Origin

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A lost world...

As evening drew to a close, the sun sinking in a firey sky, I couldn't help but feel that my world would soon be lost to the ages.

I am the last of the Echidnas.

I am a Guardian.

... the last Guardian.

The last Guardian of the Master Emerald.

My father and mother are long gone. My brothers and sisters have left this floating island.

Angel Island.

But this is my home... this was my calling.

This is my peace.

But a troubled heart beats within an old gentlewoman. For who is to protect what I leave behind?

I sat on the steps of this forlorn little shrine, all that is left of the great Echidna civilization.

I closed my eyes and sighed. I remembered the many legends that were passed on through my family.

Many of them were little more than folklore, handed down and inflated by generation upon generation.

But...

I always believed that one story in particular held the truth.

The truth to Angel Island. To this shrine. To the Master Emerald.

As people told the story, they would always begin with the ancient poem...

"The servers are the seven Chaos. Chaos is power, power is enriched by the heart. The controller is the one that unifies the Chaos..."

Long ago, a warrior tribe of Echidnas lived in an ancient city, deep in the jungle, where they grew powerful and proud. Their leader was a powerful and respected Echidna, and he led the city to supposed greatness.

However, his ways of achieving power were terrible... he increased his country's territory by inflicting war on other lands and by taking all that he desired...

The leader had some family, an old mother and a young daughter. It was the daughter's beloved grandmother who taught her the words to the sacred poem.

One day, when the young girl was out, walking beyond the city's limits, she found a hidden path which led to a small, serene place, hidden from the hustle and bustle of her home. There, she found peace and quiet, and also new friends, tiny creatures named Chao.

These small creatures came to love the young girl, who showered them with caring and kindness. This place, this heaven in the jungle, was the site of the shrine of the Master Emerald. Upon seeing it, the young girl realized the true words of her late grandmother's poem. The seven Chaos were the seven Chaos Emeralds. The controller was the Master Emerald itself.

After becoming quite acquainted with the shrine and the Chao, the girl was one day startled by the appearance of the guardian.

Chaos.

Chaos was a being made of pure water, representing everything there. Purity, innocence... all was wonderful.

However... the great leader soon discovered what his daughter knew about, and led an army there to take the Chaos Emeralds for himself, to gain more power. The daughter tried in vain to stop them... but such a great army would not listen to the cries of a single little girl.

But when the army reached the shrine, they met with its guardian. Chaos was furious. Absorbing the powers which the Echidnas had hoped to gain, it transformed into a terrible monster, and began to demolish the Echidnas and any sign left of them.

The daughter, in anguish, called to the Master Emerald, pleading for its power to stop the monster which had once been her friend. The great Emerald understood her plight, and shone with a brightness unheard of. Chaos was drained of its power, and was dragged into the jewel, forever to be contained.

However, in exchange for the saving of the world, the girl's own spirit was pulled into the Master Emerald, also.

She used the power of the Emerald to lift the land around it into the air, where no one would ever find it, in the hopes that no one will ever release Chaos into the world again.

And, to this day, the few Echidnas who remained on the floating island have taken it upon themselves to forever protect the Master Emerald, so that the world shall be forever safe from the horror that is Chaos... the god of destruction.

I opened my eyes.

So went the story of my legacy.

But who shall continue it...?

I never had any children of my own... and I don't know what has happened to the rest of my family.

I sighed. A cruel fate has descended upon this island.

The Echidnas, my race, were a powerful tribe. Even I, with my age almost nearing a century, can still pull off some mighty attacks, should I need to defend my homeland.

But all good things must come to an end, someday.

The old must die so that the young can live. Otherwise, the world would become crowded and hot... all might perish from the planet.

But here... here, in this peaceful place, it is only I and the small woodland creatures that inhabit the small groves of trees on the island. The Chao of legend are long gone from this place.

The sun went down, marking the end of yet another day. Yet the night sky took its time that night, not wanting to darken the heavens at the right time...

The sky remained a deep purple, mixed with shades of pink, red, and orange.

The colors were beautiful, even to eyes like mine who have seen them nearly every day for all of her life. But the reds were starting to vanish from my sight...

Not feeling tired, I decided to stretch my legs a bit as I walked around the small shrine. The exercise took my mind off of Angel Island's fate...

...until I stepped the wrong way and fell.

Now what was that?! I sat up crossly and looked down at my feet.

A stone. A large, round stone.

Interested, I picked it up. How intriguing... it almost looked like...

...an... an egg?

I blinked. That couldn't be right...

What is this?

A stone. Nothing more.

Hefting it, I could feel its weight... no egg would weigh this much.

I could hold it in my two hands. I decided to carry it back to the shrine... although I couldn't explain why...

I yawned. That short walk was tiring for an old woman like myself. That, and the night sky had finally decided to show itself.

I dozed off, sitting on the shrine steps...

But in my dream... I heard a voice...

"Nakurusu... Nakurusu...

...the Controller...

...destiny...

Nakurusu's destiny..."

A bit startled, I awoke to the sunrise.

"Nakurusu"...?

