Chapter 8

Accadeas’s body moved much faster than one would expect for his size. To see an enormous man move at such speeds would cause you to think that you were seeing an illusion. However, a dense concentration of energy surrounded the lich, blocking the powerful rage filled punch of Accadeas and even caused him to be thrown back.

This was only a mere setback for him and his consciousness had already been consumed by his rage. He continued to rain attacks upon the barrier surrounding the lich with his fists and spear, but no matter how he bashed against it, he couldn’t break it. Lacking sufficient reasoning ability due to his condition, he could only continue his barrage of strikes despite the lack of results.

The lich cackled as if pleased by Accadeas’s failure and its bones clattered and shook. More energy than could be contained continued to seep out of its body and poured into the atmosphere of the dungeon. Trace trickles of power flowed towards Fayde who was screaming in agony on his knees, unable to move and lacking awareness of the dangerous encounter.

Reia had found Laila who had been injured and knocked unconscious by the lich’s original attack and began to heal her. Reia could only shiver at the thought of the amount of power that attack must have possessed to injure Laila in such a way. She glanced back over her shoulder towards Fayde and desperately wanted to run to him, but if she didn’t continue to heal Laila, she would die.

Tris, who had attempted to shoot arrows imbued with her magic, was targeted next and the lich sent a barrage of dark energy. Her arrows bounced off the lich’s barrier and she attempted to evade the black flames that rained down on her and was forced back to where Reia was healing Laila.

Only Allein stood still and unmoving from her original position. She stood as if the torrential energy that the others had struggled against did not exist. A pensive look adorned her face and her eyes shone brightly in the dark of the dungeon.

Allein hesitated, but seeing the man she loved in agony tore at her. Her steps were light as she approached Fayde, and in her heart a deep struggle commenced as her desires beat against the drum of her love.

Before her decision had been made, she had already kneeled down and grasped the side of Fayde’s head within her hands. His eyes had become black pearls and sweat dripped from his brow. His face was wrinkled with the agony he was feeling as he struggled to keep the darkness within him at bay.

“What are you doing Allein!?”

Allein heard someone call out to her in anger, but she ignored the voice and looked deeply into Fayde’s eyes.

I must save him, even if…. I’m sorry father…

A sound like glass breaking entered her ears and the two fell to the floor as their minds drifted into oblivion.

Where am I?

Fayde was filled with a strange sensation of weightlessness as he floated in a space devoid of light. He could feel a presence nearby, but no matter how he tried, he couldn’t see anything. It was as if he drifted in the vast emptiness of space.

He heard a voice call out to him. Or at least he thought he heard a voice, but it didn’t originate from without his body, instead it originated within his mind.

The voice pleaded, and it was familiar, but he couldn’t remember where he heard it from before. It grew louder and more determined and it began to tug at him, pulling at him from some unseen place. As the voice grew from a murmur, the pull he felt became stronger and his consciousness became more aware.

It was at the point that the voice became a crescendo of sound, a blinding light flashed and his feeling of weightlessness subsided. His feet had touched a surface and he steadied himself upon some unknown ground. His eyes slowly opened and what he saw, was a strange white room devoid of any decorations or furniture. Just white walls without any door or openings.

He looked around in a circle, seeing nothing, but when his body turned to his original position, someone appeared before him startling him.

It was a tall man, with long black hair and pale skin, almost as white as the walls that surrounded them. He looked as if he were a ghost and one might miss him if not for his black hair and strange crimson eyes.

The man’s eyes bore into Fayde with an uncomfortable intensity. He felt as if they could see deep into his very being, laying his entire life bare.

“Who… are you!?” Fayde could barely speak those words.

“I am Argos, welcome to the world between.”

“The world…. between?”

Fayde tested those words on his lips and strangely felt some familiarity with them, but he couldn’t place it.

“I don’t understand.”

“That is to be expected. This is not a natural space, but one created as a byproduct, a distortion in reality caused by abnormal circumstances.”

His words continued to be incomprehensible to Fayde no matter how he considered them. Seeing that his words made no sense to Fayde, the man continued his explanation.

“When Humans first made contact with the ‘Void’ they misunderstood the ‘Void’ as an energy source. So, they continued their experiments, hoping to tap into that energy which seemed limitless. After much trial and error, they made contact with it and to their surprise, the ‘Void’ communicated with them and they realized that it was not just an energy source, but something alive or at least something with a conscience. It was then that they realized that the ‘Void’ had seeped into their world and began to corrupt it. Humans that came into contact with its energy were transformed. Some regressed and devolved into horrible monsters while others were merely forcefully merged with animals or strange creatures from myth. Well, the energy that seeped into the world lacked any real guiding conscience and just manifested in various ways based on the thoughts and imagination that Humans possessed. It wasn’t a deliberate act by the ‘Void’ or one done through malice.”

