rising of the stars

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

gael.

celestial

/s??l?st??l/

- of, relating to, or suggesting heaven or divinity.

- of or relating to the sky or visible heavens the sun, moon, and stars.

 

Gael was falling behind. He was a contemplative kid; he’d stop walking occasionally and begin basking in the stars above him or the mountains around him.

“Get a move on!” Heron shouted.

“R-right behind you,” replied Gael dazedly.

Heron was the eldest of the four brothers : Heron, Theo, Dale, and Gael. And though Heron was arguably the most capable, their father Rolin mainly depended on Theo, Dale, and Gael to fulfill what he asks of them.

“How long till we get there, father?” asked Theo.

“We can tent here for the time being,” added Dale.

Rolin stopped abruptly and took a deep breath. His body moved in a way that suggested he wanted to raise his arm and point, but he was reminded that both his arms were carrying a wide heavy object wrapped in white cloth.

He nodded his head forward and said, “That will not be necessary.”

As the others looked forward and were in awe of the gargantuan statues that came into view ahead of them, Gael caught up with the line and started pondering the identity of the cloth his father has been carrying all this time.

“We have reached the shrine of Tarum. My journey will end here, but I feel bad for you, my children, for your journey is only just beginning,” said Rolin.

The closer they got the more the statues came into view. Each of the statues consisted of a wide high pillar-looking pedestal and an embodiment on top. The embodiments changed from each statue to the next. From left to right, the embodiments were Twins, Crab, Lion, Maiden, Scales, Scorpion, Archer, and Goat. The statues  circled around a central monument. Despite their size, some statues were concealed behind the monument.

“Those are representations of the zodiac signs,” said Theo.

“That would mean that the last four statues are…err,” said Heron.

“Water bearer, Fish, Ram, and Bull,” said Dale and Gael simultaneously while smirking at Heron’s ignorance.

“Precisely my sons, you are as keen as ever. Things will get far clearer when we get to the shrine,” said Rolin.

With them getting closer and the clouds opening way for the full moonlight to cast its rays, the monument became far more solid in their eyes. They made it to the statues and saw a trench that went all around the monument and just inside the ring of statues. The trench was filled to the brim with flowing fresh water. They crossed a bridge over the water-filled trench and stepped on a green grassy field that layered the entire area of the monument. It was full of all types of fruit trees. Once a fruit is picked from a tree, it immediately grows back on the same place in the branch.

It was clear to them that this place had some sort of divine power. That was the only explanation for the indefinitely flowing water and growing fruits. They made their way to the shrine and took 50 steps up to the shrine’s entrance. Inside the shrine, the walls, floors, and ceiling were lit a bright gold. Though, like the fruit trees and the trench water, the source of this light couldn’t be found. It was as though there was an enormous invisible chandelier in the middle of the shrine.

At the heart of the shrine, a coffin-shaped pedestal stood a man’s height. Above it, there was a massive cylindrical hole in the ceiling that stretched infinitely long. One was not able to see the sky from that hole, only a fully lit up cylinder hole that continued till the horizon up above. Gael was very intrigued by this. Though he always observed a lot, he didn’t care for the trench or the trees. But this ceiling intrigued him. It could be that the shrine had a fixed flat roof when he saw it from the outside. Gael wasn’t the only one taken away by this. His brothers were also starstruck at every single one of the features.

“This place i-is unreal,” said Dale.

“It is the shrine of Tarum. A menacingly powerful spirit vitalizes this place. The spirit is broken, however, into twelve parts. Here is where you start your hunt, my sons,” said Rolin.
Rolin put the cloth he had been holding all this time on the pedestal. He unwrapped one of the layers of the cloth to reveal four swords. Rolin gave each one of the boys a sword, and each of them felt like he was made to wield the sword given to him. Rolin signaled for his boys to take a few steps back and raised his arms up towards the hole in the ceiling. He took a deep breath and started reciting incantations that were completely foreign to his sons. At that very moment, the light that filled the cylinder started flickering rapidly. After that, the cylinder started emitting even more light, but this time it was a pale white light that sent rays all around the pedestal.

“What in the world is this?” said Gael.

“Father! What’s going on?” shouted Heron.

An echo of sounds started coming from the hole in the ceiling. The sounds were a mixture of voices. It had the voice of a man and a woman that spoke together in dissonant unison. The hole’s sounds started to sound like words, though they were probably from the language Rolin used earlier, so Gael, Dale, Heron, and Theo didn’t understand anything.

