First chapter, up and running! Please keep in mind that this is still a work in progress. I'm actually editing a hard copy right now, but I wanted to get some more feedback than just my own. So…read and enjoy, loyal Azure Dreams fanz!
PS I don't own any of the characters mentioned in this fanfic. Don't sue me, pretty please with sugar on top!
"Oh, my head," the blue-haired man rolled onto his back and threw his arm over his eyes. The light from the forty-fifth floor of the Monster Tower was filtered, but still bright, coming from unseen windows that filled the room with sunlight. The man blinked his eyes to allow them to get used to the light and sat up to look around.
The room was peaceful; there was no evidence of the battle that had taken place less than an hour before. Gradually, memories came back to the blue-haired man. His name was Beldo and he was a monster tamer. He had lived on this floor of the Tower for seven years, waiting for the son of his rival, Guy, to reach the Tower so he could defeat him in battle and end the family line of those damned red-heads for good.
Beldo growled as he remembered the outcome of that battle. The boy, Koh, wasn't it, had reached the top of the Tower in less than a year! The brat, only sixteen years old, had beaten Beldo even without his precious familiar. Beldo had seen to it that he took the familiar from the boy immediately, turning the powerful Kewne into an extension of his own arm. Confident that Koh could not possibly win, Beldo had been completely astonished when he found himself fading into the blackness of unconsciousness on the cold tile floor of the Tower.
Beldo appraised the room as quickly as his throbbing head would allow. His heart skipped a beat when his eyes fell on the empty pedestal in the center of the room. A solitary beam of light shone from it, clear ethereal light coming from somewhere other than the outside sunlight. In the center of the pedestal was a rounded indentation: the only indication that the Tower's greatest treasure had rested there until just recently.
Beldo jumped to his feet, ignoring his protesting head and fell onto the pedestal in disbelief. The Ultimate Egg was gone! His prize, the sole purpose of his life for the past nine years had been taken by his mortal enemy! Beldo sank numbly to the floor, unable to comprehend that he had lost once and for all. "All my work and training gone in one swipe of the sword!" Beldo said absently to the floating dust particles in the light of the room.
The thought of a sword made Beldo remember his own sword. Seraphim had been Guy's sword, but through Beldo's continual use in the upper floors, it had grown considerably in power and magic. But the sword was nowhere to be seen. Without even bothering to look around for it, Beldo knew that the sword was gone; it was once again in the hands of Guy's family.
Beldo growled as the full realization of what Koh had done finally sunk in. The more he thought about it, the more he seethed. But more than the knowledge that he had lost everything material, Beldo knew that he had been beaten again by the one family that he had promised himself he would never be beaten by again. That damage to his pride burned deeply in Beldo, drowning out everything else. He knew that he couldn't leave the score the way it stood; he had to completely destroy Koh and prove once and for all that he, Beldo, was the true conqueror of the Monster Tower.
But how to go about doing it? Beldo glanced around the room, looking for any hints as to his quest. He had no weapons, no familiars, and no magic beyond his own skills, which had begun to deteriorate in the past few years due to lack of challenge. He would have to rely on his wits and his own strength. Having made his decision, Beldo closed his eyes, chanted a phrase in a foreign language and disappeared from the top floor of the Tower, leaving the solitary 40th floor empty for the first time in seven years.
Moments after his body evaporated from the tower, Beldo appeared in the gateway leading to the Monster Tower on the northern end of Monsbaiya. Beldo blinked and shielded his eyes from the glaring desert sun. How long had it been since he had seen the sun without the filters of the Tower windows? Eyes still covered, he took a few steps into the town of Monsbaiya.
Suddenly, a blue blur sped by, clipping Beldo's arm and tearing the fabric of his sleeve. Beldo jumped back just in time and fell backward into the dusty road. His mouth fell open as he watched a kid, no older than twelve, stop his shiny new Aura Bike and reverse it until he was idling in front of Beldo.
