Have you ever heard that saying: ‘You are the hero of your own story’?
The winds howled as thunder clapped in the clouds above. The rain fell heavily drenching the scorched earth beneath me. I tried to move but my body wouldn’t listen. I felt as if I were fading. Slowly fading away.
Have you ever wondered what that means or implies. I mean, who are you saving? What are you fighting? Really makes you wonder.
I shifted my sight to a blur in front of me. Someone was screaming. Calling my name. Someone I knew. I wonder who they were.
At least there’s one thing I know.
I felt cold earlier but now I feel warm. It’s comforting. It’s soothing. It’s peaceful. I know what’s going to happen but…why should I resist? Life was just painful anyway. At least…in the end, I…can feel…a bit comforted.
The hero of my story, it sure as hell wasn’t me.
I expected to fade away into nothingness. To be swallowed up by the dark, cold clutches of death. I expected a lot of things but not this. I groggily woke up to the feeling of grass underneath my body and to the sound of birds chirping. I moved my finger to confirm that I still had a body and struggled to remember how it functioned.
I slowly got up from the floor and looked around me, shielding my eyes from the light of the sun that breached through the canopy above. It was strange. The lush green grass beneath my feet. The lively green trees of the forest. The sun’s light and the blue sky. Where am I?
I tried to recall what occurred before waking. I was definitely hit with something and got killed. That I remember. Before that…uh…what happened before that? It was all blank. I couldn’t remember anything from before dying. But it was strange. I…didn’t feel dead.
“Where am I?” My eyes dropped to the ground, catching a sight along the way. I looked to my hand. It wasn’t burnt.
A bright flash and a bang, then feeling paralysed and hot. Like someone threw me in a volcano. It really hurt. Was I struck by lightning or something? How did my wounds heal?
“Only one way to confirm…” I muttered. I bit into my hand as hard as I could. I then let go, glancing at the mark that was left, slightly disappointed. I felt pain. “…not dead. I guess…the only thing I can do…is get a clue as to where I am.”
I began to wander the forest in search of any landmark. Funny, I knew what the forest was…so why? Why did this place feel so otherworldly? So unfamiliar. Even just the sight of green plants and sound of singing birds felt strange. Am I really still alive?
In time, I began to lose a bit of my patience. No matter how much I walked, this place looked the same. Sure plants changed here and there but it didn’t seem like I was getting anywhere. If only I could see things from a bird’s eye view.
I looked up to the trees to find a vantage point. No point in climbing a high tree if the branches will just break and send me falling back down. As I thought, no luck. As mysterious and oddly beautiful this forest was, it wasn’t helpful. I sighed in disappointment.
“Help!” a voice echoed across the forest. Someone was out there. I sprinted in the direction of the voice. As I got closer, I picked up on the sound of growling. A predator. It was probably attacking the owner of the voice. Will I even make it in time? Was it alone? Could I fight it? I shook the doubtful thoughts in my head. I could do this. I need to get there. Fast.
I finally saw an elderly man on top of a flat rock with runes on it swinging a knife around. “Get back! Back!” he yelled. He was being attacked by a dog-like creature. A wolf? It was big for its size. How do I fight that?
As if trying to answer my question, my fingers started to tingle. Sparks started to exit my body. Sparks of electricity. I didn’t really get what was going on but I could use this. I cupped my hands in the shape of a ball and lightning started to gather in between them.
“Leave him alone!” I yelled slamming the ball of lightning into the wolf’s ribs. The ball of lightning ripped fur from flesh until both the wolf and I were both blown back from the resulting force. The wolf cried out in pain and ran away. Maybe I over did that. What was that anyway?
“Oh thank you boy. I thought I was done for!” the old man cried shaking my slightly twitching hand.
“It’s nothing. You’re not hurt are you?”
“No, you came just in time. Please, take something as a show of gratitude,” he said moving to his bag.
“I don’t need anything.”