“I will relay to you what the spirit says,” said Rolin.

“We are Tarum, we hear your request. It can be done. That is of course, if thou manage to accomplish what we asketh, which, with those swords, may not be impossible,” translated Rolin. “Behold the statues outside the shrine…thou art to destroy all of them. But those idols cannot be destroyed by the mere hands of mortals.”

“Then what are we to do?” said Rolin.

“There exist incarnations of those statues. Thou must go to the constellation of each statue and point thy sword to the sky. Doing that will summon a powerful incarnation. Defeat the incarnation, and the statue shall be destroyed. But heed this, the price you pay may be heavy indeed,” said Tarum before the white light faded away.

“I am sorry my children. Had I been in my youth I would have done this odyssey myself. I am far too powerless now. All of you carry my blood, however, so each of you capable. I ask each of you to destroy three statues,” said Rolin. “Heron, born in winter blood, use the Frostbrand to defeat the Goat, the Water bearer, and the Fish. Dale, born in spring blood, use the Tornado to defeat the Ram, the Bull, and the Twins. Theo, born in fall blood, use the Falcon Blade to defeat the Centaur, the Scorpion, and the Scales. And finally, Gael, my youngest son born in summer blood, use the Sword of Sun to defeat the Crab, the Lion, and the Maiden.

None of the sons ever dared to question Rolin’s requests. They only asked him questions for clarification on something. And it was a habit between them to bow and say “Yes, father.” whenever they were instructed to do something.

“Yes, father,” said each of the sons bowing.

“Rise, my sons,” said Rolin.

Rolin went to Heron and talked to him for a substantial chunk of time while Dale, Theo and Gael stood like idols in their place. Rolin did the same thing to Dale, then to Theo, and finally to Gael.

“Ah Gael, my youngblood. You, I pity most of all, must fight the Crab, the Lion, and the Maiden, for you were born in summer’s blaze.” said Rolin.

“Damned be I if I were to deny you father, but I am not of the fighting type,” said Gael.

“Ah but the warrior spirit kindles wildly within you, and with the Sword of Sun it shall ignite to unimaginable degrees,” said Rolin. “Remember this, however, you are the fittest one for these three statues. Again, they are the stars of the summer. And fear not, you will awaken your warrior spirit, and you will make use of your wits…I’m sure.”

“Then I will not disappoint you father,” said Gael with determined eyes.

“Very good,” said Rolin.

Rolin walked back to the center platform. He gave a prayer for each of his sons and wished them well for their journey.

“Now, get on with your task and return when you’re done. Make sure to eat one of the fruits of the garden and drink from the trench freshwater.”

“Yes father.” said all of them.

 

All of the four children went outside without looking back. They each pointed their sword to the sky and were pointed to the direction they needed to go. They were all taken to different directions, and Gael was taken to southwest of the shrine. During his days of travelling Gael wondered about countless things. What is inside the cloth? What is this strange power this sword possesses? What is the nature of the shrine and the statues? Will he make his father proud? Gael made it at what could only be described as the remainder of a great civilization. Though the place was cloudy, he could still see the enormity of the structures. The civilization was built on the shore next to the enormous sea. Buildings of polished stone were covered by vines that hung many feet long. This civilization was definitely destroyed, for there were multiple collapsed structures all around the land. Gael knew this meant he was close to his first battle site. He drew his sword and raised it up high hoping for it to lead him, but, to his surprise, the sword didn’t lead him anywhere. There was no flame etching from the tip of the sword.

“Well that confirms my hypothesis,” said Gael. “This sword only leads me when there is light to reflect. That explains why it only leads my during clear day or clear night and also explains why it lights more in the day.”

Gael was happy with that discovery. He was finally able to comprehend something from this whole situation. He decided to go sleep at what must have been a park during the life of the civilization and wait for a source of light to become visible. Gael woke up just before sunrise. He took three deep breaths and raised his sword while his legs were still on the floor. An immense flame spewed out of the sword’s tip and out to the sky. The stars that form the Cancer sign started glowing brightly and lines of light started to form between them. After all the lines connected, a beam of the lines in the sky shot towards the earth and landed near the shore beside where Gael was sitting. It was too bright for Gael to keep his eyes open, so he put his arm in front of his face and kept it there for the good while that the beam was still shooting in. Gael got up and ran to the place of impact. He got over the hill and saw a sight he would have never imagined he’d behold.

