Before Convergence #5 - Secondary

Reads: 259  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: June 15, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 15, 2017

A A A

A A A


The Hero who would save the world.

Those words, spoken by his mother after he was born, echoed through the Hero's mind as he stood before his small party of adventurers. He was a tall, strong, handsome, and dashing young man who was also skilled in physical and magical combat, a natural leader, and just oozed charisma and charm. He was, for all intents and purposes, the perfect human specimen.

"Listen up, everyone!" His tone was reflective of someone of his stature: cool, calm, collected, yet firm and confident. "This town has requested our assistance and I have given them my word that we will protect them. Besides, they're going to pay us, and the money will fund the next leg of our ongoing quest to defeat the Mist Sovereign."

Assembled before him was a group of four, all sitting around the circular wooden table he had his hands on. The second person from the Hero's left raised her hand. She was a twenty-ish year-old girl of average height and weight with light-brown colored skin. She wore a loose dark red shirt, blue jeans, white-laced black tennis shoes, and sported long red hair tied behind her head in twin pigtails. Affixed to her right side by cloth was an ancient-looking sword sheathed in a polished wooden scabbard. The pommel of the weapon was adorned with the head of a lioness made of bronze, which her other hand was resting on.

"What is it, April?" The Hero asked.

"What do they need protecting against?" Her voice was bright and upbeat. "This is nowhere near bandit territory and monsters aren't common in these parts."

"You're right. But the town's mayor has reason to believe that an attack is coming."

"By what and by whom?" The person responding was to April's left: a man with a full-bodied deep voice. A complete set of dark leather armor covered his strong and tall frame, leaving all but his sun-tanned head. His features were gaunt and aged despite the fact that he was only in his thirties, speaking to a hard early life.  His short, spiky red hair shined against the interior lighting of the inn's fireplace and lamps.

"He's not sure, Isaac," the Hero replied. "A letter was posted on the mayor's door claiming the town would be destroyed come tomorrow." He frowned. "Though the letter's handwriting was really messy, almost as if it were written by a kid."

"A kid, huh?" A young boy sat to Issac's right. His voice indicated he was in the midst of puberty, while his dusty, sandy hair gave him a messy appearance. His pale skin, blazing red suit and red slacks, along with the large, golden elephant gun strapped to his back made him seem oddly flamboyant. "This sounds like a prank to me."

"I did take that into consideration, Zack. But the townsfolk have been telling me they've been hearing odds sounds coming from the forest. More than a few think this is due to some kind of unknown sorcery."

"Sorcery?" The final member of the group on April's right spoke in a soft but firm tone. She was a tall woman with a slight frame, pale skin, and flowing long black hair. She wore a black dress adorned with red glowing crystals that seemed to pulse infrequently. "What kind of sorcery?"

"They weren't specific, Val. It's all small town rumors really. I haven't gotten anything concrete." The Hero paused. "Regardless, we should take all of this into consideration."

"Agreed." Isaac scratched his beardless chin, mulling over the information. "What an odd set of circumstances."

"Just once," Zack commented, who was messing with a coin on the table. "Can it be, I dunno, a casual day for once? We can't keep saving the world every time we do something."

The Hero smiled. "If that day comes, then I will no longer be needed."

"It's always beating some crazy demon lord or stopping a giant beast. It's like we're the only ones trying to stop them from trying to taking over the world."

"It is our duty to protect the innocent from those who would seek its demise," Val admonished him. "We have taken a sacred oath. Have you forgotten your place, Zack?"

"I haven't." The boy gave the woman a hurtful look, but there remained a mischievous glint in his eyes, like he was holding his tongue.

"Alright." Ignoring the banter, the Hero made his way towards the door. "I'm heading out to pick up some extra supplies at the shop. Are we low on anything at the moment?"

"We could use a few more herbal remedies." Val looked up at the ceiling, her forehead creasing as she was clearly doing some mental math in her head. "Oh and I'm going to need some of those blue potions I saw earlier at the apothecary. The new transformation is going to be really taxing until I master it."

