-And So Their Story Begins-
The long unkempt grass rustled as Maya ran through the long dry fronds. Having abandoned the main path, Maya had kept running for a couple of minutes, hoping to distance themselves from the mutants that Zen was holding at bay. Concern for her friends had been running through her head ever since she was ordered to take Clover to safety.
How did this happen? Why has it happened?
Although she asked herself this, she already knew. She couldn’t help but blame herself. Although it was Michael and Zen who pushed the idea of taking Clover out for a quick mission as a gift, she knew that if she had really wanted to reject taking Clover with them as a gift, she would have. But she had also wanted to see Clover have a great birthday, and this kind of present would have made his day!
But what was going to happen to them now? Will they be able to get out the forest themselves? And even if they do, will Zen and Michael be capable of holding the beasts off until they reach the city and find help?
No… The beasts had already gotten past Michael… Does this mean that he has already died? Maya bit her lower lip until it began to bleed as tears began to well up from the side of her eyes threatening to fall. Her chest hurt, and a lump had arisen in her throat.
Will I lose my beloved friends today?
As much as she hoped this wouldn’t be the case, she just couldn’t shake the thought. Being a Seeker was not all fun and games, she knew that many Seekers had low life expectancies. But she had always hoped that their group would be different. They would travel the world together and eventually retire in Vanden or perhaps in Saintos and live out the rest of their days there peacefully.
But in just a single afternoon, this rainbow-colored future of hers had been violently torn to shreds.
No! I can’t think like this! Maya thought. Once I begin to believe that we failed, then we will truly fail! Besides, Zen and Michael are very strong! They will not die to something like this! Forcing a smile on her face, she began to feel strength return to her long slender legs, allowing her to glide through the forest.
“This is my fault…”
“What was that, Clover?” Maya looked back at Clover who was being carried on her back. Her eyes snapped open as she looked at the young boy. His eyes were bloodshot and filled with tears as they dripped down his face, soaking into his clothes. His face was red and his lips were a pale white.
“This is all my fault…” Clover mumbled, his voice cracking, as another flood of tears tumbled down his face. “I should’ve refused your gift! If I hadn’t agreed…Michael and Zen would still be alive…” He slowly whispered, his voice struggling to force the words out.
“Clover…” Maya stopped running and put Clover down. Her hands were shaking, and the lump in her throat grew larger. Her dark eyes had become increasingly red, as the tears that previously threatened to come out began to trickle onto her face.
“Clover, Michael and Zen will not die!” Maya declared.“This not your fault! This was never your fault! We forced you to come out here with us. If it wasn’t for me… if it wasn’t for us… This would never have happened…”
“But…” Clover started, still believing that he was just as guilty. As he looked at the beautiful tear-stained face in front of him, Clover tried to suppress the overwhelming feeling of dread and grief that was ravaging his heart.
“Will they be okay…?”
“Of course! They wouldn’t lose to something like this!” Maya playfully giggled, hoping to calm Clover and herself.
The horn sounded off once more! The loud sonic boom resounded throughout the forest, causing the nearby trees to shake and fall!
“Let’s go!” Maya yelled, as she picked Clover’s body up and threw him over her shoulders like a sack of potatoes. Fear shone in her eyes as terrible thoughts began to swirl in her mind once again.
Did Zen also fail?
Shaking her head once more, Maya sprinted through the forest. The long grasses and dense foliage rustled as she forced her way through!
I will keep Clover safe!
This single thought flashed through Maya, even if the Trio were to fall here, she would make certain that Clover survived! As she ran, Maya took a glance at Clover.
His face had grown pale, and his eyes appeared unfocused. A mixture of sweat and tears covered his face. This appearance and state of mind were to be expected, after all. Any inexperienced child would be frightened if they had been chased by a horde of mutated beasts!
Looking back, Maya’s eyes widened, her legs became weak, and her heart stopped beating. Time seemed to have stopped as she gazed at the horror that was behind them.
The horde of mutants had caught up! Their eyes were as red as fire and their disgusting tongues rolled out of their teeth-filled jaws. Their scaled and horned bodies were covered in wounds as blood seeped out of them.
This scene was like something out of a scary bedtime story, made to scare unruly children. Truly, these creatures were no longer common beasts and monsters, but demons that have escaped into the realm of the living!
Maya could only gaze in horror as she saw their quick approach. However, there were clearly much less of them than before. Zen must’ve killed many of them before he was defeated.
No, Zen would not have been defeated by them, neither would have Michael. They must be preoccupied with something else!