As the man in white relayed his story, he appeared as if he were reminiscing or as if he were recounting a story he had witnessed himself. At some points his expression seemed fond and at other times reflected regret. It was all very strange to Fayde and while he listened, he felt himself being drawn to the words, like he was being sucked into and experiencing it all first hand.

The man in white chuckled, “You see, many of our people were engrossed in fantasies and games. You would be familiar with this term, ‘virtual reality’ right? It wasn’t just the young, but even adults were playing games where monsters existed and they fought with magic and swords. It’s funny actually, but the energy of the ‘Void’ that seeped into the world latched on to these fantasies and made it reality. Even I enjoyed playing these games. I was a bit of a fantasy buff. The power of the ‘Void’ is the power of imagination. It is not a being that possesses concepts like Human morality. It is a being that simply creates, and destroys. Originally, it even lacked emotion. It was the influence of Humanity that introduced such concepts. The ‘Void’ became something like a child, experiencing life as a Human would for the first time and while experiencing that life, it was forced to feel betrayal, pain and loneliness.”

Fayde’s perspective twisted at his words and his vision became blurred for a moment. Once his eyesight returned, the room changed and he returned to that endless and vast darkness. He realized that this was the place where the ‘Void’ originally existed.

It was empty, but as the ‘Void’ stirred, endless creations were brought about, and ended, in an instant. This went on infinitely unaffected by time or space. That was how the ‘Void’ had always existed, but that changed when Humans made contact with it.

“I was the first to make contact with the ‘Void’. I was the head of a team of scientists and it was under my supervision that we bore a hole into another dimension, or perhaps to another plane of existence. In truth, I still don’t know from where the ‘Void’ came and in hindsight, it was all pure luck that we were able to achieve what we did. When I first came into contact with the ‘Void’ it had already infected me with its power, but it was a slow change. By the time it was realized, I had already undergone a strange evolution and was quarantined, to be studied you see. It didn’t matter anyway, it was already too late.”

Again Fayde’s vision blurred and his surroundings changed. The words being spoken to him took on a life of their own and images were born in his mind. He could see, as if looking through a window, the events that took place. He listened intently to the words of Argos and in that moment, nothing else existed but a vision of calamity.

Argos walked slowly towards Fayde as he continued speaking from his memory.

“In the confusion, chaos and destruction caused by the Humans who had devolved into monsters, some of my colleagues took advantage of this. They saw the potential within the ‘Void’ and found a means to seal it and control its power, turning themselves into something like gods. Their ambition and their greed knew no bounds, and they began to fight each other for its power. They shattered the world, breaking it into fragments and from these domains they ruled with the power of creation, but there are limitations and they couldn’t fully control the power of the ‘Void’. Its consciousness was separated and it had taken on various personalities controlled by emotions that it was unfamiliar with. You should be acquainted with some of these, you have within you its will to survive, and you have faced its rage. Now, you face its desire for revenge. You must not let these emotions control you, for it will bring about destruction. Please, return the world to what it once was. It is something that only you can do.”

Argos now stood before Fayde and pleaded, his eyes never once faltering from the intense gaze that bore into him.

Fayde was filled with uncertainty and his mind was a jumbled mess from all that he had just experienced.

“I… don’t…” He muttered, but couldn’t finish his thought.

“I understand how you must feel. I once too questioned my own Humanity when my body changed. But, I realized long ago, that it didn’t matter and that what mattered was that I was alive and that I was surrounded by those who I loved and who returned that love. Isn’t that enough? Don’t you have those who rely on you despite your faults? Fayde, even if you were a life created by the ‘Void’, you are alive and that is all that matters. Let go of your doubts.”

Argos rested his hand on Fayde’s shoulder and spoke with sincerity, “And please, forgive my son and daughter. Tell Allein to forget about the past. Those she hoped to save are long gone and there is no going back. We can’t return from this place and we lived our lives fully and without regrets. Eventually, we will fade away. Now, you must go.”

Argos pushed Fayde and once again he felt weightlessness and he began to drift further and further away from the man called Argos. With those words he finally realized who Argos was.

Fayde heard the sound of shattered glass as he drifted, and the space he was in cracked and exploded into countless pieces.

He opened his eyes and the first thing he saw was a teary eyed Allein cradling him in her arms as she cried, continuously repeating the words, “I’m sorry.”

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