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P-132 is a rewrite of Project 132 (beta) and, therefore, also a reboot of The Resolutions of 132 and Typical Tragedy. It has its basis in those stories, but does not take place in a world related to users or wikis, though it includes many of the former as its cast.
The story takes place on Trine, a planet with two moons housing a single, whirlpool-shaped supercontinent in an otherwise empty galaxy, devoid of all stars except the sun.
Two characters- Christopher Lockheart, based off the author, Tabuu- and Maximilian Cynd II serve as the primary narrators.
This story is written with the assistance of Tucker Wooley.
- Season 1: Golden Fang
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No such thing as...
January 3rd, Year B-263
Have you ever tried to imagine an empty universe?
Oh, God, you’re probably thinking, He’s starting this off with a question about life, the universe and everything. Too pretentious for me. Fuck this.
I’m not pretentious, there’s a reason I asked you that.
Okay, maybe I am a little bit pretentious. Or a lot.
Look, just stick with me for a second. Don’t be like that.
The reason why I started with asking you a question like that is because, well, I’ve tried to imagine an empty universe. When I was a kid, my pops asked me to and I shut my eyes, put my hands over them and said “It probably looks something like this”, because you aren’t born a pretentious asshole, you’re raised to be one.
He told me I was wrong, because I saw darkness. Like absence-of-sight is sight, right?
Well, he explained to me, it is. There’s apparently no such thing as nothing, and that still really, really confuses me.
There are two elements above all the rest in this world. Light and Darkness.
Everything you’ve ever touched, felt or saw is made from some combination of the two. Earth, for instance, is a perfect balance of them.
Neither of them create on their own- they need each other for that.
Creations can destroy, though.
A lot of people have learned that the hard way.
That aside, hey.
My name’s Maximilian Cynd. The second. Just call me Max, Maximilian’s my dad, and he’s a pretty great guy all around.
I turned twenty today. Being a prince among the only known humans on Trine made for a pretty great celebration, as it does every year. My father wasn’t able to turn up, though, since he and my mom have been off nobody-knows-where trying to find things outside of the valley these humans were born in.
My mother’s name is Meiro. She’s not even technically human like my dad is, she’s apparently a goddess. Her true form’s a great, white snake and she’s a creature of Gravity. She has siblings, though- the Great Beasts- and they created this planet we live on, Trine, before my dad came from Lum, the second moon in our sky.
On yeah, moons. Two moons. Sol, the first moon, and Lum, the second moon. No stars in our sky except the good ol’ sun.
I wish I could tell you a bit more than that. Why everything’s so weird.
But even my dad doesn’t have all the answers, and the dude’s a couple hundred years old.
You see, we- as in me and my dad- we’re the Cynds, and for some reason we live quite a lot longer than most humans do. My dad found the people we’ve started to rule over in this valley almost three hundred years ago after he descended from the moon, because unlike us, they aren’t immortal.
They have power, though, and my father has taught them how to use it. Maybe they aren’t as strong as us, but humans are apparently just as adaptive, because they’ve really started to figure out this stuff. At my party in the castle you had guys spitting fire and doing all kinds of crazy stuff.
It was sick.
Sick as in great, I mean. You know.
So I guess you could say I’m a bit of a spoiled, pampered prince. Son of a god among men and a literal goddess- pretty sick, if you ask me. I pretty much have everything I could ask for, and according to what they say I’m actually stronger than them, since I have both their powers and apparently magic just kinda adds up when it comes to frightening semi-bestiality.
Here at the bottom of the valley, we’ve gone from a little village to a huge friggin’ city, and we’re pretty proud of it. When you got people who can pretty much summon and control everything you need to build stuff with their minds, urbanization really isn’t much of a difficult task. It’s been two hundred years since my mom and dad came down here and we’re expanding into something bigger all the time, which is part of the reason why they’ve been outside of the city so much.
They’re trying to find the Great Beasts so that we can get their a-okay and assistance before we exit the valley, since the other Great Beasts- Cyria especially, the Wolf- can be very territorial according to my mom.
I’ve been told not to worry too much about it, though.
I mean, why would anything change?
Back to episode select.
Under an optimistic sun.
Franz Ferdinand - You're The Reason I'm Leaving
“What day is it today?” I asked.
The man in front of me, obscured by bars of cold steel, sighed and closed his red eyes. “March ninth. One-thirty-two years after the fall of Blusk.”
I stretched and sighed, leaning forward and putting my hands on the bars.
The conditions of my prison were kept as dark and cold as possible, so as to prevent me from being able to regain energy and escape. Even if I did escape the cell, there wasn’t much I could do to escape the Palace, much less the man standing before me, his father, and the combined power of the Royal Guard.
“Thanks, Nalia.” I said, “I suppose you aren’t here to let me out?”
The dark-skinned prince lightly shook his head. “You know I can’t do that,” Nalia Cynd said, “And even if I could, what then? I’d just have to come after you again, and this time I won’t be allowed to spare you.”
I chuckled. “You think locking me down here ‘til I die is an act of mercy? That it takes the responsibility out of your hands?”
Nalia swept a lock of white, feathery hair from the front of his right eye and our eyes made direct contact through the bars.