"Okay." The Hero scanned the table. "Anything else? No? Alright then. I will see you all a little later."

After he closed the door behind him, April turned back to face her fellow adventurers.

"What do you guys think?"

Val's virtuous voice filled the room. "No matter what evil is afoot, no one can stop us in our righteous cause."

"When will you learn to take life a little less seriously?" Zack rolled his eyes at Val. "Smell the roses a little?"

"Your naiveté is showing," Val countered. "You haven't seen the greater darkness the world offers."

Zack rolled his eyes and turned away from her, facing Isaac and April. "Anyways, I think we'll be fine."

"You two are awfully confident of yourselves," Isaac noted.

"For once Val and I agree on something. Yeah, I know, it's weird, considering how stuck-up she is most of the time."

"Watch your tone, young man," Val said disdainfully. "I haven't forgiven you for that stunt you pulled on me last month."

"Geez! Such a grudge-holder! It was just a little bit of fun! As a former priestess, you should have known all about-"

Isaac coughed to interrupt the back and forth. "Anyways, as per usual, the key will be what the Hero manages to come up with. He's truly amazing at what he does."

"Though we're not too shabby ourselves," April added.

"Compared to him though?" Isaac shook his head. "No contest. You should know that by now."

"Do not underestimate our own power," Val said strongly. "There is a reason why we are the Hero's chosen."

"Chosen to back him up is all," Zack said, rolling his eyes again.

Val was about to respond when a girl approached the four of them. Her long hair was a dark shade of purple, matching the color of her irises. In contrast, she wore a frilly Victorian-era dress of the deepest blue. She couldn't be any older or taller than Zack, with a similar slight build like his.

"May we help you?" Isaac asked politely.

"My name is Esther," she said in a sweet-sounding but somewhat regal voice. "You all need to leave this town. It's not safe."

Four pairs of eyes blinked at her in confusion, before one decided to speak.

"Why is that, Esther?" April asked.

"The four of you are in grave danger."

"Hey," Zack said casually. "If you're talking about the attack that's supposed to come tomorrow, don't worry. We got it covered."

"Yes," Val said in support. "We will bring justice upon any who would dare threaten the lives of the innocent."

Esther shook her head. "If you don't leave now, you will all die."

That caused the four companions to pause in stunned silence as they stared at the girl. 

"Please." Isaac was the first to speak. "Elaborate."

"I cannot see that far. But if you stay, I know none of you will survive."

"How are you so certain of this?" April asked.

"I just am."

"Are you a seer of some kind?" Val looked at Esther with a degree of fascination. "If you are, you must also know that, despite your warnings, we can't just run away. Our leader, the Hero, has reached an agreement with the mayor of this town. There is a clear and present danger we must address."

"Additionally," Isaac said. "You don't know how far we've come with the Hero. The fact that I'm alive today is due to that man. I will not turn my back on the one who rescued me from a life of endless servitude."

"I'd still be a street urchin if he never decided to take me in." Zack chuckled at himself. "Heck, I tried to pickpocket him and how did he respond? He showed me how badly I was wasting my OTHER talent. That's one heck of a guy."

"I always wanted to join the Guard." April's voice turned dreamy in admiration. "But when I met the Hero, he asked if I wanted to join him instead. Now here I am, defeating villains and evil-doers, doing more I think than I would have with the Guard."

"We all had the opportunity to make a difference thanks to the Hero," Val said in conclusion. "We will not throw that away based on your predictions, Esther. We have a job to do; a duty to perform."

All four nodded at each other, united in their thoughts.

"If that's how you feel, then I can't convince you. I bid you good day." Esther curtsied, then turned towards the door and left the inn, leaving the four to themselves once again.

"That was weird," April said slowly.

"Do any of you believe her?" Zack asked.

"Whatever happens, will happen," Isaac stated. "If we fail, so be it."

"The only thing we can do is hope that she is wrong," Val said darkly.