Her mind was in a whirl as she tried to find any explanation as to why the beasts had managed to get past her comrades. No matter what, she would not believe that they could have fallen here!
Maya ran for a while longer until she found a wide and open clearing, and stopped while placing Clover on the ground.
“Clover, you need to go without me!” Maya ordered as she grabbed Clover’s shoulder while gently caressing the top of his head. His soft gray hair brushed against her slender and reliable hand.
“But…What’s going to happen to you! What has happened to Zen and Michael!” He shouted back, unwilling to accept this sudden order.
“Please, just go!”
“But…You guys…” Clover could only mutter out a few intangible words, as an unexplainable emotion flowed throughout his body, paralyzing him!
“Clover,” Maya muttered, as she gave Clover a firm and loving hug.
“Please…Run! Don’t stop running until you reach Vanden!” Maya gave him one last command before she let go of him. After letting go, Maya turned around and sprint towards the incoming mutants!
In shock, Clover could only look back at Maya, her proud and valiant back disappearing behind the dense foliage.
Maya could only worry about the child she had to abandon, although leaving Clover by himself was the last thing Maya wanted to do, it was necessary. If anything, it was safer for him this way. If the beasts attacked while they were together, Maya would have to fight for her life while also having to protect Clover. Besides, Maya had already planned to end this battle in one blow, Clover would only be in danger if he stayed by her side. The sun had only just set, and now the moon poked over the canopy of the forest.
Rargh! Gah! Roar!
The ugly shrieks and screams of the beasts bellowed louder as they came closer towards Maya.
One final bellow echoed throughout the forest, as the mutated beast’s bulging red eyes caught sight of Maya’s slender frame. Her white robe was similar to a beacon that attracted their bloodthirst. Their powerful legs pounded the ground with a terrifying strength that caused the earth to crack and shake. The beasts ran with all their might towards the seemingly weak girl in front of them hoping to chew her bones and drink her marrow. The beasts pushed their bodies to the limit in order satisfy their hunger!
Maya’s eyes flashed with anger as she gazed at the disgusting and malevolent beasts in front of her. These beasts had ruined Clover’s day and may have killed her friends! They would not be left off so easily!
Maya took a single reassuring breath. The bracelets on wrists pulsed with a magical aura which made appear as if it were alive! The violet orbs swirled with Arcana, threatening to escape and obliterate the demons in front of them!
Maya lifted her arm towards the rampaging mongrels, their disgusting snarling snouts were drenched in saliva as they became more excited at the prospect of feasting on fresh meat.
As she aimed at the beasts, the orbs began to pulse faster and faster as the surrounding clearing became cold. The mutated beast’s saliva and foam froze within a second, forcing their maws shut! The dew that lingered on top of the grasses and trees began to crystallize, causing the land to appear to be covered in tiny stars as the moon shined upon them!
As Maya shouted the ancient command, her right side became encased in a layer of freezing ice that crept along her neck and onto her face. Both of her arms were covered in a layer of frost as a gigantic blizzard sprang out of her hands! The bone-piercing storm froze the nearby grasses and trees in a crystal-clear layer of ice! The blizzard continued onwards in a circular pattern towards the remnants the mutated beasts, they were unable to shriek or bark as their mouths had long frozen shut and they could only flee from the incoming blizzard that threatened to envelop their altered bodies!
Their bodies nearly snapped in half as they tried to turn tail and run. But it was too late! As they tried to run, the chilling gale froze their heels, freezing them into place. The worst was yet to come, however, as the cold sank into their bodies, freezing their veins, and causing their blood vessels to burst! Their hearts exploded from the sudden shock which killed them in an instant!
If an outsider were to approach this clearing they would surely be confused. As they would see an out of place winter wonderland that was filled with detailed sculptures of demons! The trees and surrounding foliage were also completely frozen, which further created an amazing spectacle to appear. The moon above caused the ice to sparkle, making it appear as if a solid layer of diamonds covered the land!
This looked more like some sort of frozen holy land, not a field of death!
“Phew…” Maya let out a single bone chilling breath, mist tumbled out of her mouth. Although Maya was the creator of the blizzard, she had yet to master this skill, therefore she was also affected. The layer of ice and frost that covered her body soaked into her clothes, chilling her straight to the bone.
Her mind snapped back to a more pressing issue, however. She forgot about her exhaustion and ran back towards Clover, hoping he had been able to leave the forest and return to safety. She would never forgive herself if a mutant had somehow avoided her spell and had reached Clover first!
