PRISON BREAK (V)
Primul stood frozen at the center of a small crater, slumped on his knees. There was a peculiar pain in his eyes, seemingly on the verge of tears, as he dug his nails into his palms. Memories flooded his mind, one after another, consuming him whole, washing away the surrounding reality from his gaze. He remembered it all, one by one, since the days he was a young boy, a part of the just-emerging race of humans trying to find their way in the cruel world, all the way to the fated day where he was stripped of his identity, betrayed and thrown into a cage to rot away like an animal.
Yet, he hardly felt anger and wrath; he deserved it all, he screamed inwardly. All the pain, all the anguish, all the horrors that befell him. He deserved it all and more. Considering the things he had done throughout his life, no amount of punishment was enough. How many had he killed? He didn’t dare count. Thousands? Tens of thousands? Millions? The numbers kept piling on, each like a stone-cold sword piercing his heart.
“Hey,” a warm voice suddenly jolted him out of the spiral of madness, briefly bringing him back. He glanced sideways and saw Alison looking at him worriedly. “Are you alright?”
“... y-yeah...” he muttered through his clenched teeth.
“It’s alright,” she smiled and crouched next to him, suddenly wrapping her arms around his back and pulling him into her embrace, surprising him. “We’re here for you.”
"..." he relaxed unconsciously, his fingers unfurling from his palms, his tensed muscles growing limp, his barriers crashing as tears streamed from the corners of his eyes. He accepted the embrace wholly, yet didn't dare return it; now that he knew who he was, more so than ever before, he didn't dare touch her out of shame.
“I’m guessing you remembered who you are,” Lucky chimed in from the side. “And, oh boy, you don’t seem to like it. One bit.”
“Hey!” Alison scowled at her angrily. “Stop with the snide comments! If you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything!”
"... eeh..." startled, Lucky backed away, embarrassed, as Hannah walked up and looked deeply into the man's eyes. Though starkly different and far darker and hollow, she recognized those eyes. After all, she had found herself within a similar ilk.
“... it can’t be...” she mumbled, frowning.
“What can’t be?” Alison asked as she let go of the man who remained seated.
“... you are, aren’t you? But... how?” Hannah mumbled, trying to reconcile what she believed and what was happening in front of her eyes.
“... I am, Lady of Order,” Primul smiled bitterly, wiping the corners of his eyes. “As to how... that is a long tale to tell...”
“What are you two on about? How do you know who she is?” Alison asked, frowning.
“... allow me to properly introduce myself at last,” Primul took a deep breath and got up, bowing in front of the two. “My name is Primul Ugug, first and last of his name, Fourth Generation Human and the first Human Empyrean.”
“... holy cocksucking eagle...” Lucky chimed in from the side, shooting up to her feet, helplessly pointing a finger at the man. Alison took a step back, seemingly horrified. The only one who remained relatively undamaged by the information was Hannah, as she already suspected it.
“T-that’s... that’s impossible!!” Alison cried out. “Y-you’re... you’re lying... there’s no way... no way...”
"Take her away until she calms down," Hannah told Lucky as she took a deep breath. She, too, would have been far less relaxed was it not for the fact that regardless of what he used to be in the past, right now he stood in front of them as an ordinary person, without an iota of Qi anywhere near or within him. Lucky quickly stepped in, recovering, as she dragged hysterical Alison away, leaving Hannah and Primul alone, standing in the center of the crater. "Do you regret it? Remembering?"
“... very much so.” Primul sighed, lowering his head. “I’ve yet to pay for my sins. No, rather, I will never be able to pay for them.”
“... walk with me.” she said as she headed toward the cliff and the looping stone, where the two of them sat opposite of one another as she took out two gourds of wine, handing him one. “There is only one record of you that I know of,” she said suddenly. “And it doesn’t mention you by your name, but rather by your title: the Ender of Life. Apparently, you’ve single-handedly exterminated at least six different, emerging races, and even threatened to go to war with the High Lords. It doesn’t say what happened to you, however... just that, one day, you suddenly vanished, never to be seen again.”
“... I’m surprised there’s any record of me left,” Primul sighed, taking a sip. “But, they are right. And it wasn’t six -- it was eleven races... and I didn’t just threaten, I did go to war with the High Lords.”
