His name is Yangyang.
Yangyang grows up as an orphan, taken care by the villagers who found him in the middle of ripe cropfields.
The Boy of Spring, so they named him for a while before finding a much more fitting name.
All people in his village are basically his super big family. They love him so much like their own child, brother, and grandchild. Yangyang can freely choose which house to stay or what foods to eat. But he mostly stays in Doyoung and Kun's humble cottage, where they would dote and feed him with their best cooking. They are like his true parents, the ones who love him the most.
Then there is Sungchan, his best friend and his partner-in-crime. They will play from dawn to dusk, pranking and having fun with other children as well. Sungchan, his best friend, the one who understands him the most.
Yangyang loves how perfect his life is right now.
He wishes it would stay like this forever.
All is well until Yangyang reaches the end of his adolescence.
Right after the thanksgiving feast, a mysterious boy comes to his village, fair skin and breathtaking beauty. All eyes on him, but his eyes are only on Yangyang.
"My name is Renjun. I am the reincarnation of Huang the Pure," the boy introduces himself, purposely loud so everyone can hear it, "and you are the reincarnation of Liu the Brave,"
Living illusions appear in the high air, retelling the story of Liu the Brave in such an epic way.
From how he is chosen, endless training, tough journey, and then--
"As the recent reincarnation of Liu,"
The illusions end with the hero facing a looming person clad in spiky black armor.
"You are destined to save this world from the Dark Lord."
Wow, cool, Yangyang thought.
Yangyang feels so giddy that he can't even sleep for two days after that, imagining himself as the mighty hero in all bedtime stories told by Kun who defeated lot of monsters and saved countless innocent people, resulting in Doyoung scolding him as he treats Yangyang who gets sick next day.
But unfortunately, the training part is not as easy peasy as what he expected.
It's tiring and gets increasingly boring if you have to repeat the same moves or doing the same routine over and over again everyday.
Yangyang hisses at his aching hand from Sungchan's strike. Luckily they spar with wooden sword, but it still hurts as hell!
Speaking about his best friend, it's a great surprise that Sungchan is revealed to be excelling at the art of swordmanship. That's why Yangyang choose him as his mentor and sparring partner. Because it will be a bit more fun since Sungchan is his best friend after all.
"Don't let your mind waver. Focus on your enemy's weapon."
But Yangyang didn't expect that he will be so serious and dense like this, geez.
"Yeah, I know!"
Days turn weeks.
Weeks turn months.
The time has come.
The humblest blacksmith grants him the the sharpest sword.
The wisest elder gifts him the strongest shield
Kids and adults shower him with prays and hope.
Doyoung and Kun hug him tightly, deep inside don't want to be separated from him.
Sungchan shakes hand with him, wishing him good luck and safety.
Yangyang looks over his shoulder, to all people who love him and vice versa, his precious family, before looking straight to the mountains ahead of him.
Time to see Renjun.
They meet in the sea of roses. Renjun is holding a black rose, lost in his own thought as his gaze is locked at the dark flower.
When Yangyang gets closer, Renjun drops the black rose and turns to him. "It is time."
Renjun inhales, then clasping both his hands in a praying gesture. "O the new Liu, by the gods' permission, I shall give you their blessing. Strength and power be upon you."
Yangyang witnesses in amaze as his own sword and shield glows radiant gold, turning into a much more intricate and cooler design.
"Be careful," Yangyang gazes at Renjun again, catching a glint of sadness, regret, in those eyes. "Do not let the darkness sway you away with their honey-coated words,"
He doesn't know what that means, but Yangyang nods without hesitation regardless.
Renjun smiles. "I wish you good luck, Yangyang."
Now begins his long journey to the far away other side of Neo.
Come to a new area, fight monsters, save the people.
Come to a new area, fight monsters, save the people.
Come to a new area, fight monsters, save the people.
The further Yangyang ventures, the more he realizes that dark places void of hope and joy indeed exist in Neo. Places where the Dark Lord's influence is strong as they get closer to the castle, innocent people suffering and terrified each day.
He can't imagine what would happen if one day the army of the Dark Lord reach his village.
Yangyang steadies himself in each step to his next destination.
He swears to not let that ever happen. That's why he needs to reach the castle soon and ends all of this once for all.
But of course he knows that his journey would be even harder by now, as it reaches the last parts. From the people he had met so far, they told him to be wary of the Dark Lord's three loyal generals, who roam around the areas bordering the castle.
The Beast, the Black Knight, and the Warlock.
They are vicious, powerful, and atrocious. Unlike all horrible, disfigured monsters he had defeated before.
Fighting them is inevitable, so Yangyang has to ready all of his strength and willpower.
