(One month earlier)
In the center of the empire stood an enormous temple dedicated to the majesty of the seven Divinities which were the gods of this world. No expense had been spared when constructing the temple and the temple itself was considered to be an architectural masterpiece, reminiscent of ones from the ancient times, before the fall of Human civilization. It had vast halls and columns made of the finest marble, there were immense statues devoted to each of the seven divinities, in all their splendor.
This was the very seat of authority for the empire as the last bastion of a genetically pure Humanity, one not touched by the corruption of the Void. Those that followed the Divinity Church believed that this was where Humanity would grow and flourish and once again dominate the world. It was also here, within the deepest recesses of the temple, that a smaller and more lifelike statue of one of the Divinities kneeled, frozen in time before a large sphere like object.
Within the sphere like object was an emptiness, a vast darkness that consumed the light. In the sphere, the darkness swirled and pulsated violently as if it were railing against its imprisonment. It yearned to be free of its shackles that it might once again roam the heavenly skies.
In another place, very distant, stood the remains of another temple which once looked very similar to the one now standing in the empire. It had been ruined, and broken by forces unknown. It was equally as vast as its counterpart and there too was a statue, kneeling and frozen in time.
A second sphere like object with an equally dark emptiness resided there. In its solace it basked in the moonlight among ruin and debris. There was a connection between the two, but only a few knew what that connection was and even less knew what it meant.
Both had remained this way for untold millennia without change.
However, one day, there was a slight change, the emptiness within both spheres swirled and pulsed just a little bit more violently.
And suddenly, within those spheres, was a light that did not fade. The one within the ruined temple went unnoticed, but in the other place there was a loud uproar for nothing like this had ever happened before within the almost five thousand years of the Reginar Homen Empire’s history.
For the first time, the great and powerful bishops of the Divinity Church felt fear.
“This has never happened before, what do we do?” A group of bishops were frantically discussing what had happened.
“What does this mean?”
“I don’t know…”
“We must wait for the Oracle to arrive…”
The bishops had already summoned the Oracle and it wasn’t long before she arrived.
“Oracle, what does this mean? Use your powers!”
The bishops urged the Oracle on, pleading with her to use her powers to discover the meaning of the strand of light which had somehow appeared where it possibly could not.
The Oracle used her powers of divination, the act of using her powers on the sphere caused her to tremble in pain. She struggled against the power of the sphere as it entered her mind. She screamed in agony while falling to her knees. As she breathed her last, she yelled at the top of her lungs. “SOMETHING… COMING… IN THE NORTH… ENRAIN… OF THE VOID”
She fell to the ground dead.
“We must immediately send agents north to investigate what the threat is. We must identify the anomaly and once we do, we will need to deal with it.” The bishops all quickly agreed without a moment’s hesitation. They were all shook by what had happened to the Oracle.
“It is a pity about the Oracle, we must find a replacement…”
“Who should we send north?”
“I have two in mind.” They all agreed it would have to be those two.
Two lone hooded figures, one a man and the other a woman, met in the dark of night in an alley within the town of Enrain.
When the two left the Empire, the only clue they had to go on from the Oracle was the town of Enrein. They were provided a magic tool which would help them locate the anomaly, but it wasn’t entirely accurate.
By chance they happened to be in the town center when the magic tool had suddenly reacted. It had reacted to a man wearing strange clothes and with an awkward demeanor. He was accompanied by a Foxkin woman who trained him for a time.
At first, they thought it was a mistake, but the tool had continued to react to the man as they followed him. They had even spent time spying on him as he trained. They were able to do this because they possessed various magic tools which could mask their presence.
After making sure no one had followed the woman, the hooded man asked, “Have you had any difficulty?”
His partner was clearly annoyed at having to meet him so late at night and was in a hurry to finish the meeting, “None, did you follow her?”
“Yes, it was a simple matter”
She hated how he always acted so cocky and working with him was always an unpleasant experience for her, “Then what will we do now? I overheard them discussing plans to head to the forest tomorrow.”
He just scoffed and said, “Our men are on standby, I will have them follow the two tomorrow and look for an opportunity to attack.”
“Are you sure they will be enough? His power is….” The woman had her concerns and worried that the men they had prepared would not be enough to subdue the target.
“I know, but those are the resources we have available to us, they are good men. They’ll get the job done.”
All she could do was sigh and accept his words, “And what should I do in the meanwhile?”
“Remain in Enrain for now. If the men fail… we will need to come up with another plan.” Tch, if you fail you will probably blame me, she thought.
“Fine, but I am tired of this shit town. I want to return to the Empire as quickly as possible.”
“Hmph, then let’s not fuck this up.” You don’t fuck this up! She kept those thoughts to herself and with their meeting done, she left the man alone in the alley.
Waking up at the crack of dawn was still difficult for me but I was starting to get used to it. I was even getting used to having my dreams invaded on a nightly basis by a strange Dragonkin princess, what is the world coming to? I could only wonder while chuckling to myself.
