" Your eyes... They're so colorful..."
"Can I... stare at them forever? "
"Say my name first. Who am I? Who is it that holds these rainbow eyes?"
Her Majesty is 13.8 billion years old. Before there was even "us", there was "them". Her Majesty is the cosmos, and that cosmos expanded infinitely. The Stars, the Darkness, the Colors. They are the cosmos itself. It's thanks to "them" that "we" came into being.
"We", the fourth element. Life.
Not knowing of "our" origins, "we" looked up at the sky to marvel and appreciate the cosmos and Her Majesty's majestic mystique. I want to believe that it was "our" starry-eyes that led "us" to blossom into magnificence. Perhaps even of the same magnificence that the cosmos possessed.
I wonder... Did Her Majesty's grand expansion into the unknown intended for the fourth element? Was she hoping for a "foreign" party to notice the beauty that she and the cosmos worked so hard to form?
Ah... It certainly did get quite chaotic afterwards, especially after 10 million years ago. Yes, I want to believe that too. I want to believe that "they" were happy "we" prospered because of "them". It would explain why that "happiness" surpassed their prismatic splendor, even if for a moment.
Don't worry. I saw it. And I'm sure many others saw it too.
Her Majesty and the cosmos. "Our" eyes were on "you", and "you" became something much more. "You" became "our" guides to the past, present, and future.
No matter the distance, we are eternally connected.
In the middle of the stormy clouds, a red circle is expanding outwards. It possessed little concern for the storm, for the storm is silencing itself wherever that red circle was expanding into. When it finished expanding, it must've been at least 7 miles across, literally carving its mark into the sky and a mental mark on the onlookers. Even between the distance of the sky and the ground, the onlookers could clearly see a symbol within that circle.
A 3-pointed red star.
The ocean was forcibly being pushed back around the portal despite its position high up in the sky. Not just the ocean and sky it seems, as the portal's outward force attempts to knock the guards from their feet. Those who were just arriving to see the commotion were unprepared and appropriately pushed back to the walls. Any object not bound to anything is bound to be dangerous now.
A woman in tattered clothes sleeps inside a large, cylindrical prison cell. She seems to be a light sleeper, as she lazily opens her eyes when a red glow covers nearly the entire cell through a small window high up the cell.
The prisoner rubs her eyes and immediately focuses all attention on the red glow then notices the source of the red glow. And it was at that specific moment that all the atoms of her eyes were reconfigured for one purpose – to place all focus and emphasis on that red glow. In doing so, her eyes reflected a little bit of the blood red color, even just a bit of red was able to accentuate her true nature better than the color of yellow on her eyes.
"The Scarlet Night...?"
It might. She knew all too well about the "Scarlet Night", night time blanketed in malicious blood red that appeared to emanate from the moon. A Scarlet Night also appeared 3 years before, a particular date that sent this woman into prison. But she was far off. Oh, so far off.
Whatever the guards were saying to each other was lost in the fierce winds, but they say actions speak louder than words. Several guards pointed to the sky, to the red portal and several others tracked down the pointed fingers' object of interest. From the way their fingers slowly aimed downward, it was clear the red circle wasn't what they were interested in anymore.
They pointed at the body falling from the red circle. Or perhaps it wasn't just an ordinary red circle anymore. Likely a portal. Because as soon as the body exited the circle, the circle shattered. It shattered much like how glass shatters, visually and even audibly speaking. Yes, even audibly. Sure, the circle shattering into many pieces and subsequently dematerializing on their way down like the embers of a bonfire was impressive, or maybe akin to red snow, but the moment that body exited the circle, the moment that portal shattered, it was hell for the ears. Those visited by these mysterious circles would know for sure that they were portals.
The fingers that aimed at the body kept lowering at a steady pace, despite closing in on the ocean. That would suggest the body had already reached terminal velocity the moment it left the portal. The fingers' gradual descent mirrored the gradual change on the people's faces, from shock... to more shock. As the body got closer, it was easier, just a tad bit easier to identify it. A body... nay... A skeleton? With wings? Its descent was uneventful. It did not thrash. It did not even attempt to hinder its speed. It was lifeless.
