We had been traveling for a couple of days and I had spent a considerable amount of that time in thought. Reia’s father had asked me to do something unbelievable. When I heard his request at first, I didn’t know how to respond. I was somewhat in a daze, how could I possible do what he asked? He seemed very confident about it. My mind had been racing, thinking about what I could do and what their expectations were for me.
When he had first asked me to lead his tribe and marry his daughter, I was somewhat hesitant, but I had already fallen for Reia. Before her father had ever said anything, I had come to the realization that if I wanted to be with her, then becoming involved with her tribe was inevitable. Her father was the Chief, and she was his oldest daughter, none of this was a surprise. So, when they brought it up, It wasn’t beyond my expectations. At the time, there was a crisis too.
I love Reia and that won’t change. I have resolved myself to doing whatever is necessary to help her, and her family. It would have been simple for me to walk away. As a Human, it wasn’t as if I wasn’t welcome in Human society and I had become a relatively successful adventurer. I could have remained in Enrain and lived well, but I couldn’t bring myself to just ignore the plight of the Demihumans. It may seem foolish, but I felt more at home among them than I did my own kind.
Even though it seems such a farfetched goal to unite the Demihuman tribes, the Chief assured me that it could be done. He mentioned a ‘trump card’ or some means of gaining the other tribe’s recognition. Of course we would need to win in the Grand Council games first.
Then there is Allein and her brother. They have their own expectations of me, and to be honest, I owe Allein a lot. I wouldn’t have been able to survive to this point if not for her. We also share the ‘Mark of the Void’ and though normally her emotions are completely masked from our connection, I am sometimes able to get a glimpse of what she is feeling.
There are times when intense emotions of helplessness and loneliness have carried over from our connection, but there have also been fleeting moments where I felt genuine love. I knew it was indecent, but I couldn’t shake the fact that I also felt something for her. Perhaps our connection through the Mark compounded that, or maybe it was something else. I wanted to protect her too, but I wasn’t naive enough to believe that I had the strength to carry their burdens on my shoulder.
What should I do? What can I do? I was stuck on those two questions, but then I realized the answer was simple. What do I want to do? I want to help them and with my meager ability, I want to protect them from anyone who would do harm.
Just as I had come to a decision, I could feel Allein coming closer through our bond. It wasn’t exactly accurate, but I could at least get a sense of the direction and the distance. She had left with her brother the day before. Since they were Dragonkin, they didn’t like to stay cooped up for too long and they would occasionally go off to fly freely in the skies.
It wasn’t long before a beautiful black dragon flew over my head and swung around, kicking up dirt as it landed. The dragon morphed into the form of Allein, and she walked towards me with her usual somewhat seductive gait.
“Were you waiting for me Fayde?” She said while smiling coyly.
“Not really, I just needed some time alone… to think. So I came out here.” I replied in a somewhat solemn tone.
“Did I disturb you then? I could feel you here so I thought I would drop in on you.”
“No, it’s fine. I was just about to head back anyway. I had a lot on my mind, but it’s fine now.”
Allein cocked her head and watched me with her crimson eyes. They were somewhat unnerving and unnatural, but they had a certain charm. It was sometimes difficult for me to pull my eyes away from them. There were even times when I thought I might drown in those eyes.
“Fayde, I also did some thinking while I was away and… I’ve decided to tell you about me and my kind. I also have a request, will you hear me out?”
Her emotions surged when she spoke and because of our proximity, I could feel them through the Mark. It wasn’t normal to feel another’s emotions through the Mark, but she seemed to be somewhat emotionally unstable and she couldn’t control them sufficiently.
“Alright, I’m listening..”
“Not here, let’s go inside the Chief’s tent. This concerns everyone.”
We walked in silence, both of us deep in our own thoughts. When we arrived at the Chief’s tent, Reia’s family was going about their business and our encampment was lively as usual. Whenever we weren’t traveling, there was much work that needed to be done. There were Foxkin preparing animals to be skinned and their meat preserved and others were crafting various items from materials.