“... fucking hell. You serious?” Hannah asked, sucking in a cold breath; after all, High Lords were the very first lifeforms of every specific race, and in extension the strongest of them all. Even 72 Origin Dragons fell into the category. “How are you still alive, then?”
"... because to kill me would have been a kind thing to do," he replied somberly. "When they captured me, I was well out of my sanity. I clawed and crackled and fought and bickered and cussed... it wasn't until Ataxia ripped himself out of me that I settled at last. I passed out right after, however, and my first memory afterward was waking up in that cage, an entirely mortal soul with a seemingly immortal body. The rest... well, it was the same as you've found me."
“... do you even know how many years has it been since your time?” Hannah asked suddenly.
“No... I’ve lost count. How many?” he asked.
“Nearly 4,5 billion years.” Hannah replied.
“... good god...” Primul’s eyes widened as he sucked in a cold breath. “H-how... how do you even understand that...”
“... hey, look at it from the bright side -- you are officially the oldest human alive... without literally any contention whatsoever.” she cracked a faint smile that whizzed away in the wind shortly after. “I’m sorry...”
“... has the world changed?” he asked.
“Monumentally,” Hannah answered. “To understand it, you’d have to see it all with your very own eyes.”
“... heh, there’s no need,” he said, taking a sip of wine. “After I help you out, I’ll lock myself back into my cage and spend however many years this weary body of mine has got left rotting in there. I don’t deserve anything else.”
“You are nothing like the Primul I remember,” Hannah’s voice suddenly changed, growing robotic, as Primul looked up, meeting the quite familiar gaze squarely. “It certainly wouldn’t do us any good to bring you along.”
“... Astrum... you’re still alive?” he asked, cracking a faint smile.
“It’s not strange that I’m alive; it is that you are.”
“Hah, tell me about it,” he took a long, deep breath and leaned back against the slightly chilly stone. “You guys still at war with Ataxia?”
“... not at the moment,” Astrum replied as Hannah cracked a rather awkward smile. “I quite like his new Bearer.”
“... weren’t you the one who always screamed you would rip Ataxia open and examine every inch of him to understand what the hell he is?”
“And I will, in time,” Astrum replied. “But, as I said, I quite like his new Bearer. And he quite likes mine. So it all worked out in the end.”
“... heh, Chaos and Order working together,” Primul shook his head. “That’s perhaps even more insane than me being alive after all this time.”
“... I always wanted to ask... what happened to you Primul? When Rita first met you, there was nothing athwart about you. Yet... within a decade, you've changed completely.”
“... ah, Rita... what happened to her?” he asked, avoiding Astrum’s question.
“She died, of course. Don’t change the subject. What happened?”
"... there is no easy way to answer that," he said, sighing. "Rather, even I'm not quite sure what exactly happened. All I knew that, over time, I found fighting more and more exhilarating... then from fighting it was killing, from killing it was slaughter, and before I could wrap my head around it, I enjoyed being who I've become. I had gone mad, Astrum, and not the ordinary kind of mad; the ilk where you don't even realize it, where nothing seems wrong from your perspective, where everything is as it should be. How is Gaia?"
“... still struggling to do the thing she begged you do,” Astrum replied. “How else would she be?”
"... why are they still chasing after the First Scripture?" Primul frowned, sighing afterward. "It won't give you any answers... just more and more questions..."
“You know what it is?” Astrum asked, a faint presence of surprise hidden beneath the robotic tone.
“I don’t know what it is... just what it looks like.” Primul replied. “Ataxia showed me once.”
“... that's surprising. Usually, he goes mum whenever someone mentions the First Scripture.”
"It was during the tail end of my crusade," Primul said. "I think he did it to keep my fire burning. It's... I don't even know how to describe it. However, there is one thing I'm absolutely sure of: it certainly isn't any kind of scripture."
“... what matters is that it exists. And that it holds all the answers.” Primul didn’t say anything, merely thinking back to that memory; it was held someplace in the bend of reality, space and time, and it was tattered, ruined object of sorts the size of a small hut. He also remembered the strange sort of feeling that washed over him when he laid his eyes on it; melancholy... pain... longing... hope... passion... whatever it was, it held far more meaning to Ataxia than everyone else would ever realize.