“For me, it does.” he admitted, “I’ve left you to the mercy of this cell. Whether you live or die has been taken completely out of my hands.”
Nalia’s facial expression was distant and devoid of emotion, but his eyes betrayed what he was holding back. Guilt. Empathy.
“When we met a week ago, you seemed rather eager to take that out of my hands.” I said, then paused. Blinked. “What’s changed?”
With the eye contact broken, the Crown Prince of Trine started to turn away to leave me to another day of darkness and silence.
At my question, however, he paused.
Then responded, “Simple. It’s up to you now.”
March 1st, Year P-132.
“What day is it today?” I asked.
“You have a phone,” Patrick Lockheart groaned, “Check for yourself.”
“But you see,” I said throwing a look at my older brother, “It’s less fun this way. It’s more interesting to make you say it.”
“It’s the first day of March,” the elder Lockheart said, “Your birthday is tomorrow. You can’t not know this.”
I shrugged. “There’s a lot of things I can’t not know, yet end up not knowing them. Just the other day, I found out that if you get on a horse while-”
“Are you going to subject me to your awful sense of humor some more,” Patrick Lockheart said, sharply interrupting me, “Or will you let me give you your birthday present?”
“It’s awful for you,” I said, “But for me, the humor is in your reactions, not my jokes themselves.”
“Chris,” he said, “I’m serious. I don’t get to see you very often, and you’re not a kid anymore.”
I paused, looked him in the eyes. Unlike mine, his were a bright blue, and tended to express his emotions very clearly. He was, in fact, serious, and I was being more than a little bit annoying.
“Sorry,” I said, putting my hands in my jacket pockets and casting my gaze downward, “I’ll cut it out. What’s up?”
A car passed our bus stop bench, pushing a cool breeze to my right side. I looked back up at him when this happened, momentarily wondered how a thin, blue-eyed blonde guy and a thicker, black-haired, brown-eyed guy could possibly be brothers from the same set of parents.
“I can’t stay in town as long as I’d like to this time,” he said, “In fact, I only have today before I have to get back to work. The Anti-Monarchy movement is getting a little more active, lately, and I may end up being very busy in the coming weeks dealing with them.”
I blinked up at him as the pieces clicked together in my head. “You’re...not staying for my birthday?” I asked, feeling my heart sink.
He nodded. “I know, it’s not fair...up until now, I always got the first week of March off, but the Guard needs me now more than ever and that means I can’t stay as long as I’d like...”
“I haven’t seen you in months, bro...” I said, “What do they need you for, anyways? You’re the head of the Royal Guard, can’t you just get someone else to fill in for you? It’s just a week...”
“Unfortunately,” Patrick said, “Javelin wasn’t available this week. Because, again, the AMM. There’s been a lot of threats in Colony 1 and 5 and we have good reason to believe those aren’t empty threats.”
I sighed. “I feel like you’ve just put me up and out of the way sometimes, man. I’m, well, here,” I said, beckoning to our suburban surroundings, “In the newest, least-populated colony on an island in the sky. I could not be more out of everyone’s way if I tried.”
“Because you’re safe here,” he said, “You’re my brother, and I’m one of the highest authorities in Trine. Do you have any idea how many people have it out for the Lockhearts?”
“I’ve heard this a thousand times, just-”
“No.” he said, growing firm, “You stop. I know it’s hard on you, but it’s hard on me, too. You think I like putting my only family up here? That I like working day-in and day-out without being able to spend time with my own brother?”
“Stop.” Patrick said, “This is the only day we have. Things should blow over soon enough, and then I’ll come back, okay?”
“Alright.” I sighed.
I moved to sit on the bench at the bus stop and my brother sat beside me.
He’d just gotten off the bus and it was early noon, so there wasn’t much reason for us to sit around here twiddling our thumbs.
At that moment, though, I wanted a little quiet time. To think.
My brother and I sat together and stared ahead, at the occasional passing blur of traffic, lost in our own respective thoughts and wondering where we’d be going from here.
The answer, it turned out, was “food”, namely “expensive lunch at the local Fraglan Family Grill”.
Fraglan Family Grill was a popular local restaurant in Colony 132, run by a family of skilled Fire Element users who promised that the Fraglan Family’s progenitor, a man named Phil Fraglan, had been personally trained in the usage of the Fire Affinity by none other than Barchetta Vulc himself, a legendary master of the Fire Element and one of nine founding members of the original Royal Guard.
All things considered, this was probably bullshit, but it didn’t make the food any less tasty.
While me and my brother were eating, we caught up on the trivial little things that had been happening in the past five months since we’d last gotten the time to actually talk.
I found that he’d actually gone on quite a few exciting adventures, including one that ended with a classic sword battle with a mysterious Sage- one without an elemental Affinity, which meant they could use all of them.
Me and my brother, we’re Lockhearts, so we’re all Darkness Affinity users.
Our ancestor, Edo Lockheart, was someone who was actually important- the first-known Darkness user in Trine and another of the nine founding members of the original Royal Guard, which was specifically devoted to guarding Maximilian Cynd II, the second King of Trine.