“Stop!” A loud yell caused Maya to stop dead in her tracks. As she turned around, she saw a Centaur draped in a brilliant plumaged cloak.
“You three have ruined everything!” One glance at the man was all it would take to sense his fury. His emotion was almost visible, as it rolled off of him in waves.
Maya raised her arms at the man. He was obviously an enemy! Who else would claim ownership to those mutated beasts? Besides, Maya could see a horn in his hand. That must be the horn that could control the demonic horde!
“Who are you! And why did you make those demons attack us!” Maya had numerous questions she wanted to ask the man in front of her, as she gripped her staff in anger.
“Ha! As if I would have the need to attack such pitiful Seekers like you three!” He mocked before continuing.
“These beasts were meant for another purpose. And that purpose does not concern you!” The Centaur spat out these words before attacking Maya, pulling out a large claymore from the sheath on his waist.
Maya was prepared for this, as she pointed her staff at the man and focused the tip of her staff, the pulsing orb released some of its retained Arcana, and cast another spell!
As she finished shouting those ancient words of power a lance of ice itself towards the demonic Centaur!
The sharp lance of ice whistled through the air as it homed in at the man.But before it could reach its target, the Centaur swung its giant sword at the lance!
The sound of ice smashing into fragments resounded throughout the frozen clearing. The only remaining evidence of it was a light dusting of ice that covered the ground.
“Pitiful!” The Centaur yelled, before arriving in front of Maya. His speed frightened her, as he prepared to slice at her neck with a deadly slash from his sword!
This is bad! Maya yelled in her mind. As a mage, Maya was not good at close combat engagements! Typically, she would stay behind Michael and Zen as they took care of monsters in the front, while she provided support from behind. This was the worst possible matchup for her!
“Die!” It shouted once more as its titanic sword struck down at her!
Before the fatal strike could connect, Maya burned her Arcana and formed a protective layer of ice to shield her from the blow!
Maya slammed onto the ground, her breath forcefully ejected from her lungs. While the shield helped hamper the blow, it was not able to entirely diffuse the strength of the impact.Still gasping, Maya stumbled to get up and face her opponent.
As she raised her arms once more, she noticed that the orbs on her bracelets had shattered. And the Arcana held within dissipated into the air.
Although she had lost her beloved weapon, she did not require it to fight! Anyone can use magic without equipment, they would just have to rely on the Arcana that was stored within themselves.
“Just stay down and die!” A bulging vein appeared on the Centaur’s forehead as his eyes glowered in fury. “Because of you…Because of you… The young master will become angry! A flash of fear and loathing covered his face as he said these words.
Young master? Maya silently thought. Someone else is behind this then! What do they want? And why did they need all these mutated beasts?!
“Die!” The Centaur yelled once more as he sprinted towards Maya, his sword raised once more as he prepared to slash at her!
Maya lifted both of her arms as another lance of ice formed in front of her. She knew that this would be her last chance at taking down her enemy, she had to make this last blow count!
The Centaur’s head exploded as a large stalagmite of rock hit the side of his face, ejecting blood and brain matter as it splattered all over the clearing!
Maya could only gaze in surprise as she saw this cruel scene. Her eyes darted around as she looked for the intruder.
“Whos there?!” She shouted, looking for the one responsible for the surprise attack. The icicle in front of her only continuing to grow in strength.
“How meddlesome…” A quiet voice appeared from above Maya. A small body dropped from the overhead canopy and landed in front of her!
It was a boy, no older than sixteen or seventeen. His eyes were black and so was his hair. His skin was a sickly pale white that eerily glowed in the bright moonlight. The boy was an Azir, which his fluffy black ears and tail attested to.
“You four ruined everything… And you must pay for it…” The mysterious Azir nonchalantly said, before raising one hand.
A large boulder coalesced in front of the young Azir, before being launched away from him as if it were shot from a cannon!
“Wait!” Maya yelled out as the boulder flung towards her. She could only release her spear of ice towards it, in an attempt to block it.
The boulder did not slow down at all as it struck the icicle. The lance disintegrated into a fine powder as it was struck. The pale Azir slightly smiled at this, as he gazed at Maya.
Maya could only let out a sickening sound as the boulder crashed into her body, flinging her back dozens of feet, only stopping when she collided with a tree!
Maya only saw darkness as her head smacked into the tree, her dark eyes became blurry and rolled into the back of her head as blood oozed from her forehead.
“I guess there is only one left.” The pale boy said, gazing into the direction that Clover was running.
