When Kim Dokja was a child, he was approached by a strange man wearing a fedora.
It was raining heavily and there was no one else at the park except him. He hid his small, bruised body inside a slide, his arms hugging himself to seek warmth. As usual, he was chased out of home by his father, whom had fall in one of his drunken rage again. Dokja stopped questioning his father’s hatred on him since long ago. It had always been this way, even before his late mother passed away.
Dokja held a hand over his grumbling stomach. It had been begging for food since hours ago, and Dokja hadn’t eat anything since yesterday. The boy was busy hiding and escaping his father’s blind wrath.
“What is a boy doing here all by himself?”
Dokja looked up at the cool voice interrupting the noise of rain. There was a man, pale yet charismatic, standing in front of his hide under a clear umbrella. A normal person, especially vulnerable child, would be wary of strangers like this man. But Dokja knew his worth. With body thin as stick and face gaunt and ordinary, he was worthless to any kidnapper or child trafficker.
At first, Dokja wanted to stay silent and gave him the cold shoulder. But something in the man’s eyes told him that the man won’t budge an inch without his answer.
Reluctantly, Dokja opened his chapped and dry lips. “Hiding. From the rain.” It was uttered by a soft, hoarse voice. If the man was taken aback by the definitely not-helpful answer, he didn’t show it. Or perhaps the man was simply too observant to Dokja’s displeasure and stayed due to the obvious signs of abuse.
Dokja wished the man would leave him alone. He couldn’t handle broken hope and faith anymore. However, something inside told him to observe. It was not the boy full of hope which he scorned. The voice came from something that had exist in him since his birth.
“Hey, me too! Mind scooting over?” Without waiting for his reply, the man cramped himself into the tube. Surprisingly, Dokja had plenty of space for himself despite the increase body count in the narrow place.
Dokja wanted to point out his umbrella. He’s pretty sure the man can walk back on his own. Yet the boy kept his silence and for the next moment, both child and adult simply watched the heaven crying heavy downpour. Lightning flashed behind the dark clouds, its light illuminating their faces for short while. Perhaps it was his imagination, but Dokja swore the man’s shadows possess a pair of horns by the side of his head.
Once the parade of lightning and thunder gone by and the world was safe from the wrath of the sky, the strange man with a fedora on his pale hair turned around. Due to their closer proximity, Dokja registered a pair of alluring eyes and smirk whispering secrets of the world.
“Hey kid. Wanna see a cool trick?” His grin was mischievous as he lift his hand, index finger straight out demanding his attention. Dokja’s good eye blinked in confusion and intrigue. He was curious of what this trick seemed to be.
“’Trick’?” He parroted. The man yet without a name nodded. He gestured for Dokja’s attention onto his index and then, an indigo fire lit up at its tip! Dokja jumped back in surprise.
“Woah!” Dokja’s face lit up. There was a rare sparkle of excitement in his normally empty eyes. For the first time in a long time, Dokja acted like an actual child. “How did you do that?!”
The strange man that might be a magician grinned a triumphant smile. “I can teach you if you want.”
Dokja was about to accept the offer when doubt made itself known. There was no kindness without ulterior motive, just like his homeroom teacher pretending to be nice so she could rise ranks, or the town’s mayor helping the elderly during election period to promote his campaign. There was nothing free in this world. “…what do you want? I don’t have anything to give.”
Surprisingly, the man didn’t look disturbed or taken aback. Unlike the adults’ reaction when he called out their intentions, rare occasion it was, the man had understanding calm painted his face. He waved his hand as he said, “Nah. It’s free-of-charge. I’m just trying to pass some time, and it’s simple to teach.”
Something inside him told Dokja to humor the man. It was the same feeling that told him to observe, that said the man meant no harm on him. While he was still wary, Dokja nodded along. His muscles were tense and ready to bolt should things go wrong. The man doesn’t look more intimidating than his father and while Dokja couldn’t underestimate the man, he could be slippery if he wanted to.
The man seemed satisfied by his answer. “Great!” The man scooted over and Dokja subtly scooted away. If the man noticed, he didn’t say. The indigo flame wispiing into and out of existence like a mist was extinguished. “Now, pay close attention, okay?”
He sucked a breath in, gestured the boy to lift an index finger, and began his lecture. “I want you to think of your dream. What do you really want in your life? What is your greatest deepest desire, something you regret not doing before you die?”
…his want? What did Kim Dokja wants in his life? The logical answer should be love. After all, he lived his life unloved, hated by everyone. He was hated by his father, despised by his classmates, annoying to his teachers, and a rascal to everyone else. Or was it freedom? To live a life unrestricted, not scorn by the world and not live in constant fear.
An image of worn out book flashed by. It was not even a book, but a collection of papers compiled together in a clumsy bind. The words were handwritten while there were occasional images drawn with crayons. Whenever he read the stories and immersed into the tales, a lady with tired eyes and pale lips wouldn’t forget to smile encouragingly when he struggled with complex words and proudly when he recited the tale with perfect clarity.
The same book that was stolen from him.
Kim Dokja had always been a simple person. His life was simply depressing. His world was simply monotonous. His neighbour was simply uncaring. His teachers were simply showing favouritism. His friend was simply nonexistent. His family was simply ignorant. His father was simply abusive. His mother was simply dead. Thus, his desire was simple to achieve and nothing to be awed of.