Max and the original Royal Guard disappeared in an event called “The Fall of Blusk”, wherein a great battle happened at the bottom of the valley in the middle of our continent (the valley that, incidentally, the very island I live on floats hundreds of miles above) that resulted in our first settlement, Blusk (or “Colony 0”) being completely frozen and the valley itself flooded with water.
The battle was said to be against the legendary “Great Beasts”, living creatures of their own elements.
In the aftermath of The Fall, our calendar changed accordingly. Years preceding the fall (B-1 to B-263) were referred to as B years (B meaning both Blusk and Before) while the years afterward were called P (P meaning Post) years, this one being the 132nd.
“So what have you done since I’ve been gone?” Patrick asked, biting and beginning to chew a piece of barbequed ribs.
Played video games. Wrote dumb stories. Jacked off.
“Nothing of note.” I said, truthfully.
He shrugged. “Not even with Tucker?”
“Tuck had to go back home a month ago,” I said, “I’ve been all alone up here, unfortunately. There was a chick I was into a while ago, but one time we kissed and it kinda tasted like soap, so it ended up not working out.”
“That’s life for you. You handle it well?”
I lost all grasp on my sanity for a good month or so. Healthy emotional response.
“About as well as I usually do.” I said, not technically lying.
He winced. “That bad?”
I shrugged it off. “Not that important, anyways. I’m about to turn twenty, man, I’m amped for that, if only because it means I’ve made it through a whole other year toward the inevitable, unknowable blackness of death.” He raised an eyebrow and I added hastily, “Also being of legal age to join the Royal Guard. Why’s it at 21, anyways?”
“Max didn’t want people committing themselves to battle and all that as young as he was.” Patrick said, “You join up young and you decide it isn’t what you want- what then? At that point, you’ve spent up to half a decade working toward something you didn’t really want.”
“Well,” I said, “The Royal Guard has always been led by a Lockheart since the beginning of the Post-Blusk years. Our family’s pretty deeply tied into it.”
“I never felt obligated to it,” Patrick said, shrugging, “It’s just what I want to do. Help people. You don’t have to join if you don’t want to, you know.”
“But Pat,” I said, calling him Pat (which I never do), “If I don’t join the Royal Guard, how else am I going to embarrass you?”
“Any number of things, probably.” he said, “Remember when you were going through that weird phase and the media got their attention on you?”
I faintly recalled getting into very large, very public disputes in places appropriate for fourteen year olds, like bars.
“I was hoping to keep it repressed, actually.” I admitted.
We both paused for a second.
“I missed you, man.” I said, finally.
Back to episode select.
Night fell a few hours after we ate, and after a fine dinner at a local Hibachi grill, Patrick took me away from town.
We walked miles out, across a field and through a forest, until we reached the edge of the island and a waterfall that came with it. Though our night sky lacks your stars, we do have two moons, and the light reflected from them played interesting effects on the water falling miles out of sight, into the Great Lake of Trine below.
We watched the waterfall for a while, then Patrick broke the silence.
“Anyways,” he said, “About your gift. When our grandfather, Stane was still around, you may recall him training you in the physical aspects- the swordplay- of the Lockheart Style. Do you recall the weapon he used?
I blinked and furrowed my brow in concentration. “A black-handled claymore with a white blade, right? What of it?”
“That weapon,” Patrick said, “Is a weapon passed down through the generations, originally owned by Edo himself. You still have yet to awaken your Darkness affinity, so you can’t make proper usage of the blade, but...”
Patrick outstretched his right palm before him, grasping at a great, white, ornate blade that materialized in his hand, “This is still rightfully yours, until the time it comes for you to pass it on.”
In his left hand, a black leather scabbard appeared which he sheathed the blade within before turning to face me entirely and holding them out to me.
“I’m...” I was at a loss for words. I knew this day would come eventually- I thought it may even be today- but no matter how much I’d expected it, my mind was still completely blown. My own sword? A family heirloom?
“Wield this sword well and true,” Patrick said, setting it down into my open hands, “Like Edo said, there is honor in a blade.”
I nodded. “Thank you, Patrick. Really, this is...”
He smiled. “Trust me, I know. I was pretty psyched when I got mine, too. The katana of Alexander Lockheart.”
My mood sank, though not because of my gift.
“When will I see you again?”
“Truthfully?” Patrick sighed, shrugged. “I don’t know, I wish I did, and I hope it’s soon. Just...promise me you’ll keep it together, all right?”
I nodded. “I will,” I vowed, “I promise not to get into any trouble until you can get me out of it.”
My brother and I shared a laugh by the water.
Sometimes I wish I could relive that moment.
Before everything went to shit.
Breathe it in.
Rodrigo y Gabriela - Tamacun
January 5th, Year B-263
Maximilian Cynd II
So a few days after I turned twenty, I heard reports of a man teaching people how to use Fire magic, assuming they were born with an affinity for it. As a Cynd, I lack an elemental affinity- which means I can use all of them equally. Since I have very little skill with Fire manipulation, I decided that a good way to learn would be from the guy they’re calling the best.
So I left the palace that night in casual clothes- white sneakers, blue jeans and a white T-shirt- and set out on a leisurely walk through the city of Blusk, happily greeting whoever happened to walk by as I made my way to the place where the Fire training was happening, the Arden Pit.