“Mother of…that’s a big damned crab,” said Gael.

He took another deep breath and slid down the hill and shouted to the crab which was giving him its back. The crab turned around and faced Gael. Its claws were big enough to squash Gael in half, and its movement was nimble despite its size. The crab clicked its claws twice and got in a fighting stance. In the bottom layer of its shell, a slit opened, and a voice came out.

“We are a being of celestial power. Our name is Kuromori,” said the Crab.

“I’m Gael, son of Rolin. I will vanquish you,” said Gael.

The slit that had formed Kuromori’s mouth got sealed shut. It bent its legs to the ground and took a leap high into the sky. Gael raised his sword, and all of a sudden fire engulfed the sword from top to bottom till it reached Gael’s hand, at which point his body got engulfed as well. He felt immense power surge through him and jumped up to stab Kuromori from its underside. Kuromori changed its orientation mid-air and prepared to hold Gael in its claws. Gael held the sword with one hand on the handle and the other on the end horizontally and deflected the claw. Both of them landed on the sand, backs facing each other.

“Tsk, its shell is tough,” thought Gael. “But that shows me the weakness. I need to slash it in the joint between its top and bottom shell. I’ll need a distraction to catch it off guard; it’s far too fast for a frontal attack.”

They faced each other once more, and Kuromori clicked its claws twice like it did at the beginning. In response, Gael braced his body and burned brighter. Kuromori bent its legs to go for another leap, but Gael had already launched to it head front. Kuromori planted its legs into the ground and got ready to hold Gael in its claws. Just before Gael reached it, he swung his sword sideways, creating fire in the place of the swing. Kuromori folded its top and bottom forward shells to cover its eyes, and Gael took this chance to slide along the sand under it to reach its back. Gael got up at the rear and saw a gaping hole between the two shells. Kuromori could have its shell in only three states : both sides half open, both folded at the front, and both folded at the back. If the shells folded at one side, that means they are ajar at the other side. Gael held the handle of the sword with both if his hands and got ready to strike. He raised his arms up, building power, but the crab raised its back arms from behind and striked him from his left and right side, squeezing him. Gael was excruciatingly hurt by this, coughing up blood. He could only wonder how much more the painful it would be if he wasn’t engulfed in the sword’s fire. Another one of this attack would be lethal. Gael slashed the two arms, breaking free but cutting portions of his skin in the process. He leaped back in front of the Kuromori and stood up straight. He took a deep breath and smiled.

“You’re a crabby fellow aren’t ya?” said Gael spitting out blood. “You decided not to talk, but I know you understand me. Listen up. End yourself already. The next time you click your claws twice will be the end of you.”

This time Kuromori stood high with its legs fully stretched. This state encapsulated the full size of this being. It clicked its claws twice yet again. Only this time, it clicked so furiously that fragments of the claws splattered off onto the sand. It was aggravated and ready for this next attack. Both Gael and Kuromori knew that whoever wins this battle will win the war. Nonetheless, Gael leaped forward again with great speed. Kuromori stretched it claws out to pull them back in again and hold him. Gael stopped abruptly and skied on the sand to send sand in the crab’s eyes. Kuromori folded its forward shells to cover its eyes and started using its senses to ambush Gael in the back like before. The second the crab felt fire from the rear, it was going to squeeze Gael with its back arms yet again. And sure enough, Kuromori felt the heat and swung its arms towards the center, but the arms hit each other and made a loud cling. Did Gael slide too fast this time? Did it hit too low? Is he going to slash the back shell? All these questions came to Kuromori’s mind. Kuromori, afraid that Gael might strike folded its back shells together, opening its front shells and eyes. And there he was. Gael, standing all this time in Kuromori’s face, anchored the fuller of his sword on the bottom of the open top shell of  Kuromori. He then put all his weight on the pommel of his sword, flinging the grip down and the blade up, shattering through the middle of the top shell. He leaped back to safety and observed.

“Got you, didn’t I?” said Gael proudly. “No one does the same thing another time and expect different results. Why that would be insane. I used my sword to send a fireball under you and to the back. You assumed that heat was me, and when your arms hit each other you thought you missed me. But I was waiting for you ahead of your face to strike you once you opened your forward shell. Or should I say…once you closed your back shell? In any case, Father was prophetic as always. I do have a warrior spirit, and I did use my wits.”