And into the water it goes, then emerging into the surface, its movements and position in the water solely dictated by the current. Normal serenity once again blankets the world. With the elements of nature coming to peace with each other, the guards can finally regain composure and survey the sky as well as...whatever it was that came out of that bloody red circle.
"The praetor exorcist should be informed of this."
"Why would he care? Tending to the Abbey's and his sister's whim are all he does."
"Nature itself was wise to respond accordingly. Why wouldn't he?"
The banter of the guards lessened as a few of them left to inform a higher up. A praetor exorcist, they called him.
"We need to retrieve whatever came out of that red circle. Pick up a ship and get in. The rest will stay here to survey and repair the place."
At this... common guard's command, the rest scrambled to fulfill their mission. As for the ship, it didn't need to sail far to reach the object of interest, as it seems to have followed a current heading for the island. But...something's not right... A guard leans over the ship and inspects the body.
A question marks ends his sentence as if unsure of what to make of whatever he was seeing. Surely he didn't forget the object's unique appearance? However, it is understandable he questions himself... The others join his inquisitive stares. What they saw wasn't a skeletal looking figure with wings.
Gently swaying back and forth was an unconscious body wearing a red and black coat
Back on the island, a few of the guards adorned old fashion telescopes to observe the ocean, particularly the ship and whatever they're hauling back with them. Due to zoning out, tiredness, or just plain gazing elsewhere, it wasn't clear what the ship brought in with them, but even a watchman on the edge of falling asleep will question as to why the ship hasn't turned around yet. They retrieved whatever fell from the sky, right? Who the heck wants to stay in the stormy seas...?
"What the hell are they doing...?" A guard says to himself.
Not this guy apparently. A sigh at the end of every word and a particularly extended "hell" suggests this guy was very tired. Or thought staying out there in the torrential rain and sea was a stupid thing to do.
"What's going on? Why aren't they heading back yet?"
Some of the guards stuck on cleaning duty halted in their tracks to look out into the ocean and the ship that stayed there even after hauling a prize catch.
The unconscious body was ungracefully sprawled across the deck. His facial expressions suggest he was in pain. Likely still in pain. He was absolutely drenched. Lengthy black hair clung to his head as the tips dripped water.
The guards formed a circle around this mysterious body, each expressing gestures of confusion. Some scratching their heads, others stroking their chin, and a few talked amongst themselves.
"So...is this it?"
"See for yourself. Does the man look like a skeleton with wings?"
The sentence was...slightly dripping with unnecessary sarcasm, but the one on the receiving end was not having it and proceeded to examine the body. She checked for all vital signs of life starting with pulses.
"Nothing. He's dead."
"Hitting the water at that speed and at that height would've killed anyone. Even a demon."
Everyone looked at the guard, some with question marks on their faces and some who just realized what the remark actually meant. The female guard looks to the body again, this time with a small aura of malice.
"A demon huh... Only one way to found out."
She started to take the clothes off the dead body. As if demonizing him wasn't enough, now they're looting a dead body. His clothes no less! And of course, someone took the opportunity to comment on this scene.
"How scandalous. Disrobing a dead male demon in front of people. What would your husband say about this?"
He earned a few chuckles. The atmosphere was much too tense to survive in. The storm, the portal, its forceful appearance, and a dead body all contributed to an interesting albeit scary mood. However, the female guard just sighed in reply, but a very audible gasp followed the sigh and the others did the same. They didn't need to take off his pants too to realize what this body was.
The only thing she did was unbutton the shirt and open it up. Everything else stayed intact. And yet, even when largely clothed, the chest area alone suggests the body is heavily defaced everywhere else. Firstly, were small but numerous, circular bruises. But on to the more...unique marks. Black scars, numerous and vary in size. They weren't the kind of scars obtained from battle. It was the kind of scars that would appear because of an "infection" of sorts. And those black areas were weird, as they are given a sort of cosmic theme, as if the body was a window to outer space. Like... someone took a wallpaper of outer space and glued it to the poor boy. And if that wasn't enough, the same skeleton figure they saw from afar is mixed in with the cosmic theme, at the very least, the chest part was mixed in... God knows where else the skeleton appears in. His arms? His hands?