“Jessie, it’s dad. I hope you are doing well, I’m still stuck in this world with some crazy people. That princess was back again, she seems alright, just a little sheltered but I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to trust her. I feel bad for her. Whenever we talk she seems so sad and lonely but she won’t say anything about it. I have noticed her cheering up a bit when we talk though. Oh yeah, Reia came back and she’s taking me to her village today. That’s enough for now….. I really miss you.” It was getting harder on me to do this but it was something I needed to do, for my own sanity.
Reia was waiting for me when I came down from my room, she had taken a bath the night before and was looking nice.
“Reia, you look.. and smell, wonderful today.” I gave her my best smile and an exaggerated bow.
“Do you want to die?” I pretended to look wounded and then laughed as she threatened me.
“Haha, sorry, I couldn’t help myself.” Reia knew I was only teasing her and didn’t take it to heart. She’s a good sport.
I thought I even caught a blush there at the end, but maybe I was just imagining it because she turned around quickly and said, “Are you ready to go? We should leave as quickly as possible if we want to make good time.” Ugh, we didn’t even eat breakfast yet. This girls a monster.
“Oh, wait, before we go. Let’s head to the Guild first, it’s on the way. I want to introduce you to a new friend of mine. She told me she would be at the Guild early today!”
“Who is this friend of yours?” Reia asked me suspiciously.
“Just someone I met in training, since we are starting up our own adventuring party, I thought we could use someone like her. She’s a ranger and good with a bow.” I told Reia all about Tris as we walked over to the Guild but she didn’t seem too happy about it.
Is it because she’s human? I thought to myself and then shrugged. Demihumans and Humans will have to learn to get along eventually, might as well start here!
Tris was in fact at the Guild just as she said she would be. I led Reia over to her and made the introductions.
“Tris, this is Reia. She is the one I told you about.” The two weren’t acting very friendly and were eyeing each other up and down as if they were each appraising the other’s worth.
“Come on now, we are going to work together in the future so let’s try to be friendly. I’m not expecting you two to get along right away but I’m hoping you’ll at least give it a chance.” The issues between Humans and Demihumans were complicated so it wasn’t as if I wasn’t prepared for this.
Reia was the first to break the stalemate, “Peter is right, let’s at least try to get along.” Reia held her hand out for Tris to take it. She didn’t take her hand right away but eventually she sighed and shook her hand, “I’ll try.”
This was actually great progress and I was happy to see the two of them shake hands. I knew that after they spent some time together they might become friends, or at least more comfortable with each other.
“Alright, now that’s settled, there is something I forgot to tell you two.” They both looked at me expectantly, “I decided to change my name, it’s now Fayde, Fayde of the Void.”
Crickets, I sighed. They just looked at me like I grew horns or something. These two are much more alike than they think.
“Okay….Fayde. So where are you two going?” Tris broke the silence with her question.
“We are heading out for a few days so why don’t you do a few jobs in the meantime and then when we get back we can form a party, sound good?” I said, skillfully evading her question.
“Alright, I will wait for you two to come back but you better take me with you the next time.” I promised I would. She seemed satisfied with my answer and wished us safety on our journey.
We also let Orban know we would be gone for a few days and then we made our way to the west gate. Reia was rushing me through the city and wouldn’t let me stop at any of the merchant stalls. The town was busier than usual and I really wanted to see if there was any new merchandise. I had been slowly building up my knowledge base of goods and prices and making contacts among the merchants. I had just begun, but I felt it was a worthy endeavor. There was no time for that now however.
I took one last look back at the town before we finally made our way west towards the forest. The trip would take more than a day so we would need to camp out at the outskirts of the forest. The forest was more dangerous at night and even though we had camped there before, it was more of a necessity the last time. This time we had the opportunity to take a safer approach. There was no need to risk our lives needlessly.
The trip was mostly uneventful. There was nothing but grass as far as the eye could see in either direction. This area was not hilly like the eastern part and instead was mostly open land. Humans did not build close to the forest and the only settlement around here was Enrain. There was the occasional monster that strayed out of the forest so it was a dangerous area to live, but traveling wasn’t usually too dangerous. There was also the possibility of bandits attacking, but with nothing but open land as far as the eye could see, it wasn’t as if we couldn’t see them coming.
I spent some time in conversation with Reia. We spoke mostly about her tribe and her father. She told me her father had once been a Khan, the leader of the Foxkin clan. He had lost in a duel to his brother and lost control of the clan. He and his tribe were sent into exile.
“My father doesn’t talk about it much, but something happened back then. My father was a hero and the greatest warrior of the tribe, there was no way my uncle could have beaten him. Somehow, my father had lost his magic and in the duel, he was helpless. He lost to my uncle and was exiled. I have asked him about it so many times but he won’t discuss it with me.”
“That sounds rough, but what could have made your father lose his magic power?”
“I don’t know…. No one knows.”
