Before the descent of the Stone of Heaven, humanity knew naught of the essence of the beyond, only endless bloodshed and meaningless pursuit for power. As the Stone reached the Mortal Realm, wars between men ceased, and wars between men and nature ascended. Humans, who had disregarded the destructive force of drought, torrent, plague, and famine for so long, probed into the Dark Age, a millennia of widespread natural disasters caused by the Gods.
The Stone of Heaven was a strident retribution of the Gods to mankind, a firm reminder of the world order and the futility of ceaseless warfare. No human dared wage war against one another for another thousands of years.
That was, until humans learned to exploit the essence of Heaven for themselves. That was when the first Flairmasters came into existence.
Excerpt from "The Chronicles of Flair, 3rd edition"
Eugene De Lavet
"Pushing the enormous reserve of Flair to my foot, I bounce up to the sky, dancing and mingling among the overlapping clouds. The wind breeze blows gently, sending my masculinely manly auburn hair flutter in the wind. The sword in my hand blazes with the golden glow of Worldbreaker Flair. I am a champion of impeccable charm and insurmountable power. I am a God among men," I narrate as I bounce up to the clouds and dance among the clouds.
"Wow bro, narcissistic much?" A literal pink blob with beady eyes and a pair of deer horns scoffs as he hovers around my head. "You don't even have a Flair, Eugene De Lavet." He always has a habit of referring to me by my full name whenever he thinks he's saying something funny.
"Shut the hell up, will you?" I bark back, swinging my blade at him. He dodges with relative ease. "This is my dream; I do whatever the hell I want! Why are you even here, by the way? Get back to your own dream or something."
"My dreams don't have red-haired dudes making a fool of themselves while doing the chimpanzee slap dance in the air. This is more entertaining."
He's Lek, a Soulbound Companion, or SC for short. I would have gotten rid of him ages ago if I could, but you can guess it from the name—he's bound to me. SCs are from another dimension (or at least they claim to be) so we can see their shadow in our dimension and hear their voice, but we can't touch them or interact with them in any other way. My blade wouldn't have scratched the blobby dude, but he just sidestepped anyway because he could.
"Can you just get out of the way? I have a dragon to slay."
"As you wish, Champion De Lavet. Or should I say, Chimp-ion De Lavet?"
I ignore his blatantly unfunny pun and direct my gaze to the dragon below. Green scales on its back and green thorns on its snout, the ugly dragon keeps staring at me dumbfoundedly. Even in his wildest dream, I'm sure he did not expect that the poor boy he intended to devour only a few seconds ago is actually The Heavenly Sword God, who can decimate entire continents with a snap of his finger.
"Lek, show me the stats." I wave at the blob without looking. Technically, I could prevent him from showing up in our dimension by turning my Distortion Orb on, but SCs are the only way I can actually see stats.
"You know this dragon isn't real, right?"
"Just show me the darn stats, party pooper."
Lek heaves a sigh then does blob things, and the semi-transparent stat menu pops up, projecting in the air.
|Name||Panthara, the Dumb|
|Speed Enhancement||LV 866|
|Drake Magic||LV 908|
|Drake Wisdom||LV 202|
|Veins of Entanglement||LV 875|
|Emerald Breath||LV 946|
|Thick Scales||LV 787|
This reptile's skills are way too weak for its level. It's not even in the same league as me.
Time for me to start narrating again. "I storm down at the speed of a thousand suns; my body swings in the air as gracefully as a House Kuzanov ballerina. I raise my sword and stab in the vertex of the dragon before it can react, then brush it off with indescribable ease. My blade glitzes as it splits apart the dragon's level 787 Thick Scales and penetrates its skull. And. . . it's game over."
The lizard lets out a feeble weep as it unleashes its Emerald Breath. Its special move doesn't leave so much as a scratch on my skin, rather a tingling sensation on the back of my foot like a mosquito bite.