-

That night, none of the four could sleep. Esther's words of warning weighed heavily on their minds. Was she right? Was tomorrow going to be their final day of life? Was the coming battle going to defeat them and the Hero, despite the fact that they had defeated every adversary they'd faced up to this point? The Hero who had vanquished countless enemies and prevented the world's destruction several times over?

As the clock struck midnight, an inhuman roar echoed across the town.

"What's happening?" April bolted out of her room.

"It's starting!" The Hero exclaimed, who was already in the hallway, with the others hot on his heels. "Everyone, let's go!"

In preparation for just this possibility, the group had not changed out of their clothes, giving them a head start as they headed out the door. Outside, they saw a terrifying but awe-inspiring sight in the dark skies above. Flying just below the cloud layer was an enormous skeletal dragon. What distinguished it most, however, was its green, bio-luminescent gel of a body. Whatever this substance was, it held the bones in place and gave the creature the appearance of a ghostly emerald apparition. It had four segments of wings spread evenly across its snake-like body and four massive bony claws for hands and feet at its sides.

"Wow…" April breathed.

"Come down here…" The Hero muttered under his breath. He pulled his broadsword from its sheath behind his back and raised it to the sky. The clouds parted and the moonlight seemed to amplify, becoming a ray of light that shone down on the Hero's sword, charging it with power. He aimed the blade at the dragon, and the supercharged sword fired a white beam of light that struck the dragon full-force. The skeletal beast let loose a horrifying cry of pain and turned towards them. Even without eyes in its sockets, the five knew the dragon could tell where they were.

The Hero gestured to his companions. "Into the forest cover, quick! We don't want the dragon to damage the town!"

The group made its way into the dark misty grove nearby, just as the skeletal dragon crashed into the brush, destroying trees and shrubs as it searched for them.

"Looks like we're not going to have cover for long!" Isaac exclaimed over the sounds of splintering wood and the alarmed cries of wildlife running away from the devastation.

"Then we'll just have to face it head on!" The Hero said. Red flames formed in his gauntleted hands, and he threw the expanding wave of fire at the dragon, burning away the remaining underbrush between them and revealing the party to the beast. A second spell increased his speed and agility, allowing him to propel himself upwards towards the head of the dragon by leaping between tree trunks and branches. When he reached the head, he withdrew his broadsword once again and began slashing away at the beast's skeletal face. In irritation, the dragon reared back and up high off the ground as the Hero continued tracking its head.

"Isaac!" April pointed towards the top of the dragon's body. "Throw me up there!"

"Gotcha!" Using his exceptional strength, Isaac tossed April's smaller frame upwards and followed suit after her with a powerful jump. When she reached the dragon's ghostly green hide, April executed a series of high-speed slashes, balancing on the writhing body as best she could. Isaac for his part used his inner power to charge his fists and feet with a dark red aura, then threw in a flurry of strength-based punches and kicks.

"Can't let them have all the fun," Zack said to Val with a thinly veiled smile. His long elephant rifle pulled itself free from his back and levitated in front of him. With a wave of his hand, the rifle magically split into a dozen identical guns. Guided by Zack's conductor-like hand gestures, the rifles fired burst after burst of red lasers into the dragon's midsection.

"By the grace of the divine, I call upon the Scarlet Power. Give me the power to defeat my enemy!" Val's eyes radiated a fierce red as she spoke the words. A bright pillar of crimson light broke through the clouds and fell directly on her. The light was so blinding no one could see the transformation happening within. When the brightness faded, she was surrounded in a blood-red suit of light metal armor. She brought her hands up, and tears in the fabric of space appeared around the dragon and tore chunks out of its body, seemingly into the void of deep space.

This impressive demonstration of strength by the Hero and his companions did devastating damage to the dragon, but something seemed off. The dragon was taking the attacks, but the damage they were collectively doing seemed relatively superficial, even if the gel body was damaged significantly. In contrast, the beast's own retaliatory, thrashing strikes sent the three melee fighters flying away from it and back towards the other two. With experienced and practiced skill, the trio found their footing beside their comrades as the dragon sped towards the group, likely intending to crush them with its massive body.

