Silence. Crushing silence. Even when I open my eyes there is nothing to see, and although I listen with everything I have there is nothing to hear… So this is what it’s like being dead… I always thought I would live a lot longer. I was only in my second year of high-school… I didn’t even get a girlfriend yet! I worked so hard, and tried to be a good person my whole life, and now what? I ended up in limbo or something!
“Are you ready?” A voice so loud that it feels like it’s going to crush me suddenly ask out of nowhere
“Aren’t I dead? Why can I still hear a voice?” I ask aloud as I look around for the source
“You are dead. As to why you can hear me, it’s because I’ve chosen you.” The voice resounds and echos around me
“Chosen? For what?” I ask giving up on finding an origin
“You are going to slay an evil beast for me. One with incredible powers. My followers in another world have asked for a hero, and you will answer that prayer.” The voice explains
“What? I’m going to be summoned to another world?! That’s so cool! Do I get special powers or something?!” I ask excitedly
So this is my reward for living a good life? No, it had to be for something bigger! I died sticking up for some girl that was being harassed by some hoodlums… One of them stabbed me when I tried to yell for help. Did I end up saving the girl at the cost of my own life?… I’m pretty cool aren’t I?
“I will grant you one wish for your new life. This will be my only blessing so choose wisely.” The voice answers bringing me back into the moment
Just one? Should I ask from some amazing attack? Or maybe some amazing magic? I suppose since it’s just one wish it’s like choosing a class isn’t it?
“If it’s just one wish, then I suppose it would have to be a physical boost wouldn’t it? I don’t like pain, so make me strong enough to withstand strong attacks.” I say as my hand hovers over where I was stabbed
I can’t feel anything in this space… but I can still remember then pain. It doesn’t feel like it’s gone anywhere.
“Very well. My blessing will grow over time, nurture it well. I suppose it’s time you finally answered my question. Are you ready?” The voice says in a way that shakes me to the core
This feeling coursing through me, is it excitement? Or maybe it’s fear?
I take several deep breaths, despite the lack of any air, and calm myself before answering.
I could swear somewhere in the darkness I could see a smirk begin to form before it all began to wash away. The unending black void suddenly became a myriad of colors. My eyes take a moment to focus, but as soon as I see the flickering lights of flames I realize where I am.
“Hero! The great god has answered our prayer!” A regal sounding voice yells out before I can focus on my surroundings
My eyes begin to hurt, and I have to close them for a moment to let them rest. When I open them again I can see everything. I am currently kneeled down on a strange symbols etched into the ground. The candles and charms around me tip me off that this was the ceremony used to summon me. A man in fancy robes and a golden crown stands before me with arms outstretched with a joyous look on his face.
That man was the king. He told me the story of the great demon that rose up in the west. The once peaceful forest that covered over half the continent had burned as several wars took place between the humans and the evils that spawned from him. The humans were unable to save any of the great expanse of beauty that once covered the land, and now struggle just to keep the demons minions at bay. Defeat is inevitable unless something is done.
“Go! Defeat the king of evil! We will reward you when you return!” The king said proudly as I set off on my journey
I struggled at first. The monsters that littered my path were right out of a fantasy novel. Goblins, Orcs, and even Slimes attacked me by the dozens. I was forced to use hit and run tactics as I only had the power to take down one or two by myself.
I was sure I would meet my premature end yet again when I found myself surrounded on all sides by all manner of monsters. My sturdy body had managed to get me pretty far by itself, but against this many there was no way I would survive. Angry at the injustice I continued to fight, and to my credit I took down more than I had ever managed before, but alas it was too little. When I took a hard strike to the back of my head from one of the Orcs clubs I fell to the ground. As my consciousness faded I felt the sense of pain begin to numb. This was how I met my first companion in the other world.
