THEORY OF EVERYTHING
A quaint little street, decorated with hanging roses and brick-cast buildings, stretched in a faint arc around a spiral-shaped pothole descending into an underground labyrinth of tunnels. Ever so often light flickered inside one of the windows, chimneys on top of the coral-colored roofs spitting out black soot and smoke, cradling the entire street in a repulsive yet strangely welcoming scent.
The street was a home to many-a-hanging-signs, be it of wood or metal, hand-carved, depicting one sigil or another, hanging directly over the closed doors. Some of the buildings had wide window displays where a slew of shiny things glistened beneath the lights of gems and crystals embedded above the stand.
At the far-end corner, tucked in-between two much larger buildings looming over it, was a small smithy with only a single floor. It had but two windows, one on each break, and it seemed eerily out of place in the otherwise glowing surroundings. A simple sign hung above, a hammer superimposed over the sun carved onto the wooden board, fluttering faintly in the passing wind.
Insides, however, roared; sounds of hammers, shouts, fizzling flames and clashing metals cast together a pleasant, grating symphony of sounds that welcomed each unsuspecting newcomer. The smithy itself was stuffed behind the counter on the ground floor, with the remaining floor being dedicated for item display. Behind the counter, Edward was currently reading a book underneath the light of a gem embedded in the side wall, seemingly entirely oblivious to the sounds.
On the other hand, two young lads sitting on the solitary bench by the door had a much harder time coming to grips with their loud reality; Ion and Ryt sat on the bench, frowning, their hands plastered over their ears. They certainly could have endured a few minutes of this, yet it has been going on for hours now; they were tasked with acting the role of guards, and no matter the challenges, they were determined to fulfill their role. Leaving, however, was growing to be incredibly tempting.
On the floor above, hidden away behind one of the displays, was a small room hoisting a bed, a table, a chair, a bookshelf and a singular window looking out into the street. Lino was currently plastered next to it, humming a low tune as he absentmindedly stared at the passing souls down below. His eyes seemed dull, unfocused, yet his mind was reeling.
It has been nearly a week since the black fire broke out in the auction house, and though chatter reigned over the streets, there were no official reports released. A day after the fire broke out, he was contacted by the House of Gold and informed that they’d do everything in their power to retrieve his stolen items -- and if impossible, they promised they would pay him a full price as a form of reimbursement.
Lino didn’t really care over the loss of items as much as the fact that the last one never got sold, and the item being sold into the right hands played a large role in his upcoming plans. He was half a mind away from starting his own investigation into the matter to uncover who took all the items and give them a good beating, but he held back in the end. Though his plans have been disrupted slightly, it wasn’t as though it was impossible for him to craft another item like it, or at least similar enough to do its job.
Sighing faintly as he pulled himself out of the thoughts, he glanced down at the book in front of him that the house had sent him as an apology -- ‘The Book of Wars: Abridged, as recorded by Ed Alric’. It was the original edition, preserved splendidly Lino had to admit; it was a rather thick book, over two thousand pages long, depicting a brief history of wars since the first War of the Four Races. Though it wasn’t exactly helpful for his current predicament, it was still quite a learning experience altogether, especially when it came to his understanding of Angels, Devils and perhaps most-importantly, Gods.
Closing the book, he stretched lazily and yawned, taking out a bottle of ale and a cup and pouring himself one. The liquid revived his parched throat, soon giving him a wake-up kick of sorts as he felt energy gush out of his guts. Just as he was about to get up and leave, the doors to the room swung open as Ion and Ryt strut through in concert. They quickly bowed down before stepping up, handing Lino a parchment.
“What’s this?” he asked, taking it.
“A man came to see you, Master,” Ryt replied quickly. “He said you would certainly see him once you looked through the paper.”
“... ‘s that so?” Lino mumbled with faint interest as he glanced down; one look was enough for him to realize that the plans drawn up on the paper were more than just strange -- he firmly believed they were impossible. It depicted a winged sort of a box, elongated from front to back, slightly bulged toward the center. Upon the stretching wings on each side were two more cylindrical objects, with fan-like shapes drawn up inside of them. “Walk him in.” Lino mumbled, smiling faintly; he’d seen many strange flying objects used as a transportation, but all of them -- without exception -- were only capable of flight because of the intricate string of arrays attached to them. Object drawn in front of him, however, didn’t have a single array drawn up anywhere.
Soon after Ryt and Ion left, a man walked through the small doors. Glancing at him, Lino quickly realized he was no Human; a tall, bridged brow with bushy eyebrows looming over full-brown eyes blending over into a thin nose and lips, both surrounded by pronounced cheekbones and encapsulated by a wide, squared jaw. To top it off, the man’s skin color was that of dull ash and rock, with spot-marks repeating in strange patterns from time to time.
“... a God?” Lino mumbled, his lips curling up into a faint smile. The man walked up briskly and evenly, nodding lightly in a greeting. He wore a strange ensamble of clothes, with a black, leather trench-coat draped over a cotton vest and a shirt, with brown pants tucked into knee-high black boots. “Well, I’ll be damned. Or canonized. Depending on the religious scripture, I suppose.”
“Good day,” the man said, smiling faintly as well. “Thank you for agreeing to see me.”
“Well, you’ve thrown a rather compelling case at me,” Lino said, flashing the parchment briefly. “So, what can I do for you, o’ ye mighty God?”
“Liberate us, o’ ye mighty Empyrean.” the man said, cracking a wide smile to counteract Lino’s shocked expression. It’s not as though he believed absolutely no one was capable of seeing through his disguise, but it was on the pretense that they actually first meet; this man seemed to already know well before who he was, which piqued Lino’s curiosity by quite a bit. He wasn’t particularly fearful, as if the man had athwart intentions, he wouldn’t have visited him in the first place.