Truly, this is a "demon." Right?
"You said the man's body was abnormal?"
A blondie with eyes that hold innocence and blindingly white clothes that suggest angelic traits...
"Yes. Parts of his body is missing, but the body's structure remains normal."
"When it comes to demons, nothing is normal. I need not waste time examining the body for myself. Dispose of him in the underground cell with the girl. The prison is overpopulated as it is, so she can deal with him."
Angelic he may seem, innocent he may appear to be, but his actions and his words are proving to be contradictory. And his voice holds a degree of authority. Perhaps this is the Oscar they spoke of earlier? How unfortunate that such an angelic looking figure is stuck commandeering a prison. An island prison no less.
Two guards drag the body by his arms and were surprised at how fast they were moving.
"He's lighter than I thought. I think it only takes one person to drag him."
"I vote myself out."
The guard was quick to respond as he lets go of the body, leaving his fellow colleague to do the dirty work. Meanwhile all the lone guard could do was shrug. A gesture to symbolize his acceptance of defeat.
"Well, at least the body is light."
He opens the door and soon, we realize why he needs optimism.
"Aw yea! Fresh meat baby!"
"Woohoo! Is he with us or with the demon downstairs?!"
"Hell, he'll die the moment he meets the demon!"
Prison inmates and their banter swarmed the large cell block. Ruckus was commonplace. People shook the bars, yelled at each other, threw stuff at the guard, you name it. Well at least 2 things are certain. They hated the guard, and they loved fresh meat. All the guard can do is hope the body he's carrying gets even lighter. Anything to get out of this place. Hell, at least get him back to his post. Even the prison itself is heaven compared to this particular cell block. It's always this cell block.
"Screw this place. Seriously." He angrily mutters to himself.
The viewpoint focuses on a bizarrely dressed girl that one can easily mistake as either a witch or a jester. She eyes the body all the way until the guard reached the door on the other side of the cell block. She seemed oddly suspicious of the body, evident by her quiet "Hmmm..." Then bounces back to what we can assume is her real personality.
"He looks so frail! Bet ya all the gald I have that he won't last too long with the demon downstairs!" The girl cheerily says to a fellow inmate with an evil smirk. If looks alone can send someone to prison, then it's understandable that she's here. That's how evil her smile was.
From all the way down there in that cold, lonely cell, the imprisoned demon woman could hear the commotion in the cell block. It can only mean one thing...
"You've got a new friend. Eat up."
A voice from above. Followed by the dropping of a dead body. Followed by the sound of the impact. The prisoner's expression never changed. This was routine for her. But one must wonder how long she's been imprisoned to remain stoic in the face of dead bodies raining from the heavens.
He wakes up.
From the other side of the cell, the woman analyzes her "prey". It was an easy target, albeit fully clothed. Well, at least they kept his clothes on him. He was clutching his head in pain and his entire being tries to stand up, taking on a struggle that would be fit to hold Earth in place instead.
There was no time to react. Foot meets face and face meets darkness. Unconsciousness.
Odd... Wasn't he supposed to be dead?
The woman hovers over the sleeping man and without hesitation, grabs the body with her...giant red claw on her left arm...and squeezes. Whatever she was doing...was it working?
Widened eyes represent disbelief. She executed the gesture, so it's safe to assume that whatever she was doing with her giant red claw didn't work.
Maybe...disturbing the dead wasn't such a good idea.