Michael yelled with all his might as his regal sword delivered the final blow to the Centaur. The deadly blade met its mark as it sliced at its front legs and chopped them off, causing the beast to fall with a loud smack!
The mutated Centaur let out one last unintelligible roar before Michael stabbed his sword into its forehead and pierced its brain. The Centaur’s eyes rolled back into its head and died instantly. It’s scaly body gave off a few spasms as it died, refusing to give up its attachment to life.
Looking at the pitiful display, Michael could only look down in pity. Centaurs mostly lived in barbarian tribal lands north of Kaldia and east of the Iceheart kingdom. Their most common trait was pillaging, therefore they deserved no pity. But there were a few who left their empty homeland to live in civilized society. And although they were ostracized and belittled everywhere they went, it was clear that they were highly intelligent creatures. Even when they did not have any sort of formal education. This was in direct contrast to the widely spread ‘fact’ that Centaurs were mindless beasts who only sought to eat, fight, and have sex.
Could this Centaur also have been forced to go under some form of mutation? Did it have a master controlling it from the shadows?
Shaking his head clear from these thoughts, he dashed down the path towards the rest of the group.
As Michael ran, many worrisome thoughts ran through his head. The most distressing of which was how he was going to explain all this to Captain Strauss. And more frighteningly, Bastille!
He shivered at the thought of what would happen if Clover was hurt. If he did get hurt, how would they be able to explain this? Although the Trio had good intentions, they had poorly executed this gift. They should have asked for permission and made several other preparations beforehand!
Sighing, he could only hope that everything would turn out alright and that Zen and Maya have taken care of the mutant horde. Besides, Zen was almost as strong as he was! And Maya is an extremely capable mage!
Running along the path with all these thoughts swirling through his head, Michael had forgotten about the pain and exhaustion that he was feeling. All of a sudden, sharp pains echoed throughout his body as the adrenaline of battle wore off.
Falling to the ground in a spectacularly lame fashion, Michael let out a long breath of air. His body had many cuts and bruises and his armor was completely destroyed. His protective jacket was covered in slashes and cuts while his metal chest guard was completely destroyed!
His pale face sweated profusely as he ground his teeth in pain. His usually clear blue eyes were now clouded with exhaustion. From an outsider’s view, this young man would look like they were at death’s door!
“I won’t die from this!” Michael ground his teeth harder as an intense confidence poured into his eyes, clearing the clouds that covered his brilliant blue pupils!
While any other Seeker would have succumbed to their wounds long ago, Michael would not! He was a true hero, how could he die from something like this? After all, he still had a damsel to save!
As an image of the gray-haired boy entered his mind, strength filled his muscles, as he launched himself back onto his feet and ran down the path with all his might!
“Why! Won’t! You! Die!”
Michael stopped dead in his tracks as he heard a loud yell in front of him. Without a noise, he hid in nearby bushes and gazed at the owner of the voice. His eyes snapped open in surprise as he gazed at the sight in front of him.
Another Centaur currently had Zen preoccupied in a battle. However, it appeared that the Centaur had the upper hand. Zen was currently kneeling down and gasping for air, as blood oozed from the many wounds that covered his body. His dark-green jacket had many tears and holes as streams of blood trickled out of them. Zen’s prized bow laid shattered in front of him while the Centaur slowly approached him.
“Now you will die, just like your friends.” The Centaur raised its spear once more, preparing to slash it down and end Zen’s life!
Michael loudly roared as lifted up an arm towards the man and burnt the remaining amount of Arcana in his body. As he shouted the ancient command, a large ball of fire shot forth from his hand!
The Centaur turned in surprise, his eyes were filled with unmasked hate and fear. Rotating his body, it attempted to jump out of the way of the seething fireball!
Before the Centaur could leap out of the way and into safety, a well-placed dagger stabbed into his back, piercing his spine!
“Damn….you…” The Centaur groaned as the intruding object pierced through his soft flesh and tore into his back! The Centaur found that he could not move as the previous attack had paralyzed him from the torso down. His eyes were full of despair and hate as he glared at Zen before he fell to the ground.
His useless legs no longer capable of supporting him, as the large ball of fire bore down on him!
“The young master will avenge me!” The Centaur let out one last curse as it became enveloped by Michael’s flames.
“I thought you had died, you bastard…” Zen let out a half-smile, before contorting his face with pain. Clearly, both of the young men were in dire straits. Their bodies were littered with wounds, as exhaustion seeped into their bones. Michael felt as if his blood was boiling due to the effects of burning too much of his Arcana, making him feel as if he had a high fever. Zen, on the other hand, was nauseous and light-headed, almost as if he was drunk.