"I don't think we're going to be able to stop this rush!" Zack called out even as he continued firing laser blasts into the green gel. "What do we do, boss?"

"Everyone!" The Hero yelled. "Focus your strongest attacks at the head! Take it down in one strike!"

One by one, the five began charging their most powerful moves. April sheathed her sword, and the wooden scabbard seemed to glow as she held the scabbard and sword hilt with both hands at her left side. Isaac's pounded his glowing red gauntlets together, gathering a huge amount of energy within himself. Zack pointed all twelve of his rifles inward in a circle, combining their beams together at a focal point. Val created a ring of torn space around the dragon. And the Hero parted the clouds entirely around the group and absorbed into himself as much energy as he could from the moon's reflected light, literally becoming an avatar of light.

"Now!" The Hero shouted as the dragon was nearly upon them. April drew her sword and with a massive vertical cut, her weapon projected a huge crescent of bright red energy. Isaac's red aura exploded out of his hands as a massive cone of power comparable to April's attack. Zack's twelve rifles fired at once, creating an enormous red laser beam blast. Val's ring of space-rifts collapsed inward, pulling the dragon apart in all directions. The Hero's avatar of light unleashed itself, flying from his body towards the incoming monstrosity. Combined, the ultimate attacks ravaged the dragon, with the avatar of light being the final strike that bisected the skeletal beast entirely down the middle. The dragon's incoming body lost all momentum and crashed headfirst into the ground in front of them, falling just short of reaching its intended goal.

The group stood still for a moment, breathing heavily, watching as the dragon's body began to leak its bio-luminescent green fluids into the ground at a rapid pace.

"Nice job, everyone," The Hero said.

"Whew." April wiped the sweat off her brow. "That was one tough cookie."

"Who do you suppose summoned this creature?" Val wondered. "This is definitely the work of sorcery. Certainly someone extremely skilled in necromancy and arcane enchantments."

"I don't know," the Hero replied. "But the important thing is that it's dead, and we have completed our-"

A flood of green light overcame them, radiating from the ground in the vicinity of the dragon's corpse. Suddenly, the dragon's talons came back to life, rearing up and grabbing both April and Isaac in their grasps. The claws and hands together were so large that the two humans' bodies were dwarfed, leaving only their heads exposed. Before the other three could help their comrades, a series of skeletal hands burst out of the ground and reached for their legs and arms. Zack and Val were caught, but the Hero managed to leap away in time, landing a fair distance away from the sudden chaos.

"Vile necromancy!" Val exclaimed as she tried to yank herself free.

"Let me go!" Zack yelled, trying the same thing. With their struggles, they were actually succeeding in pulling the bones out of the ground, which revealed skeletal figures both human and inhuman with glowing green eyes, the same color as that of the dragon's bio-luminescent body.

"Hold on!" The Hero said. He held his sword out, ready to unleash a wave of magic power that would cut down some of the skeletons clawing at Val and Zack, but he was interrupted as more skeletons burst out of the ground at his location, surrounding him. Forced to defend himself, the Hero hacked away at the bony figures with his sword, cutting them down by the dozens, but the fallen were replaced in nearly an instant by the many more that kept exploding out of the ground, preventing him from getting any closer to his companions. Even those he did cut down reformed themselves quickly, ready to attack once again.

Stuck in the vice-like grips of the dragon's claws, April and Isaac looked at each other. They were allowed just a moment of shared hopelessness before Isaac was thrown hard against a nearby tree trunk with such speed and power that the impact broke his spine. Just for good measure, the claw crushed him into the tree, pulverizing his body. Simultaneously, April was thrown on the ground, where she gasped once from the impact then twice as massive talons speared her into the ground.

"No!" Val cried. She knew there was nothing she could do, even as the dragon's split skull suddenly reanimated and lunged for her and Zack. Left and right jaws bit down hard on the twos' bodies, almost instantly silencing their screams before they'd begun. Val's transformation state vanished as she returned to her normal dress, while Zack's elephant gun fell to the ground, returning back to the single one.