Nes had already returned to the camp and was discussing something with Reia and her father in the Chief’s tent. They stopped their conversation when we entered and waited for us to sit down beside them. The Chief could see the serious look on Allein’s face and he told the rest of his family to leave the tent for now so that we could have a private discussion.
“So, is it that time then?”
Reia’s father looked to Allein and she confirmed his question with a nod.
“Alright, then why don’t you tell him what you know, and if there is anything else, I will fill in the holes.”
Allein took a moment to prepare herself before speaking. It didn’t seem like it was something she wanted to talk about. With the seriousness of this atmosphere, I kept my mouth closed and waited for her to speak.
“Fayde, Nes and I, are the last of the Dragonkin.” Allein said abruptly as her lip quivered slightly.
The facade she had masked her face with almost slipping away. I understood what she meant. As I watched her speak, I began to understand a bit more about her personality and the mask she wore.
The old chief put a hand on her shoulder to give her strength and she continued.
“My father, mother, siblings, all of them are gone. Only Nes and I remain. They have been gone for a long time, longer than you can imagine.”
“What do you mean a long time ago?” I asked.
“I don’t know exactly how many years have passed, but at the least, a few thousand.” She said as her voice shook.
“Wait. How can that be?” I blurted out.
“Let me explain and then if you have any questions at the end, I will try to answer them.”
“Okay, sorry, I won’t interrupt.”
I calmed myself and listened intently.
“My brother and I were still young for our kind when this all took place, but our bodies have not aged from that time. My father put us in a strange and dark place where nothing seemed to exist other than us. There we slept, a place outside of the effects of time and when we woke, we woke to a strange world. It wasn’t a place we were meant to be. We hadn’t aged, but the world had continued on without us. Soon after we woke, we discovered the all that we knew was gone. Our family was gone, our friends, everything. My brother and I have been wandering aimlessly, looking for answers. We were guided to you, it’s the reason why we were put asleep.”
As she spoke, I felt there were bits and pieces missing, but it may very well be that she didn’t
know. Allein and her brother must have been through alot, waking up to a strange world where all you knew was gone. It’s almost like my situation, so I can understand.
“That is our story, but in order to understand, I need to explain to you what happened in the past, to this world. This world was once filled with only Humans, there were no Demihumans. There were also no monsters, or dungeons, or even magic……”
She began to recite an incredible story that I could hardly bring myself to believe.
She explained that she and her brother were the only ones alive today who were alive then. They were born after the events that changed the world took place and once they were sealed, they had very little knowledge of what happened after. Allein’s parents were among the first Demihumans in the world, most of the other original Demihumans were long dead before she was born. Even her parents didn’t fully understand what had happened.
One day, the sun had disappeared from the sky and an enormous, dark energy appeared. The way her father described it was that, it was as if the sun had been eaten by an enormous black hole, which suddenly and mysteriously appeared in the sky. It lasted several minutes, and her father said he had panicked, but he couldn’t see anything as there was no light. He felt an immense pain throughout his entire body, it warped and shaped him and when the light returned, he could see his horrid and monstrous shape, that of a dragon. Her mother, who was next to him at the time, went through the same change.
That was only the beginning of their horror, though, because they soon found that most of the people they knew had transformed into monsters, or similar beings like them. The world that they knew had forever changed, and in its place was something far more sinister. The monsters, who were once Human, had lost all reason and attacked everyone and everything. They attacked other Humans, the newly created Demihumans, and ever each other. Untold millions of people died, perhaps even more than that. They lived in the center of the Old Empire and the areas around the Imperial city had been affected the most, something which her father had found out later.
One of the sons of the emperor had been far away when it happened and when he heard, he had come with a vast army. Those in further parts of the world weren’t as affected by the phenomenon as those who were close to the Imperial capital. They waged war on the monsters, but they also killed Demihumans, thinking they were no different.
Allein’s father and mother, along with other Demihumans, were forced to go into hiding for a long time. The son of the emperor was able to regain order in the capital and its immediate surroundings and began successfully quelling the monsters, but it was a slow process.
He had only regained a small portion of their former territory before he died, and his son, and grandson, continued this process. Meanwhile, Allein’s father and mother had gathered together all the Demihumans they could, in order to protect themselves from both the monsters and Humans.
This lasted for some time, the Demi-humans had been able to keep themselves safe, far away from the Imperial capital for hundreds of years, until finally, the Empire reached them. They sent their armies to attack the Demihumans who had been living peacefully until that time. They tried to reason with them, but the Humans had become fanatical in their beliefs. They claimed that their gods gave them a holy mission to wipe out all monsters, and that included the Demihumans.
“And so, my father, and mother, took Nes and I to a secret place. There we slept, for thousands of years. When my brother and I woke, we had to fend for ourselves, and eventually we heard bits and pieces of what happened from different tribes. The Demihumans had won, but only at great cost. Very few of them survived and there was no trace of my family. The Humans were pushed south and eventually formed a new empire and the Plains were abandoned. Demihumans made it their home, along with countless monsters.”
It was difficult to swallow everything she just told me. On Earth, these kinds of stories could only be found in books or movies, but this was their world’s history.
“Oh, and that’s right. I almost forgot. Back then, Humans had extremely powerful and destructive weapons that could fire from incredible distances. I didn’t really see much of them myself, but I heard stories from others. I wasn’t alive when the world was suddenly changed, so my experience is limited, but my father told me the world was a wondrous place with all kinds of amazing things. None of that remains today though.”
That got me thinking. Was it a world similar to Earth? Could those weapons she mentioned be things like missiles or something?
“I see, I don’t really know how to respond to all that. I had been wondering for a while now why no one ever mentioned anything about the Dragonkin.”
“Now you know. I haven’t told you everything yet. There is more. In that place where my brother and I slept, we were not always alone. There was a voice that comforted us in our dreams, speaking in our minds. It was the same voice that my father heard. My brother and I…. we must continue what my father began. We must create a world where our kind can exist, where we have a future. This is why we need you, do you understand Fayde?”
“I understand what you are saying, but… why me? Why am I so important? Does it have something to do with my power?” I asked.
I had a feeling it had everything to do with the ‘Void’ and I had also heard a voice myself, so I didn’t doubt what she was saying. There was definitely truth to it, but what exactly the ‘Void’ or that ‘Voice’ were eluded me.
“Your power is unique. You should have been able to realize that by now. Did you think that you came to this world without a purpose? You were brought here by that same voice that kept my brother and I safe for thousands of years. We were sent to find you, that was why we were awoken.” Allein replied.
“Allein, what is this ‘Voice’?”
“I don’t know…. I only know that my father told me to heed the ‘Voice’ as he had. The ‘Voice’ has guided our people since we became Demihumans. It only told me certain things, just the things I needed to know. It told me where to find you, and what we needed to do to save our kind.”
I thought for a moment and then turned to the Chief.
“Has anyone else ever heard this ‘Voice’?”
“No, only the Dragonkin were able to hear it. This was one of the reasons why they were our leaders.” Reia’s father answered while shaking his head.
“I don’t very much like dancing to the tune of anyone, especially not some intangible being…”
Even though I said that, I had been relying on the power of the ‘Void’ since I arrived in this world. I wouldn’t have been able to arrive at this point in time if I hadn’t. If this ‘Voice’ was indeed the ‘Void’ as I suspected, I was already deeply affected by it.
“Fayde, I understand your hesitation. You chose to help us and it has put your life in danger. I hate to ask more of you, but please consider my words. Our people, all Demihumans, are slowly dying out. Humans hunt our kind, killing and enslaving us while we continue to remain divided. Only the Dragonkin are recognized as the true leaders of our people, these are the old traditions. The tribes will never abandon the old traditions, not of their own accord.” Reia’s father said with conviction.
“I understand all of this, you explained it to me already, but I still don’t see how I can do this. You say they won’t abandon the old traditions. I am a Human, they would never follow me even if I wanted to do it. I….” I hesitated and looked towards Reia.
“Fayde…. I’m sorry… we have all placed a heavy burden on you and truthfully, you don’t owe us anything. If you want to leave now… I would understand.” Reia said with a bitter smile.
Seeing her pained expression wasn’t easy for me. I had already come to terms with this for the most part so I felt there was no need to drag it on further.
“Reia, don’t make that look. It’s fine, okay? I would never abandon you. I know what it feels like to have those you love run away because they are too weak and unwilling to struggle. They just…. leave when things become difficult. I won’t do that…”
My words seemed to calm her and she nodded and smiled.
“So then… what exactly is your trump card that will make the other clans submit?” I asked Reia’s father.
He didn’t answer and instead looked towards Allein. Her emotions were once again out of control even if her face remained calm. She was nervous, anxious, afraid, and hopeful.
“Fayde… my brother and I, we don’t have the power to do what is necessary, but you do. But as a Human, the clans wouldn’t accept you… so.. If I were to be….”
I sighed, knowing full well where this was going.
“You’re talking about marriage, aren’t you?” I said interrupting her.
“…Yes..” Allein replied with resignation.
“I see…” I said calmly, but in reality I wasn’t calm.
My thoughts were going crazy and my heart was beating rapidly. I had already decided to do what was necessary to help them, but could I really do this?
I glanced over at Reia who was gritting her teeth. Her emotions were not under control either and I could sense that she was not happy.
“This is nothing strange, I myself have more than one wife. Reia understands this too. If you marry Allein as well, none of the clans will be able to go against this. This is a chance for us to survive..” The old Chief said pleadingly, sensing that my thoughts were conflicted.
“Is it such a bad thing…. Do you hate it so much?”
“It’s not that Allein….”
I didn’t respond immediately. I tried to calm my nerves and settle my heart. It wasn’t such a terrible thing. Allein was beautiful and it wasn’t as if I didn’t feel anything for her. Her personality was difficult to deal with and I knew she kept a lot of herself hidden from me, but I didn’t think she was a bad person. There was a lot on her shoulders and I could imagine that the burden was too great for her to bear alone.
She continued to watch me with stern eyes. I wondered if she thought gentleness was a weakness. Perhaps she felt if she allowed her true emotions to show, that she would collapse from the responsibility that had been given to her. She seemed frail to me in this moment and not strong at all.
“Are you okay with this Reia?” I asked.
She nodded her head but I could tell that in her heart she was conflicted.
The next day, the entire tribe gathered not far from the encampment. In order to take Allein as my wife and be recognized as the Khan of the Dragonkin, it was necessary for me to defeat Nes. Well, it wasn’t absolutely necessary, but Nes was being stubborn. He kept muttering under his breath how he would never accept me and he wasn’t about to hand his sister over to me without a fight. He refused to relent no matter what and challenged me to a duel which, in the end, I was happy to accept. It was a perfect opportunity to beat his ass and teach him a lesson.
The Foxkin gave us a very wide berth so as not to get caught up in our battle. Both Nes and I stood across the expanse from each other, our weapons at the ready. I could feel his magic power growing and manifesting around him. I held my sword with both my hands on the hilt and began summoning the ‘Void’ within me. Dark matter flowed out from my body, coalescing into black flames around my blade and body. I focused intently and controlled the flow of power that raged within me, shaping and bending it to my will.
I felt the magic power around Nes stabilize and he shouted out his attack and flew towards me with deadly accuracy. I could feel his murderous intent approaching me at a blistering pace. I did not lose my focus, and in the moment that Nes’ attack was to strike, I released my ‘Void Strike.’ The collision of powerful magic, ignited the spot on which these two magical energies collided. The energy momentarily contracted, releasing sparks of what looked like electromagnetic energy, that crackled in the sudden stillness.
That stillness lasted only a moment, a mere millisecond, before expanding and releasing an explosive energy that sent Nes flying backwards in shock from the released magical energy. A small crater was formed on the ground where our attacks had been unleashed, and an enormous explosive sound rang throughout the Plains. My ‘Void’ flames ebbed and dissipated, but I was unharmed.
Nes was lying on the floor several meters away and didn’t move. His sister was nowhere in sight.
“And I was trying my best to not blow things up this time….”
I walked over to Nes hoping he wasn’t dead. Thankfully, he wasn’t, he was still breathing, but he had been knocked out. It was my victory.