“Are Maya and Clover safe? Did you manage to kill the rest of the mutants?”
Zen’s face flashed with multiple emotions as he heard this. Looking at his face, Michael could already guess the answer.
“No…They ran past me after the Centaur attacked me. His master took a horn that controlled the beasts and ran off towards Maya and Clover.
“I see…” Michael muttered. “Well nevertheless, we have to go and catch up with them! Clover must not be harmed!”
“Let’s go!” Zen said before falling back onto his feet…
“Uh, can you carry me for a bit?” Zen’s eyes pleadingly gazed at Michael, while his face was contorted with an awkward smile.
Michael could only gaze at his friend with slight annoyance before picking him up and slinging him over his back like a sack of potatoes
After running for a couple of miles, Michael and Zen were hit with a sudden chill. The hairs on the backs of their necks bristled from the sudden drop in temperature.
“This is definitely Maya’s magic!” Zen shouted. It had to be, how else would the warm summer air drastically decrease in temperature so suddenly?
As they continued running, the pair began to see ice and frost cover the landscape. Trees and bushes were encased in pure ice, the moonlight shone upon them, blinding the duo with a dazzling light show.
“What the…” The duo said simultaneously.
As they ran deeper into the winter landscape, the duo saw the demonic beasts encased in ice. Their snarling faces were captured in time, allowing the two to more closely inspect their features. Their eyes no longer glowed their furious red. Now they were dull and dead. Their bodies were covered in layers of muscle with veins similar to worms. One glance at these hellish sculptures would be all that was need to tell that these beasts could not have been created through natural means.
The world Michael and Zen inhabited was vast, with strange mysteries inhabiting all types of ancient ruins and mystical zones. Seekers would often seek out the mysteries contained within these zones in hopes of finding treasure. But what they desired most of all was power.
Power like what these beasts may have found. Power that granted strength. A power that was so enticing, that they would not mind if they’re bodies became twisted and mutated. Many believed that The Dark Forest of Vanden held a mysterious power, one that had yet to be found. After all, The Dark Forest was vast, and only Blue ranked Seekers would be capable of surviving within the deeper portions of the forest. But even then, stories of famous and overconfident Blue ranked Seekers that perished in this forest was common!
And Vanden’s Dark Forest was not the only place that had such treacherous mystical zones! Bleakbog, The Hassan Desert, Mount Everburn, and The Primal Isle also held such mystical zones. But the most dangerous and mysterious of all mystical zones were The Deadlands of the Aleesian continent! It was there where the vast majority of Gold and Blue ranked Seekers would travel to, and where they would die. The danger found in this land was unparalleled. It was for a good reason why it was called The Deadlands.
Michael and Zen assumed that these rogue beasts had come into contact with some sort of strange power that originated from within The Dark Forest. And that the Centaurs were the ones who found it.
Unfortunately for the two of them, they did not know that these beasts were injected with a man-made serum that allowed them to push their bodies to the limit and become controlled with the horn. Although they had their suspicions that the Centaur’s were behind this, they did remember that they mentioned something about a young master. From the tone of their voice when they spoke of him, it was clear that he was above them in some way. It was most likely the young master who was behind this.
“Maya! Clover!” The two shouted, hoping that their friends would hear their voices and run towards them, safe and sound.
“Damn it! Where are they?” Michael let out a curse as he gazed out onto the frozen landscape.
Michael sprinted towards the sound of Zen’s voice, only to gasp in horror. In front of the two, them was their companion. Her body was bruised and battered. Her skin was frostbitten in multiple places. But the blood running from her head was the most pressing matter. If there was any significant damage to the brain, then there would be no hope for their friend.
“Hurry! Take out the elixir!” Zen yelled at Michael.
“I know! I know!” Michael pulled out an elixir as he retorted back. The elixir was a dull rusty brown, with only the slightest tinge of red. The liquid was suspended in a simple glass container, with any details other than a simple brown label that said, Imp Mud.
Michael uncorked the elixir and poured two-thirds of the liquid down Maya’s throat while pouring the remaining third directly onto her wounds. Immediately after touching Maya’s skin, the liquid began to violently sizzle and bubble. The wounds began to heal at an astonishing rate, after less than ten seconds, the smallest of cuts had closed up. Her veins glowed a bright red color as the elixir flowed throughout her body, healing her from within. Thankfully she was unconscious for this, or else she would be screaming in pain! The cheaper the elixir, the worse the pain would be. With the most expensive of elixirs only causing a sensation some would call pleasant.
