Force of Nature

by

OhOrpheus

Book 1: Chapter 1 - Beginning of Another

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Authors note:
Hello again! First chapter to my story. Hope you enjoy it.
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It was a cool autumn day. Trees danced in the wind, leaving golden brown leaves to decorate the ground. The sun beamed gleefully on Flint village, uncontested by a single cloud. A mass of excited children sat by a lake, surrounding a tall, muscular man. Johan, five years old now, is mingled in this crowd; his eyes dull and shoulders slumped. This reminded him of that one party he went to in college; everyone was excited and having a good time while he wondered why he bothered to leave the house.

"Traveler, tell us about King again!" a chubby little kid demanded.

Traveler arched an eyebrow and began pacing in front of the kids, his chiseled arms folded. His dark eyes regarded the children with warmth, a slight smirk resting on his face. A thin, pale yellow disc could be seen at the crown of his
head, floating like an angel's halo. Johan followed the halo's movement as if in a stupor.

He stopped at the center of the kids and cleared his throat with an exaggerated cough. "In the beginning," he started, "there was only Void. A dark, swirling mass!"

"Then out of the void appeared Mana, the driving force behind everything we see and love. All else was silent, empty, endless, and dark. Then Mother came, followed by Father." he said in a low, drawn out voice.

"Mother and Father spent innumerable years painting the universe to their desires! Where they saw darkness, they created the stars. Where they desired a place to rest, they created planets. Whatever it is they wanted, they brought it to be! You all know what stars and planets are, right?"

"Yeah!" the kids shouted in unison.

"What planet are we on right now, then?"

"Gaia!"

I can't get used to this. Johan let out a heavy sigh.

"Good job! So, to get back to it: Mother and Father soon felt happy with all they accomplished. The universe would grow on it's own from what they started. Mother and Father felt that their work was done, and now all that was left was to leave behind a legacy. They had eight children, one right after the other. The kids were raised for a time, and their power grew greatly. But how could they match the might of their parents? They were forbidden from touching any of Mother and Fathers creations, and they were powerless to refuse. All of that power, and they weren't even allowed to use it. Naturally they felt sad."

"After thousands of years of rest, Mother and Father decided to leave. The children had a bitter sweet feeling. On one hand, their beloved parents are leaving. On the other hand, they'd have the freedom to do anything they want! And who doesn't like freedom, right kids?"

"Yeah!" a couple of kids shouted.

Johan wagged his leg up and down, a frown settling on his face.

"It turns out that the universe wasn't big enough for the eight of them. They argued over who should control what solar solar system. This led to an awesome battle between the children over control. Any planets unfortunate enough to be caught in the scuffle slapped away like an annoying fly! The battle ended with five of the children dead. King was the victor, and Liam and Love were to be his servants."

"King ruled with an iron fist. He sent avatars to each civilized planet to spread his name, gathering followers and becoming a person of worship. His word was law and he demanded complete loyalty of his subjects! Just about every  planet knew of him. His followers were given knowledge of the arts and mana. His most powerful believers were reborn and blessed with a divine body. King destroyed tons of planets refusing his teachings."

One of the kids meekly raised a hand.

"Yes, little one?"

"What is 'avatar'?"

"An avatar is.... like having a copy of yourself. King created tons of copies of himself, and only he could make so many because he was very strong! Each of those copies thought like King and listened to him, but none of them were as strong as him. Get it?"

"Yes" the kid mumbled shyly, hanging his head down.

Traveler smiled at the kid. "Okay, so Liam grew tired of King playing favorites and came up with a plan. He created a avatars of his own and sent them to a couple of planets that denied his teachings. However, this wasn't enough! He didn't have the power that King had, so he couldn't fill the universe with his avatars. So he created a powerful familiar that helps lifeforms get a divine body! He spent a lot of his energy to create such a powerful being, and was left very weak and sick."

"King found out that the nonbelievers were suddenly able to fight back! One of his avatars saw a nonbeliever receive a divine body from a familiar that he didn't recognize. He was furious! Hadn't he earned the right to rule. How could he let himself be undermined like this? He hunted Liam down and tied him to a very large, hot planet. Laying on his back, too weak to defend himself, he was hit by a meteor every night for years." Traveler slammed his fist into his open palm, resulting in a loud thwack.

The children flinched a little.

"Then he created Calamity, to bring doom to everyone that dares to ascend!"

"What's Calamity?" one child cut in.

"Don't you even know what that is? Dummy." another kid whispered loud enough for everyone to hear.