He slowly opens his eyes. Those red and black eyes patterned after a sunburst. His vision is blurry. A woman on the other side of the cell was watching him. Well, watching is an underwhelming word. She was more like sizing up the man, judging what he tastes like before inevitably devouring him. Predatorial. That was the word most appropriate for her eyes. But the man didn't notice that. Nor did he even notice there was another person in the cell at all. He was much too busy clutching his head. It was in bad shape. So he looked for the nearest thing that can at least be remotely called a "seat". A quick scan was all it took to make a small sound of disapproval.
So he took a "seat" opposite to the woman. It was the cleanest part of the cell, he reasoned with himself. The pain was still settling in nice and comfy in his body and to finally sit down was euphoric, so the man thought the best way to describe this euphoria was to ungracefully plop onto the ground, back grinding on the wall, shoes grinding on the ground.
And finally, he was seated. He wrapped his arms around his bent knee and placed his chin there. His gaze pointed slightly downwards. Spreading on his face was a small smile. This was his look of contentment. The immediate circumstance nor the circumstance of the world was of little concern to him. He was new to this world, but he can proudly proclaim this.
All was right in the world.
That's what he thought.
His gaze was on the ground, and raising it just a little bit would place the woman in his direct line of sight. However, his contentment overwrote his sense of urgency and his sense of the world outside. Even if the woman can be seen, she simply didn't exist for him at the moment. It was just him and this calm darkness.
But contentment of this level rarely lasted. Some things are just too good to be true, or too good to exist long enough to be enjoyed. The man closed his eyes and nodded to himself. He acknowledged the fleeting feeling of satisfaction. That way, he can finally accept that there is a world beyond his mind.
A world he would try to confront straight in the eyes. With a smile, of course.
And now that the man acknowledged her and the space she occupied, he could now see everything clearly. There was a makeshift throne. A throne made of corpses. Some normal corpses. Some not-so normal corpses. And whether or not those "not-so" normal corpses were a result of decomposition or... something else... remains to be seen. But for sure, the man has never seen "not-so" normal corpses with horns sticking out of them or other abnormal features. And the woman who sat on that throne had her arms crossed, a finger tapping her arm out of impatience or growing anger, and a scowl that fit her character perfectly. A closer look at her would help... He couldn't quite make out her eyes and their color...
Despite all of that, the man can still greet her like he would greet any other stranger. With a hello, and with a smile, of course.
So spoke the woman with a cheeky tone. A voice that can only be coated with years and years of arrogance. Her finger tapped faster. She was confident and angry. He didn't mind it at all. He pressed on, despite the malevolence so thick in the air it could be cut with a knife.
"What's your name?"
He lifted his head off his knee and his arms wrapped it closer to his chest. Still, the smile remained.
And still, she remained persistent on her stance and her aura. Her impatience was bubbling over. What were the point of these questions? These pleasantries?! She knew this man was hiding something! Just spit it out! Say something pertaining to your mysteriousness! Her mind was a storm but kept a surprisingly serene persona. But any psychologist worth their salt could detect the chaos within her.
"My name? Hm..."
Now his eyes landed slightly upward in mock contemplation. If he could, he would curl his index finger and place it below his chin to complete this "thinking" gesture, but he kept his arms around his knee. Although, for a slight moment, he seemed confused. Like the question didn't have an easy answer, which was strange considering any normal person could answer that question without hesitation. Even the woman noticed. It was just a small distraction, though. Small enough that she noticed something else.
His voice... It was... unnaturally soothing. This particular cell had the abnormal feature and audacity to echo sounds back and forth for what seems like an eternity, distorting them in the process. She was thankful this cell was isolated, lest it turns into an auditory nightmare. But him? His voice was serene. Even as he spoke from the other side, it felt as if he was whispering right next to her. Quiet, but clear, comforting, a voice one would use to lull even the worst of prisoners, yes, including that woman, into a deep slumber. It was a welcoming treat for her, an eternal prisoner of this god-awful place. It was a shame she couldn't place a vessel for that voice. The dim lighting and his distance made it hard to see him. Really, the best she could see was that black mop he calls hair, that gigantic coat, and red eyes. Twice a shame she couldn't place more details on his red eyes, curious as to what story laid behind them.