I pull out my sword and jump to the ground, back against the creature. I run my hand through my hair, mouthing, "Three. . . two. . . one." A loud bang reverberates—the sound of the dragon collapsing on the floor. Lowering my head, I put two fingers on my foreheads, close my eyes, and flash my dazzling smile. Raging hurricanes surface, sweeping me from the ground, lifting me up in mutual celebration. The swift wind pulls me up to the top of the nearby hill. I cast my gaze downward, to the cobblestone castle, bold on the blue beyond, sitting there as if conjured from a storybook.
I walk towards the wooden gate, and with one slash, the giant gate breaks in half before crumbling like an old, dry sponge.
"On the other side of the castle is my reward—a beautiful princess."
Lek wobbles towards me and rolls his eyes. "Really? A princess? You could've dreamed of a six-wheeled oil machine or the mythical Skull of Bazarthan, or at least something that's not cliché."
"Go away, idiot. A princess I want, a princess I get." I scoff at him before turning to the alluring figure waiting on the other side, a dazzling smile on her face. Azure eyes, fluffy teal hair fluttering in the gust, and milky white skin, she's the absolute beauty I've been looking for my entire life. I haven't got to know her just yet, but I'm sure she has a great personality too. If she doesn't, I can just dream of another girl.
The princess runs over to the handsome hero (which is me, by the way), hugging my muscular, toned arm. "Oh, brave hero. You have saved me from the custody of the frightening dragon. I shall reward you with the most precious endowment of all—a true love's kiss."
"No need for such haste, m'lady." Patting my chest, I lift my face arrogantly as I declare, "I shall escort you to the palace, and we shall share our kiss after we wed."
“Oh dear, how charming your laugh is. Oh, you are not only talented and handsome, but also such a kind-hearted man." The princess' eyes dazzle as she gazes at me.
"He's going to rob you off your entire domain!" Lek gasps. "How is that kind-hearted?"
"Oh, my hero!" The princess blinks dreamily. "So kind of you to willingly manage our kingdom for us."
"Yes, yes, I will gladly manage your, uh, kingdom." I let out a raucous laugh. "Did you see this, Lek? I have Flair. I have my true love. I have everything. This world is mine, mine, mine!"
The sky trembles along with the earth. Fragments of heavens pour down from above, and holy streaks of light pierce through the void.
This is it. This is the Order of the Gods. The Gods have descended to grant me my divinity.
"Say it, gods!" I scream. "Tell me that I have Flair! Tell me that I am divine!"
From the holy light rumbles the benevolent voice of the almighty. It says, "Knock knock knock."
"Knock knock knock?"
The sound grows loud. "KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK."
Lek snorts at me and flies away. "Catch you, mate."
As if she's never existed, the princess vanishes from my arms. Then the sky comes tumble down, and the castle vaporizes. I stare at the golden sword in my hand and grasp on it with both of my palms. "No. No. No! Don't go!" It dissolves into dust.
I kneel down and hold my head in agony. "NO! I HAVE FLAIR! I SLAYED THAT DRAGON! I AM A GOD! NO!"
"KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK!"
I wake up.
The damn hammering on the door pulls me back to reality—a disappointing, Flairless reality. Another three knocks resound, and I turn my face into the wall and cover my head with a blanket. "I'm not home, come back tomorrow!" I yell.
Despite me explicitly announcing my absence, the dream vandal doesn't stop knocking. In his thick baritone, he grunts, "Open the door. You're late for training."
That voice belongs to Rizeni Baggardo, the ruler of the forest where we were stationed and the person we call under the solemn title: General (though in reality there's only like twenty of us that he's commanding; that's why he's here nagging me and not leading huge armies). Nothing against the man, but I kind of hate him occasionally, at around 5 A.M.
I rub my eyes and wobble toward the door. Just when I open it, the man pinches my ear and pulls me outside.
"Ouch, ouch, ouch!" I groan. "Not my ear! I need it intact for my piercing!"