The Arden Pit was a bit outside of town, away from the big buildings and grassy suburbs. It was closer to the point where the valley began to steep upwards, and as a result the ground was mostly clay.
My directions were somewhat vague, but after I spotted a pillar of smoke in the distance I put two and two together and chose to head in that direction.
When I got there, I discovered the source of the flame.
It was coming from coals in this huge pit someone had dug out of the clay, and there was this guy standing in front of it, in his bare feet, stomping and shouting and spitting fire. Every other move he made made the fire rise or glow brighter.
“Vulc! Vulc! Vulc!” the people around the Arden Pit screamed, cheering the man on and, surprisingly, not paying much attention to me. You know, me. Royalty.
So is this what a normal person feels like? Watching the spectacle instead of creating it? I scowled to myself. This is boring.
The man named Vulc stopped for a breather and laughed, his eyes wild and his face alive with joy at the recognition he was making for himself. He was a brown man, muscular and wearing nothing but a pair of baggy, loose-fitting jeans with a belt wrapped around them, but there was a charm in his expression, behind the short, curly black hair, a man who spoke, felt and breathed passion as hot as his flame.
A men on the right side of the pit manned a pair of drums plugged into electrical amplifiers, hammering a heavy rhythm for Vulc to writhe to. Also plugged into amplifiers, except on the left, was a guitarist.
He put his hand up in the crowd respectfully went silent. “Okay,” he called out to them, “Who’s ready to try out the dance? If you can make this fire rise, perhaps you have the ability to create it!”
That madness of his was a dance?
I pulled my shirt over my head and tossed it to the ground beside me. “I’ll do it!” I called boldly, tired of this Vulc guy stealing my thunder.
The music the people on the drums and guitar were playing stopped immediately as the attention of Vulc, the musicians and the crowd snapped to me.
His expression changed when his eyes met mine and he realized who I was- and I, too recognized him.
It was an expression of fear and respect, completely unlike the cheer and passion he’d been exuding not a minute earlier. I recognized that expression from the guy at my birthday party who breathed fire, the way his face looked when he met my eyes.
A face that said please don’t be angry, your highness.
He’s scared of me, I realized.
“Hello, your highness.” he called, in a lower voice, as the fire behind him began to gradually shrink, “I apologize if we’ve displeased you.”
I sighed. “Of course not!” I responded, flashing my trademark grin as I started to walk toward him, “I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about! What’s your name, son?”
I stopped a few feet in front of him, the fire blazing to our left from the pit. I saw the look of hesitation on his face, so I decided to start with mine, even though he already knew it. “Maximilian Cynd, Junior.” I said, holding my hand out for a shake, “But call me Max. You?”
He grabbed my hand uncertainly, but when his eyes met mine he grinned and the fire glowed in response, “Vulc,” he said, “My name is Barchetta Vulc.”
Barchetta took a deep breath and exhaled, and the fire beside us lowered to the point where it was nothing but glowing coal beneath the pit.
“So how does this work?” I asked.
“Take off your shoes.” he said, nodding at my feet, “Um, your highness.”
“Call me Max.” I said. “And why?”
“You need to feel the ground to know if the fire is becoming too hot,” Vulc responded, “There is a such thing as too much flame. Everyone else here’s barefoot, too.”
I nodded and kicked my shoes and socks off into the pile of coal, setting my bare feet on the hard, hot ground beside the fire pit.
“So how does this work?” I asked him.
The two-man band started playing again and Vulc flashed the same grin he had when he was dancing. “Fire,” he said, “Comes from the mouth. You have to breathe and scream and shout for fire. You want a dance for passion, and you want to breathe in that so you can make flame. Are you ready, your high- Max? It won’t be easy.”
I tilted my head and smirked. “I like a challenge. Let’s do this. Mirror your moves, correct?”
“I’ll start so you can get an idea on the rhythm,” Vulc said, “Watch.”
The man continued his frenzy, but this time I watched him carefully. He stomped with the rhythm of the drums and moved his body to the strums of the guitar, breathing in and out between every pause in the song.
“Max!” he said, “Come on!”
I nodded and started as the song increased in pace, mirroring his moves as best as I could, deep in concentration.
The fire wasn’t rising at all, and I scowled in irritation.
“Breathe!” Vulc said, “Breathe it in! Don’t hold your breath waiting for fire!”
I exhaled and started to stare at his chest, matching the rising and falling of it as he danced and sang.
The embers glowed a little brighter.
“Yes, yes!” Vulc shouted, “Go, Max! Come on!”
I grinned as I started matching his steps and breaths, moving like a reflection of the man before me as the fire started.
This is...this is great!
I showed my teeth in a wider grin and he laughed. “Here I was, worried princes didn’t know to live a little! It’s gonna speed up, Max, don’t hold back!”
He stuck out his tongue as the dance intensified, displaying a tattoo of a flaming, red salamander on it.
As the dance increased in intensity, I found it harder to keep breathing but I kept on anyway, despite the smoke and heat and sheer energy in all I was doing, the feeling of the crowd shouting our names as we danced by fire.
The ground was hot, I was hot, but nothing had ever felt quite so right to me as that dance in flame. Vulc challenged me to roar, and all traces of hesitation I'd previously had were lost.