After a minute of silence, Maya’s eyes fluttered open. A cloud of confusion and pain appeared within them, as she gazed at her two companions.
“Maya…” The two young men let out breaths of relief as they saw their friend awake from her slumber.
“…ver…” Maya let out a soft whisper, her eyes welling up with large tears as she gazed at her two friends.
“What’s that Maya?” Zen came closer, trying to hear her traumatized friend.
Finding strength, she spoke up again.
Clover panted heavily as he ran through the dense foliage that littered the forest.
The forest was eerily silent now, a huge difference from the chaos from minutes ago. After he had been ordered to run away from Maya. He had heard a large explosion, and the warm summer air turned chilly in an instant. He had felt as if he was going to freeze to death as frost began to creep onto his clothing, only for it to melt away a minute later as he ran away from the epicenter of the explosion.
In direct contrast to the freezing ice from before, he was now covered in sweat as his body became increasingly warm as he ran this marathon. His brow was covered in sweat that dripped down his pale face which ran down his neck and soaked into his clothes. His legs were riddled with tiny cuts from thorns and branches that whipped past his skin as he ran through the undergrowth.
As Clover never had the aspiration to become a Seeker, he had never made it his goal to become physically fit. Although he would train in the Guild training grounds on occasion, he was definitely not fit! His chest heaved up and down as hot breath tumbled out of his dry throat and his slender legs threatened to buckle from exhaustion as they struggled to keep him up.
Clover ran for what seemed like hours before he began to see a slight glow from behind the large trees in front of him! This glow was from the distant lights of Vanden! A burst of strength and energy filled Clover’s frame as he sprinted towards the light.
Clover burst past the dense foliage and into the open fields outside of the forest. About a mile away from him was the large city of Vanden. It’s tall and mighty walls never looked more inviting in his life! The night sky accentuated the thousands of lights from within, making it appear as if miniature stars had fallen to earth, creating a brilliant light show!
Stopping to catch his breath, Clover looked back at the forest behind him. His eyes filled with a sense of duty and confidence as he prepared himself to explain the party’s situation to Captain Strauss and the rest of the wall guards. Letting out a final breath, Clover turned back towards the city and prepared for the last portion of his marathon.
“Huh?” Clover’s eyes widened in surprise as he saw a small figure in front of him. It was another boy. The boy looked sick. His ashen white face appeared terribly pale. Its sickly whiteness was only accentuated by his jet-black hair and eyes and his two wolf-like ears adorned his head while an equally black tail bristled behind him.
“Hey! It’s not safe here! There are demons rampaging in the forest, you have to run!” Clover warned the strange boy. However, it did not appear as if the boy heard, as he stood silent and stared at Clover.
“Are you okay? If you’ve been hurt you can follow me back to Vanden!”
“Fool…” The Azir boy whispered as he stared at Clover.
“What?” Confusion filled Clover’s eyes as well as a hint of fear, for some reason he did not feel safe when the mysterious boy stared at him, his black eyes were like black holes that threatened to swallow up his existence.
“We need to get out of here!” Clover yelled once more as he tried to run past the strange boy. His face was covered in fear, he merely wanted to get out of this situation as fast as possible!
“You’re not going anywhere!” The boy yelled as he grabbed onto Clover’s shirt collar as he ran past, throwing him back dozens of feet with ease!
“Geh!” Clover choked, as he was suddenly jerked back before he was launched into the air. His body flew dozens of feet before landing with a painful thud!
Struggling to get up, Clover pushed himself up the ground, only to be forcefully pushed back down as the mysterious boy slammed his foot into Clover’s back.
“Gah!” Clover yelped in pain as his head slammed into the ground, his back and stomach ached with pain as he threw up a mouthful of blood.
“Why are you doing this?!” Clover’s eyes were filled with tears of pain as he gazed upon his aggressor. “What have I ever done to you?! I don’t know who you are!”
“You ruined my plans!” The boy yelled back. His face was contorted in fury as he gazed down at Clover’s pitiful body.
“I don’t know anything about your plans! Even if I did, why would I ruin it?!” Clover tried to throw common sense at the boy. After all, how and why would Clover be able to ruin this boy’s plans?
“It doesn’t matter! You were in the forest when I tried to enact my plans! You and your friends will die for killing my precious beasts!” A wriggling vein had appeared on his forehead, as spittle flew from his mouth with each word.
Clearly, there was no getting through to this deranged child. As Clover gazed at this boy he could only think of one thing.
Am I going to die?