Aina the mage. She was one of the kingdoms best, if not slightly bullheaded. Magic required a calm and meticulous mind, and yet she burned like a fire. Among mages of similar caliber she was shunned and hated, if not for her talent for her temper. The stiff minded people that made up the various colleges and guilds that practiced magic had no place for her, and like that she was alone. One thing could never be denied however, she had the capability of 10 mages on her worst day.
More monsters than I had the luxury to count burst into flames as various spells discharged around me. In a moment the skirmish had turned into a war-zone with explosions and sounds of electricity all about. Those that weren’t obliterated ran for their lives.
It was over in a flash… or at least that’s how she tells it. I’m not so dumb as to not notice the cuts and bruises she had on her when I woke up. It looks like it was a hard fought battle, and my appreciation for her saving me that day only ever grew.
We became fast friends as we squabbled and laughed in every town we visited on our way to the border of the humans territory. The monsters that made it this far were considered weak, not ever worthy of dispatching the soldiers on the border to eliminate. Various guilds saw to them instead, hiring various adventurers and travelers to fight the weaker monsters that made it past the raging battle at the border. We decided to join on such guild.
There we met our second companion. Tuy the archer. The guild was small. Only about 20 people ever joined, and even then only about 5 of them regularly came in for subjugation request. One of those members of Tuy, a small blond haired boy. Tuy always went out on request alone, and was known for coming back badly injured. He was always timid and refused any attempt we made to aid him.
One day the guild leader came to us with a worried expression and explained that Tuy had left on a very dangerous request. A Red Ogre had been seen outside of town and the request called for more members than was at the guilds disposal to take it down. Tuy begged people to go with him for the first time, wanting to save the town. When people told him he was crazy to think that so few people could take it down he stormed away with the request in hand.
We rushed to get there in time, but before we arrived the Ogre and Tuy had already met. Tuy moved so fast that he seemed to disappear repeatedly as he stabbed the Ogre over and over again in desperation. The Orge laughed as it tried to swat the fly buzzing around him. Tuy speed was incredible, but he couldn’t do enough damage to make it matter. We took advantage of Tuy distraction to engage the Ogre as well.
We must have fought for hours. The more damage we did the more the Ogre sought to ignore Tuy, but the stubborn kid refused to be ignored. Whenever he was given the opportunity he would stab at the Ogres weak points. The Ogre absorbed everything we threw at him for so long that we thought he would never fall. When he finally did all three of us were exhausted.
After that Tuy opened up to us. He was trepidation about leaving the town he loved so much, but we finally convinced him to join us after a time. He speed, stealth, and prowess with a bow turned into one of our greatest assets as we gained the upper-hand in any fight we could prepare for.
It was just the three of us for a long time after that. We took down stronger and stronger monsters, and word of our abilities began to spread throughout the land. The guild we had joined became one of the most prominent in the nation. It was a few years before we decided we were finally ready to push back the monster on the front line.
It was a constant war-zone from dusk till dawn there. Magic barriers, ancient artifacts, powerful fighters and soldiers from across the globe. The humans put everything they had on the front line to try and keep what remained safe. Perhaps it was the fame getting to us, but we decided that we were more than all of that. We blasted onto the front line and tried to push the monsters back. The plan was to move the barrier forward by nearly a mile. If it was successful we would do it again and again until we took back the entire forest. Things did not go as planned.
We were overwhelmed. The monsters here were smarter, faster, and stronger than any that had made it through the barrier. Instead of pushing the monsters back, it seemed as if they simply retreated. We let it go to our heads instead of thinking and pushed forward. Before we knew it the monsters had led us into a trap. We tried to escape when we realized what had happened, but we took some serious damage.
One monster aimed to kill Aina that had lagged behind in our escape. I used my own body to defend her. Even with my body that had grown ever more sturdy over the years the cut was deep. It was obvious I was going to die. Thankfully mine was the worse injury, but neither Aina or Tuy came out unscathed by a long shot.
Although badly wounded themselves they dragged me to the fortress used by the elite soldiers of the border and begged them to save me. Clergy magic wasn’t common by any stretch of the imagination, but there were a few among the elite.
