that I would be chosen... absolutely certain... Why... why wasn't I chosen as the Emperor?"

And then Cedric's voice astonished his ears:

"Because you were too ambitious and cunning."

Falco heard the waves of the ocean and the waters stirring close, and he felt his body being placed upon something wooden with a coin placed on his forehead. In shock, he struggled to open his eyes, though his body would object, and he managed. And he saw the Guardian founder's wicked smile fleeting towards the horizon. He struggled to lift himself, though succeeding by barely an inch, and found himself drifting upon a boat towards the limitless ocean of darkness. The final light was taken from his eyes, the final sound fleeting from his ears.

And ultimately, all his sensations ceased.

tushantin

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Does it suck or something?
« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2013, 06:49:41 pm »
In ZeaLitY's words, "What, does it suck or something?"

Besides TheMage, not a soul seems to have commented (criticism or otherwise) on this thread. I hope I'm not the only dyslexic member in this forum, because this hardly does justice to a writer's motivation (especially when it's hard acquired).

In any case, I'm not sure if I'll write further until I get at least one feedback (besides my own girlfriend's), giving me time to prioritize my novel instead. Thankfully, there's plenty of time for that, since I'll be leaving for Kolkatta tomorrow (aka, "Eastern India", and I live in the Western-most) and won't be back until 9th of Feb.

That said, I do have something new to show you all for the Dream Splash, and I hope to post it right before I leave!

But the story of Fleabane is far from over! A mere death of the protagonist hardly proves that the story's finished -- heck, Chrono Trigger proved that -- and there's more to come still! What of Cedric's reign? What's gonna happen to Ulfus? Has the revolution really ended? What about Matilda and Milly? What of the Frozen Flame, and where did it go? And what the heck is an Astralite stone?

To find out these answers, and more, stay tuned!


Kodokami

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Re: Fleabane -- Origin of Flea, the Sky Djinni
« Reply #21 on: January 24, 2013, 01:45:54 am »
You're right. You and all the other writers here deserve some recognition, and I'm sorry that hasn't been given. I've been busy of late, but that's no excuse to not give at least some time to reading everyone's submissions.

This weekend you will all have my full attention.