He was still young and he hadn’t been able to complete any of his dreams, how could he possibly die here?
Forcefully pushing himself off from the ground, Clover attempted to sprint away! His attempted escape was only met with extreme prejudice as the boy effortlessly caught up and grabbed Clover by the back of his neck!
With a single movement, Clover was flung into the air back into the forest and away from the safety of Vanden!
“Ah!” Clover let out a yell as he fell into the dense canopy of the trees. His body was mercilessly whipped by branches as he tumbled down. Cuts and bruises appeared throughout his body as the branches cut his delicate skin. He fell for what felt like minutes until he finally met the forest floor with a sickening crash!
Clover nearly lost consciousness as he violently hit the forest floor. Blood flowed from a wound from his head as he struggled to get back up. Mentally, he had already given up on escaping his death, but his body automatically forced himself to survive.
Stumbling, he tried to hide in nearby bushes before the boy could arrive. However, Clover was too slow as the boy emerged from the thick foliage in front of him.
“Don’t blame me for killing you…After all, you were the ones who came into this forest and killed my precious pets. I am only providing justice for them!”
As the boy said this, he began to form a small rock in front of his outstretched arm. It started off as a clump of uneven dirt and rock. But it soon began to spin around faster and faster until it fashioned itself into a deadly looking lance which was aimed at Clover!
“Guh…” Clover could only moan out pitifully as he stared at his impending death. He had completely resigned himself to his fate as he gazed at the rotating spike.
“Hmm?” The boy’s eyes snapped open in shock as he looked at his chest. Where a small light was glowing a bright blue.
“What!” The boy yelled as he stopped his magic and fell to his knees. Reaching into his shirt, he pulled out a small orb that was connected by a thin string. After it was released from its confinement, the orb slowly hovered over the Azir boy’s face, as if it was communicating with him.
“No! This is not possible!” The boy shrieked out as he gazed at Clover. Grabbing the orb, the boy crushed it in hands, the glowing light faded away as the orb shattered into a powder.
“Who are you! Why do you exist!” The boy yelled as he began to have a childish tantrum.
Clover could only look on in astonishment as the previously serious and terrifying boy in front of him had collapsed into nothing but a writhing mass of childishness. The boy was screaming out unintelligible words as he pulled at his hair, ripping out handfuls. This would have been comical if Clover’s life was not at stake.
After a minute of this, the boy went silent and stood back up. His eyes were dull with a gleam of confusion as he stared at Clover.
“You…” The Azir boy lightly whispered. “You must not leave here alive. I don’t care what he said…” Barely audible the boy looked at Clover with a look that he could not describe. Pity? Hate? Sympathy? None of this mattered as Clover knew that his fate was still the same.
The boy looked on at Clover, however, he did not attempt to cast any magic. Instead, he fell to the ground and began to violently spasm back and forth. His face looked like it was in intense pain as black fur violently appeared out of his skin. His previous small frame grew to a staggering seven feet tall and his entire body became more wolf-like. His mouth was now full of dagger-like teeth and his nails had turned into claws.
Clover’s eyes widened in horror as he gazed at the boy’s transformation. What was he! He had never heard of an Azir being able to transform into a beast!
Before Clover could wrap his head around what had just happened, the boy turned wolf attacked! It crossed several meters in less than a second!
The boy’s large body violently slammed into Clover’s much smaller frame, causing him to fly back dozens of meters!
With a bone-shattering smack, Clover landed heavily on the ground.
Clover screeched in agony as he hit the ground. He could feel several ribs shatter as he hit the ground. Struggling to get up, Clover vomited several mouthfuls of blood. His mind was in a panic.
Why is this happening! Who is he! Why is he doing this to me! I don’t want to die! Someone! Save me!
His mind was screaming in fear as it could only think about staying alive. Adrenaline pumped through his body, hoping to somehow make use of it to escape.
Coughing more sticky blood, Clover looked for the Azir turned werewolf, only to be unable to locate it.
Had he assumed he had died and left?
No, that was impossible, the boy would never leave Clover the faintest chance of survival after he reacted to whatever the orb had said
Incredible amounts of pain consumed Clover’s body, his shattered ribs making it nearly impossible for him to breathe. He could feel that his left arm was broken as well, only adding to his list of injuries. Clover struggled to get up once more, only to fall back onto his knees. As he looked up, he saw that the boy-wolf had appeared in front of him again.
“Please don’t kill me!” Clover screamed in agony as he gazed at the beast. Its eyes were empty as if it had no intelligence left.
“Coward… A Seeker must always be prepared for death.”