Kuromori fell to the ground, its legs stretched to the sides. It gave up. Bright luminescent blue blood spouted from the crack in the top shell incessantly. As soon as it was out, the blood turned immediately to vapor. Eventually all of Kuromori’s body turned to the blue vapor and formed the shape of the crab in the air. It looked like a blue ghost of the crab.

“The spirit of Kuromori has been released,” said the ghost.

The ghost whizzed up to its place in the sky before it faded away. Gael was proud of himself. He didn’t think he had it in him to slay a monster. Though he loved the fact that his love for his father pushed him through to the end. But the journey was far from over, for he still had to slay the lion and the maiden. Though at least now, he could rest for a little while. So, Gael fell to the ground and took a deep sleep.

 

After he woke up, Gael was surprised to see that all his wounds have been healed. The Sword of Sun must have healed all his wounds in the time he slept in. Nevertheless, it was close to sunset. Gael seized this opportunity to reflect the light off the sword and see the location of the light. It led him east, to a massive dessert and beyond. Days went by of Gael walking in the desert. But after a while, signs of plant life started appearing. Little by little Gael started to find himself in a forest. This forest’s trees were enormous. They were much taller than the statues Gael saw, even taller than the shrine itself. But it was very green and full of life. This forest would make a nice home for nature lovers who don’t want to concern themselves with the politics of kings and priests.

“Maybe after all this we can all live here,” said Gael patting a squirrel. “I need to end this quickly.”

Gael was cautious not to point his sword carelessly since that might accidentally summon the lion. He continued on till the trees started to open out and found himself in an open area that had a little stone hill in front. The hill’s front was a cliff, however. In other words, getting to the top of the hill meant going around the hill and up from the back. And getting down from the hill meant going back down from the other side.

“Well you are kind of making it obvious at this point no?” said Gael.

He drew his sword but didn’t point it up. Sure enough, the stars that form the Leo constellation started lighting vigorously. Gael took three deep breaths, engulfed himself with the sword’s fire, and raised his sword up to the heavens. As with Kuromori, lines of light started connecting the stars that make the constellation, and then a beam of light from each of those lines shot down to the hill’s summit. There it was yet again, the wall of light that could turn a person blind. Gael was ready for it this time; he turned to his back and sealed his eyes shut. After he stopped hearing the roaring sound of the beams, he turned back and saw a massive lion standing proud. It was quite the sight to behold. It was though the entire forest started to bow down to its king. All the animals that Gael saw came to the ring of trees that surrounded the open field and, sure enough, started bowing.

“We are a being of celestial power. Our name is Avion,” said the Lion.

“I’m Gael, son of Rolin. I will vanquish you,” said Gael.

Avion roared wildly and all the animals jumped out from the trees and started to attack Gael. Gael leaped up towards Avion, ignoring all the animals. Avion didn’t flinch or even move an inch. He was still calm and composed like there was no danger to him. An eagle and a falcon sprung from the trees at Gael in mid-air and attacked him. He swung his sword and killed them all with a slash of fire, but his jump was broken, and he fell back down. He was going to fall onto a pack of animals, so swung his sword downwards and sent an arch of fire that warded the animals away from his landing spot to the ground.

“Get your slaves off of me and fight me like a true king would,” said Gael.

“I am not forcing them or even commanding them to attack you; they are doing this of their own volition,” said Avion. “I am their king!”

“What do you mean?” said Gael.

“You mortals and your sickening politics,” said Avion. “The jungle doesn’t run on money or inheritance. Had I been weak, I would have been down there with them…warding you off someone. But I am the king.”

“So, you became the king, and they acknowledged you?” said Gael. “Doesn’t sound too far off from our kings, once someone is chosen, he is put all over the city currency and statues are erected of him.”

“Listen here, foolish boy. It isn’t he who becomes king that gets acknowledged by everyone. It is he who is acknowledged by everyone that becomes the king.” said Avion firmly. “Drop your weapon and fight me animal to animal. If you do that, my subjects won’t bombard you.”

“I don’t have claws or fangs; I couldn’t hurt you without my sword,” said Gael.

“It’s not like you could defeat me with the sword, you mere child,” said Avion. “Drop your weapon and fight!”

