FALL OF THE EMPYRION
GRAZYNTH, GUARDIAN OF THE FAR END (I)
Blend of colors, of shapes, sounds and miracles awoke a sense of strange yearning inside of Lino. Like ink, colors appeared to be brushed into shapes of still images by a hand divine, then further defined by light, by shadows, by depth. Scene unfolded before his eyes in just a few moments, yet those few moments perfectly captured the beauty of life.
Lino found himself overlooking a massive valley, enclosed on both sides by tall mountains, with a massive, natural arched passage standing tall on the other end. It appeared perfectly symmetrical, nearly forty meters tall and just below half as wide. The valley itself was braced with strange, grayish weed growing to a grown man’s knees, swaying about through wind’s presence.
“My turn, eh?” a gruff, deep and well-defined voice came out of Lino’s lips, though he knew they weren’t actually his. Just as it was with Q’vil, he was simply an observer of an event that had long since transpired. “He’s never picked me before,” the voice continued. “I wonder what makes ye different?” a hand reached for a small gourd sitting silently on a wooden floor beneath, taking a few gulps of it. “Either way, my introduction is simple: I’m Grazynth, Fourth Son of the Champion Okvele of Clan of Angles, a black sheep among the white swan. I beckon you from the Era of Four Clans, or New World Era as some named it. Life ain’t great, but it’s fun, I tell ya’. I became an Empyrean at the tender age of 46, after losing a battle against Devil Clan... one my folk named quite beautifully, I say: Battle of Grazynth’s Fall. Heh, chaps sure got a sense of humor, no?” Lino heard no small amount of bitterness in the aged voice yet, as with Q’vil, he was unable to add anything to the conversation. “Anyway, moving past that depressing shit, after becoming an Empyrean, I roamed the world for a long while before I settled here. What’s here, ye asks? I call it Far End. Beyond here lay the unblemished lands and folk who wish no part of the ongoing War of Clans. So I settled here to make their dreams come true; I have been doing so for the past four thousand years.”
“Who am I defending them against, ye wonders? All.” slightly dull gaze sharpened as Grazynth focused on the valley’s entrance where a bleak swarm of shadows suddenly appeared. “They come again and again, testing my will and resolve. Angels, Gods, Devils, heck, even fuckin’ Humans have balls to come here. Ah, sorry, you’re one of humans. But, to be faire, you guys are weak as shit. Since the start of the Era, you’ve never once won a war. Ain’t that just pathetic?” Yup... Lino wished to mumble but couldn’t. He didn’t know humans were so weak during the Four Clans Era. “Ugh, here we go again,” Grazynth got up suddenly and stretched, his bones creaking and cracking. He was a very tall man -- well, Angel, technically -- towering at nearly three meters, with wide shoulders and muscular body. He wore what once sure was a beautiful set of armor; now, though, it looked like something one picks up to train disassembling rather than something one would wear for protection. “Human, I can’t say what you wish to learn from me, but I’ll teach you what I know. And I’ll show you my Will. May it assist your journey.”
A pair of crimson, feathered wings sprung from Grazynth’s back as he heaved off the ground into the air, diving toward the valley. He glanced back to show Lino where they were at, and within Lino’s sight came a massive tower with a disc-like platform at the top, which is where Grazynth was at all this time. It was good three hundred meters above the valley’s ground, overlooking it in its entirety.
Grazynth landing lacked gracefulness Lino expected of an Angel as he plummeted, creating a massive crater around him and even managing to shake the entire valley for a moment. He withdrew his wings and slowly began walking toward the swarm that was growing larger.
“All my early life, I was weak... pathetic... a complete idiot...” Grazynth mumbled as his gaze grew even sharper, the figures in the distance becoming distinct. “I fought to retain what little Honor I believed I had... fought to gain my Father’s acknowledgment, my brothers’ respect, recognition from the entire Clan. I’d committed myself to death itself... if I could see them look at me with pride. Aye, aye... pathetic, no? Weak-hearted, I was. Timid. A coward, really. I’ven’t changed much after I became an Empyrean; believing it a stroke of God’s Hand, I used ‘im to gain that respect, gain that recognition, that acknowledgement. I used ‘im to stroke my ego. For hundreds of years... I’ve been nothing but a tool of my Clan. A fool in warrior’s cloth.” Lino recognized stream of resentment and anger flowing alongside those words. “I was a fool, no doubt,” Grazynth drew his arm back and took out a giant war-ax from his back. It was well over two meters long, double-edged, yet cracked at several places, much like the rest of his gear. Nonetheless, it still shone with strange valiance and pride. “But I’d washed those colors away... eventually. He’d shown me the path, a road amid the muddy waters.”