“Are you sure?” I shouted over the raging flame, “I might just embarrass you!”
“You’re welcome to try, Max!” he shouted back, “Bring it on!”
The song became a brutal pounding of drums, and we stomped the ground to match it, pulverizing the hot clay at our feet as it intensified.
It hurt, but it was a good kind of hurt, the kind that just made the high I was on that much better.
I realized that this man in front of me was a friend- I had a friend now- and we were having a hell of a good time, dancing and shouting for a crowd.
The song neared its end and we started a rapid march back from each other, ready for the final pounding of the drums before we gave it all our all.
The song ended and, as one, me and Max stomped our right feet forward, leaned with them and roared into the sky, releasing white-hot twin columns of flame that illuminated the night sky.
The fire I summoned...I’d never seen anything like it.
I slumped in exhaustion with the end of the dance, putting my hands over my knees and realizing I was drenched in my own sweat but simply hadn’t noticed or cared over the duration of the dance.
Vulc, however, looked he wasn’t tired at all.
Geez, I thought, He’s been doing this all day, hasn’t he?
“Check it out, everyone!” he shouted to the crowd, “Our future king knows how to party!”
“Max! Max! Max!”
I gave a little laugh and pushed myself into standing straight, still panting with exhaustion. I put a sweaty arm over my equally sweaty forehead and rubbed in some vain hope of eliminating the perspiration, but it was no use.
I desperately needed some water, but at the moment I didn’t care.
“I’ve never done anything like that in my life!” I said, “That was awesome!”
Barchetta just laughed. “I’m glad you enjoyed yourself! Do we have any more volunteers?”
A young couple squealed from the crowd, the chick looking wild, sweaty and excited and the guy pretty much matching that.
“Come on, then!” he beckoned, “Let’s see how hot you burn!”
I made my way into the crowd as the couple walked up together to take my place and the music began to change to some song about a ring of fire that I blocked out.
I was just about ready to leave until a guy with blue-rimmed glasses offered me a bottle of water.
“Thank you.” I said, starting to open it, “What’s your name?”
He was shorter than me, maybe five feet tall. He had long, brown hair and looked a bit skinny and pale for this kind of thing. “Name’s Cobold Vaten,” he said, panting excitedly, “Wild night, right? Barchetta’s my friend.”
I smiled at that. “You have a good friend there.” I shut my eyes and started to drink from the bottle, exhaling softly from my nose after the first gulp of water went down, filling me with the strange kind of euphoria only a drink can give you after a long period of exertion.
“Yeah, he’s great. You know, I’ve been outside of the valley!”
I raised an eyebrow at him.
“I’m serious!” he said, “Me and my family used to live up there!”
I shrugged. “Why didn’t you stay?”
He frowned at that. “The Golden Fang drove us out. We had nowhere to go but down.”
“I see. Sorry to hear.”
He shook his head. “It’s no problem. But hey, a friend of Barchetta’s a friend of mine!”
He held out his hand for me the shake, and I couldn’t help but admire his confidence. “I guess so.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Cobold.”
“Thanks, your highness.”
“Just...call me Max.”
January 9th, Year B-263
In the day following my first meeting with Barchetta Vulc and Cobold Vaten at the Arden Pit, I thanked them both for their time and company and returned to the Palace, waiting to hear the latest on my parents for the next two days.
The news came on the second day, while I was relaxing on my father’s throne, reclined on it sideways and toying with a ball of fire in my hand.
A man dressed in white made slow steps across the red carpet leading to the throne, the sounds of his feet tapping the ground echoing in the great hall of blue and black marble.
The light from the window behind me illuminated the bottom half of his face as he kneeled before me silently.
“Master Max,” he said, “I have an important message from your father.”
I sighed. “Stand up, Cecil. You know I’m not a fan of the formalities.”
The man’s shoulders shook with silent laughter and he smiled as he rose to his feet, removing his hood and grinning at me.
Cecil Cynd was a pale man with ivory hair and blood-red eyes, qualities shared by my father.
To tell a Cynd apart from a regular human, one need only pay attention to certain characteristics. From our birth, our hair is pure white and our eyes the color of our blood. Our skin varies from person to person- you’re either completely pale, like my father or Cecil, or completely dark, like myself.
“It’s good to see you, Cecil. What’s the news?”
“Our father is travelling with your mother to the Gilded Deserts,” Cecil said, “They’re going to be negotiating with Skell around there.”
I shuddered at the thought.
Skell, as his nickname implied, was a skeletal Great Beast. Unlike the others, he had no human form and he fed on residual energy- he would habitually devour human beings and large masses of animals all around Trine, but most especially if you made the mistake of entering the Gilded Desert, his domain. His element is Earth, and besides my mother, he’s possibly the most powerful of the Great Beasts.
I had met him once, as a child.
He told me, as a mass of bones twisting around to form what roughly resembled a human face, that I seemed like a good meal.
The other Great Beasts have species rather like them- my mother has the Serpents of the White Mountains, for instance- but unlike the rest, Skell is the only known member of his species, whatever he even is.
“When?” I asked.
Cecil closed his eyes and shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said, “I just know the location where it’s happening.”
“The peak of Calvary Mountain, overlooking the Gilded Desert. Skell insisted that be the place.”