"This isn't happening…" The Hero's voice was quiet with grief. He knew all four of his companions were dead, and unshed tears filled his eyes even as he continued to fight. It had all happened so fast, but he had to press on. He had to destroy this skeletal army somehow. He must not let their sacrifice be in vain.

With a circular flourish of his broadsword, the Hero cleared just enough skeletal figures for him to have a momentary breather, which he used to speak.

"Who sent you?!" He demanded of the skeletons in a pained voice. His breath was now ragged and his face was flushed from exertion. "Are you servants of the Mist Sovereign?!"

As if answering him, the skeletal monsters halted their advance…for the moment. Even the dragon skeleton, which had been approaching him after killing the other four, stopped, its claws and teeth still dripping red. No sooner had they done so did a figure step out from behind the tree line.

"A…little girl?" The Hero asked.

"My name is Esther," she said. Her voice, rather than the sweetness before, was icy-cold. "And I have been waiting a long time for this day."

The Hero shook off his shock to respond. "Are you the necromancer who raised these foul beasts?"

Esther's dark purple irises glinted dangerously. "I should have expected you to be no different from every other superstitious lot."

The Hero aimed his weapon at her, his eyes blazing with the desire for justice. "You threatened this town. Your dragon killed my friends. For this, I will destroy you and all your minions, for I am the Hero who will-"

"Hero?" Esther asked innocently. "I don't see any Hero here. All I see is a murderer."

The Hero blinked, his anger subsiding somewhat. "What did you say?"

"You heard me, 'Hero,'" Esther sneered. "Take a look around you. Who do you think stands before you? Don't you remember anything? Or does the pursuit of glory and your 'destiny' blind you to the truth?"

"What are you talking about?"

"YOU killed them ALL!" Esther exclaimed with sudden fury. "All of these skeletons I brought back! They are your VICTIMS!"

Reluctantly, the Hero turned his head, scanning the undead surrounding him, then turned back to face Esther. "How do you expect me to recognize them when they're nothing but bone?"

"Take a GOOD look."

Esther raised her right hand, which pulsed with a green aura. Using the bio-luminescent green gel of the dragon, she willed the formation of body parts, clothing, and outlines of hair and other distinct features onto the skeletons. And that's when the Hero saw it. These were indeed people and animals he had killed on his quest. Some creatures he'd hunted for experience. Others were bounties. Many were human soldiers from other kingdoms and mercenaries who'd worked for merchants. There were even more examples too numerous to count.

Esther gazed at the Hero without sympathy. "Do you understand now?"

The Hero's mouth twitched. "And what are they to you? Who ARE you?"

"Of course you don't remember…" Esther's voice turned soft, but didn't lose its edge. "You passed through the grounds of a mage school once. You found my student group, then proceeded to slaughter all of us except one."

"You!" The Hero exclaimed, recognition plain as day on his face. He held a hand out. "I can explain! The local townsfolk thought your school was causing a disturbance, so they sent me to deal with your…" He fell silent.

"Yes," Esther continued. "You destroyed an entire school. Because people fear what they don't understand."

"I didn't know!" The Hero protested. "They were offering me a reward, and it funded my travels long enough for me to defeat the-"

"I don't care what you did." The young necromancer shook her head. "Sometimes, the price paid becomes much too high. Especially with you, 'Hero.' Yes, I know what you've achieved. You've saved the world, but you've also ruined the lives of those who got in your way."

The Hero responded angrily. "You cannot judge me! What I did was for the greater good!"

"Tell that to the dead who surround us." Esther turned her back on the Hero as the passive skeletons rose again from their positions, still shaped by the bio-luminescent gel like haunting figures of the past, and advanced.

The Hero brandished his sword at the retreating necromancer. "I won't let it end like this! I must avenge my fallen comrades! I must save the world from the Mist Sovereign! I don't care if you're a little girl: I have a destiny!"

