Story Alpha: ‘The Ancient Gun’
The adolescent named Arx was a thief for a very long time. What he remembered was that he was never something other than a thief in his whole life. Forever running, forever alone. That was the only thing he wanted to remember.
The rucksack he held as tight as he could was one of his new triumphs. Inside it there was an artifact from Lord Ra Ching’s mansion. A pistol from ancient times, recently found in the desert.
It was wholly made of silver and metallic spiky parts, engraved with magic symbols. It was very heavy, and from a few holes between the plates he could see many spirals and gears. All made of Metal or Silver. He was wise enough to grab a couple of the strange bullets that accompanied the gun in its glass container.
That gun was the reason he sprinted like that, jumping between narrow gaps, over fences, off stairs and towards bushes. A small army was after him. It was obvious the lord didn’t like thieves.
He was an expert in running so wildly, as it was an important part of his job and everyday life. There was not even one day he escaped without sweat. He was clever enough to steal, but just couldn’t do it quietly. That was the result.
He dashed and leapt over a fence and landed on the other side, just to smash his face on a stonewall.
“Damn…” he yelled and softly touched his nose.
Fortunately for him, the soldiers were out of sight, perhaps many blocks away. He was now more worried about his nose and the artifact. But his mind doubted the fact that there was a huge wall in front of him.
“This thing is not supposed to be here…” he thought. “This is a course I am very familiar with…I’m sure I would have noticed the construction of that…”
The astonishment was substituted by fear.
He grabbed the rucksack and checked the strange pistol. It was unaffected by the collision and looked more impressive than ever under the sunlight. So did the bullets he decided to examine.
Like the gun, they looked like spiky puzzles of silver and metal, though they had also a line of crystal from the top to the bottom. Others had it green, others red and others blue. There was one with a black line and another one with a white, placed together in a small box of glass.
It was then he noticed that the gun had no hole for the insertion of those bullets. But when he tried to open it using one of them, two of the spiky plates on the top drew back. He inserted the bullet with the black line and placed his finger near the trigger.
“Don’t pull that trigger…” said a calm voice. “It will create a quite big ‘boom’.”
Arx turned back but saw nothing. Suddenly, a hand grabbed him from behind, causing a painful burst of cold all over his back.
He was completely paralyzed before he could say a word or yell.
The blur figure of a man completely dressed in white appeared by his side.
“Looks like I came for you right when you were going to escape from the misery of this life. I can ensure you that this gun could make you very rich.”
The dispassionate voice was unfamiliar, like the man, who now stood over the artifact that laid on the ground.
“What a shame…” he said. “…But that’s life. Isn’t it? Ruthless and violent, cheap and painful. You must be thankful for allowing you to die. Don’t you think that’s the only salvation?”
It looked like his whole body was turning to ice.
“Please…” Arx whispered. “I won’t steal again…I promise. Let me go. I’ll give you anything…”
“All I want is the Sphere you have been using since the death of your family. But I don’t need you to tell me where it is. I know. I made it. I made sure you’d get it and use it.”
“Please…I need it…”
The man laughed so wickedly that the frozen body of Arx became even colder. Now it was not only the man’s figure that was blurring. Everything around the dark dead-end became colorless and faded. His senses died out.
“You ‘need it’?” repeated the man sarcastically. “Your addiction is just one of the side effects this wonderful magical instrument of pain has. Another is the absorption of energy.”
He slowly touched his torso and smiled malevolently.
“You are nothing more than one of our victims.”
He put his hand inside Arx’es pocket and took the Sphere out.
“End of the line.”
A massive explosion of pure, devastating darkness came out of the man’s palm and evaporated everything of his tired body.
The man disappeared into a portal of light, leaving behind the gun and its bullet set. The Sphere was in his fist.
“Farnaq, once again, you left no signs. No one would miss that punk, though. You could have left a few bones.”
“Even if I wanted to, my dark blast magic is too strong. I use no more energy than that needed to take a breath. After all those Spheres I have used…”
“I know…even I can’t control my power fully…and I don’t use complex magic. After taking the energy of 100 Spheres you lose some control. How many have you used since you joined the Order?”