Of course the sick fuck would choose Calvary Mountain. That’s where people used to bring him sacrifices.
I sighed. “Sounds fun. Any other news?”
“Yes, in fact,” Cecil said, “There’s a man who has been requesting an audience with you since earlier this morning.”
“What’s his business?” I asked, uncertain. People generally didn’t ask for me.
“He says he wants to, uh...” Cecil scowled and raised his hands upward, creating quotation marks, “‘Hang out, bro’.”
Back to episode select.
Barchetta and I waited on the sidewalk outside the marble gates leading to the Cynd Palace, awaiting a response from the man in white we’d asked for an audience with Max. The sky was clear and blue, with the sun shining bright overhead, but my friend didn’t seem to particularly care, too busy staring forlornly at the man across the street, leaning against the entrance to a small pub called The Dionysus Brewery, the first founded in Blusk or, indeed, in Trine.
The man outside Dionysus was enjoying a cigarette, and Barchetta seemed to enjoy him enjoying it, unconsciously inhaling every time the smoker exhaled, as if hoping he could catch some of the smoke from this distance.
I sighed in annoyance and punched Barchetta in the shoulder.
This snapped my friend out of his mesmer, and we made brief eye contact before he gave a look of guilt and snapped his head up and away from me, looking at the sky.
“Man,” he said, scratching the back of his head, “How long have we been out here?”
“Not too long, I hope,” said a familiar voice from behind us, “I don’t like keeping my friends waiting.”
We turned around to see Max walking toward us, dressed in an unbuttoned violet dress shirt with a white T beneath, blue jeans and a pair of sneakers.
He didn’t look anything like how he did at public events with his family or the press, in other words. Even now, it seemed rather strange that a member of royalty would dress normally around me and Vulc.
The marble gate between us disappeared with a wave of Max’s hand as he came closer, with a wide grin on his face at the sight of the two of us.
“So what’s up?” the prince asked, putting his hands in his pockets.
“Well,” Barchetta said, “Remember what Cobold told you? About our home?”
“You guys used to live outside the valley, right?”
“Yeah.” I said, “We’re going up there soon, though, and we were wondering if you wanted to come with.”
Max blinked. “Wait, why?”
“You remember that bit about us being forced out of our homes?” Barchetta said.
“We didn’t get to take anything with us,” I said, closing my eyes, “And we try to go up there whenever we can to get our stuff back. Me and Vulc weren’t the only people who lived there, you know- there’s a lot of things people left up there that they cared about, and we were hoping to make today our last trip into the Golden Fang’s territory.”
Max’s expression was unreadable. While he considered, his mouth was shut and his lips were flat and thin, his eyes devoid of emotion.
“Alright,” he decided, returning to his normal grin, “I’ll come and help out. Why me, though?”
Barchetta put a hand behind his head. “Well,” he said, turning to me with a grimace, “Let’s just say that we’ve gotten into fights there before and need a little more...security.”
He raised an eyebrow. “You engaged the Golden Fang?”
“Not Cyria or anything!” I cut in, mentioning the Great Beast, “Just some lower members! The wolves aren’t that strong!”
Max shut his eyes and sighed. “Okay, let me revise my terms. We’ll go up there and grab your stuff...but if I sense anything, we get out of there, okay? The negotiations with the Great Beasts won’t end up going very well if Cyria gets involved in this.”
Barchetta looked ready to argue, but I pat his back and said “Yes, your highness” before he got the two of us into trouble.
My friend thanked me with a silent nod and Max sighed. “Just call me Max,” the prince said, “Where are we headed?”
“Past the Arden Pit,” Vulc said, “Ascending the clay and then exiting the valley.”
“Alright,” Max said, turning and starting to walk, “Let’s go and get some fresh air.”
We need to fetch back the time they have stolen from us.
Milky Chance - Stolen Dance
March 2nd, Year P-132
I held my family-heirloom claymore one-handed, straining with the heavy blade and wondering how on Trine that Edo, a primary magic and mid-range fighter, managed to combine an entire set of swordplay styles into one- the Lockheart Style- when his primary blade was one as heavy and unwieldy as this.
I groaned with exertion and let the heavy blade relax at my side.
Edo had somehow possessed the strength to wield the weapon one-handed and use it to parry enemies as fast as Light and Lightning users, who generally used much smaller, lighter weapons for battle. He was hailed as the greatest swordsman in the world, and despite the many who attempted to take the title from him, none succeeded until his own son, Alexander Lockheart, defeated the man in his prime, earning the right to his father’s blade and passing it down to his own son.
Alexander’s son, Vincent, used Edo’s claymore to win Alex’s own katana from him. Vincent’s daughter, Meyneth, fought Vincent with the inherited katana to win the claymore.
The Lockheart Succession Line progressed as such- one generation would earn Edo’s blade, then the next would earn Alex’s, and so on. In the case of siblings, any could earn the blade, but it was a race, usually won by the eldest child. Whoever inherited the blade would, in turn, inherit the name “Lockheart”, and those who fell behind would have to let go of the family name, though generally the parting was made on good terms and with significant compensation for the losing party.