“Don’t be like that. If there’s something you need, just say the-”
“Directions! I need…directions,” I rudely interrupted. “I’m a bit lost so if you know where the nearest town is…”
“Say no more. I understand. You’re in luck. We are in the halfway point between of them. I’m headed to Magillis to sell my wares in that direction. Walking, I’ll get there by sundown. In the other direction is the capital city, Sanctina,” he said pointing to the direction of each town. “You should join the adventurer’s guild. With that magic of yours, I suspect a job like that would be a piece of cake.”
“That ball of lightning you were swinging around earlier.”
My eyes shifted to my hand. My hands started to light up as lightning danced around my fingers. “I see. Wonder what else I can do with this. Thanks. Have a safe journey.”
“Hold it son,” he said. He handed me a piece of paper. “A map, so you do get yourself lost again.”
“Oh. Thank you,” I said taking the map. I couldn’t exactly refuse. I doubt he would let me anyway. I folded the map and placed it into my pocket.
The magic I can use emits lightning. Lightning is fast. So, if I transfer it into my legs, will it increase my speed? Let’s try it out. I did so, feeling the magic flow through my body, trying to focus the flow through my legs. I hopped in place a few times. After landing, I jumped in the direction of Sanctina. With a huge thunderclap, I burst through the forest at blinding speed.
“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” I yelled immediately shutting down the flow of magic in my body. I was sent tumbling through the trees and vegetation like a bullet. After taking the brunt of about 10 trees and 7 bushes, if finally skid face first into a river. I got up still feeling the pain of the scrapes and splinters. “That was a stupid idea. I am never doing that again.”
I rubbed the water out of my eyes. Then I got a glimpse of the water. Right below me, it was turning purple. A red drop fell into the water. I slowly wiped my forehead with my fingers and saw the red liquid.
Blood. It was blood. My blood. It was blood. Blood that I spilled. Blood that I…that I…wait. My hand started shaking violently as my heart beat in my ears. It was getting a bit hard to breathe.
Please I beg of you!
He’s a monster!!!
Somebody please!! Anybody!
What…what the hell are you?!!!!
I frantically washed my hands in the river to get the blood off my hands. After it was off I got water and splashed my face multiple times until the blood stopped dripping. Calm down. Calm down. It’s just blood right. It’s just a scratch right? My hand was still trembling. I grabbed it in a futile effort to make it stop. “Get it together. Get it together.”
I stood up and made my way to the city. What was that about? I think I’m better off not knowing. I was just freaked out. That’s all. I broke out into a jog in the direction of the kingdom. I couldn’t be too far away.
After about thirty minutes of jogging, I noticed that the amount of trees started to clear up. I ran faster and faster finally reaching the exit of the forest. Finally, I burst out of the forest and gazed upon scenery in front of me.
The field in front of me was huge. The lush green grass swayed softly in the breeze. To my right, the field seemed to end but that end gave a beginning to a blue horizon. A great body of water that seemed to have no end, the blue of the water clashing with the blue of the sky on the horizon. The sun reflecting off the water seemed to make it shine.
However, the greatest detail that caught my attention was the silhouette of a castle right next to the body of water. Next to (or maybe surrounding?) that castle were buildings. That must be Sanctina. Didn’t seem too far.
The wind blew again, a bit harder now. The sound of the waves and dancing grass and the smell of sea salt. It was amazing. I’ve never seen nor felt anything like this before. I couldn’t put it into words but it felt oddly liberating. I felt as if I could just sit here and watch the water or gaze at the castle for hours on end.
Guess things never work out that way…
As I turned to make my way to Sanctina, a hooded figure ran across the field. They continued running until they ran behind a boulder however they didn’t emerge from the other side. I wonder what could be going on. I quickly gave into my curiosity and went to see, hiding on the opposite side of the boulder.