Gael threw his sword aside. The fire that engulfed lingered for a few seconds and then blew away. He was in a very vulnerable position. Anything could harm him at this point, why even that mere calf can cause him trouble. But as Avion said, the all the animals retreated to the trees, and Avion pounced elegantly off the hill yet landed densely on the ground. Gael took a deep breath and got ready to fight. Avion jumped forward, claws stretched ahead. Gael jumped high up and flipped to support on Avion’s back and pushed off to the back, evading him.

“Tsk, how can I beat him at all?” thought Gael. “His claws can tear me apart; his fangs can eat into my skin.”

Avion jumped again but with greater speed. Gael dodged back, but Avion was able to strike his abdomen with his claws. Gael fell to the ground, hopeless. He was ready to give up. But he noticed smoke leaking from his body where he was injured. He was…healing. His injuries were healing rapidly. And come to think of it, Gael didn’t feel that much pain, considering he had his belly skin ripped off.

“The sword’s power is part of you now. Use it.” said Avion.

Gael took a deep breath, trying to kindle his flame. He took another breath to maintain the flame. And he took a final breath to ignite it! Gael’s body was burning red. One could barely just see him beneath the fire. This is the warrior spirit he was told about. The spirit of summer. Gael got up and stretched out his hand to his sword on the ground. The sword was flung to his hand like it was some sort of magnet. Once he held it, all his body fire transferred to the sword’s steel.

“You see? The fire was never belonged to the sword. It belongs to you.” said Avion as though he was proud of Gael.

But now that Gael wielded his sword, the animals gathered around behind Avion to assist him. It was going to be Gael against the jungle. Gael knew he would have to fight all the animals first and finish Avion at the end. He was ready. The jungle animals were countless, though some of them were very weak. For instance, the squirrel and the frog wouldn’t cause much concern. The animals started marching towards Gael. Gael took a deep breath and swung his sword 5 times. Two of them were to the sky, making a diagonal cross and taking out all the winged animals. Twice to the front and once to the ground. Effectively, Gael burned all the birds and all the small weak animals to crisp. But the march was not deterred. A few animals remained that passed through the fire with out being harmed. Avion himself, a bear, a giraffe, an elephant, a wolf, a rhinoceros, an alligator, and a gorilla. There was something to note, however. The animals that burned turned into the same blue vapor Gael saw when he vanquished Kuromori. These animals were a part of Avion. One could say they made him.

Regardless, Gael got ready and picked a route of action. Gael skipped towards the rhinoceros first. He swung his sword and sliced off the rhinoceros’ horn. He swiped his left hand up to spin the horn’s tip to face the other side and kicked it with the sole of his foot, flinging it into the giraffe’s neck. Blue blood spurted out, and the giraffe fell to the ground. Gael then slashed the rhinoceros’ back, making a chasm in its back that was a gateway for gallons of blue blood to flood out. The gorilla jumped to attack Gael off the rhinoceros’ back and was able to drop his sword to the floor. In its last breath, the rhinoceros stood up and sent Gael off to the ground. Gael got up on his feet and found the bear in his face about to close its arms on him. Suddenly the sword has inside the bear’s chin and out the top of his skull. Gael had called his sword again in a split second before any beast could react. The gorilla jumped again towards Gael. Gael pulled his sword back through the bear’s chin and ran. He lured the gorilla under the elephant and once the gorilla was close to exiting from the other side, Gael slashed the right front and back ankles of the elephant, dropping it to the ground and onto the gorilla. Then the wolf pounced to bite Gael. He held its face in his hand and flamed an awesome fire from his hand that burned the wolf in a matter of seconds. Finally, the alligator bit Gael’s calf, but Gael quickly beheaded it with his sword and healed the wound in mere moments. And just like that, before a man could finish a sip of water, Gael had slain all of Avion’s beasts and was ready to fight Avion himself. He’d expended a lot of power in that slaying, but he thought he might just have enough for Avion. To his surprise, however, Avion’s body started shifting into the blue luminescent blood and evaporated, along with his beasts.

“It is over. The spirit of Avion has been released,” said Avion as the blue vapor formed a line in the air. “My beasts were a part of me; killing them means killing me. You are the true descendant of the Sword of the Sun. I pity you and your master, for the shrine’s price is truly heavy.”

“Price?” wondered Gael.

As with Kuromori, Avion’s ghost flew to its place in the sky before fading away. Gael turned off his fire and took another deep sleep on of the trees.