"Hey, mister!" the kid complained loudly, "What do you think you're doing? This Bike is brand-new and if it's scratched, I'm gonna…"
Beldo pulled himself up and brushed the brown dust off his clothes, his temper rising steadily. He stepped menacingly toward the little boy, "Or you will do what?" His gloved hand shot out and grabbed the Aura Bike's handlebars tightly as Beldo continued, "Little boy, do you know who you are dealing with?"
The kid stared open-mouthed, though more in awe than in fear.
"I," Beldo said, narrowing his eyes and pausing for dramatic force, "am Beldo."
Beldo expected the boy to scream, possibly beg for mercy and then to run off into town to warn anyone who would listen about the arrival of the most feared monster tamer ever. Of course, he couldn't have the kid putting the town on alert, so he'd have to stop him somehow. As his mind debated between hiding the boy and simply killing him, the boy surprised him. Instead of playing out Beldo's scenario, the boy simply shrugged his shoulders and said frankly, "So?"
Beldo's cheek twitched involuntarily at the boy's brash statement. His grip on the handlebars of the bike tightened until the metal started to creak and the boy adopted an expression of intense dislike toward the man who was abusing his new Bike. "Are you saying," Beldo hissed, "That you do no t know who I am?"
"I know you're a freaky old guy who's breaking my Aura Bike," the kid retorted as he slapped Beldo's hand off the handlebars, causing Beldo to recoil as though he had been burned. "Get off, dude!"
"I am Beldo!" he shouted, his eyes flaming, "The greatest monster tamer in the world! How dare you treat me like this?"
Both people stood in silence for a moment as the boy processed this last statement. Then, he burst into wild peals of laughter, bending over the handlebars of the Bike and slapping his leg, "The greatest…that's the best joke I've heard all day, mister! You! A monster tamer?" The rest of his comments were lost as his laughing left him breathless.
Beldo drew himself up regally, peering at the ignorant and tactless little boy down the length of his nose. "And what is so funny?" he asked coldly, "I will have you know that I have been on the top floor of the Monster Tower for…"
"No, you haven't," the boy interrupted, apparently recovered from his laughing fit, "Koh is the only person who's been to the top floor of the Tower. And Guy made it, too, but he died. Koh has the Ultimate Egg. He's my hero. You're just a pathetic old guy." And with that, the boy slammed the Aura Bike's accelerator down and sped away into town, knocking Beldo back into the dust.
"What is going on?" Beldo muttered as he rubbed his bruised elbows, "My name used to carry fear in this godforsaken town…" He got to his feet and began striding into town, doing his best to recover his confidence, despite the now brown-blue appearance of his long cape. "Perhaps it is just the stupidity of youth," he told himself, "I am sure that the rest of the town not only remembers me, but still lives in fear of my presence." He stopped and spread his arms wide, his cape billowing behind him, "Fear me, Monsbaiya! Beldo is back!"
Seven years is a very long time. This was the thought that rang through Beldo's mind as he paced through the streets of Monsbaiya. "Seven years," Beldo muttered, "is enough time to erase the greatest legend that ever lived. It is absurd! Do these people have no fear? No respect?"
He stopped suddenly when he found himself standing in front of a pretty fountain, water softly bubbling over a central post and cascading into the pool below. Beldo's eyes narrowed as he stalked to the small flight of stairs to the fountain's edge, "What lunacy is this? A fountain in the desert?"
"It's not lunacy," said a nearby female voice, "It's culture!"
Beldo whirled to face the girl. He billowed his cape menacingly as he surveyed the girl, rating her on his mental 'enemy scale'.
She was about fifteen or sixteen, her green hair pulled into twin buns on her head and her face twisted into an angry scowl that didn't seem to suit her at all. She noticed Beldo's appraising look and scowled even more, "What are you looking at?"
"I'm sorry, culture?" Beldo said. He gestured to the fountain, "This is not culture! This is lavish frippery! This spot should be a statue dedicated to me, Beldo! Who would build this waste of space? I demand to know!"
The girl was furious now. Her cheeks glowed red and she balled her fists up at her sides. "I'll have you know: She said in a dangerous shaky voice, "That Koh built this fountain. Koh is a cultured, intelligent man! Not that you'd know what that means!"