The boy-wolf rammed into Clover once more, slashing at his body with an outstretched paw!
“Agh!” Letting out a pitiful wail, Clover was flung back dozens of feet. Clover struggled for a few moments before he reached out with his right arm and attempted to get up once more. It was only until another few moments of confusion that he noticed that his arm wouldn’t obey him. As he looked down, Clover noticed a large pool of blood.
“All of this is mine?” Clover faintly whispered as looked down. The dark shadows of the forest shrouded the landscape in darkness. It was not until the moon flashed through the thick overhead canopy that he noticed his dismembered arm laying in the middle of the pool of blood.
Screeching like a dying bat, Clover stared at his stump of an arm as a large river of blood flowed from it. His head became faint from the loss of blood as he fell to his side, his eyes turning toward his assailant as the Azir boy drew closer towards him.
This was it. This is the end. I am going to die.
“Bastille, Maria, Sven, Kate, Edward, Heather, Carla, Morty… I’m sorry…” Clover couldn’t help but let out a stream of tears as he thought of everyone.
Why did I leave? Why didn’t I just refuse this gift?
His questions wildly cluttered his mind as he watched death approach. Clover closed his eyes as he wished that he would wake up in his bed as if this was just a terrible nightmare.
But after a couple of short breaths, death hadn’t appeared.
Huh? Shouldn’t I be dead? Clover wondered as he opened his eyes and surveyed his surroundings.
“Damion! I have hunted you for months! Now I will finally kill you!”
In front of him was a slender girl, about the same age as him. From his position, he could only see her sleek and fiery red hair. She was covered from head to toe in an extravagant suit of armor that was trimmed with gold and ruby designs. On her back was a red cape with an insignia that resembled a pair of phoenixes. In her hand was a comically large claymore that was much larger than her. But even Clover could tell that it was incredibly well made.
Who was this girl? Was she from a noble family? How else could she afford that armor and bear an insignia?
Either way, she seemed confident in her abilities at defeating the boy-wolf.
“You never know when to stop do you!” Damion yelled, his voice sounded more like a bark then a yell.
Slamming his hands onto the ground, an enormous wall of earth appeared. Blocking the mystery girl and Clover from seeing him.
“No! Not again!” The redheaded girl yelled once more before she rushed at the wall with her large claymore!
The wall shattered to bits as the girl’s blade slammed into it. An avalanche of rock and dirt fell, causing a large amount of dust to exploded and cover the surrounding area. Damion used this smoke-screen to escape.
“Damn you, Damion!” The girl yelled in anger, her scarlet hair bristled like that of a cat.
“Ugh…” Clover let out a single moan of pain as he gazed at the hot-headed girl in front of him. His eyes met briefly met hers as she nonchalantly gazed at his soon to be corpse.
“Who are you? Obviously not someone important since I don’t see any important noble insignia on your clothes!” The girl shouted in a clear and confident voice.
“Are you some unfortunate peasant who happened to meet Damion’s wrath? Pfft, no wonder your body is all torn up!” The redheaded girl laughed to herself as she said this, before continuing.
“Or are you a stupid Seeker who had taken a mission by himself, thinking that you could make more money by yourself? Too bad…Like most commoners, you overestimated your strength! Honestly, how pitiful…”
Clover’s unfocused eyes could hardly see the girl’s face. Due to a large amount of blood loss, his vision had become blurry. He could only let out a weak gurgle.
“Huh? What was that noise?” The girl asked. “Oh, you are dying aren’t you? Well…You did manage to stop Damion in time for me to catch up to him… Although he did escape…” Letting out a sigh of annoyance, the fiery girl continued.
“Oh well, I guess I can leave you with this elixir, as a token of gratitude of course!” The girl reached into a small satchel on her waist and pulled out a small tube and pipette. Inside the small tube was a small amount of a bright pink fluid, without a single trace of impurities. The girl opened the small tube and took out a single drop of pink fluid with the pipette.
“Just to let you know… This single drop is worth more than your life will ever be worth.” The girl nonchalantly said as she opened Clover’s mouth and squeezed out the drop of fluid into his mouth.
Clover felt a warm sensation flow into his body. His bloody stump of an arm had begun to cauterize itself, and many of his larger cuts began to seal their wounds within seconds.
“Now then, forget that I was here and go to sleep…” As the fiery girl said these words, Clover felt an immense sense of exhaustion fill his body. His vision turned black as he gazed into the blurry face in front of him. His head gently hit the ground as he fell unconscious.
Next Chapter: Chapter 7