This Succession Line worked perfectly fine across the generations of the Lockhearts, except that me and Patrick’s mother, Michelle Lockheart, died before either of us were of age to truly earn our inheritance. (An only child could earn their inheritance at any age- siblings would have to wait until the youngest became eighteen years old.)
After Michelle’s untimely death, me and Patrick were taken in by our grandfather, Stane Lockheart. Stane decided that, due to the circumstances, the Succession Line in its original form had to be broken and that he would train us both to wield both Edo’s claymore and Alex’s katana.
Stane died during my training two years ago, leaving it incomplete.
I struggled with the weight of my inheritance but lifted it once more, growling with determination and raising it above my head, stabbing the blade skyward, toward the mid-noon sun shining down over my humble little backyard on my birthday.
I’d never really completed my Lockheart Style training, so I wondered if I was even worthy to wield the sword of my progenitor. In addition to my sword training being incomplete, I still had yet to unlock an elemental Affinity- which sure as hell better be Darkness, or that’s another awful disgrace on my family name- and learn combat skills that weren’t hitting things with a sword and hoping they died.
I sheathed the blade in the scabbard over my right shoulder and sighed.
It was my twentieth birthday, I’d finally acquired something I’d wanted for as long as I could remember...but the utter lack of everything else I needed to feel happy- my last family member, my friends- made me feel as isolated as I truly was, stranded in the suburbs in the middle of a small island in the sky.
January 9th, Year B-263.
Maximilian Cynd II’s Point of View.
The sun turned red as afternoon began to fade into dusk, and I sighed in exasperation, wiping a coating of sweat from my forehead with one arm while the rest of me held firmly to the solidified clay I was climbing up.
“How much further?” I shouted downward.
Barchetta Vulc and Cobold Vaten looked up at me from about ten feet down, one of the lenses of the latter’s glasses covered in bits of clay
“We should be coming close to Terra’s Gate soon!” Cobold called back.
Terra’s Gate? I asked myself inwardly.
I considered asking what they meant by Terra’s Gate, but climbing a mountain isn’t exactly conducive to conversation so I decided instead to keep pulling myself up, stopping occasionally to rest.
The climb continued for some time, and I briefly questioned to myself how we’d be getting their stuff back down, but again I decided to save pesky questions for later and focus on climbing the literal mountain in front of me.
Just as the sun finished setting, I made my way to the top of the cliff as dusk turned into night and our two moons, Sol and Lum, became more visible in the sky.
I waited at the ledge for Barchetta and Cobold to arrive behind me, which in itself took about five minutes.
When they finally did and they both collapsed in panting heaps at my feet (while my Cynd blood had already done its job of completely rejuvenating me), I gave them a few moments to catch their breath before asking the biggest question that’d been sticking in my head since earlier in the climb.
“You mentioned something called Terra’s Gate earlier,” I said, watching as Cobold tried vainly to clean his clay-stained glasses with his clay-stained shirt, “What is that?”
Cobold looked past me, squinted and pointed his finger in the direction he was looking. “Right behind you, Max.”
At first, I didn’t notice anything. The lighting, combined with the fact that pretty much everything was either clay or a tree, made what I was supposed to be looking at very difficult to discern. The light from Sol and Lum, however, began to do their work and I noticed a formation of black marble about twenty feet in front of me that was glowing lightly in response, as if polished.
Terra’s Gate was a black marble archway between two great stones, effectively blocking off access to leaving the valley.
My heart thudded as I realized that this was the farthest from home I’d come without either of my parents and I found my mouth had opened in a gasp, whether of awe at what I’d seen or fear at stepping into what was, for me, uncharted territory.
“You! What are you doing here?”
I jumped out of my daze and frantically looked around for the source of the voice.
Realizing it didn’t seem to have come from either of my sides, I turned my gaze to the moon shining above Terra’s Gate.
A man was sitting atop the Gate, legs crossed in a meditative stance as he looked down at us from fifty feet above us with what seemed to be an interesting combination of disinterest and disdain. His arms rested over his crossed legs.
He was dressed only in a pair of rough, torn, brown pants, the rest of his body bare of clothing but completely filthy from contact with dirt. His skin was a dark tan and his eyes were as black as the marble he sat on, looking down on us with Lum, the second moon, shining behind him.
“Is that...?” I asked.
“Yup.” Barchetta said, gulping, “That’s Terra. He’s the gatekeeper.”
“That’s right!” Terra shouted, raising to his full height and standing atop his gate, “Me! The Gatekeeper! What do you think you’re doing here?”
“Terra-” Cobold Vaten started, raising his hand-
“Shut up, nerd!” Terra snarled, pointing sternly at him, “I’m talking to your leader! Maximilian Cynd the Second! A god damned prince prancing about with you two lousy-”
I glared at him and he fell silent and rolled his eyes, growling and jumping forward.
He landed from the top of the Gate smoothly, making a three-point landing with his right knee, left foot and right hand.
He stood and brushed himself off, making a respectful bow to me and changing his demeanor. “I apologize, your highness, for my rudeness. My name is Shinn Terra. According to an agreement between your father and the Great Beasts, me and my family have kept this gate for centuries to preserve-”
“Open the gate.” I said, firmly.