"Now, now, no need for that," Traveler said trying to calm them. "Calamity and Ascension go hand in hand. When you get strong enough, you are visited by the familiar and blessed with a divine body. This is Ascension. Right after, Calamity will visit you. Calamity will bring hordes of monsters to slaughter you. Only by surviving this trial can you earn the right to live as an immortal!"

Traveler cleared his throat with a cough. "To continue, Love spent these years gathering strength, getting ready to free Liam. When it was time, she stormed the planet and released him. She then hastily ascended with him to the higher realm. King hadn't noticed for decades, until he tried visiting Liam. He searched the universe for decades, only to find himself alone now. Filled with rage and jealousy, he followed them into the higher realm, eager to catch them."

"In the time since, our ancestors had children, and their children had children, and so on. That led to us being here today!"

The kids broke out in excited chatter. Traveler looked around at the kids, chest puffed out and a broad smile on his face.

Johan snorted. "How do we use magic," he asked as innocently as possible. The kids around him all loudly agreed and began pleading.

"Fufu, you really want to know?"

Johan's right eye twitched. "Please tell us, Grandpa Traveler..."

"Who're you calling 'Grandpa'! ...To tell the truth, you guys are too young. When you get older, around 11 or 12, you can activate your Root and start to control the mana around you." He replied.

"How do we activate our root," Johan quickly fired back.

"Hahah, eager aren't you? Normally, activating it on your own would take years of meditation and insight. But we can activate it simply with the artifact left to us by Liam." he laughed

"Don't worry, some day you will be able to do... this!" he said and held up his right arm. With a flick of his wrist, a blue flame appeared in the middle of his palm.

Traveler was more than 10 feet away from the kids. But Johan could still feel the heat caressing his cheeks. His eyes widened and he leaned in, observing the majestic figure in front of him. Traveler's halo hung behind his head like the setting sun, emitting a pale yellow light. His face was masked by the light, revealing only the sight of his sharp, prideful eyes. The flames obediently hovered in the center of his palm as a dense blue sphere. When will it be my turn...

"Well, uncle needs to go eat. I'll see you guys in 30 minutes. Maybe I'll tell you all about the time I fought a black scaled dragon with my bare hands!" he laughed. He willed the fire away, causing the children to let out a collective 'Aww'.

Johan stood up, swatted the dirt off of his pants, and headed down a dirt road that lead to his house. It's been three years already. This is definitely too long for a dream. He ran his fingers through his coarse hair and looked up at the sky. Reality or not, Mana is definitely worthy enough to hold my interest. He shrugged.

His eyes gleamed, enchanted by the scenery in front of him. Large wooden houses lined the path with twisted, rippling Oak trees occasionally breaking the pattern. Leaves lay scattered across the ground, dry and decaying. But the land was teeming with life; birds flying to and fro, happily chirping. Rabbits scurrying across the dirt path, desperate to cross before Johan gets any closer. He smiled lightly, inhaling the faint smell of nature. He thought back to the city he once lived in. Graffiti sprayed along stores and abandoned houses. Trash lined the street. The pungent smell of gas and sewer fumes. Wildlife left to pick through the trash for our leftovers. Waking up to the angry honking of horns. Give me this kind of environment any day.

He arrived approached his house and noticed that the door was open. He walked around the front to peer into the yard. His mother, Adamaris, was humming a faint tune that all mothers seem to instinctively know. She was at least five foot eleven inches tall with a body like an Amazonian. Her thick brown dreadlocks were tied up in a rushed bun, with each lock of hair sprawling about like the tentacles of an octopus. A luminous pale earth green halo adorned the crown of her head, giving her facial features a soft green glow. Beautiful. She swiveled her head and smiled at Johan. He flinched back. How did she know?

SLAP.

"Don't you do anything right? Why do you make me do this to you? If you can't understand simple addition, don't bother thinking about playtime! That's something you earn! Do you hear me!?" An deep voice snarled.

Johan turned around to see Kieran Ashford and his father Arsen. Kieran stood with a stiff posture, his hands draped at his sides and his head faced down. His pale white face was marked by the red outline of a strong hand. Tears threatened to fall from his moist, red eyes. He looked to be the same age as Johan, give or take a couple of months.

"Isn't it sad how Arsen treats his son?" Adamaris shook her head. "It's not like I can tell him how to treat his own kid, right Jojo?"

"I guess so, mommy. Maybe someone should beat him and see how he likes it!" Who says I don't play a convincing child?

"Right, right. Let's get something in your tummy!" she giggled.

She placed the laundry basket aside and walked with Johan into the house. The smell of freshly baked bread danced into his nostrils. He began to salivate. He took a seat at the small family table in the middle of the kitchen, and watched his mother.

