A beautiful young lady was skipping along the steps towards the magnificent gigantic palace above, as she held a basket within her arms. Just as she reached the final step, she made a small jump, as she grinned gleefully. She admired the two huge statues right in front of the palace, the one to the right had a bright smile as it held a beautifully crafted sword up to the sky as the silver shined due to the bright light, as if defying the heavens. While the statue to the left, seemed more calm and collected in its facial expression, there was no smile, only a tired, weary look.
The young lady put down her basket while she grinned mischievously at the statue to the left as she walked towards it, before jumping and grabbing onto an arm, lifting herself up and hugging onto the head. She lifted her finger as a current of wind began spinning at insane speeds. With the grin still plastered on her face, she carved a smile on it.
"Why is Fei always so glum these days? He really doesn't appreciate my hard efforts of cheering him up, I'm quite sure I carved a smile on this the day before. Did he revert it back to it's original look?" she pouted slightly as she jumped off the statue. Before thinking to herself, couldn't I have just flew up? Oh wells... At least I had fun climbing it~
She took a few steps back and admired the left statue's peculiar 'smile', as she basked in the sun's radiant warm rays. The soft breeze flew past her face, while the small birds chirped a chorus for her. Such peace, such warmth, she really wished that this would not end. However, taking a single step forward, her pupils suddenly constricted sharply.
A deafening sound suddenly came from within the palace, while the whole area gradually started losing its colour as the surroundings turned monotone. It was as if all colour had seeped out of everything, the roses, the lilies, the trees, the buildings, it was as if one was looking through a grey lens. Everything lacked colour, lacked life, lacked brightness.
The sun which sat above the sky, was still the same, but not the sky itself, as it had also turned monotone even its rays had turned a shade grey. Confusion was splattered all across her face, her heart started beating quickly for an unknown reason. She felt scared, she felt fearful, she wanted to see her brother again.
As if God had answered her prayers, her brother came running out of the palace adorned in long regal robes, his face filled with a confused expression as he observed his surroundings, with the same calm and collected expression that was on the statue. She had found her brother. However, the instant he noticed her by the steps, his pupils suddenly constricted too, for a different reason. His once stoic expression, had shattered.
Thinking her actions had caused his grim and solemn expression to break, she grinned happily, as she walked towards him. She tried. She really tried. But time seemed as if it had frozen. The confused look on her brother's face slowly turned from confusion to anguish, as tears slowly welled in his eyes. A sight she had never seen. Not once in her life, did she see her brother cry. Not even the shrill, high-pitched sound that was moving towards her could take her attention away from the expression her brother was making.
However, the instant she noticed the tears welling in her brother's eyes, she slowly began realising how bewildering it was, that she felt as if she had no control over her body.
Why couldn't she move towards him.
Why couldn't the words come out of her mouth.
Why, did it feel as if she was falling, while her brother became farther and farther away from her.
She looked down at her chest, to find a sword lodged into it.
She looked back at her brother, who's tears were already running down his face, as he got into a running position. Her heart felt heavy, her nose felt sore, her throat felt as if something was in it, and wanted to come out, but simply couldn't. She couldn't convey anything. But she kept fighting on, as a bright smile appeared on her face as she mouthed out words.
The last words she heard, was her brother crying out towards her.
Screams can be heard from afar, explosions can be heard being set off, women pleading for help, to save their child. Men falling to their knees, unable to handle the situation before closing their eyes and giving up. While the elderly carried their grandchildren on their back as they sprinted towards the palace, only to soon turn to dust.
Staring blankly ahead, for the first time, he had lost the ability to think. The scene playing out for him was too much to handle. The tears just wouldn't stop falling, he couldn't stop gripping his hand, he couldn't stop grinding his teeth together, he couldn't stop... The clear distinct sound of footsteps could be heard coming from behind, they were steadied and poised.
Fei suddenly closed his eyes abruptly, as he took a deep breath in, before slowly letting it out. The tears no longer fell, and the evidence of such a scene had miraculously disappeared. The previous stoic expression had returned, as he turned his back, to the blinding sight of a mortal bathed in light, dressed in golden robes. It was as if all the chaos could not touch even the area surrounding him, it was as if, he were God.
"Colin, just what have you done?" Fei asked flatly. However, the only answer he got was silence, as Colin merely looked up at the sky for a few moments before disappearing from his spot so suddenly. All Fei could do was blankly stare at the spot, before turning his back.
To his surprise, there was a large man in steel plated armour, who was waiting for him. "Your Exaltedness, I've come here to report the situation!" Albeit his intimidating size, his voice sounded hoarse, as if he had just been crying.
