The sky was as blue as a river's water, with people living out their lives without many worries.
It was a peaceful era, with townspeople going about their daily routine, knights training to keep their skills sharp, and wandering merchants coming and going from the lively, yet small, town. One young knight in particular, was clearly putting a lot of effort into his training, all while a young Mage watched him from afar. Childhood friends; one who took the path of the sword and another who took the path of magic, that were inseparable.
The mage smiled as her friend seemed to get tired and used this chance to approach him on the training grounds."Hey, Els! Don't you think you've worked hard enough for today? You look really tired."
She said in a somewhat joking tone.
The mage was making fun of him while still being half serious about her question.
She was wearing a stylish, yet cute set of clothes, which included a short, purple dress with a white skirt, and an orange ribbon on each of her arms. She wore black shoes as well, with white socks long enough to cover up to her knees, black fingerless gloves, a belt with fake, small skulls on it and another of said skulls attached to her purple hair. It was a bit creepy at first, but those that knew her for a while already got used to it. Besides, it made her look cuter than she already was."Very funny, Aimie! You know I have to train my hardest right now, I can't afford to take any chances. This is my only shot at becoming a real knight!"
His answer was as hot blooded as one of his appearance would suggest.
The young knight was somewhat short in size, and the color red dominated most of his attire, which seemed fitting, given his red hair. He wore a simple, long-sleeved, red shirt, black and red fingerless gloves, white and black shorts, and gray shoes with small, black socks. It was a very simple choice of clothes compared to that of his friend, which is yet another example of how different they were and how opposites attract each other.
Aimie smiled at his response, with Els smiling back as they both let out a small laugh. They were young, no older than teenagers, although Aimie looked slightly older.
Suddenly, a man came out of the knights' building in front of the training grounds. The building was gigantic in size, although it looked more like a church from the outside than anything else, only without it's religious symbols.
"It's time." Said the man as he walked up to Els.
Almost immediately, the man turned around and headed back inside.
The young man smiled with great determination in his eyes as he looked back to his friend before running inside, shortly after the older knight. All Aimie could do was wave to him goodbye, not even having a chance to wish him good luck. She let out a sad smile as she walked away to the wizards academy in order to resume her studies.
-1 Year Later-"But you see, this material doesn't work well with the extracts from the plant..."
Said an unknown figure.
He wore dark blue robes covering most of his body, and was sitting on a wooden chair by a wooden table, whilst discussing alchemy with Aimie inside the library. He had short, black hair and looked only slightly older than the young magician, but was clearly more experienced than her in many aspects. She looked a bit surprised at what he said at first, but quickly noticed he was correct and smiled in response as they both continued to read books and discuss ideas."Oh gosh, look at the time! I'll be late for dinner if I don't hurry up! Thank you for the help today, Arago!"
Aimie was quick to put her books inside her backpack and wave goodbye to her friend, who then waved back as he continued to read his books and tomes. They had been friends for a good while, having met each other in Aimie's first week at the Mages' academy. Their meeting was simple; Aimie was having some difficulty understanding a few terms and material combinations while studying a book all by herself at the library. Arago was quick to catch on to this, and so offered his help.
Ever since that day, they had been the best of friends, and partners on most projects, often getting some of the highest grades in the entire academy."Wow! Cooking is easier than I expected!"
Els had only watched Saleen and Aimie cook so far, although he decided to help the elf with it today. He was inexperienced, but appeared to have a natural talent for it, something his mother figure gently smiled at. Being an experienced cook herself, she explained most of the basics to the young man, including the most important part; putting love into the preparing of the meals.
Els was smiling the entire time. He followed every instruction, paying special attention to the part about putting his love into it. This is something he did easily, considering the reason he had decided to help out in the first place.
Saleen was happy to see how dependable of a man he had become, and truly expected him to achieve many great things in the future, whilst taking care of both himself and Aimie."Why did you decide to help me today, Els? Could it be because of Aimie?"
She said in a curious tone, still smiling at the young man as he blushed at the question.
It was true, he had decided to help with the cooking that day as a way to expressing part of his feelings for her.
He figured Aimie would be late due to the fact she was going to meet Arago, so he used this chance to make a surprise for her.
Arago was a good person in Els' eyes, but they never have many chances to interact with each other because of their separated working environments. He also knew how good of a friend Arago was to Aimie.