“You’re still here, Grazynth? I thought your old ass would have died by now.” opposing Grazynth was an entire army, Lino realized, numbering in tens of thousands by now. They slowly encircled him entirely, leaving roughly fifty-sixty meters of distance between them and him. It was then that a man walked out from one of the groups; he was rather handsome, appearing to be in his mid-thirties, braving a golden hair and a pair of azure eyes. He sat atop a brilliant, white mare, both of them adorned in glistening armor, with man’s back further garnished with a pair of golden wings. Lino quickly realized the man was also an Angel.
“... Qenta? Hah, is Clan using me to ax clowns from its midst?”
“...!! You’re a clown, bastard!” ... spoiled brat? Really?! Come on! You’re a freaking Angel dude! Have some dignity! “Humph, what am I doing, anyway, talking to a dead man?”
“There are many-a-brave-men in the world who could no doubt threaten my life, but you aren’t and never will be one of them, Qenta. Go back home. I respect your Mother greatly; I wish she would not have to mourn the loss of another son.”
“You really think yourself indestructible, don’t you?” another man suddenly walked out of the masses. His complexion was far darker, a mix of deep brown and faint blue, with a pair of crimson eyes seemingly ablaze. He, too, rode a horse, except his was entirely black, with similar, crimson eyes. A Devil? Lino immediately ventured a guess. “You’re worn, tattered and old Grazynth. Just give up, die with little dignity at the very least.”
“Who gave you permission to talk in my presence, you infidel? I’d rather use my last breath to chew your rotten heart out than to ‘die with little dignity’. Enough chatter, ye mongrels,” Grazynth said, lifting his war-ax up. “My ax hungers.”
Grazynth suddenly erupted at a torpedo-like speed, completely unlike what his stature would suggest. He creased through the volley of arrows and approached the Devil who withdrew a spear from the void, raising it in defense. Grazynth spun sideways to garner momentum, holding his war-ax horizontally, creating a massive whirlwind of grass, dust and pebbles. Spear quickly crumbled as black mare neighed out once in pain before being cut in half suddenly. The Devil stumbled over, crying out in fear as he tried to withdraw back into the end of the formation. However, Grazynth stopped spinning a moment later and cleaved his ax downward, splitting the Devil in half through the seemingly expensive armor.
Blood gushed out like river, dyeing and staining the ground crimson while splattering all over Grazynth who seemed to pay it no need. Without pausing he cleaved onward, waving around the gigantic ax as though it was a wooden stick, splitting open skulls and guts of everyone who stood in his path. Screams of agony, pain and fear soon filled the alley as hooves of the horses turned chaotic; the encirclement was quickly broken on one end as the rest of the army began converging toward him.
“... I took my ax one day,” Grazynth suddenly spoke out in a low voice. “Entered Hall of Elders, and cleaved ‘em fuckers in half. They all believed I did it in madness, and I let ‘em. I am mad. Till my dying breath, I call meself an Angel, despite trying to forfeit my lineage for thousands of years. Human boy, no matter what written words of histories taught ye, Angels were no Saints, Gods were no benevolent creatures, and Devils were indeed just Devils... war, war, war, war, WAR, WAR!! WAR!! JUST FUCKEN WAR!!” he roared out in solemn agony as he drove himself into the herd of nearly a thousand souls, ignoring countless swords, arrows, spears, and myriad of other weapons striking at him from all sides, causing one wound after another to spawn. “Blood... gore... disemboweled corpses... razed cities... genocides... mass graves stacked like mountains...” Grazynth cleaved his ax sideways with a full momentum, causing wind itself to turn as deadly as blade, cutting through hundreds of soldiers standing well behind ax’s reach. As the dust slowly settled, Grazynth remained standing still, panting lowly as his eyes gazed around at the terrified faces of the survivors, some of whom immediately bent over and vomited their innards out upon seeing the sight before them. “How bad it got? Bad... very bad, human boy. Women were turned into birthing machines, deprived of the most basic necessities... all men, without exception, were turned into suicidal soldiers. It’s gotten so bad, so bad human boy, Writs buried their hatchet of eternal war... and joined together. Just as I stand here guarding my Far End, six others are doing the same. Eternally. To cease this madness... to cease this pain... this agony and tragedy of life... look at ‘em, human boy. They cower like whores, fear like worms infesting their bodies... yet, what ye thinks they will do? Run away?! HA HA AHA HAHAHAH!!” a maddening laughter suddenly covered the entire valley, shaking the surrounding mountains. “Nay, fucken nay!! HA HA HA!” just as his laughter ceased, the remaining troops reorganized and began marching toward him again. “It’s sad, ay,” Grazynth smiled bitterly all of a sudden as he lowered his ax. “What tragedy was bestowed upon this world...”