The soldiers looked at me and wore grim expressions as they explained that it would be a waste. Clergy magic was weak and wouldn’t be able to close a wound as large as mine. To try would take more mana than any of their soldiers could spare. They sounded remorseful, but I understood. For a cleric mana is like medicine. When so many come to you for aid you can’t use up everything you have trying to save one incompetent fool that got himself hurt.
Even though I told them to stop Tuy and Aina continued to fight for a way to save me. They argued with the soldiers with tears in their eyes. When I began to feel cold I tried to call them over, but my voice wouldn’t come out. After fighting for years and making such great friends I no longer had many regrets in life, but I felt remorseful that I wouldn’t get to see them again. I couldn’t help but let my tears begin to fall as I watched them fight for me.
“Geez, a hero really shouldn’t cry you know?” I hear through the commotion in a beautiful voice
Although the I lacked the strength to lift my head, I could feel someone pull it back as a glass bottle was pressed against my lips. As the gelatinous liquid slid down my throat the cold numb feeling began to fade. The pain in my chest began to burn as if molten metal had been pored into it, but after several moments both the pain and the burning stopped.
The voice belong to Mault the only daughter of the king. The liquid she had me drink was an ancient potion capable of healing even vital wounds. A one of a kind item unfortunately. She also healed Tuy and Aina using basic healing magic.
The soldiers acted confused and bewildered as to why the princess herself had made an appearance, but they were silenced as she explained that she was here in secret. The princess has always had a talent for healing magic, but her father had forbid her from ever going to the front line. For many years she was content to listen to him, but word of our travels inspired her to run away and fight for the humans safety.
When she asked to join our party we all hesitated. Healers were a rare commodity and we would likely never find another, but something like this could turn us into criminals if the king ever found out. The princess promised to always were as disguise as she had done up to this point, and although wary we decided to let her join us.
With a healer in tow we decided to travel the humans realm once again is search of items and ancient magics to aid us in our fight against the monsters. We spent another 3 years training harder than we had ever done before as we searched for any edge we could get.
I even learned some magic to help me out in a bind from Aina. Learning magic without having any talent in manipulating mana is incredibly difficult. Aina would drill her lessons into me every night. She always seemed to have so much fun when talking about magic. Perhaps part of the reason we never stopped was that it kept our spirits high to practice together.
Eventually we decided that it was time to make another attempt at overcoming the front line. We had become the strongest humans alive. We would often talk strategy over the years, fearing a repeat of our previous failure. Eventually we settled on a new approach. Instead of facing the hordes of monsters head on we would go straight for the source. Nobody had ever actually seen the Evil king before, but we were willing to bet it all on one final battle.
With Tuys help we managed to go unseen for most of our journey. Those that we did come across we would swiftly take out. If we were too make too much of a commotion deep into enemy territory it would be the end. Our only hope was stealth. It was a lot easier than any of us expected as well. After a point the monsters stopped being cautious at all.
It was a surreal sight. The monsters would simply march forward, only ever stopping to rest. They never seemed to eat, and short of seeing one of us they never acted independently. I guess we all just assumed that the monsters were fighting to survive just like we were to a point. Instead they seem to survive purely for the sake of killing us.
It took weeks to reach where the monsters came from. We knew for sure when we had found the source. A cave with deep red smoke poring out from it. We scoped it out for a few days to gather any additional information. In the end the only thing we learned was that monsters would come out roughly every hour or so in large herds.
We waited for the last monster of one grouping to disappear before rushing into the cave. We knew that if we ran into the next group that we wouldn’t survive so we ran through the cave at full speed looking for the origin of the smoke. What we finally came across sent a chill down our spines. A skeleton with a long ornate rob and and crown covered in gems sat limp on a throne of mangled corpses.
“So you arrived at last.” A voice echoed through the halls of the cave
The skeleton remained unmoved however.