“Open. It.” I repeated. “My friends here won’t be coming back here after tonight. We have property to recover, and then we’ll come back home and you won’t see or hear from us again. You have my word.”
Terra nodded. “Yes, your highness. Please stand by and allow me.”
He turned his back to me and reached forward, firmly grasping the air in front of him and pulling it apart, opening the great Gate with a smooth motion.
“I will reopen the gate when you return.” Terra said, “Go. The village isn’t far ahead.”
“Thank you, Gatekeeper.” I said, walking past him and beckoning for Barchetta and Cobold to follow me. “Come on, you two!”
I looked forward into the night as we walked further into it, into a thicket of trees so dark I couldn’t see the other side.
“It’s just through here.” Barchetta said, conjuring a small flame in his left hand and raising it before him, “We won’t be long.”
I heard the Gate close behind us.
“I hope not.”
Back to episode select.
March 2nd, Year P-132.
The day passed into night as I, again, found myself at the waterfall that fell from the island.
I could see clearly the point to the left of the stream where me and my brother had stood, and I already felt sad just looking at it, wondering when I’d get to see him again and if yesterday would be the last time. He says we shouldn’t talk about it, but I do my research- the Anti-Monarchy Movement has gained a lot of power over time, and he’s been put in the hospital with critical injuries more times than I’m comfortable with.
“What are you doing out here so late, kid?”
I nearly jumped out of my skin.
I grabbed the handle of the claymore over my right shoulder and rapidly turned to the source of the voice.
A man in white, hooded robes stood some distance before me, leaning against a large oak tree beside the stream. He had a tall, imposing figure, but his head was down and his arms were crossed, so I couldn’t see his face or anything else discernible about him.
“That depends,” I asked, keeping my voice calm even as I silently freaked out, especially since he could probably push me to my untimely death if he wanted to, “Why are you here?”
“He’s going to die, you know.” The hooded man said, keeping his left arm below his chest as he raised a pale right hand to the side of his face, “Your brother, I mean.”
My heart sank. “What do you mean by that?” I demanded.
He shrugged. “I mean that Patrick Lockheart is marked for death. Simple as that. I thought it was right to let you know that. Before he, you know. Died.”
“So you know who you’re talking to, huh?” I muttered, fear quickly being replaced with a cold surge of fury and adrenaline, “This isn’t some shitty prank. You know who I am.”
“I know everything about you, Lockheart. If I should even call you that, I mean. Lockheart’s such an old name, and it’s been used by much better people.”
I unsheathed my claymore and grasped it firmly with both of my hands, holding it before me and slowly beginning to step toward the man in white.
“That is a nice sword you got there. Do you think it belongs to you?”
“Shut your mouth!” I shouted.
“I’m just saying, kid. You know as well as I do you didn’t earn it. Do you think it knows too? That you aren’t its master?”
The man in white stepped forward, putting his right hand over his chest as he walked.
“Everyone and everything has heart, boy. Has soul. Even me.”
“Do you, now?” I snarled as he came closer, “I’ll show you heart! I’ll show you yours when I rip it out of your chest!”
He chuckled at hearing that.
“Good. Good kid. I like to hear that.”
He extended both of his arms outward from his body, momentarily forming a cross. Impossibly long, silver blades without handles burst from the wide sleeves of his robes and he grasped them with his hands firmly before setting them both over his shoulders.
The blades were relatively thin, but each was as long as I was tall and didn’t curve whatsoever.
A white feather caught my eye.
It fell from the sky between us, drifting on the cold wind.
“I hope you aren’t having second thoughts, Lockheart.” he said, just as I was, “Because you’re going to die right here. You’re going to die, do you understand that?”
“So that’s why you’re here.” I realized, letting my sword hand fall to my side. “You’re here to kill me.”
“Yes. I’m here to strike the heart out of your body.”
He held out his right-handed blade and I didn’t move as he did, allowing him to press the razor-sharp tip of the blade against the left side of my chest.
“Put that sword back in its sheath. Don’t dirty that blade with your blood.”
I obeyed him silently.
“Step back. Slowly.”
I did as I was told, putting my hands outward in surrender and stepping back, slowly but surely, toward the edge of the island, listening to the roar of the water as it fell into the sky.
“Lockheart.” He said, slicing through my shirt and skin over my heart, “Why are you scared?”
“Because you’re going to kill me.”
“You’re going to die one day, anyways. What difference does it make?”
“I don’t want to let them go.” I stammered, “Patrick and Tucker, they’re all I have left.”
“So you live for them, then?”
“I don’t see them here, boy.” he said, “It’s just you and me. You aren’t long for this world, either. Say it, now. Say goodbye, and I’ll kill you.” He dispelled his left-handed blade and raised the right over his head as he stepped forward, preparing to deal the killing blow. “Say it and I’ll kill you quickly.”
“Good-” I stuttered, “Goodbye!”
His blade fell and my chest tore.
I was blinded by red and overwhelmed with pain, losing strength with blood and stumbling back-
My feet left the ground and I reached for the edge as it fell away from me, as I fell into the sky.
I guess this is it, then.
I didn’t want to die like this, but I guess you aren’t supposed to have a choice, huh?
I laughed. The island was almost completely out of sight and my vision was fading anyways.
Hopefully I’ll die before I hit the water.