Nevertheless, he's sure he will win eventually.
As Yangyang sets foot on the next town, he is greeted by chaos. People running and screaming, crying and panicking, hopeless and helpless.
He tries to ask one of them and immediately gets a direct answer :
The Beast is here, terrorizing the town.
Yangyang tightens his grip on his sword, readying his shield, too. He is clueless about how the Beast looks like, but surely they will sense his strong presence when he gets closer to them, just like the other monsters he had slain. Without letting his guard down, he goes deeper to the town.
A man stands still amongst the chaos.
"Eeeh?! Brother Doyoung?"
Yangyang sprints to him in a heartbeat, confusion and little spark of joy dominating his soul.
"What are you doing here?!"
Did Doyoung worried about him and decide to follow him?
"It's dangerous here. You should go back to--"
The start of low inhuman growl makes Yangyang realize that the situation is in fact so off right now.
Doyoung bares horrifying fangs at him, growling, snarling, like a---
Sharp claws meet his sight.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry,"
Yangyang lets painful sobs slip from his lips as he runs away from the town, didn't even bother to care about the townspeople. Not when the memory of him slashing the sword to Doyoung in defense still fresh in his mind.
"I'm sorry, Brother Doyoung,"
Why Doyoung is here?
Why he didn't recognize him?
Why he attacked him?"
Why is he acting so scary like that?
What the hell is actually going on?!
It needs two days for Yangyang to get himself together, two days to get the courage to leave the forest where he stayed and continue his journey.
Yangyang doesn't know what kind of wicked surprise awaits him in the next destination, but like it or not, he has to be ready.
As the forest ends, Yangyang arrives at an open area full of murkiness.
Then he finds someone is standing on his way.
Yangyang readies himself in a defensive position despite his trembling hands recalling the traumatic encounter with evil Doyoung.
He grunts at the starting strong, merciless blow to his shield.
"Sungchan, stop!" Yangyang shouts, parrying each of Sungchan's attack to him. "Please stop!"
But Sungchan doesn't stop, doesn't budge. Focusing solely on attacking and weakening him.
As if he's a killing machine.
This is not the Sungchan that he knows this whole time.
Sungchan is kind, gentle, and mischievous.
Sungchan won't even hurt a fly.
Not this cold, merciless person in front of him.
Yangyang jumps behind, making a safe distance between them. "What the hell is going on?! First Brother Doyoung and now you."
Sungchan stays silent.
Before Yangyang can ask and ask again, Sungchan dashes to him and thrusts his sword so close to scratch Yangyang's neck side.
Yangyang falls to his knees by the lake, wincing from the fresh injuries decorating him.
He wipes the building tears from the amplified anguish.
Yangyang gazes at his reflection in the lake.
What if his worst nightmare comes true?
What if the Dark Lord's army already attacked his village when he's gone?
"Little lamb, little lamb. Lost in the nest of wolves."
No no no.
Not again, please.
Yangyang's breath hitched, witnessing in horror as Kun appears in a puff of black smoke amidst the tall trees of the forest. His eyes lacking the warmth and compassion that Yangyang used to know, instead promising malice and pain.
"You have hurted my Doyoung. Now I will drown you in the depth of despair as punishment."
He can't do this anymore.
Brother Doyoung, Sungchan, and now Brother Kun.
"Brother Kun, it's me, Yangyang. Please," Yangyang pleads desperately, so close to weep tears again at this cruel fate bestowed upon him. "Please remember me. We're not supposed to fight, Brother Kun."
Yet rage burns even more in Kun's cold eyes. He drops the playful manner, straight up fumming with tranquil fury.
"Don't you dare call me that."
Something chokes Yangyang.
Yangyang falls to his back, trying to hold back his scream from all the pain around and beneath his skin.
He starts sobbing remembering all things that had happened before, all encounters that break his body and mind and heart.
Yangyang feels like almost giving up on this journey, almost wanting to run far far away from his destiny.
But, there's no mistake.
His theory is true in the end.
The evil army must have already attacked his village, then the Dark Lord brainwashed Yangyang's closest people to serve as his generals, twisting them into a cruel and evil and heartless person.
How dare the Dark Lord.
He can't run away, it's already too late after all.
And he won't run away after all.
Because he will end all of this, once for all!
When Yangyang finally reaches the castle, it's oddly void of people's presence. No guards or monsters there. Just him and the bleak interiors.
It means he can save some energy before facing the Dark Lord.
The true end of his journey.
He will save Neo and Kun and Doyoung and Sungchan, he promises.
That must be the main room.
Yangyang enters the huge dark doors, greeted by the Dark Lord on the other side, sitting on his throne of irons and thorns.