“Imperfect. Even you, the one from another world. Imperfect. Are the gods not even capable of perfection? Why? Are they too proud of their mistakes? The humans? This world? Before creation must come destruction. I will destroy this world starting with the gods greatest mistakes, the humans. Then I will create the perfection even the gods could not achieve! You are my last test! The assassin of the gods! Face me hero!” The voice said with an air of madness
With every word we grew more dizzy and nauseated. After the voice finished with it’s speech the cave began to rattle. As the world shook around us we almost failed to see the skeleton rise from it’s throne. We were alerted by the sudden light that began to emit from his hand as he began to float in the air.
“Die hero!” the voice screamed as the light formed a spell and shot towards us
It only managed to graze my arm, but even still it managed to do incredible damage to my now nearly indestructible body. We all instantly knew how powerful the foe we faced was because of this.
Desperately we fought. It felt like time stretched on forever. Knowing that at any moment our already impossible struggle would be made even more so by a group of monsters made us even more desperate for the end. The skeletons body showed no signs of damage no matter how much we hit him with. No matter what hit him he would just regenerate after mere moments.
“Has it been an hour?”
“How do we win?”
“Is this the end?”
All of us asked ourselves these questions as if to make sense of the unfair challenge we faced. Perhaps our desperation, fear, or the strange dizziness that filled the air drove us slightly mad. The reason we were here faded away and it all just blurred into a desperate struggle to survive.
Perhaps this madness was what prompted Mault to use one of her most powerful healing spells on the skeleton. When we saw the gentle light from her spell encompass the fiend our hearts all dropped to our stomachs. We knew that the fight had ended, and that we had lost. Any damage that the skeleton had actually taken was surely gone now. Or so we thought.
“KRYAAAAAA!!!” The skeleton screamed out in pain
Life flooded back into us as we realized our mistake. The creature could only be harmed through healing! We reformed our ranks to protect Mault and rushed in again to attack the monster.
Realizing himself that he was no longer invulnerable he drew back and answered one of the most important questions we had been asking. Where were the monsters? To cover his retreat he summoned three of the highest class monsters we had ever faced, Mithril golems.
The tide of battle shifted as the golems became the main threat. The skeleton drew back as if to recover from the damage, or perhaps due to the mana draw that the monster must have had on him.
Regardless we knew this was our chance, and we weren’t going to let it slip by. I jumped to the front line and drew the attention of the golems. Using one of the ancient artifacts I had gathered in my journey, a amulet with a fierce azure gem in the center, to draw their attention. They battered me with a barrage of powerful attacked. If I let my guard down and failed to block even a single one I was sure to die. As soon as their attention shifted to me however my companions knew exactly what to do. With a buff from Aina, and Tuy pulling her along Mault got behind the golems to face the now weak skeleton.
“No! I refuse to die! Especially at the hands of you filthy humans! Bring the hero to kill me!” The skeleton ranted in it’s madness as it put up its fleshless hand in a fruitless attempt to defend himself
Mault didn’t hesitate for even a moment. She poured every ounce of magical power she had into one final spell and sent it flying at the foul and mad king of evil.
“KRYAAAAAAaaa…” His screams faded to silence as he turned to dust
As if part of the mad king themselves, the golems followed by crumbling into chunks of mithril.
As silence filled the room and the smoke faded tears began to well in our eyes.
“”””WE DID IT!!!”””” We all screamed out in joy before collapsing in exhaustion
Our return to the human realm was met with celebration. The death of the king of evil was met with the demise of every monster that had been fighting the humans. With his evil power no longer fueling them it was as if they starved on magical power. For the first time in a near century the fighting had ended. In days it took to travels back through the desolate but peaceful forest the humans had started a massive feast.
When we arrived there was hardly a sober person to greet us, and before too long we were dragged into the party as well. On the first night back Aina confessed her feelings for me. I felt the same way and… well we will leave out that part of the story.
In a few days the king had heard of our battle in detail and arranged a ceremony to reward us. Perhaps that was just an excuse to have another banquet though. We were all recognized as heros of the kingdom that day. Mault revealed to her father that she had run away and joined our party, and the king shed tears of joy over pride of his daughter.