I didn’t say much after that and spent some time in thought until we had reached the outskirts of the forest. We had been traveling the entire day and it was approaching nightfall. It would take some time to set up a small camp and Reia planned to take the first watch. My body was getting used to the excessive physical exertion required to do anything in this world but I was still tired from walking the entire day.
There was some time before it was necessary to sleep so we ate some food together. We had brought with us some rations, mostly dried meat and some bread. It was difficult to lug around fresh meat so most travel rations consisted of dried meat, bread and sometimes cheese or fruits and nuts. We didn’t make a fire since we didn’t need to cook and it might attract unwanted attention.
I watched Reia eat for a bit, she was lost in thought and didn’t notice. I could only help but wonder about her. She was a beautiful and strong woman and yet she spent almost all of her time alone. She didn’t appear to have any friends or any love interest, I couldn’t put my finger on it.
“Reia…” I gently called out to her and she looked at me with questioning eyes.
“Is something wrong Peter.. Sorry, Fayde?” It was dark and it was difficult to see her clearly but we sat next to each other, enough for me to feel her body heat.
“I was just thinking.. We have known each other for a couple of weeks now and I have never heard you mention anything about your friends or…. maybe a lover?” It came out a little awkward as I didn’t want to come off as a weirdo.
She almost choked on her food when I mentioned ‘lover’, “Lover? Me? No… I don’t have anyone like that.. I have a few friends in the tribe but not many… most of the time I am traveling or working. I never really had time for relationships… before I became an adventurer I spent all my time training… for the day I can avenge my father’s honor.” She paused and looked at me intently, “Why do you ask?”
“I just was thinking that it was strange that someone like you didn’t have anyone…” I found it somewhat difficult to talk with her so close to me and with the way she was staring into my eyes.
Reia slightly cocked her head to the side, “Someone like me?” I was wondering if she was just toying with me or did she really not know? It was rare to meet a beautiful woman who didn’t know she was beautiful and would be desirable to men.
“Come on… you know what I mean..” She continued to look at me like she had no clue what I meant, “You are young, strong and beautiful… what man wouldn’t be interested? I am sure there is some Foxkin guy who is interested in you, no?”
“Do you really think that I am beautiful? You are a Human, I’m a Demihuman… a monster..”
Her response angered me and I reacted without thinking, “What the hell are you saying? You are not a monster! How could you think that!?”
“Hahahahaha….” Her laughter surprised me.
Dammit, you were fucking with me!!! I felt dumb, I had a feeling she wasn’t being serious.
“Sorry… I was only joking, but I am happy.” I could just make out her smile in the moonlight.
“You’re happy because you tricked me eh? Yeah, you got me good…” I was definitely feeling a little salty.
“No Fayde, I’m happy because you got angry when I called myself a monster. I’m happy because you think of me as a person.”
“Tch…” After saying that I was speechless, all I could do was smile and give her a playful push and we both laughed.
Things got quiet between us again and Reia asked, “How about you Fayde? Did you have someone on Earth?”
“I did once, but not anymore, it didn’t work out. I have a daughter too, but I wasn’t allowed to see her much.” I didn’t originally want to tell her these things but she had told me much of herself so it was only fair.
“I’m sorry to hear that. It must be hard not being able to see your own child.” Reia looked at me sadly.
“It’s fine, there’s nothing I can do about it. I have come to terms with it.” I just shrugged, it wasn’t something I could change.
“What about that human you met at training, Tris?” I caught a glimpse of her looking at me shyly and I had a sudden urge to tease her.
“Why do you ask? Are you jealous?” I couldn’t help myself and had to ask.
“Shut up!” She gave me a nice punch on my arm and I just laughed.
“I was just thinking that you must be lonely. You were forced here from another world and you’re all alone. No one would blame you for looking for companionship among your own kind. Tris is a pretty girl and you are both Human.”
“Reia, I’m not lonely. I have you!” I said with a sly grin.
“Fayde, I’m being serious…”
Her lack of confidence in herself because of her species was a little off putting, but I could understand where she was coming from and it only made me want to help her all the more.
I grabbed her hand and put on my cheesiest romantic expression, “Reia, look at me. I’m serious too. I’m happy that I met you and I’m not lonely, thanks to you. Tris is just a friend who I think could be a useful party member, that’s it. I don’t care that she’s Human and I don’t care that you’re a Demihuman. I would drop her in a second if you wanted me to.”
My words were sincere but at the same time, somewhat sarcastic. Reia was important to me because she was the first friend I made in this world and I really did like her, but I wasn’t under any illusion that it was more than that. We hadn’t even known each other for that long, how could she possibly be interested in someone like me? At least those were my thoughts, but to my surprise she seemed to be seriously considering my words.
She didn’t answer me immediately though, instead it looked as if she were searching my eyes for the truth, or lack thereof.
After a moment, Reia turned away from me, “Go to sleep, I’ll wake you up later..”
I couldn’t see her face so I didn’t know what to make of her response, “Yeah, alright, be careful. Wake me if anything happens.” I rolled up in a fur and went to sleep.