“I…I have to…keep going…” the fatigued voice of a girl said on the opposite side of the boulder. “Can't…let them…find me…”
‘A girl? Can't let who find her? What’s she running from?’ I heard her get up from her position on the ground. She looked behind the rock towards the castle and unfortunately, caught me.
“AH!” she yelled. Out of nowhere, a white floating circle materialised in her hands, likely pointed in my direction. It had strange glyphs on it. Was that magic?!
“Whoa! Whoa! Calm down! I’m not going to hurt you,” I yelled throwing my hands up in surrender.
“On what grounds should I trust you? Have you been sent to take me back?”
“Back where? I don’t even know where you’re running from. I don’t even know where I am!” Her head tilted down and back up.
“You’re from the empire, right?” she asked. “Who are you and what do you want?”
Who am I? Wait…who…am I exactly? Think, think. My name. I should have a name. My name is…
“My name is Dante. Dante Scientia and I-I …” Good. The first part is done. My name is Dante. Dante Scientia. That I’m sure of. If that’s the case, why can't I remember anything else? “I-I…”
My name is Dante Scientia and I came from…
My name is Dante Scientia and I…
My name is Dante Scientia and before this I…I…I-I
My head ached in pain as I tried desperately to recall any memories other than this. Something! Anything! Any memories at all! Who am I! Who-
“Take your sword and swear to neve-”
“You have to take co-”
“His unique skill is-”
“You have to control the-”
“We gave everything we could and in the end-”
“Please! You can't die here! You have to-”
I clutched my head in pain as visions and voices rapidly flooded my head, none of which made sense. The glimpses of what I saw felt familiar. People around my age in similar clothing. Long nights of fighting and killing. Blood. Death. All were present, none of which were pleasant, but everything felt familiar. What was my life like…before I died?
The hooded girl eased her hand as the white circle faded away. She reached out her hand to touch me but I jumped back slightly as she grazed my shoulder. “A-are you okay?” she asked.
I can't stay here. I can't stay here. As I was about to head off, I could feel the ground tremble a little. Suddenly, emerging from the hills where three horses. Two of the riders wore armour, the other had a cloak. Knights? The cloaked girl pulled me behind the rock to hind from the three men who just arrived.
“Shh. Be quiet,” she instructed. “Listen, I don’t know what’s going on but I need you to calm down and stay quiet. I can't let them find me.”
“Stop. The trail ends here,” one of them said.
“She couldn’t have gone too far,” one in armour said. Between the two in armour, he looked bolder. Maybe he was higher in the chain of command. “Can you pick up the trail?”
“No need captain. Behind that rock,” the hooded one said.
“I see. Whoever is there, reveal yourself at once!” he called. The cloaked girl and I stepped out to reveal ourselves as she took off the hood revealing her face. He captain of their group dismounted his horse and walked up to her. “Princess, please cease this madness. Let us return to the castle at once.”
“My lady, it is not safe out here. Please return to the kingdom at once.”
“No. I’m free to do as I wish. Right now, there’s something I must do away from the kingdom and that does not require your aid nor your presence Draco! Return to the castle and don’t follow me!” she yelled.
“Forgive me princess,” he said grabbing her arm. “It is the king’s orders for you to return and I cannot defy his will for your wish.”
“No! Let me go! Let go!” The princess struggled against Draco’s grasp. I wanted to step in but I felt it wasn’t my business.
“Wait!” I yelled catching their attention. “W-well…uh…doesn’t she get a say in this? I mean, what is it that she wants to do?”
“Under normal circumstances, yes. She would,” Draco said. “However she left the kingdom without so much as discussing it with the King or Queen. If she didn’t do that, it is either reckless, dangerous and foolish endeavour or one of ill intent. This just shows that her place is not outside Sanctina’s walls.”
He continued walking but I ran up to him and grabbed his arm. “You don't know that for sure! Have you even asked her?!”
“Unhand me! Retrieving the princess is our job as the royal knights of Sanctina. We need not know anything else. Don’t interfere boy!” he threw my hand off and continued walking forward. I ran in front of him to intercept his path. “Move.”