Adamaris walked over to a cupboard and took out a loaf of dark bread. She carried it to the family table, picking up a knife on her way. With a practiced hand, she began hacking thick slices off, each as thick as the other. She wasn't bulky in any sense of the word, but her forearm muscles flared with each sawing motion. I don't even have any memories of my own mother doing this for me. He frowned a bit. She walked over to Johan and laid the pieces of bread in front of him.

"Thanks mom" he said before attacking his meal.

"So what story did Traveler tell you today?" She asked, resting her head on her hands.

"He told us about King and how the universe was started. At the end he showed us magic!" He almost choking on his food.

She chuckled and passed him a flask.

"How do I become strong like King?", he asked.

"Well... that's very hard to do, Jojo. First you would need to go to school and get a proper education! Only after working very hard and learning a lot will you become strong," she said while wagging her finger at him. How cute.

"When can I do that?" he pouted.

"You can start when you turn 14" she smiled.

"Okay, so I'll go to the best school and become the strongest mage!" he said with certainty.

"Well mommy will support you the entire way!" she giggled.

Johan finished his food and left the house. It was late in the afternoon and the suns rays were beginning to lose it's strength. A cool breeze dared to make it's way through the village. He headed down a path to the forest bordering the village and arrived at a large oak that cast a great shadow.

"So I have to wait 7 more years before I can even get a taste of magic." he sighed.

He took a quick look around. The land was flat and free of rocks on the ground for the most part. This is as good a place as any.

His eyes slowly closed and his breathing became steady. Calm yourself. Then he began practicing the various yoga asanas. He recalled the countless days that he would practice the asanas to relieve stress before a major test. He tried it on a whim after reading about it online, but the results were profound. His mind would clear up, his mood would improve, and his body would feel great. This sparked his interest in eastern philosophy and spirituality.

An hour passed before he finished going through the motions. He sat at the base of the tree. There was a pleasant stillness to his mind. Thoughts slowly stopped bubbling into existence, leaving him with intense focus. After half an hour of sitting there, unmoving, his body started shaking slightly. A whooshing sound resounded in his ears, and he felt himself leaving his body.

"My first time trying to astral project in this world. Success." He smiled.

Odd. His translucent astral body was a dim red color. I'm certain that my body was a bluish white color back on Earth. Is it because I'm on a different planet? He strutted about in his astral body, trying to get a feel for the world.

He brought his astral body to the opposite side of the sprawling Oak tree and plopped down. With a straight posture, he stabilized his breath and sharpened his concentration. He took several slow, deep breaths. A warm feeling permeated through his body, causing a shiver to run up his spine.

"There's something about the air here... it's so rich!" he exclaimed, with a wide smile on his face. "It's faint but I definitely feel that something is there..." He wrinkles his nose trying to understand what he's feeling.

"I am a KING! You trouble me, you trouble God! I will STOMP the enemy!" a nearby voice rasped in rapid succession.

Johan's eyes shot open. Gak!? He flinched so hard that the back of his head slammed into the tree he sat against.

Several humanoid figures stumbled through the forest. Darkness caressed their bodies, falling off of them like a heavy mist. Their long bodies were as translucent as a foggy window. Their face were fixed in a heavy frown and low growls escaped their throats.

"What the fuck?" Johan swore.

His gulped and took slow a step forward. The humanoids didn't even glance in his direction. Shuddering, he walked in the direction they came from. If something is about to happen to the village, he'd rather not be taken unaware.

He cut through the crowd of ghostly figures, making sure to give them plenty of space. Their insane ramblings whispered in his ear like sweet nothings. His breathing quickened. He arrived at an area where the trees have all been cleared. There's a single grave in the middle, with an aged tombstone guarding it. He could see the word 'Founder' carved along the top.

"There's not a single ghost in that area..."

Sweat poured down his forehead as he slowly entered the area. I don't feel anything different. His eyes darted around, identifying any sound made. He walked towards the grave.

"Ahah, you're back!" An amused voice behind him shouted.

Johan's body immediately stiffened and he felt his stomach drop. He stood there, mid-stride, frozen like a deer in headlights.

"Uhh, kid...?"

Johan darted out of the clearing and slammed back into his body. His trembling body jerked up in a cold sweat. He flew down the dirt path to his house, ran into the room, and tumbled onto his bed.

Adamaris peaked into the room and saw Johan trembling underneath the sheets.

"Is everything okay, honey?" she asked

"Y-yeah, mom. Just gonna get some rest...." he stammered out.

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OhOrpheus

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