With a soft voice but determined eyes, Dokja looked into the man’s eyes and said, “I wanted to read mother’s book again.”
At this moment, Kim Dokja’s finger lit up in an ethereal orange flame.
Kim Dokja has never thought everything will end up this way. No, perhaps he already knows but the illusion of a perfect life blinds him. He knows he will never get the happy ◼️◼️ everyone else is entitled to.
He is Dokja, and will always be Dokja.
However, should he knows the people he treasured most will be infected, he won't let them under his Sky. A dull, grey sky is better than tortured, chained elements. He'd rather be cracked and shattered into pieces if so that the elements can live freely.
He'd hated the world, fate, and himself the most. He curses everything, including the pacifiers of betrayal, and his stupidity for letting innocents involved in his punishment. Because of his mistakes, he's forced to hear their screams of agony as their body shrink inch by painful inch.
He watches as Drago cries tears of blood and Sun Wukong pulls on his beautiful golden locks apart. Uriel burns in an inferno along with Jung Heewon. There is a rare desperation in Yoo Sangah's normally composed expression. Cheok Junyeong stares into his eyes with understanding and acceptance - he don't deserve that, why did he look at Kim Dokja with such eyes?
In fact, despite their pain overwhelming their other senses, none of them look at Kim Dokja with resentment and hatred. There was not even betrayal present in their eyes. Kim Dokja doesn't understand it and perhaps he never will.
As fire of multiple colours burn their body away and lock their spirit inside, Dokja has never been more helpless and mad at himself. He silently stands like an idiot, with orange fire burning and sealing him into the pacifier he thought as good-luck charm, while his comrades are cursed in a similar fashion. He feels an immense regret of not being able to do anything. He has betrayed their trust. He has failed as a friend.
Sky is supposed to accept and protect his elements, and Dokja has failed the most basic requirement of a Sky. He utters words without a voice, silent tear cascading down his youthful face. "I'm sorry for being a horrible Sky."
The pain of his bones reconstructing themselves and his skin pulled taut is nothing compares to the horrible stab his heart when he sees the pacifiers hanging from their neck. His own pacifier glows mockingly, laughing at him for his incompetence and stupidity.
He thought he hears voices calling out his name, but they are swallowed by the crackling fire furiously trying to delete his existence and the pain of his heart shattering under the forced regression. Dokja screams silently, teeth biting his lips until blood profusely dripped down like tears of the damned.
“I’m sorry for getting to know you. I’m sorry for bringing you this curse. I’m sorry for trapping you under a false Sky. I’m sorry for everything.” He should have reject their advances, he should have leave by himself when he wakes up with the entire world goes wrong, he should have tied down the other end of frayed ropes leading towards him, and he should not have have hope and live in this illusion.
Every dream has to end and every illusion is meant to clear away. The haze of happy ◼️◼️ has reached its end and its time for Kim Dokja to live in reality.
While his regrets continue fueling his curse, Dokja looks up at the flickering flames receding from his elements. All of them have passed out of exhaustion. Yoo Sangah contorts her face in pain despite being unconscious and Jung Heewon curled up in such a fragile fashion, he almost doesn’t recognize the swordswoman. Uriel, the figure of elegance has now laid down in a disgraceful image while Sun Wukong is now half bald, precious locks scattered around his prone body. Cheok Junyeong doesn’t look proud and strong anymore, the same goes for Drago whom appears more childish than usual.
All of his elements, his comrades, his family have turned into infants. They are now cursed in a helpless body, forced to live in a bubble away from the constraints of time. Their glory has been cast away and none of them will be able to mingles with society ever again. They will be scorned at, not taken seriously, live in a life where everyone they hold dear will eventually fades away in the current of time while they can only watch. Their dreams will be an eternal nightmare, both near yet far from reach.
Each and every one of them is a powerful figure in their own field. With the curse taking place, their lives will be jeopardized more often than ever. Perhaps they will not be able to smile anymore. Maybe there will be an emptiness that could never be fulfilled. Insanity will soon consumes the unexpected so they will be forced to live in constant alert. And then, when they wish for death, it will never come due to the weights of the world hanging around their neck like a noose.
They have no one but Kim Dokja to blame.
Dokja drops on his knees, his small body no longer supported by his trademark white trench coat. The flame that has been burning forever is now finally extinguished. All of his strength, his Will and his flame are now sealed under lock and key. He falls on his side, blood and fresh tears cascading down his chubby face.
The Sky looks down at the large pacifier. The glass is glowing in an ethereal light, almost like the arrays of stars in the night sky. When he touches the artifact that protects the world, he hears the screaming of his predecessors.
“It burns! It bURNS!”
“NO! DON”T DO THIS!!”
“Please! Spare them!”
“I don’t want this! I don’t WANT THIS!!”
Black spots dance in his eyes. His friends’ images begin blurring out-of-focus and soon, they could no longer be seen. Dokja’s dull eyes stare into nothing.
Before he succumbs into a dreamless sleep, Kim Dokja whispers a promise that will last for eternity.
“I promise, I will save you. No matter what it takes, I will make sure to return your happiness back.”