“Ask her until you ask her what it is she has to do. Then I’ll decide what I do next.”
“Listen boy. You best not interfere.”
“I’m not going anywhere until she gets a fair shot. Ask. Her. What. She. Wants,” I said staring the man right into his vermillion eyes. He swiftly grabbed my shirt and held me in the air with one hand.
“Listen boy. You better know your place now. This is the business between the royal family and the royal knights of Sanctina. You have no right to meddle in out affairs. Now stay out of our way.”
He dropped me to the ground and continued walking. I just watched as Draco got closer to his horse. Right, what was I thinking? I have no right to interfere. This wasn’t my business. It clearly wasn’t.
At least, that’s what I thought until I looked into her tear-filled eyes.
“Captain!” the cloaked figure yelled throwing up his hands towards the knight. I grabbed the princess’ free wrist and kicked the knight holding her sending him tumbling to his left.
“That brat. He can use magic?!” the knight captain yelled on the ground. Small sparks of lightning danced around my whole body. It felt like strength was surging throughout my entire body. I stood between the princess and the men and got into a fighting stance. The odds weren’t in my favour, they never were but when has that ever stopped me.
“You do this yet call yourselves knights? You make me sick,” I said motioning to the princess to get behind me.
“Why? Why are you doing this for me?” the princess asked, visibly shocked herself.
“I wonder. My body just moved on its own. Didn’t have time to think at all. Just tell me, this thing that you intend to do away from the kingdom, there’s no bad intentions?” I asked receiving a no in response. “Will it hurt anyone?”
She shook her head again. I sighed and turned back to look at the knights. “Sorry guys but your job is done. I’ll look after her from here on out.”
“Don’t screw around! We can't let the princess run off with you! You’re from the empire right! You’ll probably just take her back to hold her hostage or do experiments!” a knight yelled summoning a sword.
“I don’t even know where or what the empire is. All I really know is…” I said. I cracked my knuckles and slammed my fist in my palm as a thunderclap echoed in the plains. “I can't let a group of knights get away with making a girl cry.”
“That’s enough out of you!” the mage yelled. He summoned a sceptre and pointed it at me. Magic started to gather at the tip causing the ball to turn red. He shot out a fireball that hurtled in my direction. I gathered lightning in my hand and discharged it at the fireball causing it to explode. I ran towards the knights but instantly appeared behind them.
“Whoa!” I said nearly tripping to stop myself. ‘With all this lightning magic in my body it makes sense I would get faster but this is really a stretch. It’s a lot faster than last time,’ I thought analysing my own body. The air behind me heat up rapidly. I turned to see a few fireballs coming at me at high speed. As I thought to dodge, my legs moved on their own jumping back.
‘It’s messing with my strength and reflexes too? Not only the impulses to my muscles but my nerves as well? I wonder, can I mess with theirs?’ I thought this as my body danced around numerous fireballs and blade attacks. ‘First off all, those fireballs need to go but I need them to get out of the way. Their captain is still on the ground. Can't he move? I wonder…’
“Okay. Let’s try this out,” I said. One of the knights tried to stab me with his sword but I managed to dodge at the last second. I slammed my palm into his hand while letting electricity run through it.
He screamed in pain from the massive discharge as his entire body became a conductor and amplifier. I kicked his sword into the air and vaulted him to catch it. ‘That discharge alone was enough to knock him out? I went too far.’
“Dammit! You can't dodge in mid-air!” the magician yelled. A giant fireball was sent flying in my direction. I cursed and tried to block as I was engulfed by the fireball. As expected the heat was intense. My ears rung after the fireball exploded around me leaving the air around me dark with smoke.
I could still see the smoke. I could still hear the ringing. I could still smell the soot and ash. I could still taste the hazardous fumes. I could still feel the adrenaline rush. I could feel the heat. I could feel the pain. I was still alive. I could still fight.