By the time he releases his grip, my ear already feels swollen. Lek hovers outside of the house and salutes the General. "General, Sir. I tried to wake him but he was busy kissing princesses."
"That's a lie!" I protest. "I've never even got to kiss. . . ouch, ouch, ouch!"
The old man pinches my ear again. "Melodi is already waiting for you in the sparring ground. Need I tell you to armor up and get out there?"
"Sparring for what? Not like we'll ever get out of here and level like real adventurers do!"
Bald, mustached, and suffering from a severe case of morning grump, Rizeni is simultaneously the best and the worst general anyone could ask for. I can bark back at him and he won't really say much, as long as I do my bit. But if I don't. . . let's just say that I won't want to do that. But hey, he can turn himself into diamonds. I guess there's a reason we've never starved during our eighteen years staying in this forest.
Words have it (mainly Rizeni's daughter bragging) that the old man used to be a General of the Socenian Army, one of the four big kingdoms in the Mainland. How he arrived to the far North and brought us along with him was a mystery to me, because apparently people only talks about good things like how they used to command thousands. Melodi and I were babies when we moved to the forest, but most other people were at least old enough to recall the event. However, nobody talked about it.
In any case, I should be thankful because the man has raised me for eighteen years. But he has also locked me here for eighteen years. If I’d gotten a chance to grind out there in the wild, I wouldn’t be a lowly Level 51! Maybe then I could turn things into diamonds or something too; who knows.
What even is the point of sparring? I can dance with my sword all I want, but then some random dude with no training whatsoever will just spit fire in my face and burn me to a crisp.
Having said that, he takes unnecessarily loud steps out away from me.
"Fussy old man, no wonder you age so soon," muttering to myself, I walk inside and change my clothes, but not before mouthing a few curses.
Honestly. Of the many people in this barrack, he and his daughter Melodi are only out there to torment me.
The Southern section of the Likimi forest in front of me is a primitive cedar brown, reeking of old age. Rizeni told me that its sylvan incense is from millenniums of snapping branches crunching into the forest’s floor and rotting silently. If these trees are humans, they might start coughing their lungs out and developing dementia in no time. But they aren't, so the canopies are still a dense juniper green, and the small birds are still twittering on the boughs under their nests.
"Just ten years ago the forest looked so much younger. I've been stuck here forever," I groan.
"Like, where else are you going to go?" Lek snickers. "Literally everybody out there has some kind of Flair. This is the safest place for you."
Ah, yeah, that. Rizeni told me that I need to train hard because he sees 'uniqueness' in me. Now, I do have something unique, but it probably isn't what he's hoping for.
Welcome to Loktharma, where everyone's a superhero from birth. In weekly campfire sessions over at the Northern bushes, Captain Azra once told us about the Worldbreakers, the people who were born to brandish the power of the universe, warp time-space, and destroy lands and even continents. On rarer occasions, Commoners gifted with only power for the finer arts, architecture, military arts, or small-scale elemental manipulation would pop up if they did something grand for the society. He's quite the storyteller near the bonfire, betraying the rather distant demeanor he has in literally every other circumstance.
I came to this conclusion after listening to all his jabbering. Even in an unjust world like Loktharma, there is always one constant: everyone is assigned a Flair since birth, a power to do something extraordinary.
That makes me, Eugene De Lavet, the most special of them all. At eighteen years old, I still have absolutely no clue what my superpower is.
"Stop jabbering!" I snare at Lek before stomping back inside my room and put on my 'combat suit', or rather a leather tunic disguised as one. Lek is already hovering on top of my jet-black one-wheeled Soulbike (or wheelbike as it's normally called) when I walk out. We have a crazy-talented mechanic named Leviathan whose Flair lets him build machines, things unthinkable to man. Stuff like bikes powered by Soul Dust or chess-playing androids. But apparently he can't even make a real suit of armor.
I climb onto the vehicle and give the throttle a twist. it screams like a pregnant feral beast poked by a stick before sending both of us into the deep.