“... many eyes, many sights indeed,” Lino recovered quickly, smiling back and whipping out another cup and pouring it before pulling out another chair and indicating that the man sit down, which he did rather quickly. “I must say, the girl responsible for my disguise would most-likely die of shame if she ever found out I was seen through, so let’s keep this between ourselves.”
“Naturally,” the man said, taking the cup and toasting Lino. “I am not here to seek trouble, but help.”
“What do the mighty Gods need my help for?” Lino asked. “I’m fairly decent at telling indecent stories, but I’m quite lost when it comes to hymns and such I’m afraid.”
“Ha ha, thank you for the offer, but as I said, we are seeking you to Liberate us,” the man said. “As for what that means, I’m afraid I cannot divulge; after all, I’m a sole man, and a lot of others didn’t take to my idea kindly.”
“So, let me guess, you need me to come with you and charm them?”
“Something like that, yes.”
“What’s your name?” Lino asked.
“What’s this, Tim?” Lino pointed at the parchment on the table, not refusing the request just yet.
“It’s a design,” Tim replied. “For a flying vehicle that doesn’t require arrays to fly the skies.”
“Yes, I can see that,” Lino chuckled. “One of you certainly has a wild imagination.”
“Hardly so,” Tim said. “We’ve already built several dozens of them. As the matter of fact, I’ve traveled here in a vehicle similar to that one.”
“... I can’t believe my help is this cheap.” Lino sighed as he put away the parchment, causing Tim to chuckle. “I imagine this is just a pre-course, right?”
“Precisely.” Tim nodded. “If it all goes by my wishes, you’ll not only have our gratitude and support in the upcoming Wars, but also an array of whimsical wonders the rest of the world is entirely blind to.”
“Those are big promises Tim,” Lino said. “I read that the Gods were quite vain, but even still, to claim to be in solitary possession of something...”
“It’s not vanity, Lord Empyrean,” Tim said. “Merely a fact. You will understand it better once you visit us and understand our circumstances.”
“... aren’t you afraid I’m just gonna go nuts and decide to take everything for myself without helping you?” Lino quizzed with a wry smile.
“At this point? It’s a good as an end as any other.” Tim replied with a bitter smile, causing Lino to simmer down and think for a moment.
“... recently, a lot of people are more than happy to throw their grand names behind my banner,” he said after a few seconds of silence. “Rather, they seem to be doing it with joyous hearts. And while I’d be more than happy to credit my irresistible charms, I’m afraid even I’m not that egotistical. Can you enlighten me, Tim?”
“...” the man seemed to suddenly fall into a deep, internal struggle over something as Lino quieted down, silently sipping the drink and awaiting Tim’s response. “Are you familiar with the term Origin Wars?”
“... yes.” Lino replied, his expression turning serious.
“Though grand-sounding, the term is actually fairly grounded and simple,” Tim continued, taking a deep breath. “It encompasses four stages of warring -- Continental Wars, Realm Wars, Gaia Wars and Primordial Wars.”
“In essence, they refer to the scale of the wars; with your killing of Bearer of Light, we had entered the stage of Gaia Wars.” Tim continued. “And, all the latest indicators call toward the transition into the Primordial Wars, which are marked largely by the fact that all larger factions, may they be racial, bloodbound, oath-bound and so on, are involved in a conflict on some scale.”
“...” Lino continued to listen to the explanation patiently, waiting for the conclusion.
“Past the Primordial Wars, we have Origin Wars; there is no clear indicator for when the Origin Wars begin, but, in the past, they were usually started either by your ancestors, or by an emerging Race. For instance, Skyhaven Dynasty initiated Origin Wars during the era in order to conquer the world. The wars lasted for nearly four million years altogether, but it’s practically impossible to pinpoint as to when exactly the Origin-scaled conflict ended.”
“Truth is, however, that you were born into an age of destruction,” Tim continued, taking a sip and catching his breath. “I’ve a feeling that, with or without you, we would have once again entered the Origin Wars. Your entrance only changed the timeline of it all. Are you familiar with the Theory of Everything?”
“... no.” Lino shook his head, replying honestly, his interest at an all-time high.
“It’s the penultimate framework describing everything,” Tim explained. “The ends and the beginnings and the processes in-between. Anyway, one branch under it deals with the so-called Inevitable Infinity; during the early years of my race’s existence, we focused largely on understanding how nature works. We fell short, unfortunately, by the end, but we did learn some things, and among them is that nature is enumerated through repetitive patterns -- and all living beings existing within the same framework are not immune to it, meaning that we inherently gravitate toward repeating tales-already-happened. What this all entails is that each event, no matter how large or small, has an interval set of preceding events that act as a building block for it; for instance, the Realm Wars stage of the wars began with your Awakening, but Continental Wars have been ongoing for nearly four million years now. In a pattern excluding you, the further build-up would have been slow, but consistent. You are merely a variable injected into the equation to speed things up.”
“... aaand there goes a headache.” both Tim and Lino chuckled for a moment as the former took another quick sip to fix his parched throat. “Kinda sucks being told your role in the grand scheme of things is irrelevant.”
“... come with me,” Tim suddenly said. “And, perhaps, you’ll get to know just how irrelevant it truly is.”
“... ah, very well,” Lino raised his arms in defeat. “I suppose it makes me somewhat of a masochist, wanting to learn why I don’t matter... at all. But, joy and happiness is for losers anyway. Lead the way Tim. Lead the way to the liberty of this self-importance.”