Blinking in the still dim daylight, I looked down and noticed that I was still holding the stone that I mistook for an egg.

But now, in the proper light, I could see something...

...words... a poem.

Squinting, I was able to make out the phrases...

Kingdom of the controller... it is his

Night and day pass him by

Under the sky, he shall protect...

Curled inside a small home

Know that the power will keep him safe

Life is a precious gift...

Energy of the controller is his...

Silently, he'll accept this destiny

What? I stared at the small stone, wondering who could have etched this in so well.

Who is "he"?

I started from the beginning.

"Kingdom of the controller"...

The controller is the Master Emerald... so the controller's kingdom must be this, Angel Island...

"Night and day pass him by"...

I smiled weakly. Night and day passed by me, too...

"Under the sky, he shall protect"...

...I did that, also... I was the protector of the "controller".

"Curled inside a small home"...?

That one didn't make much sense...

"Know that the power will keep him safe"...

The power? Does it mean the power of the Master Emerald?

"Life is a precious gift"...

Of course. All Echidnas were raised to know that... In fact, the very shape of this stone, an egg... it symbolized life, too...

"Energy of the controller is his"...

I sighed, shaking my head. This would make much more sense if I knew who "he" was.

But, whoever "he" was, he'd share the energy of the Master Emerald itself... Now, what kind of being could possibly do that?

My mind brought to me the tale of the young girl...

What a puzzle... the last line.

"Silently, he'll accept this destiny."

I shook my head in wonder. Three of those lines matched my life.

The sun caused the clouds to glow spectacular shades of reds, oranges, and pinks.

I sighed, wondering how many more sunrises I'd see in this lifetime...

But as the sun rose slowly, shining more light onto the island, I began to see that the stone wasn't the plain gray or brown like the others on the island, but a faint green...

...no... it actually gave off a faint, green light...

Almost like the Master Emerald...

I stared at the stone.

"Wait..."

One line from the poem reached out to me...

"Energy of the controller is his"...

Feeling slightly silly for this, I climbed the steps to the shrine and placed the stone against the Master Emerald, glad that no one was around to watch me...

Sure enough, true to my suspicions, the stone began to glow green.

I was right.

This had to be some sort of magic at hand.

I reached out to pick it up...

I was right again.

This is no stone.

This was an egg...

And all it needed was the energy of the Master Emerald to hatch.

I touched it gently.

No doubt. This was an Echidna egg.

I wondered...

...where did it come from?

No other Echidnas have been on this island for ages...

I looked at the Master Emerald itself in interest.

"By any chance..." I asked it, feeling slightly childish, "would this be yours?"

No answer.

Of course. What was I expecting, for the girl in the story to emerge from her crystal home and give me an answer?

The egg now seemed to have a crystalline look about it.

At least I understood another line of the words etched into it. "Curled inside a small home" must have referred to that egg.

I watched it in interest, not knowing when... or if... it would hatch.

But Mother Nature doesn't just leave eggs around in nearly uninhabited areas, helter-skelter, for nothing.

I knew. I just knew.

The young one that hatched from that egg... would certainly be the next Guardian of the Master Emerald.

I felt slightly more tired than usual that day, so I didn't get up much. I was content to sit there and watch the egg...

...the child of the "controller"...

I wondered if the Master Emerald had heard my wish for a new Guardian...

And I also wondered... if maybe the young girl whose soul was supposed to have been trapped in the Emerald was the one who had been responsible for the creation of this youth.

...hm?

As evening fell, the egg glowed even more fiercely.

To my surprise, the words glowed with a bright, white light...

But the letters that glowed the brightest were the ones to the left...

My eyes snapped open.

"Nakurusu"...

"Knuc..."...?

That was the answer...!

"Nakurusu"... when translated to the newer language, from ancient Echidna... became...

The egg shattered, revealing a young Echidna child, a male.

I watched.

He glowed with a green light. With the energy of the Master Emerald.

The green Echidna whimpered slightly. The green glow started to fade away...

...the Master Emerald's power wasn't enough... he wouldn't make it...

I stared at my hands, resting on the ground. It wasn't much, but...

I closed my eyes and held my palms out towards the Echidna. Focusing, I centered my chi to my hands...

...and in warm, pulsing waves, transferred it to the new Guardian.

I sat back, watching the green glow continue to recede from him. But it wasn't because of lack of energy anymore.

The Master Emerald could only do so much. And it was up to me to help it.

The green light disappeared. And the young one's true color shined out.

Red. A vibrant, wild red. The sunset itself was rivaled.

I had never seen another Echidna with that color... perhaps it was some sort of marking, from his warrior ancestry...

...ah, well.

The old proverb was coming true. For the young to live, the old must pass on...

My life force was gone. I looked to the sky.

The stars shone especially bright that night.

True to Echidna legend, a true hero's soul does not depart from his or her body...

...but brings itself, whole, to the afterlife.

My entire being began to move to the next plane of reality...

...but before I went...

I touched the now sleeping boy gently.

And said one thing to him.

"Knuckles... you are the Guardian of the Master Emerald now."

I waved farewell, and joined the spirits of those who helped to watch the island from the sky...

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Fin