With her eyes closed, Saleen just let out a small laugh at Els' reaction, her face giving off all the comfort someone could need."I'm hooooome!"
Aimie's voice was cheerful and often what brightened up the house on, otherwise calm, nights. Els and Saleen were already waiting at the dinner table, after having just finished cooking and preparing everything. The elf was sitting in a polite manner, with a gentle smile on her face while the young knight was laid back, with an annoyed look on his. The three of them had been living together for a while, Saleen having unofficially adopted both of them.
Aimie had never met her parents, and it is unknown what happened to them. All Aimie had heard was that she was left at the door of Saleen's home as a newborn, and she had been living with her ever since.
Els on the other hand, lost his parents when their house caught on fire. He had barely escaped before the fire consumed everything, and watched from a distance as he sat on the ground, with arms crossed, as the flames slowly faded away in the rain. It was on that same day that he met Saleen, who had discovered him when it was already too late.
Feeling great sympathy for the boy, Saleen walked up to Els, simply sat by his side and hugged him, which resulted in the young man breaking down in tears."You're late again. The food is getting cold so hurry up!"
Els said this, but he knew it was not entirely the truth, for the food was still warm and he knew that very well. He couldn't help but want Aimie to taste it as soon as possible. He was quietly confident that she would like it, and could barely hold his grin, even though she had only just sat at the table. She was sat in a way that was not very lazy, yet not too polite. A balance, so to say, between both her mother and brother figures."This is good... but something feels different about it. Did you try something new with the food today, mother?"
She was curious about the fact that the food seemed to taste unlike Saleen's usual cooking.
Els' grin could have been noticeable from another planet by this point, leading to the elf letting out yet another small, gentle laugh. Aimie was confused at their reaction, not knowing if that was their answer to her question or just laughing at her for a reason not known to her."Els helped me cook tonight, sweetheart."
Aimie's face turned red the moment she heard that. She had no idea Els could cook in the first place. She only saw him playing around with his swords before dinner up until now. She wouldn't have been surprised if he had actually eaten the swords instead of real food, due to his obsession with them.
The young man smiled, clearly happy over the fact Aimie liked the food he helped make. Aimie stared at him for a couple of seconds, with Els thinking she would try freezing him alive again. He was surprised to see her smile instead, causing him to blush uncontrollably just like she did a few moments ago.
It was a happy night overall at their home, with the three of them having an enjoyable chat until dinner was over.
-5 Days Later-"I'm really worried..."
Her voice tone showed how depressed Aimie was. The news of her friend Arago disappearing into the forest, while on a simple search for ingredients a few days ago, caught her by surprise. The place was not of any particular danger, be at day or night, so the idea that something not from the forest had taken him was a possibility.
Both Els and Saleen were sad to see her this way and decided to accompany her on a search for Arago; a special mission request by the Wizard's Academy.
Aimie tried her hardest to hide her sorrow, but it was easy to notice she was about to break down in tears at any moment."Don't worry, we'll find him and bring him back."
Saleen's caring voice sounded as if it was a blessing from the gods. Her words were filled with love and confidence, enough to put a smile on Aimie's face.
She then looked at Els, who had the biggest grin of all out of the trio. They were all confident that everything would turn out well, and departed on their search.
Once inside the forest, they started searching for clues of where he could have been. Very few hostile creatures appeared, and none of them posed any particular challenge. This made the search significantly easier.
The sun had started to set, and although Aimie was worried that something could happen to Arago at any time, she agreed it was better to set camp and rest for the night before resuming travel the next day. Luckily for them, Saleen could easily spot safe locations in the forest due to her nature as an elf, easing some of the worries on the young ones' minds."Don't leave me..."
Aimie whimpered, almost as if it was a whisper.
She couldn't help but feel the need to sleep in Els' tent that night, sneaking away from her own which she shared with her mother. Els was forced to sleep in a separate tent due to the obvious fact he was male, and the girls needed their privacy.
Her voice, sad as it was, only fueled the young knight's resolve to find Arago before any harm could come to him.
They hugged before falling sleep in each others' arms. Their mother knew very well Aimie had left to sleep with Els, but she did not mind, and decided they were old enough to do whatever they wished."Now, let's continue our mission!"
Day had arrived and Els voice echoed in the quiet Morning air. They had packed their belongings and readied themselves as it was time to continue their search.
Aimie remained close to Els as they walked. Closer than usual, ever since the night before. Els and Saleen did not mind at all, in fact, Els enjoyed it and felt content that she could rely on him.