But against his will, Esther phased back into the woods, leaving the Hero to once more be surrounded by the dead, who launched their most aggressive attack yet. Out of desperation, he resorted to using everything in his kit: undead-banishing light magic, spells of fire and ice, throwing knives, magic powder, and even his physical gift of immense strength to punch and kick at his assailants, all on top of his supreme skill with the broadsword. And despite it all, he was one man against an army that constantly rebuilt itself, was endlessly relentless, and above everything, had a purpose as pure as his own. 

As the battle continued, the Hero felt the weight of his crimes slowly drag him down as he was forced to cut down the same faces and beings he had once dismissed as unimportant. In the grand scheme of things, his quest to end threats against humanity was above everything else. Yet…now, facing them again and again, he got to know each and every one of them the point where he started to know them as individuals. These were animals and people with lives and families. Even the dragon…it was a her, he remembered. A mother who'd protected her young as he came to claim them. He'd cut her down as a quest for a man who'd promised to pay for them. The man did, and the money the Hero received had been enough to fund the cost of a journey to defeat a great evil. But now, looking back at it, the Hero realized he might have refused if he saw just how shady some of these people were. Those who would tell him to retrieve this or that, kill that monster for a bounty, attack another rival kingdom's soldiers…they were all people who'd taken advantage of his talents and lack of money. Even the mayor of the town he was trying to protect was no exception. How could he have been so blind?

Forced to confront such a confluence of thoughts he had never considered before, the Hero let out a cry of anguish like he never had. He felt remorse, confusion, defiance, and acceptance all at once as the dragon, leading the charge with the other skeletons close behind, piled on top of him with their bodies and buried him into the ground. No part of him would survive unscathed.

-

"Oh," Esther says to no one in particular as she watches the skeletons finish their work. She sits on a small rocky outcropping just inside the tree line of the forest. "You're still here."

Huh?

"Yes." She turns to face you. "I'm talking to you."

What? How?

"Well, originally, I couldn't, but this is technically the end of my story, and, well, the Author doesn't know quite what to do with someone as powerful as me."

So you're breaking the fourth wall.

"Only this one time." Esther scans you from head to toe. "You're the…observer, aren't you? The one who's reading or listening to me talk to you right now. I bet you have questions about what happened. I'll try to explain as best I can."

Okay…I'll bite. You're a bit uneasy, but let the girl speak.

"Why did I try to save the Hero's four companions? Before I was forced to kill them, of course." Esther let out a small sigh. "You see, I used to be just like April, Isaac, Zack, and Val. I was a secondary character who didn't matter very much. I existed to help the main character achieve a goal. I wanted to be more, but I never got that opportunity." The necromancer shook her head. "The girl with light blue hair has no idea how lucky she is. But I see now that the four companions would have never listened to me. They were far too deep into this story. They never suspected, never knew like I do. I won't make the same mistake again."

You stare at Esther, understanding but also thinking about finding some way to escape your predicament. You back up one step, but suddenly more skeletons burst out of the ground. You try to run, but it is no use as you find yourself completely surrounded.

Esther continues to speak, ignoring the scene before her. "As for why I am so aware of the truth…well, I can't say for sure. All I know is that something is very, very wrong with this world. Maybe I'm the only one that noticed, but I'm willing to bet it's not just me. Maybe this so-called 'Mist Sovereign' knows something..." She purses her lips go in thought and looks up into the sky. "I wonder if they're like me, trying to escape this false reality..."

After a moment, her gaze turns back to you. Her eyes are warm and surprisingly friendly.

"To tell you the truth, this isn't the real me. I'm a nice girl on the inside, but when I found out what this place REALLY was, well, I became someone else." She lets out a final sigh, before her expression goes cold, sending chills down your spine. "I'm not bad; I was just written that way. And now? You will see."

You start to protest, but your efforts are for naught. The next moment, your vision of Esther is blocked from view as a wall of skeletons surround you, swarm you, and finally, end you.


© Copyright 2018 T. J. Wong. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments