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|Making of a Warrior|
Making of a Warrior is the origin story of Veoru Karik, a Vaikan who had grown up unaware of his adoption, wanted to seek the truth. Although he had been through a lot in his childhood, he persevered searching for answers.
Chapter 1: Birth of TwoEdit
One child per family. That was the law in Samui. No exceptions. Even though Samui was in the middle of the arctic wasteland Malin, it flourished with life as it was right next to an enormous geothermal vent. Populations had exploded since it was the perfect temperature for a Vaikan, but it had soon resulted in overcrowding making the country hard to control.
Emperor Kobushi Tetsu was the one in charge of the whole country. The Rustiagon family allowed him to practice his own form of government different from Yallvus - Kobushi ruled with an iron fist demanding that any extra eggs must be neutralized. No one knows what happens to neutralized eggs only that they are never seen again. Some say the extra eggs are sent away to other countries, but the pessimists say they are destroyed. Regardless, they disappear no matter what and people accepted this fact along with Kobushi's other policies. It was the life-style of a typical Samuite.
It was the fall. The land had fallen into its long six month period of darkness. Snow was rare in the land of Aggateya, but this moon cycle, an anomaly of a snowstorm had isolated everyone in their homes. Duroar Yukiko was in her kimono-like clothing alone at her warm wooden cabin awaiting her husband who was returning from his work. The place was dimly lit by candles, but the heat generator kept the place quite warm. She was about to lay an egg. Realizing this, she quickly squatted atop a blanket with a pillow underneath. She felt sharp pain. Then a grey egg about one foot tall with crinkly texturing came out. It was a miracle of life as a new being came into to existence, but not quite. It still had to hatch. Strangely, the sharp pain did not go away. Not long after, a second egg came out. This one was much smaller with warped outer shelling.
Yukiko became worried knowing that she had to give up one of the two eggs. She could not keep both as that would be against the law and her house could be taken from her. Worriedly, she thought to herself which egg would be worth keeping.
The door slowly came open as a tall Vaikan came in wearing a white silky cloak covered in snow. He was exhausted from his 12 hour shift maintaining the Heat Harvesters. He removed his hood and took off the bandages wound around his neck. It was Duroar Takao, Yukiko's husband. Takao had spotted the two eggs on the blanket and then the worried look on Yukiko's face.
"Two?" he said.
"Yes, two. Both are boys." she replied.
"We can't have two."
"Takao, these are children. We can't just leave one of them."
"Yukiko, you know just as well as I do that we can only have one child."
"You're right. Emperor Kobushi declares so. But which egg shall we keep?"
"We keep the bigger one. We want someone strong as our boy."
"Very well then." Yukiko picked up the smaller egg with both hands. She kissed it once. "Goodbye, dear. We will miss you."
Takao took the egg from Yukiko. "Yukiko, I'll be back in an hour. I'll take this egg to the Neutralization Center."
"I know. It's dangerous outside right now, but we can't afford to have two eggs in our home. You know what happens if we do."
"Just be careful."
Takao donned his white bandages and put up his hood and placed the egg in a backpack. He departed. He could not see the stars. His face had already begun to shiver. He did not own a car, so he had to trek through the night on foot heading for the train station.
Chapter 2: Train to FateEdit
The blizzard was relentless. Speedy snowflakes prickled at his face; his boots sank deep into the snow. He opened up his backpack, staring at the warped egg.
"I'll get you to a better place, my son," he spoke softly. He could not even see white air of his breath. He dragged himself across the snowy fields in the darkness until he saw a glimmer of yellow light against the snow. Drawing closer to it, it was a small building - a train station. Eventually he came to the building. It had glass walls and a solid roof.
Takao entered through a revolving door and felt the change in temperature instantly. He removed his hood and wiped the snow from his face and arms. Exhausted, he took a seat on a nearby wooden bench, set the backpack on his left and lay back listening to the sound of the raging wind from outside.
In front of him were railroad tracks and two dark tunnels leading back outside. Not long after, a yellow light has started to become brighter and brighter, emerging from the tunnel on the right. Soon enough, the ground started vibrating as a sleek, grey train came charging through and slowly coming to a halt. Once it came to a complete stop, several doors on the train's side slid open. Takao tiredly got up from the bench, putting his backpack back on and made his way into the train.
He took a seat right next to the door and set the backpack to his left. He checked it once again staring at the egg. Then, he lay back relaxing his eyes. Hardly anyone else was on the train especially since it was the middle of the night. The train began to move, slowly accelerating, then entering the dark tunnel on the other side. Lights raced across the walls from both sides. Not long, the dark walls turned to white fog as the train exited the tunnel into the wasteland. Already, the train began shaking from side to side as the wind tugged at the carts. Barely anything was visible through the windows except for the blurry images of randomly scattered trees.
The train began to shake more violently. The backpack began tipping over, almost falling. Quickly, Takao grabbed the straps and pulled it back up. This time, he grabbed it firmly. Something did not feel right about the storm. It was among the harshest any Samuite had seen. The train was designed to handle Aggateya's wind storms, but not a blizzard like the one outside. Takao became more nervous and he gripped the backpack harder as the train began shaking more and more.
As the train was speeding by, a tree had crackled and begun to fell over. The mighty, snow covered tree, which had been blown over, fell on top of the left side of the train scraping itself against it. Takao, hearing the tree quickly got up moving to the other side of the train just before he witnessed a giant tree ripping through the other side. The wind began rushing inside and Takao gripped the backpack with his life.
The tree that scraped the side of the train had also damaged the engine. The snow and ice repellant systems started to malfunction. The train began slip on the frozen railways. Every cart began to shake more violently as the train began to derail. The train jolted again and the egg ripped itself out of the backpack. It began to roll into the gaping hole on the train's side, but it bounced moving out of Takao's reach and into the snowy wasteland.
"Nooo!!!" he screamed. He was about to jump out of the train, but it was passing through a forest. It would be unsafe for him to jump since there was no clearing.
After one minute, the train came to a grinding halt being stopped by the snow. A voice through a speaker said, "Everyone, use the emergency hatch to get off the train. Meet at the engine." Takao climbed through the hole on the side of the train.
At the engine, the conductor spoke, "Alright everyone, I've sent a distress signal to the nearest city. A rescue helicopter should be coming shortly."
Takao replied, "But my son. He was an egg. He fell off the train when that tree hit us. I have to go find him!"
"An egg?" another Vaikan said rather unsurprised. "You were taking it to the Egg Neutralization Center were you? Just leave it."
"I can't! He deserves something better! Maybe ship him off to another colony! Anywhere but here!"
"Look, we've got enough people in this country already. One less is doing us a favor."
"You monster! How could you say something like that!"
"Monster? You are not one to talk. You were taking him to Neutralization-"
The conductor shouted, "Enough! First we get in a train wreck in the middle of a snowstorm. Now I don't need you two squabbling!"
Takao and the other Vaikan calmed down. Not long after, a helicopter descended. Everyone boarded it and Takao took one last stare in the direction the train came in. "I hope we meet again," he uttered.
Chapter 3: From the WreckageEdit
The egg was left behind buried in the snow. It had remained there for an entire moon cycle enduring the blistering cold winds. As the sun began to rise in the distance, a few workers from across the border came to clean up the wreckage. One of these workers was Veoru Akihiro who came from the nearby country of Hirakido. (It was not unusual for Hirakidites to have Yallvusian family names as the country was a hybrid of cultures unlike Samui.) He was a young man, about the same age as Takao and even a similar white cloak with bandages wound around the neck. Akihiro, along with the other workers began loading wreckage into some trucks. It was not long after when he had uncovered an egg.
"Good Jamzeze, someone left an egg here?" Without the other workers knowing, he placed the egg into his backpack and continued to help clean up the wreckage. It took about three hours to pick up the loose pieces and another six hours to tow the train to the nearest junkyard.
The moon was high up in the sky. Akihiro got back in a truck and carpooled back home. His own home was similar to Takao's, a small wooden cabin. His wife Irra was back home. Even though they were a married couple, they could not have children because of a genetic defect Irra had. When Akihiro removed the egg from his backpack, Irra embraced it.
"Oh my, it's so cold. Who would do such a thing?"
Akihiro replied, "I found it when cleaning the wreckage of a train across the border."
"Goodness, we're they taking him to that neutralization center?"
"Probably. But what a cruel life this poor child has gone through - being born in an iron fist country and then being abandoned by his own parents? We shouldn't tell this child of all that."
"But why? He has to know eventually."
"Sometimes, the truth can be too harsh. It's better to keep it from him."
"I guess you're right. He's already off to a cruel start. Let's spare him the truth"
Moments later, the egg began to shake. Cracks begun to appear and not too long later, a tiny hatchling Vaikan emerged. It was a boy.
Akihiro said, "What should we call him?"
"How about Karik? It's a strong Yallvusian name."
"Yes, I like it. Karik."
Chapter 4: Years Later...Edit
Karik's life had been rough for the past twenty or so years. He was very feeble - his bones did not grow properly and he was short for his age. He was also mute. His hearing was just fine, but he was born unwilling to speak. The deformed egg had some negative effects on the way he grew. Because Vaikan age slowly, he had the mental and physical maturity of a human child who has barely reached age ten. The Veoru family belonged to the worker caste so Karik had become a worker as well. His job was to fetch tools and other items for construction workers and others.
It was the fall again, and everyone was preparing for the night season to come again. The sun was shining its last moments before it would dip down again in a few moon cycles. Karik was helping some workers build some railroad tracks. Every single one was wearing white coats with hoods and white bandages. Karik was dressed much the same.
"Oi! Kid, can you refill this cantine?" a worker said.
Karik quietly obeyed. He took the worker's cantine and made his way towards the spicket a few hundred feet away. He opened the spicket. No water came out at first since it was frozen. However, he turned a knob on the side which made warm water come out. On his way back, he passed by a construction worker, building a small house.
The worker stopped to talk to him. "Hey, you are Takao's boy aren't you?" Karik turned to look at him.
Karik turned to look at him silently. The boy nodded his head. Communicating with Karik was very easy as he was very expressive. Every subtle movement on his face as well as his hand motions gave clues to other Vaikan to help them understand what he was trying to say.
"The name's Shigoto. I helped Takao clean up some train wreckage in Samui about twenty years ago. How's he doing?"
Karik tried to answer, but he couldn't. He stood there silently.
"You don't talk much, do you?"
Karik shook his head.
"It's a pity. When I first met your father, he also found you buried in the snow as an egg."
Karik suddenly looked surprised.
"What? You mean you don't know?"
Karik shook his head.
"I can understand why your father didn't tell you this. I don't know if you can take it all in, but would you like to know?"
Karik nodded his head looking rather worried.
"Well, you are not a Hirakidan. Your parents adopted you. Your real father was taking you to a place where they neutralize eggs. That's what they do in Samui. That's what you are."
Karik's surprise turned to anger.
"Whoah, take it easy there, boy. It's nothing to be ashamed of."
Karik clenched his fists in anger and he began shaking.
"Don't be angry. I know what you are thinking. Still ,your parents treated you as their own son." Karik ran off into the distance, not knowing where he was going.
"Karik, come back!" After Karik had run off, Shigoto said, "Poor kid. I'm not going to stop him. He ought to discover his fate for himself."
Chapter 5: What am I?Edit
Veoru had walked in the opposite direction of his home heading straight into the white void of nothingness. He was unsure of where he was going. Even though he was a child, he had seen enough to think for himself. Even though he was physically he weak, a fire burned in his heart. His determination allowed him to press on. He wanted to seek the truth no matter how harsh it was. All he wanted was answers.
The sun remained in the sky, unmoving. He wandered aimlessly in just one direction not knowing where he was going.
Very soon, he started feeling groggy. His eyes were slowly closing, but he was trying to keep them open. He kept going and going. Eventually, he found a dead tree and sat against it. He pulled his hood over his face, closed his eyes and fell asleep.
The blackness of sleep began morphing into images. A dream. He did not hear any voices, but he began seeing strange indescribable images. The images suddenly turned to a dark void filled with stars - space. Then, four other figures began to manifest. They were quite fuzzy and non-solid. It was like a projection with the sound of white noise accompanying it.
The first figure began to take shape. It was unlike anything he or any Vaikan had ever seen. It was a short, yellow creature that stood on two legs. What was that thing? The next figure also began taking shape as a tall, black dragon-like creature which was equally strange. It had a scar over its left eye. The third figure was had pink skin and was much smaller than the others. The last figure was a blind, raptor-like creature.
Karik had a difficult time comprehending what these were. Aliens? Godly creatures? He had no idea. The dream got ever stranger. A fifth phantom-like figure began emerging from the center. The other figures were pushed to the side while the fifth grew bigger and began taking shape as a Vaikan. Its eyes glowed a sinister yellow and it began reaching out towards him with razor sharp claws.
"Darkness!" a voice called out followed by a sinister laugh. "Embrace it!"
The four figures that were shoved to the side suddenly came back, clashing against the dark figure. Each of them called out, "Find us!"
Karik suddenly awoke. He said, "Find...them." He was overwhelmed with surprise that he just spoke aloud. "I...speak?" He gazed at the palms of his hands. "What...am I?"
Chapter 6: What he isEdit
It had been several moon cycles - the sun had finally dipped down under the horizon. He looked into the distance and could see the eerie red moon staring back on him. He gazed back at it for at least three minutes. Then, he heard a howl off in the distance. The shadow of a quadrupedal figure came rushing towards him from where the moon was. Upon closer look, it was a fearsome beast - the Hirakidan Blizzardpaw - a wolf-like creature with sharp fangs. It was three times as big as him. Its jaws were bigger than his head. The creature was quite intelligent - it was knowledgeable of the Vaikan settlements and their locations and could understand emotions. This was a deadly predator.
The creature came closer. Its eyes were like that of a demon. Karik was locked into fear and could not move, only stare at the creature as it came closer and closer. It lept up into the air, but just before the creature tackled him, time stopped. Karik could not move either, only think.
Nearly hyperventilating, he tried to calm himself. Still, he had no idea what to do. Time began to accelerate and the wolf came closer. Without thinking, he jolted his palm into the wolf's forehead, grabbing it. The creature froze solid and fell to the ground. It could not move. Karik did not understand what happened. Soon enough, he passed out laying down on the permafrost.
About a few hours later, the wolf thawed out and could move again but Karik was still passed out. The wolf's demonic eyes dimmed down to a crystal blue. It sniffed Karik's body and it whimpered. It perked up, looking in the direction of a light off in the distance. The wolf grabbed Karik with its mouth and carried him, dashing towards the light.
Very soon, the wolf had reached what seemed to be a castle tower with a crystal on top. In Malin Talk, neon letters spelled out "Malinian Combat Institution". The wolf set him down and Karik slowly awoke to see the wolf. Karik was startled, but quickly realized that it was no longer a threat. Odd it was, but the wolf had a change of heart. It knew where the nearest settlement was, so it brought him there. But why a Combat Institution? Perhaps it was fate.
Karik slowly stood up. "Thank...you," he managed to say. The wolf turned to look at the moon and howled. Then it faced Karik one last time, then it ran off into the distance. As it ran to the horizon, the sun slowly rose. The sunlight reflected off of the permafrost, and the stars began fading away. Karik turned around to look at the academy. Once approaching it, he came across two giant double doors. He knocked three times. A few seconds later, one of the doors slowly opened.
Chapter 7: The AcademyEdit
The door opened to reveal an old Vaikan in a blue cloak. He was very old, at least 150 years. His hair was braided into a greyish ponytail and he had a long beard.
"I do not recognize you, child. Are you new here?" the man said.
Karik head never spoken aloud to someone else before. He attempted to annunciate his words. "No...home."
"I see. You went astray and wandered off here? Poor child. You are welcome to stay at this academy to learn, and live in the dormitories. But my apologies. I forgot to introduce myself. I am Grandmaster Eiketsu Tsukaite. I served as a member of the Federal Legion for a few centuries, but now I am retired, and I teach at this academy. Tell me, what is your name?"
Karik hesitated and became nervous. For the very first time, he was going to say his name out loud. "Sk...ski...Karik."
"Welcome, Karik. Please come inside. We are just setting up."
Karik entered the double doors and followed Eiketsu down the hallway which was lit by torches. Eventually, they arrived in a small chamber filled with other children about Karik's age who had just came in through other doors as well. The whole academy was much like this - mostly corridors and chambers winding all throughout the tower. It was very easy to get lost. They began taking their seats on a floor, sitting with their legs crossed. Karik sat in the back, far away from everyone else.
Karik went to go take his seat, but he bumped shoulders with another boy with yellow eyes. "Watch it!" he said intimidatingly replied. Karik had a difficult time hiding his fear of this other boy, but Karik attempted to ignore him.
Eiketsu began, "Welcome my students. Fate has chosen you to be a part of the fighting units to defend the galaxy from the forces of evil. Over the course of the next few decades, you will be trained in the ancient art of combat. It is our duty to fight against the forces of evil. If you choose to accept your honorable duty, please rise."
Karik, who was rather afraid and unsure of what to do, was the last to stand up. He looked to the side and saw a boy dressed in black who was much taller than him. The boy wrinkled his eyebrows and gave off a subtle frown glaring at him with menacing yellow eyes. Just looking at him made Karik feel a shiver down his spine.
Eiketsu continued, "You have chosen well to accept such an honor. We shall begin class in five minutes."
The other Vaikan mingled with one another while Karik nervously stood in the corner thinking about the events that happened prior to his arrival. What could it all mean? He continued pondering about the four figures in his dream. He told no one about them.
Chapter 8: Teacher and PupilEdit
Eiketsu began class.
"Class, our first test is reflexes. I would like you all to spread out so you can see me."
The students did just that. Once again, Karik maintained his position in the back. He slowly inched away from the yellow-eyed boy who was standing next to him.
"Now, we will warm up with a simple exercise. Copy my exact movements as soon as you see them. For example, when I raise my right hand, you raise your right hand as soon as you see my hand move. Do not hesitate and do not mirror me. Be as precise as possible."
Eiketsu began by quickly moving his hand about. Most of the class was at least half a second late. A few of them even mirrored him, then quickly realizing that he/she made a mistake. Karik was able to get the movements down perfectly, but the yellow-eyed boy always seemed to be faster than him.
"Not bad so far. Let's keep going"
Eiketsu did more complex movements such as jumping and spinning. Karik and the yellow-eyed boy nailed it perfectly.
"Great job, you two in the back."
Class lasted all day. They mostly worked on reflexes and speed.
"You have done well, young ones. You may now return home. If you were planning to stay in the dormitories, come see me and I will assign you a room."
Before Karik got in line, the yellow-eyed boy called to him, "Hey you, what's your name?"
"Karik, huh? I'll remember that."
Karik was hesitant to ask what his name was, but did so anyway. "...And...yours?"
"Duroar Xunos. You just enrolled? You're not so bad. Maybe you're as good as me." Xunos said as he was heading out the door to go home.
Karik was the last in line when being assigned a dormitory. Could this be his real home? After everyone else left, Eiketsu spoke to Karik personally. "Hello, young Karik. Your room number is the twenty-sixth room of the seventh floor. There should be a spiral staircase down that hall," Eiketsu said pointing down another corridor. "By the way young Karik, you did very well today. I'm just curious, you never told me where you are from?"
Karik replied, "Hirakido...Samui...not sure. Was...mute...until yesterday."
"What do you mean you are not sure?"
"Samui parents...abandoned me. Hirakido parents...lied to me."
"I'm sure you will find yourself at home here. I sense that you have a brighter future ahead of you no matter how dark it seems now. Krayhan has given you a purpose. It's up to you to discover what it is."
"Purpose...I will...find purpose."
"But in the meantime, I suggest you practice talking more. Outside of Ucharpli, communication is critical to survival."
Karik went up a set of dimly lit spiral staircases to the seventh floor. After a short walk, he found a door with the number twenty-six on it. Inside was a tiny 7x7x7 foot cubical room. He lay down on a bed staring at the ceiling and falling asleep. He had a similar dream he did while he wandered to the academy. The four strange figures and the phantom. It was almost exactly the same. Every moon cycle that followed, he had the same dream. He tried to understand it, but couldn't.
Chapter 9: RivalryEdit
Karik had woken up to get ready for class again. It's been a few years since he started. His muscles and bones had become stronger already - he was a quick learner and found ways to cope. Upon going downstairs to the main class room, he saw a new teacher alongside Eiketsu. The other teacher looked about 100 years old. He had a white goatee and was bald with red eyes. He definitely was not from Malin. His eyes were different than anyone else's.
The rest of the students gathered in the center of the room while Eiketsu and the other teacher stood in front. "Class," Eiketsu began, "Allow me to introduce Master Falan Rusit. He is travelling all the way from southern Yallvus to administer this exam."
The travelling teacher began. "Thank you, Grandmaster. Children...no, I should not call you that. You are young men now, dedicated to fighting for balance. I have come to administer the combat exam to check on your progress. You will be randomly paired up and you will fight each other."
Eiketsu said, "In this test, there are no winners. You will be evaluated on how you fight your opponent. Both of you may pass or none of you."
"The two of us will be observing your performances. Now, we will randomly decide who will be paired up. In this pouch are some silver coins each with your names on it." Falan grabbed two coins with two of his fingers and tossed them against a wall - the coins stuck.
Eiketsu said, "Karik and Xunos, you're up first. Choose your weapons." The two boys, now slightly older, stood face to face in the middle of the room, while the other children moved to the side. Karik had grabbed a pair of steel daggers, while Xunos grabbed a katana. The two of them stared at each other.
Xunos said, "Hmph...let's just see how good you are."
"Begin!" Falan shouted.
Xunos was the first to strike. He began with a vertical strike. Karik was quick to dodge and he rolled to the left attempting to parry Xunos. Karik thrusted both of his daggers at Xunos's side, but he deflected it with his katana.
For about one minute, they sparred. Karik was on the defense - he was finding himself constantly blocking Xunos's attacks. Then, Xunos jumped a bit into the air and kicked Karik in chest sending him to the ground. Xunos lifted his sword attempting to stab him, but Karik managed to roll out of the way and sparring continued for another minute.
Karik was on the offense now. Xunos was starting to feel fatigued and his movements slowed. He was starting to fear he was going to lose. Karik leaped forward trying to perform a finishing movement that would knock Xunos down, but unexpectantly, Xunos felt a surge of dark energy. He moved and blinding speed, almost disappearing and reappearing behind Karik. In mid jump, Xunos knocked the hilt of his katana against the back of Karik's head knocking him out. Everyone in the whole room was surprised, though Falan smirked.
After a few seconds, Karik slowly got up and bowed to Xunos. "Good game," he said.
Eiketsu said, "Well done, you two. Falan and I have been evaluating you as you fight. Both of you performed commendably. However, only Karik met the requirements to pass."
Everyone in the whole room gasped in surprise. Xunos said, "What?! But how? I defeated him!"
Eiketsu replied, "Xunos, you used dark Maj. As we all know, darkness is a dangerous art and is forbidden at this academy. Do not worry. I will not expel you. Consider this a lesson learned. Karik, congratulations."
Karik had wandered out of the room. He had felt victorious for the very first time. He felt he had a purpose. Xunos did not say a word, but he glared at him with anger. He did not understand. He stormed out of the room, running down the hall. Karik returned to his dorm to rest.
By the time Xunos had reached the exit door Falan had appeared to stop him. "Xunos! Don't go just yet."
Xunos replied, "What's the point? It seems I can only win using the powers of darkness. What's wrong with it? Why is it so bad?"
Falan said, "That's only what Eiketsu says. He is afraid to use it himself, so he had indoctrinated your class to not use it."
"But doesn't dark Maj consist of all of your negative emotions?"
"The truth is, one who uses dark Maj is at a greater advantage. It will consume you if you don't know how to use it. But if you can control it, you will become more powerful than you can imagine. I can tell you how to use the powers of darkness, but you must not tell Eiketsu. He surely wouldn't approve." Falan then bent over and glared at him rather intimidately, "You could have saved her with this power." Xunos's face turned to distress as he instantly knew who he was talking about. His mother was murdered about a year ago, and the killer was never found. "When it happened to her, you could have been there. Using the powers of darkness, you could have stopped it from happening."
Xunos thought for a moment. Negative emotions began raging inside of him already. He could have prevented it, but he was helpless. Then, he confidently said, "Tell me how to use this power properly."
Chapter 10: Wanting to Get StrongerEdit
Even though Karik has passed the final exam, he still did not feel like he actually won. Xunos still defeated him in combat. He decided to take an extra assignment - survive for one week in the Frozen Wasteland. The name was not for show. Deadly predators roamed the icy wastes. Unprepared travellers would swiftly meet their death. But Karik wanted to prove himself, so he took a journey to here.
It was broad daylight across the Frozen Wasteland. The wind was not too strong. Karik had travelled about ten miles carrying a wealth of survival supplies in his pack. He carried a sword as well just in case he ran into trouble. As he was travelling across a field of ice, he heard a roar echo across the sky. He looked up and saw what appeared to be a bird circling overhead. The bird drew closer and closer and finally became more visible. This was no bird. It was a gigantic, reptilian behemoth. This creature had jet black scales that were said to be impenetrable. This was a Yoltox, the deadliest predator on Ucharpli.
Karik immediately made a run for it. He sprinted for his life as the creature chased him overhead. It reared its head back and fired a flaming shockwave at him. He barely dodged it, but the force of it sent him flying forward and sliding against the ice. He quickly got up and the creature landed right behind him, letting out a taunting roar.
The Yoltox chased him on the ground. Karik was still merely a child. This creature was too overwhelming, and it would be foolish to try to fight it. As Karik ran, he came to a hillside with a cave in it. Karik dove forward and into the cave taking cover, but the Yoltox was relentless. It stuck its head into the cave and tried to bite him. It did not give up. That's when Karik drew his sword and slashed it across the creature's left eye. The Yoltox let out a roar of pain. This was enough for the Yoltox to retreat for now.
Karik took the time to catch his breath from the life-threatening encounter. Even though he warded off the beast, he didn't defeat. He merely pushed it away. Was darkness truly the only way to become stronger? He resisted the temptation. But how did Xunos use it? So many questions rushed to his mind.
Curiously, Karik ventured further into the cave. It was a long, winding icy tunnel. Eventually, he came to a frozen door with a set of two torches. People were out here? The door looked ancient and were covered in frost. It seemed to be thousands of years old. Karik pushed and pushed against the door, but it didn't budge. The door was frozen shut. Very exhausted from the events of today, he decided to take a rest to contemplate himself.
Chapter 11: Embrace the DarknessEdit
A few more years had passed. Karik had continued his training while Xunos practiced rigorously learning techniques from Falan. Karik looked back on his time in the academy. He had joined barely able to speak with little strength, but he had never realized how quick he was to learn.
He was lying in his bed again in the hours before morning. He was still having that grotesque dream. This time, he could see the dark figure more vividly than all other times. It started to look familiar.
"No, it can't be. But how?" Karik dismissed an idea he thought was too strange. Then, he perked up, hearing a conversation from a lower level. It was inaudible, but it sounded like arguing. Karik got up from bed taking his daggers with him and descended the spiral stairs, following the arguing. The voices became clearer.
"What is the meaning of this? Darkness is forbidden at the academy!"
"Eiketsu, you don't understand the slightest. My pupil has acquired newfound power."
"Falan, you are a disgrace! You leave me with little choice."
"You are willing to fight? You are so ignorant of what I am trying to accomplish. Have at ye!"
Karik started to hear the clashing of swords. What was going on? He thought. The sounds took him to the academy's chapel. Stained glass windows of the ancient Vaikan kings were all about. It was just as he heard. Falan and Eiketsu were fighting. The moment Karik walked in, the two masters were trying to deflect each other's blades.
"Wha- what's going on?!" Karik said.
Eiketsu said, "This is none of your concern, Karik. Get back to your dorm!"
The two masters jumped backwards momentarily pausing their fight. Karik said, "Why are you two fighting? Please, just answer me! I want the truth!"
Falan smirked. "The truth is what you want boy? The truth can be harsh. You see, your 'master' rejects the forbidden art of combat involving the harnessing of one's negative emotions. Why? Because, it gives you more power than those who don't use it. He only wants to make you weaker."
Eiketsu interjected, "Don't listen to his lies! Karik, if I let Master Falan live, this academy will become too dangerous and corrupt!"
Karik had no idea who to listen to. He almost shivered.
"But enough talk," Falan said. "Xunos!"
That instant, Xunos appeared in a cloud of darkness next to Falan. "You called, Master?"
"You are close to completing your transformation. All what is needed is that boy's blood."
Xunos said, "Him? But I thought it had to be from three relatives."
"Xunos, you have not figured it out? He's your brother!"
Everyone else in the room was in completely surprised, especially Karik.
Karik said, "You...you! My Samuite parents chose you over me?! Why?!"
Xunos replied, "Ah, so you've been my twin brother all along? Yeah, that's right. Dad told me about you. You were in a weak, warped egg, unfit to survive in the world. He left you out in the cold to die. My parents chose me over you for one reason: I am stronger and better than you. Who knows why Krayhan chose to spare you? Does it matter? You are weak and useless anyway."
Karik said, "No! You're wrong! Falan has indoctrinated you! You would never say that!"
Falan interjected, "Indoctrinated? You say that because you don't know the truth. You push it to the side hoping to never hear from it again, yet it's still there! You tell yourself lies."
Eiketsu joined the conversation. "Falan, this is all your doing! What drives you to be so cruel towards children!"
Falan said, "Eiketsu, by lying to your students, you have been cruel to them. The truth is the only path. Xunos, if you wish to become complete, take his blood!"
Xunos smirked then he leaped towards Karik attempting a vertical slice, but he managed to block it with his daggers. Eiketsu and Falan resumed their own fight. Two pairs of fighters were battling to the death. Karik's battle with Xunos was much more difficult. Xunos used dark energy to aid himself, so he was much stronger. Karik was about to strike Xunos with both of his daggers, but Xunos appeared behind him.
"Too slow!" Xunos said, kicking Karik sending him out, breaking a stained glass window Rustiagon Dralla.
Karik landed outside in the cold, covered in scrapes. Xunos jumped out the window and picked up a blood-stained piece of glass. "Hmph! Looks like I got what I need. But why don't I finish you off?"
Karik slowly got up. He was drained of energy and could barely lift his arm. Xunos lifted his sword attempting to strike him. Karik eyes opened suddenly. He was feeling renewed of energy. His senses were heightened and everything turned to slow motion, yet Karik felt like he was moving at normal speed. He struck the back of Xunos's head with his palm, freezing him solid. Xunos's frozen body fell to the ground, but Karik soon collapsed afterwards from using such a powerful move and falling unconscious as well.
Meanwhile, inside the chapel, Eiketsu continued fighting with Falan. After another few minutes, Eiketsu jabbed his sword through Falan's chest.
"Hmph," Eiketsu said. "It serves you right."
"Oh well," Falan said to Eiketsu's surprise. "I suppose this disguise was good while it lasted."
"Altus...Banya? But how?"
Falan replied, "No, I am Altus Infra, now. Banya was a name I abandoned long ago. Through the powers of darkness, I persist! But I am much more than you can imagine!"
"This is why the academy was created! So that we can destroy evil such as you!"
"You make laugh! You've brainwashed your children to think that good and evil are the only forces in the world. Killing a judgmental person such as yourself would do the universe a favor." Falan snapped his fingers, which instantly caused Eiketsu to clutch his chest and collapse to the ground. Shortly afterwards, Falan's rage heightened and he smashed all of the windows showing members of the Rustiagon family with the single wave of his hand. He looked outside the window to see Xunos's frozen body as well as pieces of blood-stained glass. Falan reached his hand and spoke. "Xunos, return to me!" Xunos had reappeared next to him.
"I didn't kill him, Master."
"That doesn't matter. All what was needed was his blood. Besides, he could be of use when he's older. But now, you have similar abilities as I do. Keep an eye on him, but don't reveal yourself until the time is right."
"Yes, Master," Xunos replied.
Karik awoke once again. A blizzard storm had arrived and swept him away into a white void. Snow had begun surrounding his feet as Karik trudged through not knowing at all where he was going.
"What have you done to yourself you pathetic wimp?" Karik unknowingly had said to himself.
Confused, he had replied aloud, "No. That wasn't my fault."
"Yes, yes it was..."
"I was born the way I was, right? I have to accept that."
"No, you did not deserve that. You crave revenge. You still have your primal instinct to kill. You cannot overcome it."
"Kill? You mean murder? I would never do that!"
"Yes you would. Are you not aware of all what he has done to you?"
"I can't kill him! Even if I could, I wouldn't!"
"Don't you see? Xunos is responsible for what you have been through. Had he not been born, you would have been perfectly accepted into your family."
"No, it was Falan that did this! He taught Xunos the ways of darkness!"
"Which is why Xunos deserves death! He accepted those powers willingly. You must kill him! Kill Xunos!"
"Leave me alone!"
"I can't leave you alone. I am always here. You can never escape from me."
"And where shall I go? Deeper into that puny head of yours? You'll just be hiding me away."
"Just get out! I've...been...through....enough..." Karik said collapsing to the ground with his face lay against the frigid snow and ice. He had begun shivering uncontrollably, but stopped moments later after the blizzard had buried him in snow.
Chapter 12: To the Other SideEdit
The morning sun rose. Karik was missing and so were Falan and Xunos. Eiketsu's body was discovered laying lifeless in the chapel amongst piles of shattered glass. A beam of light came through an unbroken window showing the symbol of Krayhan shining down on Eiketsu. Peacekeepers were sent to investigate finding nothing, except for some Blizzardpaw tracks trailing off into the distance. Days later, all of the other children came to see Eiketsu. They bowed their heads in reverence and donned their hoods.
A musician began playing an old elegy on the organ. Eiketsu's body was placed on a funeral pyre built over the top of an altar. The priest lit the pyre.
"Rest in peace, Eiketsu Tsukaite. You were like a grandfather to all of these young students. Your death was untimely, but we must accept it. May you watch us from the heavens and may Krayhan give you your blessing."
Everyone in the whole room sang to the slow, sad tune. A few Vaikan even shed tears. They sang until Eiketsu's body turned completely to ash. The ashes were gathered by the priest, then scattered into the wind. "May your remains return to the earth to rejuvenate new life."
Dawn had broken. Karik had woken up miles away in the nearby city of Aurora. An old Blizzardpaw in the last year of its life set him on the ground. Karik got up and the wolf whimpered. He patted it several times on the head. "Thank you again," he said. The Blizzardpaw howled one last time and it slowly walked away, awaiting its final rest. "Goodbye," he slowly said.
Turning around, he was at the Federal Legion Registration Center. It was a tall, metallic tower with a wide variety of ships awaiting at hangars dotted across. A large flagship was docked, bigger than any he had seen. Karik made his way to the spaceport front gates being greeted by a guard.
"Wow, kid. You look exhausted. Where have you been?"
Karik said, "I came from the Malinian Combat Institution. I have graduated and wish to join the Legion."
"Ah, so you are from the academy," the guard said looking rather solemn. "May Grandmaster Eiketsu rest in peace. He was a good Vaikan."
Karik looked at the guard in surprise. "Wh- what? When did he pass?"
"What, have you been living under a rock? His funeral was this morning."
Karik's surprise turned to anger. "Master Falan. He did this!"
"Preposterous! Are you suggesting Eiketsu was murdered? There were no scratches on him nor did the peacekeepers find evidence of poisoning. Unless..."
"No, I didn't kill him if that's what you are thinking. I was there when it happened for the most part. Grandmaster Eiketsu and Master Falan were sparring. They were having a morale debate about the academy. And, this boy named Xunos tried to kill me! I think his family name was Duroar, but I became unconscious before I saw Eiketsu pass."
The guard said, "Ah, I recognize you now. You must be Veoru Karik. You were missing for a few cycles - I'm surprised you are in one piece!"
Karik clenched his fists. He thought to himself, "I...I've got nothing left on this planet. My parents abandoned me. My foster parents lied to me. My brother has turned on me. The only Vaikan who I felt was like family is dead now." Karik looked up, "Please, you've got to take me. I want to join the Legion."
"Not until the investigation is over. You can stay here and get yourself cleaned up using the facilities in the meantime."
The guard opened the gate, and Karik made his way towards the front door.
Chapter 13: Putting the Past Behind HimEdit
Karik had to wait at least a week. Falan was never found. It was as if he vanished completely. Xunos had disappeared as well. Karik had been officially registered as part of the Legion and was waiting in the lobby to be called to his ship.
"Veoru Karik, report to Bay 11. Veoru Karik, report to Bay 11."
Karik made his way to an elevator which took him to a room with a large window. The same flagship he saw from outside could be seen up close. He came across a large, burly Vaikan wearing a blue hat. On each of his shoulders were a circle of five stars. This was a Grandmaster, just like Eiketsu was. He bowed towards Karik.
"Greetings, Veoru Karik. My name is Grandmaster Zerif Bazwuna. I will be your commanding officer for your time aboard our lovely ship - the Garmatox."
Karik almost cringed at the name, Veoru. It reminded him of his brutal past. That moment, all of the tragic events that took place during his life flashed in an instant. Karik politely said, "Sir, may I be called by my personal name?"
"But Veoru, it is improper. Here at the Legion, we must go by your family name."
"Grandmaster, it's just that name-"
"I know. I read it up on your records. But still, you only want to seek the truth, correct?"
"That's all I want. I don't want to be reminded of that time when my parents lied to me," Karik said rather cynically.
Zerif placed his hand on Karik's shoulder. "Boy, let me tell you something. By refusing to go by your family name is only pushing the truth out of the way. You are trying to forget your past, but you wanted the truth, right? By forgetting our past we only repeat our mistakes. We must remember our mistakes so that we can improve ourselves. However, that does not mean you should dwell on your past for if we do so, we can never move forward. But, do me one favor: accept Veoru as your name. It will serve as a reminder of what you have been through and all of your efforts to come this far."
Karik felt so enlightened. It was done. From now on, he was going to go by Veoru.
"Come, Veoru. The Garmatox is about to depart."
Veoru followed Grandmaster Zerif onto the flagship. The inside looked almost like the academy. Of course, electric lighting was used instead of torches, but it felt the same way. The Garmatox's engines fired up, and it slowly backed up detaching itself from the port. It turned around and began to ascend. The engines started to glow brighter and the ship began to accelerate heading to the sky.
The Garmatox burst through the cloud layer and the sky changed from blue to the black void of space dotted with stars. Veoru gazed out of the window staring at Ucharpli as well as the red moon Brunikor in the distance. He could see the white continent Aggateya on the southern pole. Veoru continued staring at Ucharpli until it was no longer visible.
"Activating warp engines! Please stand by!" A voice spoke.
The Garmatox's engines heated up even brighter and took off into the distance.