"Koh," Beldo hissed through clenched teeth, "That idiotic boy has taken my town , too?" He grabbed the girls' arms reflexively and shook her, "Quick! Where does Koh live? Tell me, girl, or I'll…"
Without warning , the girl's fist connected with Beldo's nose in a sickening crunch of bone. "You freak!" The girl shouted as Beldo backed away clutching his face protectively. "Koh lives in that house right over there! I hope he beat you up! She pointed and huffily strode away, leaving Beldo alone on the fountain.
Beldo's eyes traveled to where the girl had pointed. His red eyes widened in horror and he fell backward to get away from the house. Guy's hut had been tiny the last time Beldo had seen it, barely enough to support the three people who lived there. Now, thanks to Koh's travels in the tower, the house was enormous, larger even than the nearby Rode mansion. Beldo stumbled back in horror until his knees struck the edge of the fountain. He stumbled backward, hit his head on the pool floor and passed out,. As the world faded to black around him, he swore to himself he would regain his place in society and get his revenge against the son of Guy.
Beldo woke with another pounding headache. For a moment, he thought he had been dreaming, but no. His nose throbbed as well, almost in time with his head. He gingerly rubbed his sore nose, a souvenir of the ignorant girl at the fountain. "Oh, you'll regret your actions, girl! I'll find you and you'll…"
A wet towel landed on Beldo's face, nudging his nose a little. Beldo cried out and threw the towel to one side. He snapped his head left and right, looking for someone to maim.
A plump, middle-aged man stood a few feet away, his arms crossed and a pleasant smile on his face. "You're lucky Aunt Lenora found you in the fountain or else you'd be drowned. How'd you end up in the fountain, anyway, son?"
Beldo winced at the man's patronizing tone. "I am not your son, old man," he growled, "To answer your ridiculous question, a girl with green hair attacked me."
"Ah," the doctor laughed, "You must mean Nico. That girl has a temper on her, that's for sure. What'd you do to provoke her?"
"I did nothing!" Beldo shouted, "I simply asked her a question! Now enough with your interrogation! Answer my question! What is this place?"
"You're in the hospital," the man beamed proudly and gestured to his surroundings.
"This is not the hospital, you lying son of a pulunpa," Beldo muttered, "This place is too advanced to be the Monsbaiya hospital."
"The doctor frowned, "You know, you're right. Or you would have been right before this year. The hospital used to be very primitive. It was hard for me to work here, because sometimes, I couldn't do anything to help my patients." Then, he brightened, "But about a year ago, it was remodeled!"
"Oh, that's wonderful," Beldo said, unexpectedly pleasant, "It that an ultrasound machine…wait." His eyes narrowed to slits and he said in a low voice, "Who remodeled it?"
The doctor's face positively glowed, "Koh!"
Outside on the street, a young couple out for a stroll paused in confusion as a scream rang out over the hospital. The yell lasted for about five minutes until it drifted off into silence. The couple exchanged perplexed looks, then both shrugged and continued on their way.
"Hey, how'd you do that?" The doctor laughed, "That's amazing! You know, with a lung capacity like that, you should be a singer or a diver…"
"Shut up, old man," Beldo growled, "What else has Koh built? Tell me now!"
"Well," pondered the doctor, "There's the fountain, the theatre, the bowling alley, the casino, the temple, the racetrack, the library, the…"
"Stop!" Beldo cried. He dropped his head in his hands, "I understand! Stop now."
"The arcade; and he fixed the pool and the windmills and, oh, yes, he…"
"Curse you, Koh, son of Guy!" Beldo jumped to his feet and held his fists above his head, yelling to the immaculate white ceiling of the hospital, "I swear to you, I will destroy you and everything you hold dear!"
"So you're leaving then, yes?" the doctor asked tentatively. Beldo threw his worst glare at him and stormed from the building. "I'll send your bill then!" The doctor yelled after him, "Hope to…see you…again."