Fei patted his back, as he shook his head, "Go back to your adorable daughter, I'm sure she's waiting for you." Fei had no idea why his Captain of the Guard was crying, he had never seen him cry before, but the slight dust that was being expelled from within his armour as time passed by, had started to make him feel concerned. As for some unknown reason, the colour from the armour was slowly seeping away at the same time.
"I no longer have a family to return to, your exaltedness... They just... Turned to dust..." Just as he finished his last words, the large heavy steel plated armour suddenly collapsed in on itself, as Fei simply stared blankly at it and bowed his head, before glancing at the trail of blood and moving on. There were more important things to attend to, and he felt thin on time.
Following the trail of blood, he had reached the steps, as he looked down. His already pale face turning even more sickly, as his eyes widened open. His sister, laying in a puddle of her own blood. His closest friend's sword lodged into her heart. For the second time, he had truly started to regret his own actions. He regretted placing his trust on him. But now was not a time for regrets.
Fei mysteriously levitated down the endless steps, as he knelt next to his sister, holding her hand within his own as he gripped on it. "Annette, Don't worry, you aren't alone anymore."
Annette weakly looked up at her brother, the smile still on her face, "I saw you cry today Fei... Maybe... One day, you can actually have a wife, that will take pity on your crying, and look after you... You're such a child Fei... Fei Fei..."
Fei hushed her, as he gently caressed her cheeks with his hand, "There is no need to speak any longer, just rest, close your eyes, don't worry, grandpa will come and save you. Like he has always done for us."
Not before long, a frail looking old man had appeared, wearing worn out clothing. He had a soft smile on his face as he used his walking stick to move about. As his clear yet cloudy eyes stared towards Fei and Annette. Even though there were no sounds being produced from his constant tapping, he still found his way towards Annette and Fei. "My dear children, your grandpa is here..." as he said these words, a bright light suddenly enveloped the whole area, as he sat beside Annette and felt her stomach. "My pitiful granddaughter."
Within the bright warm light which surrounded her, Annette gave a weary smile. It was as if she was being hugged by her grandfather. A warm, tender hug, a hug that always made her happy. Fei, who was sitting beside her, merely looked at the bright light in surprise, he had never thought he'd be able to see this once more.
Everything was chaotic, the sun was slowly losing it's colour, the loss of colour within reality kept on spreading further and further, farther than the eye can see, yet the instant their grandpa had appeared, they were at ease. No matter what happens, their grandpa would bear the brunt of it all if only to see them smile. However, such a unique trait of their grandfather's is what made them most hesitant of ever asking for help.
Fei gave his grandfather a weary look, "Grandfather... Can you save her?"
"I can... One life, for another. That is the only way." he explained bluntly, as he stared straight at Fei, who had suddenly looked to the side. "Of course... One life for my sister's..." Fei answered weakly. He could not lose another, not again, not ever.
The smile on his grandfather's face widened, before grinning. "Fei, have I not taught you astrology?"
Fei looked at his grandfather in confusion, "What does that have to do with anything?"
"I know a lot about astrology..." a slight chuckle left his mouth as he glanced at the night sky, before focusing back on his daughter.
Annette weakly looked up at her grandfather in shame, to trade one life for another is a shameful and repulsive thing to do, but... It was not her own life, that she was thinking about, but her eyes kept glancing at Fei secretly. "Grandfather..."
"It can't happen." her grandpa bluntly answered.
Annette glared at her grandfather with a hardened expression. However, his only response was a simple soft smile, as his hand continued caressing her stomach, before whispering quietly into her ear, "Don't worry, your daughter will not be alone up there, I will make sure to keep her company." the wrinkles at the side of his eyes deepened, as his smile only got brighter.
Annette's hardened expression had broken apart as she started sobbing even louder. "Why... Why does this always happen to me... Grandpa... Can you tell me how you can act as if everything is normal, even though it isn't? Even though, your own granddaughter is bleeding out right in front of you. How can you continue smiling!?" She felt as if she wanted to vomit, she felt as if she wanted to simply close her eyes and sleep, she just wanted things to return as they were.
"Because... If there is no one that can see hope, no one that can see over the despair, over the darkness, then who will be the one to save you?" without a warning, he gently poked the center of Annette's head as she lost consciousness. "You may cry, because I will be the one who will wipe your tears away. You may dream, because I will be the one to scare your nightmares away." The bright aura which surrounded Annette had suddenly turned much brighter than before.
A single step up to the palace, a single step into her brother's Study Room, a single step, as they eat together. A single step out of the palace, a single step to look back at the sword, a single step to simply smile. As below the stairs, was her loving grandfather whom had lost his way and needs her help.