 

He woke up again on a sunrise and raised his sword to find his next location. It pointed him to the summit of a tall mountain. Gael felt far more capable and possessive of his new power. He realized that it could be used in very creative ways. When he reached the foot of the mountain, he engulfed himself in fire and started running up the air by forcing fire from his two feet. He took lethargic spread out steps. He couldn’t even go straight up the mountain. He had to take these steps by going around mountain. While seeming inefficient at first, it was actually far swifter now that he didn’t have to spend hours clinging to the side of the mountain.

Gael reached the top quarter of the mountain and it overgrown with wisteria trees, trees that were made of overhanging branches that were filled with bright pink leaves. It was quite the mesmerizing sight. After a few more air steps, Gael saw a gap between the trees that extended to the summit. He observed it and saw that is was a gigantic staircase. He stopped his fire steps and landed on the staircase and ascended that way. The scenery was beautiful, even more beautiful than the forest. Wisteria trees outlined the entire place and reflected the sun’s light beautifully. Butterflies could be seen everywhere. Their multi-colored wings provided eye-relaxing juxtaposition with the wisteria leaves. Gael climbed up the stairs to the summit, wisteria trees occupying more and more of the surrounding as he ascended. At the very top, there was a relatively wide garden that was completely surrounded from  all sides by the wisteria trees. This place was dimly lit, but it seemed like the place was lit up on its own, not by the sun.

Though he couldn’t see the sky, Gael got ready for battle and took a deep breath. He raised his sword up, which in this case was pointed to a ceiling of wisteria leaves. Strangely, the stars appeared on the leaves, as though the leaves were the sky itself. Yet again, the lines formed between the stars that made the constellation and shot down in the middle of the garden. The beams that flowed from the stars this time around flowed smoothly and made virtually no sound when they met the ground. It was nothing short of magnificent. After the beams dissipated, a beautiful maiden sitting on a small boulder remained.

She was very charming, having purple eyes that looked like the cosmos and wearing a robe that was like the wings of a butterfly. She had small pink lips and one couldn’t get a hold of her age, but one would think that if the word young had an embodiment, she would be it. She also had long smooth black hair that stretched to the bottom middle of hair back. She didn’t seem to care for Gael at all. She was more concerned with birds and butterflies that hovered peacefully around her.

“We are a being of celestial power. Our name is Shiva,” said the maiden.

“I’m Gael, son of Rolin. I will vanquish you,” said Gael.

Gael felt like Shiva wouldn’t use combat but would instead use magic. He took this chance to immediately lunge forward and swing his sword.  The birds and butterflies immediately scattered away. To his surprise, however, he fazed right through her, her body becoming somewhat transparent when they collided. She looked at him on the ground and smiled. She then inhaled heavily and started exhaling a pink sparkling dust that little by little started to fill the entire garden. Gael found this very strange. He jumped back to a safe distance from Shiva and observed the pink dust. In one blink he was in the garden, and suddenly in the next he was in completely flat green grassy land. It looked unreal. Grass stretched out as far as the eye can see in all directions. A few steps ahead of him there were two cushions and a small wooden table in between. The place was full of tranquility and serenity. The air was the freshest Gael had ever breathed, and the place just felt…peaceful. Gael went ahead and sat on the one of the cushions, completely neglectful that he is in a fight. Shiva came waking from behind him holding a tray that held two cups and a pot. She placed the tray on the wooden table and took a seat on the fronting cushion. Her beauty really shined at his distance. It was as though she was as innocent as a newborn child, but as mature as great grandmother on her death bed. Gael waited for her and had just noticed that he had put out his fire for quite a while.

“I take it you defeated Kuromori and Avion,” said Shiva gently as she poured a hot orange-colored drink into the two cups.

“Does that make you sad?” asked Gael.

“No, they were destined to it. Did you not notice that Avion helped you to intensify your power? If he wanted to defeat you, he would have not said anything. Not that it would have changed the outcome.”

Gael was astonished that he neglected that. Without Avion, Gael wouldn’t have known that the power of summoning fire was something in his soul, not int the sword.

“But why would the lion do such a thing?” asked Gael.

Shiva completely ignored his question like she was being puppeteered by someone who only wanted to say certain things.

“What is the meaning of your life, Gael?” said Shiva.

“My only goal is to make my father proud.”

“What happens when you accomplish that?”

“I’ll find other things to make him proud for.”

“What if he dies?”

For some obscure reason, Gael never thought about that. He never even considered that his father could die. Dying was quite the natural thing. Gael often found himself contemplating other people’s death and even his own. But he never thought about his father’s death.