Farnaq smiled and tried to calculate.
“I think I have used more than a thousand., all collected by myself.”
His friend took an expression of astonishment. He was twice Farnaq’s size and had a tone of muscles.
“One…thousand?!” he panted. “You must be the most powerful mage in the world.”
Farnaq just nodded.
They were on the top of a temple, under a massive statue of a Dragon with 12 wings. Underneath them, some soldiers found the gun and the bullets on the ground.
“What was the kid’s problem?” asked Dox.
“Executed parents and sick sister. I think his whole life revolves…revolved around her. He became a thief to get her breakfast and lunch, as well as to pay their landlord.”
The soldiers were now picking up the artifact and the bullets. They were discussing vividly about their bonus, laughing and commenting on the Lord’s reaction.
Even if they looked up, they would see two extremely blurry figures that would instantly disappear.
Dox sat on the edge of the ceiling.
“What about his Sphere?”
Farnaq threw it in the air and grabbed it with a sudden move.
“It’s a masterpiece, like all the Spheres I create. That little punk was easy to addict. When he used the Sphere, he could dream of a rich life. And he didn’t even have his sister in that dream. He had a field of gold roses and a gigantic mansion. Quite a boring dream to observe.”
“OK, he was a thief. All thieves think about money and riches.”
“My point is…that as long as he used the Sphere he didn’t even think about his little sister. I thought we could get enough energy from that kid, but I was wrong. Craving for money? That is not enough.”
Dox stood up as the soldiers departed.
“Why don’t we use his sister?” he suggested and stretched back.
Farnaq slowly turned towards him. Dox had an idea. Extraordinary enough, he had not used a Sphere for a long time. Although he wasn’t a total idiot, ideas were not his strong point.
A few seconds of silence went by.
“I don’t think he Boss will disagree. And his sister would probably be a better energy source than her brother. She’s small, weak, emotional and -now- alone in this world. I like it.”
Rewa, Arx’es little sister was laying on her almost-broken bed. She was sleeping, unable to notice the two blurry figures that entered the room through the wall.
Farnaq let his, magically produced, blurring Aura go and bended over the weak girl.
Dox stood still behind him, watching his friend’s working methods.
“She is doomed.” Said Farnaq, with a voice tone colder than ice.
Her body was extremely pale, and her breath frail. Farnaq knew that the disease she suffered from was incurable, no matter how many money her brother could steal. His doctor’s point of view considered harming that girl a sin, but he was no longer a doctor.
He placed his hand on her chest and searched her memories for anything he could use to addict her. A Sphere begun to form in his other hand, like a small fountain of melted crystal.
“She likes dolls. She is afraid all the time, because her brother is not here to protect her. She is starving. She has at least three nightmares every night. All about loneliness and diseases. She once tried to put her head in the fireplace because her disease made it freezing cold…”
Farnaq stopped. He had already found a Sphere in which the girl could give them her energy. Just for once. Then, as her weak body would grew paler and her breath would slowly disappear…
“She will die.”
“But…that…she won’t give us enough energy. Will she?”
“Yes, Dox. She will. Sometimes, if treated delicately, the victim can produce and give us massive amounts of energy in a few minutes. It all depends on the illusion that she will see when she’ll use the Sphere.”
Rewa’s nightmare ended suddenly, and she found herself in a huge field of roses, all made of crystal. There were no thorns on them, and their strange, surreal scent was in the air. Her body was no longer shaking, her head was no longer aching and she could clearly see and feel everything around her.
It was the happiest moment of her life so far. Happiness was running through her veins almost magically. She took a step forward, and got closer to a delicate rose of crimson glass.
Her heart was ready to explode because of the stunning happiness.
She took another step and bended to grab her favorite flower.
She smelled it.
She cut it with a gentle move and stood up again.
She closed her eyes and smelled again.
The adorable cent disappeared.
When she opened her eyes again, the field was gone.
She was now in a desert of marble, in a monsoon of blood.
Her brother’s body was in front of her.
She screamed in terror for three seconds. Then she died.
“I told you so.”
Farnaq got the Sphere out of the lifeless girl’s grip. It was now glowing, full of energy.