Fei, had been observing the stars this whole time, but couldn't understand what his grandfather had meant. Some stars were brighter than others, while some were so dim, that you couldn't even see it, however, there were some stars, that were suddenly dying out. Even the bright ones.
He shook his head and gave up once more at trying to understand what his grandfather means exactly. Instead, he looked down at his pitiful sister who seemed as if she was having a pleasant dream, as her previously sobbing had simply disappeared, just like that. Fei smiled slightly, as he played with his sister's silky black hair.
Just as he was about to ask a question, Colin had suddenly appeared. The radiant aura that had surrounded his body was still there, it was different from his own grandfathers. His grandfather's light was soft, warm and mellow. However, the light coming from the man who had just arrived was sharp, harsh and piercing. He did not understand why there was such a difference.
Colin's face was beaming, as if he was the happiest man alive. However, a shred of hesitance can be seen within his usual determined golden eyes. A sight Fei had rarely seen.
"Linley... Are you sure?" Colin asked quietly, it was if he mumbled it out while his eyes had unknowingly began drifting away from Linley's.
"Sure about what?" Linley asked back. His eyes staring straight into Colin's, as if observing his every movement.
Colin gave a pensive look at Linley, then Fei, before looking away once more and nodding.
"Was there anything else you wanted? Anything at all?" Colin asked once again, seemingly desperate for a certain answer. Fei, whom was close to him, couldn't even hear the words spoken, merely staring at the two of them in deep suspicion.
"What is there to want? I'm tired Colin, I'm very tired. I've already stalled long enough, they are waiting for me, Abigail, Lester, and my darling Lauren... I must return to them, and keep them company, especially my adorable unborn great granddaughter." Linley gave a content smile towards Colin, which only caused his pensiveness to become even deeper.
"But..." Colin was at a loss for words. He looked up at the monotone night sky, stars dying one after another. As he seemed lost in his own thoughts.
Linley shook his head, and made a gesture with his hand, causing the black box to levitate towards his palm. "Since you're taking forever to fulfil your promises, I'll start without you." Linley smirked at Colin as he chuckled.
Colin stared deeply into Linley's eyes, before giving a slight smile. "Apologies for the wait old friend, I'll fulfil my end of our promise..."
Linley glanced at Fei, who had been sharply staring at Colin, while also trying to decipher what exactly his grandfather and Colin was having a conversation about, but no matter how hard he tried thinking, he could not understand. He could only stare at the ominous black box which Linley held in his hands. However, the closer he looked, the more surprised he became. As his grandfather's hands which were holding onto the black box were suddenly starting to turn to dust.
"Fei, leave this closed space. You'll simply get in the way." Linley flatly stated.
"But grandfather, you are-" Fei's eyes were glued right on Linley's hands.
"Will we begin with him inside?" Colin cut off Fei, as he asked curiously.
Linley looked down at his hands which were now slowly turning to dust, before looking up at the starry sky once more and nodded. "We must start now. We no longer have the luxury of time."
"But we aren't sure how powerful-" before Colin can continue, he was instantly cut off by the extremely sharp deafening noise coming from the black box. A deafening noise Fei was familiar with, the noise which appeared right before the world started losing colour. He stared at the black box in extreme incredulity, as he could not believe all their pain and suffering came from this single small black box.
Thick black streams of darkness started escaping the black box, however, the streams weren't able to escape the radiant barrier which had been surrounding them, because of this, they simply kept filling the area, no matter how thick the darkness from within became. It had become so dark in fact, that Fei couldn't even hear anything anymore, only see, as the pale aura surrounding his body became dimmer as the minutes past by.
Colin, who was currently disrobed and wearing thin clothes underneath, had instantly appeared right behind Linley, as he placed his hand on his back. "Now...?" Colin hesitantly asked.
Linley nodded silently, his eyes focused on Annette's gleeful expression, as her 'cocoon' of light had become even brighter. Colin looked away, as a bright purple light started coming from the palm of his hands, and visibly entering the old man. His body slowly began becoming healthier again while deep blue strands of hair started growing out of his previously bald head once more, as his body slowly stopped turning to dust. However, not so long after, his deep blue long hair had slowly started to fall out once again, as if his body started to regress once again.
Colin could not bare to watch, as he focused on doing what he had promised. Strengthen the barriers, strengthen the cocoon, infused Aether into Colin's body. No matter what happens. Continuously fuse it, no matter the side effects. He knew what would come, if you keep filling an already filled container past it's max capacity, sooner or later it would shatter into thousands of pieces.