However, what mattered to her most was getting relevant answers and interrupting his train of thought placed at the very bottom of her priority list.
"You're not dying, you know."
Hm... Indeed. Why would that be?
He managed to answer his own question pertaining to his name... (Hyoma... right? That was his name...) but stayed silent for the sake of enjoying the silence. So to have some random stranger drop such a bombshell... the man could only return his gaze towards her. His smile finally removed from his mask. Was it because his precious silence disappeared, or did she hit a sensitive nail on the head? ...Well it's worked countless times before, it'll probably work again...
...playing dumb that is.
The woman slowly stands up from her "throne", hovering her bandaged left hand, opened as if it was ready to brawl. Her smirk slowly grew bigger. Oh she's ready to throw down. Sheesh, this woman does not joke around. Getting into fights seems to be this graceful and dignified woman's hobby.
"Want me to prove it?"
In an "act" of panic, the man, Hyoma, as he recalled his name was, in contrast, stood up with frantic worry. His waving hands shielded his body while also helping to diffuse the situation. He had no weapons, see? So what better way to display pacifism than to open your empty hands and shake them in front of your defenseless body?
"N-No, no...! I believe you...! I do! Really...!"
Even in the midst of a crisis, still his voice remained serenely. It had increased in speed, but his voice remained at consistent audible levels. Still quiet. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to think that he'd been in this cell before, knowing it's nightmarish properties and thus keeping his voice close to a whisper.
It didn't matter whether the woman's claims about his immortality was true. If agreement means ceasing hostilities, the man would do so. Geez, he's been nothing but happiness and smiles and this is what he gets? Not good, not good at all. He was just a simple traveler, hell, even shorter in stature than the woman, with no weapons and an expensive assortment of clothes, all of which aren't good for fighting. Oh goodness, the price for those clothes too.
She'll have none of those.
The woman lunges at him and he is... Wait, his hands are still waving in front of him. Does he not realize-!
And for the second time on that day, he receives a roundhouse kick and crashes into the ground. He was clutching whatever "seemed to hurt". Hyoma slowly gets up, grunts and all that expresses pain. His smile returned at the worst time and it was really getting on the woman's nerves. So she responded accordingly. By grabbing him by the throat and even lifting him off the ground. How strong was this woman?!
"I want answers."
To display her dominance over the situation even further, the woman unleashes her bandaged left arm's giant red claw, ready to tear apart at the helpless lad.
You won't get anything out of him if you keep doing that. How's he supposed to talk if you got your giant claw around his frail body? Neither his voice nor his body followed his commands. He couldn't thrash around, he couldn't speak. Hyoma tried to pry her claw out. His eyes are shut tight, but one of them manages to sneak a peek at his attacker.
It was important to observe that detail. Yes, even in the midst of suffocation and the real possibility of death. It was very important to know what eyes she possessed and what color dyed her eyes. Very important indeed to know her eyes of yellow were of normal patterns.
Anger kept rising as the woman tightens her grip on Hyoma's throat and Hyoma again plays along, emulating the expression of suffocation.
"It's Velvet. Remember that when you fall unconscious again."
Oh, what perfect timing. Today was just full of perfect timings. Deciding to part ways with her identity right when Hyoma was at the edge of consciousness.
Just as the woman, Velvet, she is called, seems to think Hyoma was about to pass out, another woman, one in a mask and clad in white and blue, lands gracefully onto the cell.
"Velvet, that's enough. You're going to kill him."
The masked woman casted a fire spell on the emotionally charged woman's arms to let Hyoma go. Well, it didn't seem to matter. The voice of the intruder was familiar. So quick did Velvet's head twist around to set her eyes elsewhere, on the woman. So true to her target that Velvet was perfect in zeroing her eyes on the mask without so much as an error. Her reaction time would be enough to make most predators jealous. And equally as impressive is her restraint. This was Velvet's prime target, but her claws had yet to sink into her neck. But she knew just as well her horrific powers are enough to bring this tiny, dark world crashing down. And of course, she knew too well her target wouldn't go down easy without going all out. It was frustrating that Velvet knew everything.