Suddenly, they heard the sound of footsteps close by. They sounded light, like that of a human. The possibility that it could be Arago caused them to dash towards it, in hopes of catching him.
They finally reached the figure of a man, with his back up against a tree. It turned out to be Arago after all. He seemed to be wounded, tired, and unable to walk anymore. They had suddenly caught his attention, and he averted his attention towards them, staring for a few seconds."The three of you should not be here, it's danger-"
Suddenly he was cut short by what appeared to be a claw piercing his neck from the other side of the tree. An abrupt shock rippled throughout heir bodies, and Aimie's eyes went blank from the sheer horror of what she had just witnessed.
The claw was then pulled out, and with a quick swipe, sliced the tree in half along with Arago's head. His decapitated body slumped to the ground, limp and lifeless.
Suddenly, a group of monsters far different from the ones they had seen previously appeared. Running away was not an option, as Aimie's legs gave way and refused to move. Els's attempts at snapping her out of it were to no avail, leaving Saleen and himself to fight for themselves against the new enemies.
Then... it happened."No..."
Aimie's voice was barely audible. She was speechless after what had just happened. Her mind was shattered. She was filled with disgust and terror, and all she could do was watch.
The creatures had suddenly pounced on Saleen and started devouring her while she was still alive. Els could not do much either, as he was being kept busy with countless others of the monstrosities. Saleen had decided to guard Aimie from their attacks, resulting in her being overwhelmed, her limbs being torn apart one by one.
Lying on the ground, with blood leaking out uncontrollably from all manner of parts of her body, she turned to Aimie while withholding the excruciating pain. She had accepted her fate, and once again smiled at her, hoping that both she and Els would grow up to be truly amazing examples of human beings.
Els let out a bellowing roar in rage, as he tore through the monsters and rushed to lay down his wrath on those that had just murdered his mother. He cared about nothing else other than having their heads after what they just had done, while Aimie, still speechless and motionless, was still frozen in paralysis.
Els finished off the few remaining and tried to catch his breath. He turned and stared at Arago's headless body, and then to whatever remained of their mother's."...I'm sorry."
The young knight's voice was full of pain as he said this.
He had failed to protect the woman that took care of him ever since he was little. All he could do was fall to his knees in front of Aimie, and embrace her. Both of them refused to move for what seemed like ages, as if the world around them had stood still.
Hours had passed before Els finally gained the strength to lift himself to his feet. Without saying a word, he proceeded to carry the young mage by piggyback, tears still resting on her eyelashes. She had lost consciousness from the sheer mental and emotional exhaustion she had experienced.
Els, full of sorrow and regret, then began to head back to the Mages' Academy, trying to come up with a way to explain to the higher ups what had happened in the forest.
That day was the day that changed everything.
It was later revealed that a special team from the Mages' Academy had been investigating Arago and his recent behavior. A research team had also investigated the forest area where Arago and Saleen perished, and revealed that Arago had fled to the forest after the Mages' Academy had caught on to him.
Apparently, Arago was found guilty of trying to summon creatures from other dimensions, which is something absolutely forbidden by Law and the Academy, and considered one of the highest levels of black magic.
Whilst the materials used for it showed that he was only going to summon small ones, possibly for research, the fact that much larger and more powerful creatures were chasing him instead means that he had probably performed the ritual incorrectly, although there was no way to truly confirm these details.
-2 years later-
The Crimson knight rushed to the top of the mountain, not giving himself a second of rest as he simply could not afford to. Destruction claimed the landscape, and the sky, full of menacing clouds, rained thunder and lightning down on those who dared to leave the safety that was the underground. Worst of all, rampaging monsters were littered across the land.
Els was filled with regret, but he pushed on despite this, all to try and save the only reason left for his existence. To save the one he loved. To save Aimie.
As he reached the icy peaks of the mountain, he found an opening in the frozen rocks that led to a large cave inside. He cautiously entered and saw the dark magician overshadowing what looked like a ritual circle on the ground, made from blood, in the middle of the vast cavern. She was chanting incoherently, in a language Els could not understand, nor did he have any intention to."Aimie, You have to stop this right now!"
He cried out as tears welled up in his eyes, forcing himself to keep them in.
He had hoped his words would reach out to her, but it was to no avail. She simply ignored him and continued the chant.