The chosen one, without further ado, points his sword at his waiting nemesis. Eyes radiating determination, anger, and hatred.
He will end this.
"I've come to defeat you."
The Dark Lord rises from his throne.
Yangyang struggles to breath, trying hard to stand up despite his weak, jelly-like legs.
He can't defeat him.
No matter how much he tried.
No no no.
He can't give up here.
He's almost there, to end all of this sick game of fate!
Yangyang grits his teeth, provoked. How dare he. "Why?"
Memories of burning towns and villages, of suffering kids and adults resurface.
"Why you did all of this?!" He shouts in frustration, lashing out as it's the only thing he can do when his strength is almost dissipating to zero.
The images of Kun, Doyoung, and Sungchan not even barely recognize him flashes. The ones that hurts him the most.
The Dark Lord sheathes his own sword.
The menacing helmet vanishes, revealing the face behind it.
Yangyang staggers back in ultimate shock and disbelief at the sight.
"I-impossible ... "
It's like he's in front of a mirror now.
"You're .... me?"
Sharper jawline, cold ebony eyes, dark coal hair.
Yet he's the exact opposite of Yangyang.
Like a dark, evil twin.
"He didn't tell you the rest of the prophecy, it seems,"
Illusions manifest around Yangyang, similar to Renjun's but much bleaker.
"Liu the Brave, Huang the Pure, and Moon the Wicked. Three essences forming what used to be Emblem of Life, the mighty core which created and granted blessing to the mankind, before Liu and Huang decided to separate themselves and antagonize Moon, starting the cycle of the so-called battle of good and evil. Huang would bless Liu, Liu defeated Moon and then died, Moon fell into a slumber after his body is weakened,"
The illusions stop and so does Yangyang's mind.
It can't be...
"I used to be like you, too. Dedicating my life as the chosen one, as a reincarnation of Liu. I used to hate how cruel and evil Moon was, for all the pain and suffering that he created. But when I almost defeated Moon in a suicide attack that was expected of Liu's reincarnation, he enlightened me of this cycle. That we are fated to live in a borrowed time and then die over and over again,"
So this is all lies.
Yangyang shakes his head in denial.
No no no!
This must be a deceit.
The Dark Lord must have playing some kind of sick mind game.
He must not waver from it.
He has to avenge, protect, defeat, fight---
Yet those ebony eyes paralyze him, vaporizing all of his anger and hatred until all the harsh truth remains, as the Dark Lord comes closer to him, as they are now an inch away.
"He offered me a chance to keep living, so I could see my beloved family once again, so I didn't have to die in a waste,"
The Dark Lord whispers to his lips, honey and poison and sugar and sins, "He also gave me the taste of power, of controlling, of dominance. Something much better than being a pathetic hero. So I said yes in a heartbeat,"
Cold hand caresses his cheek, gentle and so wrong.
"I could do the same to you. I could free you, too."
No no no!
Don't be fooled!
He should avenge everyone!
He should rise his sword and pierce his black heart and end this, end all of this!
Yet Yangyang can't resist to catch those lips with his, savoring all the sugars and poisons to sooth his turbulent turmoil, to calm his raging storm inside.
And the Dark Lord, so kind and gentle, leads him, guides him, like a lover, like a soulmate.
When the darkness starts engulfing him, Yangyang welcomes it with relief.
Taeyong enters his royal private room, where Kun is treating Doyoung's old wounds and Sungchan is silent still as always. Their attention automatically turns to his approaching presence.
"My Lord."/"Taeyong."/"Your Highness."
"It's fine now," the Dark Lord assures, carefully laying his unconscious incarnation on the biggest couch, admiring his peaceful sleeping face. "He has succumbed to me."
"Finally," Sungchan mumbles, stoic as ever.
"He's such a pain," Doyoung hisses at the sight of Yangyang.
Kun strokes his lover's back. "It's fine now, puppy. That boy won't annoy you again," He pecks on his forehead, before averting his gaze to Taeyong. "I'm still surprised at how much similar you two are, to the point that I almost hesitated to fight him. But then I remember that he's not our Taeyong."
"He's just an innocent person misguided by all the lies still, like myself back then," Taeyong caresses Yangyang's cheek with his knuckle. "And so the other reincarnations before us,"
The Dark Lord turns to his loyal generals.
"The cycle will be over soon. Now what is left,"
Wicked grin manifests on his face as Moon's essence inside him howls in satisfaction. Everything is going smoothly as what they had planned.
"--is Huang's essence."
His name is Taeyong
His name is also Yangyang.
All of them are the same.
Pawns of unjust fate.
Soon, they will be free.
He will end all of this.