“You know,” I said as my feet touched the ground. I turned around and grabbed the back of the mage’s cloak, where his neck was. “If it’s any consolation: that hurt a lot. That last blast gave me an idea on how powerful magic is around here. You’re strong but…”
I squeezed his neck, trying my best to suppress the electricity running through my hand. As expected, I couldn’t control it and still electrocuted him sending all his nerves and the impulses running down his spine into disarray. He twitched a lot while screaming then passed out before I dropped him. Why is this so difficult to control?
“Sorry, I feel like I’ve experienced worse,” I said. The lightning finally disappeared as my muscles relaxed. They suddenly tensed up again and I dropped to one knee. I couldn’t move. I suddenly felt so tired. Why?
This was bad. I could hear the sound of metal clanging, getting closer. Someone in armour. Their captain had gotten up.
“You insolent little brat,” he said limping towards me. The paralysis from the lightning magic hadn’t fully worn off. He drew his sword and aimed it at my neck. “Not only do you intend to take the princess away from the kingdom, you have defied the king’s will by resisting her return and gone to lengths to injure the royal knights sent to take her back.”
“…You call yourselves knights…yet you were fully willing…to use force to bring her back. The king’s will…don’t give me that crap. You meaning to tell me…what some old rich guy on a fancy chair says…gives you…the right to-” I was cut off as I was kicked to the ground. The sword I previously stole was also kicked away.
“HOLD YOUR TONGUE KNAVE!” he stepped on my stomach and raised his sword ready to stab me in the chest. What would happen if I died this time? Would I get another do over? Would I vanish into darkness again? Would I be sent to rest in heaven or banished to suffer in the pits of hell? I was scared again. I tried to resist but my body didn’t listen again. I cursed and braced myself as the sword came down.
“CAPTAIN DRACO! STAND DOWN!” the princess yelled. The sword stopped just before my chest. Something green hit my body. It felt warm and comforting.
“My energy?” Energy returned to my body? The slight burns on my body didn’t hurt anymore. In fact, I didn’t feel pain anymore but my body was still paralysed. Not to mention he still held me down. ‘Healing magic?’
“Get off him, now.”
“Why are you stopping me princess?”
“That’s an order, Draco! Let him go!” she yelled. The weight in his foot got lighter and his sword shook a little but it stilled itself. The weight returned. Shit!
“Forgive me for disobeying an order but he must die!” he lifted the sword again.
Suddenly, Draco was hit with something that sent him flying backwards. Something then dripped onto my body. Water? “Sir Dante! Are you okay?”
A glyph appeared in her hand and magic was sent into my body. My muscles finally loosened up and I could move again. “Thanks.”
“It seems I have no choice. Rebellious children must be kept in line. One way or another,” Draco said. He adopted a crimson aura as he turned his blade against us. “I, Draco Vermiculo, Captain of the Crimson Knight Squadron, shall bring you home princess and have your head boy!”
“No!” she yelled. She ran in front of me and set up a barrier as Draco charged violently at us. That barrier wasn’t strong enough. He was going to shatter the barrier. I sent another wave of lightning through my body and pulled the princess back and extended my arm.
The sound of shattering glass was heard followed by a powerful clash of steel. The captain was visibly shocked as I held back his attack. This time with my sword. “Princess, I appreciate your need to save me but…magic is seems to be your forte…and magic…should NOT…be the first line…of defence!” I yelled throwing the knight off.
“That sword…as I thought, you’re from the Empire,” Draco said. “Whatever you plan to do with the princess, I won't allow it!”
“Whatever this Empire is, I don’t fight for them,” I said getting into stance. “You know what, there’s no point in arguing with you. Let’s get this over with, Draco.”
I charged at Draco, and our two swords clashed. He parried my attack and went on the offensive, all I could do was block his attacks with the sword.