Linley and Colin had become extremely focused as they used the movement of their mouths to communicate with each other so focused in fact that they did not notice that the darkness within the radiant barrier had become so thick, that it had actually started banging onto the light enveloping Fei, smashing onto it with such power, that cracks had instantly started to appear.
The black streams seeping into it. As a cold, empty feeling started appearing from within Fei, he felt as if there was nothing within him, just hollowness and chaos.
It was as if his body was being destroyed from deep within. He could not describe this feeling he was currently having, it was simply as if all the happiness, positivity and reason were currently being constantly crushed under the heavy weight of this darkness spreading from within him. It was erratic, it was uncontrollable and he felt as if something inside him had changed. He could no longer control the raging anger and irritation from within.
He could not control it, it was too much, too great.
With a wave of his hand, he felt as if he had been released.
He felt as if his body was actually relaxing.
That maybe, it had gone.
Yet, even though he shouldn't be able to hear anything, the sound of something dripping slowly had entered his mind.
He was still in his nightmares his eyes widening in horror, as he stared at his grandfather, anguish filling his whole being.
Reflected in Fei's pale blue glowing iris' was the face of a frail determined old man. As his skin slowly began melting off his face, while his eyes started becoming cloudy once more, his wrinkles returning one after another. Though he had a frail body, an old sickly body, he still stood tall, resolute. Even in the face of death.
His grandfather had suffered enough pain. He had done enough for them, yet he simply kept giving. Kept forgiving. No matter how many wrongs was committed to him.
Fei looked down at the shadowy clouds that had started enveloping his body once more, before focusing on the turbulent enraged emotions rushing through his body like a gigantic body of water rushing out of a cacked dam.
Fei could see a bright warm smile plastered on his grandfather's face, while he stared at him. Despite the fact blood was silently gushing out of his neck. It was as if his grandfather was trying to reassure him that everything was okay. Give him a gentle warm hug that he so needed.
He wanted to scream out to his grandfather for forgiveness, but the words just wouldn't leave his mouth. His vision had started to black out, as he slowly lost sight of his grandfather's bright smile. His body was enveloped in pure darkness, hatred, guilt, yet a blinding light appeared from within, as he heard his grandfather's soft gentle voice one last time. "Fei... My dear child... My pitiful child... What good will forgiving you do, when it is you whom must be the one to forgive yourself?"
Linley slowly took in everything that was happening around him.
The pitiful sight of his guilt-ridden grandson being devoured by darkness.
The pitiful sight of his granddaughter slowly dying.
The pitiful sight of his miserable, disgusting appearance.
But Linley continued to smile. As he believed, he would be able to save his family from their impending doom. Linley chuckled fearlessly, if sacrificing his body was not enough, then why not his soul?
For his family, he would do anything.
Slowly but steadily, the black and white filter that had been spread throughout the lands had slowly receded. As light returned to the lands. The lush verdant green trees rustled as the soft warm winds flowed. The aquamarine rivers flowed as fish began jumping on the surface. The sound of birds chirping a chorus had returned once more. However, it was not a joyful one, but a pitiful one, as they tried searching for the humans who had previously taken care of them.
But alas, the only things that were left behind, were broken survivors and dust.
No one was clapping.
No one was cheering.
No one was smiling.
Colin, whom had his usual bright sunny smile on his face, had been standing on the same spot, his hands still outstretched, however, there was no longer a body it was being pressed on. His eyes were constantly blinking, as he slowly observed his surroundings, he could not recall what had happened, only that, an intricate blue gem was now embedded within Annette.
He looked around his surroundings, as confusion slowly settled in. He couldn't find where Linley had gone. There were only three people within this small area right in front of the palace. Himself, Fei and a woman whom he recognised, but had a different appearance. Scattered around them, were thick hardened shards of glowing transparent glass-like pieces.
Colin looked towards Fei, as he chuckled, "Why, what awesome clouds you have there! Can I touch them?"
He slowly inched closer to Fei, as he held out a finger, however, right when he was about to touch the slithering black clouds, he suddenly felt something change in his heart, as he stared at Fei with wide eyes.
Fei gave Colin an empty look, before picking up his sister and disappearing into the shadows.
Watching Fei leave, Colin looked back at his empire once more - an empire that was no more.
"Why do things always end this way?" A bright smile appeared on his face, the brightest he had ever smiled. While he patted the dust off his shredded clothing.
He was all alone now, without friends, without family, without his own people.
Alone in a world that will soon hate him.
But he had no choice, as there was only once path forward, the future.
Looking defiantly up at the heavens, Colin started laughing erratically. While deep down within, he had unknowingly wondered to himself. If only things could have ended differently...
There is no such thing as right or wrong in this world.
There is no immortal.
There are only pitiful mortals who inhabit this world.