"Where is he?"
The masked woman doesn't answer. She simply looks away, searching for a different, albeit irrelevant answer.
"...A lot has happened since then. I've no more connection to him."
Then, she returns to look at Velvet, hoping for a favorable reaction. It wasn't the best of answers, and side stepping the issue was never a good idea with Velvet. She of all people should know that, considering the history between the two... Or at least, what we can assume is heavy history between the two... considering the weight behind the masked woman's voice...
"And I'm suppose to just believe that?
The masked woman gazes down slightly, thinking of where to begin but it seems something else caught her attention because she began scanning the surroundings not out of contemplation, but to search.
"That man... where is he?"
Good question. Velvet follows suit with the observations. Nothing. He's nowhere to be found.
"Hm... Probably escaped using the ladder."
What a simple answer.
"That fast? Without us noticing?"
"Spare me your confusion. This prison is made for the worst of the worst, especially for demons. Whatever abnormality he has is normal for us."
Velvet was growing impatient as usual. She just wants the damn information already. And it seems the masked woman picked up the cue. Maybe now was a good time to tell a relevant story. Should be enough to calm the flames.
"The Scarlet Night 3 years ago... Gods... It's horrible... You're lucky... Very lucky indeed... to have remained here instead of out there..."
She clenched her fists, as if recalling the terrible events laid bare after this "Scarlet Night 3 years ago". Was it so bad it could freeze up such a stoic looking woman mid-sentence?
"Just tell me!"
Cut off. It seems this wasn't the information the claw woman was after. Perhaps she already knows about it or her priorities are elsewhere. Could she be referring to her previous question?
"Where is Artorius?!"
The masked woman acknowledges the interruption and grants Velvet the answer she needs, cutting straight to the point
"In the capital city of Loegres in Midgand. You may find him there."
Immediately after finishing the sentence, the inquirer walks away. This would be all the information the masked woman parts with for now. Maybe if Velvet actually stays and listens, she could tell more. But that impatience is hurting her. They both head for the ladder the masked woman set down, and though the silence was addicting, the lengthy length of the ladder prompts them to strike up a conversation. It didn't matter if Velvet participated in the conversation. She needed to hear something.
"On the Scarlet Night, Artorius, he... He used your brother to perform a ritual, forever altering the world, or at the very least, the Eastern Hemisphere. Malakhims were beckoned by the ritual and joined forces with Artorius and the rest of the exorcists to slay the world's demons."
Nothing in her words prompted any of them to slow down on their way up the ladder. The masked woman never stopped to look down at Velvet and see her reaction as she was telling the story. And Velvet never bothered to look at the masked woman directly. Her sights were on the exit.
"The specifics don't matter... What matters, for you at least, is that Artorius Collbrande now sits at the top of the world."
"Tch... A position he obtained by sacrificing Laphicet..."
Ah, she spoke. Of course she would. Anything goes if there's something involved with revenge. That's who she was and so far, all we know about her. A woman of revenge. And just like that, her low growl of a sentence was enough to stop the masked woman in her conversation. Just keep climbing, they both thought...
As they ascend the ladder, the claw woman speaks up for once, this time regarding an entirely different matter. She spoke with a softer tone, a tone once seen impossible to be associated with a woman such as Velvet.
"Seres, that red glow...what was it?"
Seres? That's her name, then. Hmm...
"It lasted for a short moment. There was no time to look for the source but fear not. It's not the Scarlet Night."
"It's something else entirely, then..."
Velvet could only deduce that much, but for some reason, she couldn't help but connect the red glow with the man she met briefly. She simply shook her head. Now wasn't the time to think about useless matters about some weakling.
However, no matter how many times she shook her head to clear any thoughts about the man, trying to purge her mind of him was impossible. It was a single thought, a thought that latched onto the back of her mind with a vice grip. A thought that was responsible for thinking... She was going to meet him again. One hundred percent certain.