She was attempting to summon a monster powerful enough to completely destroy the world in it's current state. Although this was not her sole and true intention, it was very much a possibility, and the young knight was not willing to let that happen.
Els leaped forward quickly, and tackled the magician. He was trying to interrupt the ritual, and prevent her before it could be completed. They struggled a little, but he forcefully grabbed her arms, and managed to pin her down to the ground.
For a moment, Els stared deep into her eyes. He could not hold back the tears from his own, and they trickled onto Aimie's face. In contrast, her own eyes were filled with nothing but the desire to cause pain and misery.
Swiftly and before he knew it, Aimie kneed Els in his groin before shoving him away. She then turned to the ritual circle. Glowing and unstable, it was on the brink of unleashing the monstrosity she craved so badly."It's not how it should be... you fucked me up again, Els!"
She screamed in rage at the knight, as a creature deformed beyond possibility appeared from the circle. Chains covered it's entire body, preventing it from any movement whatsoever. All it could do was let out an ear shattering roar, one that caused the cave to start collapsing.
Els looked on in terror, but his attention quickly shifted to Aimie as she almost burned his head off as she propelled a large fireball at him. The projectile narrowly missed him as he narrowly dodged, and hit a large pillar made of ice that was supporting part of the ceiling of the cave. This led to it falling apart at an even more rapid rate.
Having regained his composure after barely avoiding his demise, the young knight gazed at Aimie, with eyes filled with sorrow and pain at how willing she was to kill him."It's all your fault..."
She cried out. "ALL YOUR FAULT!"
Her rage fueled words were shortly followed by her pointing her fingers to Els and firing a beam of sharp, concentrated energy at an amazing speed. He barely had any time to evade, the attack almost cutting his right arm off, leaving a gaping wound across it.
He knew what he had to do at this point. He had it all planned out in his head, it was just a matter of executing his strategy.
He rushed at Aimie with sword in hand, avoiding a second beam from her fingers as he pierced her chest. With his blade plunged into her, he refused to let go of it in order to make sure she didn't fall and hit the ground. Even though she was now his enemy, he still took the utmost care, and gently held her in his arms. He felt this was the least he could do after he failed to take look after her, like he promised he would. His tears once again trickled onto Aimie's cheeks.
He looked at her with more regret in his eyes, yet the only thing in Aimie's were wrath and hatred, which slowly faded, along with her life, as she closed her eyes before her movements stopped altogether."I wanted to be with you..."
Emotion overwhelming him."I couldn't live on without you... you were all I had left."
He carefully removed his sword from her chest and slowly lay her body on the ground.
All of this was his fault. His failed to save her friend and their mother, and now he had failed to save his most loved one as well.
Els then stared at the creature Aimie had summoned. It was still unable to move due to it's chains, but he didn't know how long they would hold out for. It probably was not complete given what Aimie said, which probably explained the creature's behavior and appearance.
He lifted his sword and again, stared at the monster, deciding there was only one thing left to do before he let the annihilation of the cave take him with it.
Gripping the sword, his other blade unsheathed from it's scabbard on it's own accord, and in the blink of an eye, violently pierced the creature, before imploding within it and causing a black hole to form."Final... STRIKE!"
He slashed the black hole in a horizontal arc, causing it to explode and tear the monster inside it apart, before collapsing on itself and taking the remains of the creature with it.
Els dropped his sword and fell down to his knees, his consciousness slowly fading away. The wound on his arm he had suffered at Aimie's hands, along with the sheer exhaustion he felt after all he had been through, was taking it's toll on his body and mind. At this point he had already given up on life and felt his own was forfeit.
As his eyes began to shut, he vaguely noticed the ritual circle below him had started to glow. With difficulty, he forcefully turned his head to the image of a figure. His vision was too blurry and dark to make out anything clearly, and with a nonchalant look in his eyes, he hazily made out what seemed to be Aimie.
Struggling and just barely still alive, Aimie's blood filled palm touched the circle as she desperately and agonizingly tried to crawl up to Els, her face showing nothing but the desire to kill him. Els was disinterested and did not care, for his eyes had finally closed for good. The last thing he could make out was the drowned out screams of his name, before the voice faintly and slowly faded away."A new paradox has appeared... it must be eliminated."
A haunting and disembodied voice echoed in a dreamlike darkness, being the last thing that was discerned.
Els - Swordman > Sheath Knight
Aimie - Dark Magician > Void Princess
Saleen - Grand Archer