I remembered that I now had the opportunity to return home… but I didn’t really want to anymore. My life here had been so grand that my previous one could never compete.
I was still an ignorant child at that point.
After the initial joy of victory faded from peoples hearts the story of “The Great Lich” began to circulate. The magician that went to far in his research, and nearly caused the end of the world… and the brave princess that defeated him.
Unease began to spread as the people that were already somewhat weary had an entirely new reason to fear the mages. Before long people had placed the blame of the events that transpired squarely on the mages. The more powerful the mage the more hatred the accrued.
Aina turned into a symbol for mages everywhere. The most powerful mage in history, arguably even more powerful than the Lich had been in life. With spells and items lost to history. The fear of something like this happening again triggered a war against the mages… that was sparked by Aina’s death.
An assassin came in the middle of the night a stuck a dagger through her heart. Even though we shared a bed I never even heard her final breath. My heart grew cold after her death. The fantastical world that I had seen before turned grey without her.
I was angry. Why did she have to die? Because she could be dangerous? Then what of the person that stabbed her in the heart without so much as a fight? I decided to join the war effort. Not all humans opposed the mages, and those that didn’t fought for peace.
Peace never really came though. The war was short but brutal. Terrorist attacks on guilds and colleges turned towns into battlefields. The side that opposed mages was never so organized to have anybody admit defeat, but one day the fighting just stopped. The war accomplished nothing. People still hated the mages, they just never acted on that hatred. Word began to spread that I would cut down anybody that opposed the mages. People began to speak of me like I was a monster, or some dog at the thrones disposal.
I hated it. The fighting, the people, the whispering. I isolated myself. In all of the fighting I never saw Tuy or Mault once. Maybe I didn’t want them to see me anymore. Maybe I believed I really was a monster. That might have been why I decided to live in the desolate forest. After isolating myself for nearly a year a familiar face showed up before me.
Tuy had tracked me down. He said that Mault had been looking for me, and that he had been worried about me. He told me that Mault had been preparing to send me home, and that the materials were gathered if I ever wanted to return.
My thought of home had been swirling in my head for a while. A world without magic, a world where I wasn’t feared. Even if I couldn’t just pick up my life from where I was before, just the idea of living in peaceful japan again was nice.
I decided to go. There wasn’t anything left for me in this world, and the world no longer had a need for me. I arrived at the castle with Tuy several days later. He escorted me directly to the magical symbol I was summoned to this world with. There I met Mault again.
Mault wore a sad look on her face alongside her father as she watched me arrive. The decision was never harder than being in a room with everybody I cared about, and at the same time never easier. Seeing everybody together without Aina… it made it even clearer that she was never coming back.
When the ceremony began I was told to close my eyes. Several of the court mages began to chant around me, using a spell I hadn’t heard before. My body began to feel light, as if it would fly away at any moment… and then pain.
My eyes flew open as I felt a terrible pain in my chest. I looked down to see a knife stabbed into my heart, with a hand still holding it there. My head spun as it tried to understand what was going on. I looked up to see who the hand belong to and my blood ran cold when I did.
“Tuy… why?” I eked out through the blood
“You are too dangerous for this world. Even before the mages you are the greatest threat that the humans stand to face.” Mault explains with a look of superiority
“…Tuy?” I let out again trying to find solace in my friend even after he betrayed me
“Did you even know about my village? What happened to it? After we left… monsters destroyed it. It was your fault! You made me leave!” He began to yell through tears
He said a lot more, but I never heard any of it. My life faded right then and there. The silence of the black void was familiar to me, crushing. This time however it was filled with the sound of my sobbing. I screamed with sadness and hatred to the void for who knows how long. Eventually my eyes grey dry and my voice grew weak. The futility of my cries wore on me. Nobody would hear them, and I didn’t want anybody to. When I had given up and the silence returned is when I heard a voice.
“Are you ready?“