He swung his sword horizontally but I managed to dodge in time and discharge a bolt of lightning at him. He blocked with his shield again. I needed to get rid of that shield. He gathered fire in his palm and shot it above me towards the princess. It exploded mid-air creating a cloud of steam. “Princess. Don’t interfere.”
I jumped and tried to stab at his neck but he tilted his neck to the side and dodged. He grabbed my arm and stopped me from moving. I quickly grabbed his arm and kneed him in the stomach. I saw an opportunity and kicked off his armour to flee back.
He’s no pushover. There’s got to be a way to beat him. Think. If I’m going to incapacitate him without killing him, I need to use magic. That shield deflects magic though. “Princess, I need your help.”
“I’m going to hold him off to create an opening. Find a way to bind him in a way he can't see. That’s when he’s open. Then I can beat him.”
“Are you done scheming? Whatever plan you have, it will not change anything.”
“Let’s test that theory,” I said pointing my sword to him.
“Just so you know, you aren’t the only one who can pull off that trick, boy,” he said. The red aura expanded as if he were on fire. He gathered fire magic in his hand and sent a giant fireball towards us. I grabbed the princess and got out of the way.
“You okay?” I asked setting her down. The air heated again. Draco was right beside me. I blocked the attack but was sent flying into a boulder. He continued pursuit. I jumped off the boulder, destroying it and clashed swords again. Fire magic enhanced strength. Where was this speed coming from? It’s insane.
‘Focus. He’s fire. I’m lightning. Surpass his speed with your own!’ He swung his sword downward but I managed to redirect it and elbow him in the face. Using the speed of the lightning magic, I circled around him while gathering it in my foot. “Your highness!”
I kicked him towards the princess who had a big blue glyph in front of her. She shot out a torrent of water. Draco blocked it with his shield but the heat around him created a thick cloud of steam. I jumped into the steam cloud and attacked the knight from above. He managed to block the sword.
“You’re wide open,” he said. He gathered fire in one hand and blasted it into my stomach. I was sent backwards from the explosion and onto the ground. He walked over to me and lifted his sword for the killing blow. “It’s over!”
I got up from the ground and clapped my hands in front of his face. The sound from my hands was as loud and sounded like a thunderclap. This move was enough to stun him and give the princess a signal. Blue glyphs started to surround Draco. The mist was draw closer two him, condensed and trapped him in a bubble of water.
‘Good, the mist had time to mix with the air and water also got in the soil so it’s not completely pure.’ I gathered lightning magic in my left hand. The lightning burst and crackled in my hand. Control it. Make it weaker. Make it sharper. “Sorry about this. I hold nothing against you but…I hope you soon understand.”
I struck the bubble with my left hand sending a current of electricity through the water. He screamed and struggled. After a few seconds I removed my hand from the bubble and let it burst. The knight collapsed in front of me. I checked his pulse. He was still alive. ‘This man. He’s strong. That would have killed a normal man.’
I dropped his wrist and ran over to the princess. I tapped her shoulder, still making my way towards the woods. “Let’s go.”
The princess nodded her head and hesitantly gazed upon the fallen knights once more. I stopped when I noticed she didn’t follow immediately. She gazed back at the knights, her kingdom. She had to leave it all. She placed her hand on her heart and prayed. After a few seconds that felt like an eternity, she turned and jogged to catch up with me. “You okay?” I asked.
“Y-yes. I’m okay.”
The two of us ran away from the field. I could guess she didn’t want to leave them there like that but healing them or sending them back wasn’t an option. There was no turning back.
After some time of jogging, I started to lag behind. I felt extremely tired. I guess I overdid it with…my lightning magic. My vision…is fading. I can't keep this up. The magic dispelled and my body locked again causing me to fall.
“Dante! Are you okay?!” the princess yelled. I felt magic enter my body. I tried to move but couldn’t. It didn’t work…I’m too weak to move. I could hear the princess calling out to me but her voice was fading. Apart from the weird sense of déjà vu, everything I felt just faded away.