“…”

“You see, dear Gael, the problem isn’t death. It’s love. When you love a person, you now risk losing them,” she chuckles and says, “and the ironic thing in mortal life, is that you can only lose who you love.”

Gael, under normal circumstances, would have been furious and attacked Shiva, but the field they were in was pleasant to get mad. Instead, Gael thought deeply about what to do.

“Well, for now…I’ll defeat you and go back and make father proud,” said Gael. “Then I’ll think about what to do next. I will probably work to protect him, but I realize that will not last forever.”

“Well you can rest easy, dear Gael. Unlike Avion or Kuromori, I am harmless. I’ve already begun perishing. My body will evaporate into the wisp air momentarily and you will be out of this dream world. We can talk about anything till then.”

“I will ask you some questions.”

“Go ahead,” she said calmly.

“What or who is Tarum?”

“I may not answer that, but you will know soon enough.”

Gael was irritated by her avoidance of the question, but the repeated calmness of the place kept him from getting aggravated.

“What were you before ‘a being of celestial power’?”

“I am clueless. I only know that I was destined to meet you. And I’m quite happy to fulfill my destiny.”

“You say you were destined to meet me. Well how long have you been waiting?”

“Hmm,” she said raising her pointer finger to her chin and looking up in thought. “I am not so great with numbers, but I believe some 150 years,” she said facing back at Gael.

“150?”

Gael noticed that she was beginning to turn bright blue. She would be gone in a few seconds. She smiled at him and tears of dark red blood fell from her eyes. It was an unnerving yet mystical sight.

“Why are you crying?” asked Gael.

“I can’t believe my emotions got the better of me in such a way,” she said wiping the tears off with her white butterfly robe. “It seems that I can’t help but cry for you.”

“For me?”

“Yes, dear Gael, for you. I pity you deeply. The price will be far too heavy for you to bear. I have not told you this, but I know your entire past. I learned it once you entered my garden. Your life is too cruel. Consider this, young Gael,” she said as she started turning into the blue ghost, “you don’t know what Tarum said, only what your father relayed you. The spirit of Shiva has been released”

That implied that Rolin had been disingenuous to his sons, and Gael couldn’t fathom that. There is no way his father would do that. When Shiva turned completely blue, she faded into nothing and the environment around Gael shifted back to the mountain summit garden.

Gael was not exhausted by this fight, so he didn’t sleep. He engulfed himself in fire and used the same fire steps to get down the mountain. At the bottom of the mountain, Gael raised his sword and awaited a reflection towards the shrine but with futile effort. The sword had stopped reflecting light. Gael had to travel back to Avion’s forest and then to Kuromori’s shore and try to trace his way back to the shrine. After a dozen days of walking, he made his way back to the monument. Only this time, it was slightly different.

All of the statues were indeed destroyed. Pieces of the statues could be seen asunder over the completely unaffected pedestals that once held the statues. Not only were Gael’s statues broken but also his brothers’. Gael couldn’t help but feel some remorse to these beings. Because while they were mighty and terrifying, they were also majestic and wonderous. He wondered how the other beings looked like. Going into the monument, Gael saw that the water underneath the bridge had fully dried up. He also saw that the grassy field that outlined the shrine was now a dead brown with no fruits. He questioned why this happened, but he ignored it for now as he was already at the shrine and his questions would probably get answered. At the staircase, Gael, Theo, Dale, and Heron met simultaneously. None of them uttered a word. They all ascended the staircase and entered the shrine. And though no one talked, each one of them felt like the others had matured. They made their way up and entered through the gate of the shrine. They looked inside, and the shrine was no longer lit up gold like it was before the journey. The sun just started rising from behind them and the inside of the shrine got more and more into view. Though, they would quickly wish the sun hadn’t risen.  They saw that the cloth that was on the pedestal was open and the item inside gone. And the saw they saw the bones of a decomposed body that sat with its back to the pedestal. But the four them of them knew, those were bones of their father Rolin. At that moment, it all clicked for Gael.

“Did any of you sleep?” asked Gael still facing forward with eyes horrified at the sight of his dead father.

None of them answered. But it was clear that the answer was yes. The slumbers they took, which seemed like only a few hours, were 50 years long. This was the price the sons were warned about.


Submitted: January 03, 2021

© Copyright 2021 AboodZx96. All rights reserved.

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Short Story / Fantasy