Hello everyone, welcome (or welcome back in most cases) to One Reality, the sequel to Soldier's with Wings. I took my break, read a few stories and just took a breather for a while so I could collect my thoughts, but sooner than I thought, I was already crammed with ideas for a sequel. So here I am, back and writing with good spirits. Let's hope the story comes off the same, huh? So what more can I say?
The old, grey ruler paced back and forth tirelessly in front of his chair, muttering curses of denial under his breath as every second ticked away. His guards glanced at him wordlessly, but not without a bit of weariness on their own usually controlled faces.
Likewise, the king's advisor and his queen watched and waited with ever growing anticipation, not even being able to find it within themselves to perform their usual duties and comfort the crabby old man. Everyone shuffled their feet unconsciously, trying to be subtle about their own worry discretely.
"What do we have to worry about?" the advisor asked quietly, trying to find it within himself to be reasonable about the situation that was quickly approaching.
He continued when no one responded. "If we just give them what they seek, surely there will be no quarrel?"
The king rounded on him quickly enough. "That's what you think!" he barked maliciously while raising a small glass vial up so that the advisor could gaze upon it for a moment. Inside it was a deep green liquid sloshing around freely.
His fingers curled defensively around the small bottle. "This medicine took over a month to make, and the ingredients are some of the rarest in our land! Sure, this is the first time we've had to surrender such a thing…but what of the next time? Will they come back demanding more? And how many more times after that? Are we their slaves or are we a kingdom!?"
The advisor nodded solemnly, evading any further argument with the cranky man.
"But what more could be expected?" the withered but wise queen interjected briskly. "We give them what they seek or we risk war on ourselves. We must be careful…or they could simply over-power us and take it all."
The king shot her a glare. "I dare them to try it. We will never fall to the likes of them."
The guards nearest him shuffled nervously on their feet, obviously very unimpressed with the idea of going to war with the opposing nation. Such an idea seemed deranged to everyone…except the king.
"Let's not speak of such things…" the advisor cut in quickly, trying to ease the rising tension. "I'm sure no ill-will will come to either nation today. We have the medicine they asked for…we will present it and then demand that they be on their way."
Everyone nodded in relief, but the king continued to pace angrily.
A guard came up just then and saluted. "Sir, our guests have arrived. They're both waiting patiently to be admitted."
The old ruler straightened himself almost jerkily and whirled around. Regardless of his fierce demeanor, his voice shook a little.
"B-both?" he stuttered, shaking his head. "Both…meaning two?"
The guard cocked his head slightly to the side in confusion, causing his armor to clink gently.
"Yes?" he replied simply. "And the small escort group that brought them here is waiting outside…"
The king whirled back around to speak with his advisor and queen, seeming elated and angered oddly, at the same time.
"What's this, they've sent only two?" he barked in a darkly amused laugh. "Are they trying to insult us or are they just stupid?"
The advisor stepped forward defensively, raising his hands. "I'm afraid I don't understand. What bothers you, sir?"
The king ignored him by waving him off for a moment and turned back to the guard.
"Let them in immediately."
The guard left back the way he came.
"Either way, it's their mistake…" the king laughed, his pale eyes now on the double doors at the far end of the room.
The queen's eyes narrowed at his back. "Whatever foolish fantasy is going through your head, I suggest you put it back on the shelf before it gets us all killed!" she snapped.
"Silence!" he commanded. "Learn your place!"
Reluctantly, she fell silent. The advisor gave her a sympathetic look before turning his gaze back to the doors.
Then there was a silent signal and a couple of the guards rushed to the doors and began to frantically pull them open, though with as much grace as they could muster.
The king gritted his teeth in excited anticipation, and waited as the silence drifted into the tense room. They all waited.
In walked a young man with long, blazing hair that could have been a gift from the phoenix itself. Its length drifted behind him as he strode fearlessly forward, his head held up in obvious defiance at the problem that hadn't even occurred yet. His eyes were of the most piercing green, taking in every person in turn and analyzing them all as minor. His searing eyes lingered no longer on the king, advisor or queen than it did anyone else. His face was decently pale, with sharp features. Immediately he was out of place, he did not belong.
The king took an unknowing step back in surprise. The queen raised an obviously relieved eyebrow. By the look of the young man, they didn't send a nobody.
But that wasn't it.
Just a moment after the first person entered, so did the second.
In skipped an exceptionally tiny female figure with long, coal black hair. It wasn't perfectly straight like the male's, rather, small locks of it curled disobediently around the frame of her face. Her eyes were of the strangest, most demonic orange and child-like, though they were showing signs of becoming slimmer with her age. Her gaze skipped from person to person out of boredom rather than analytically. Her face was childish and engraved with what seemed to be genetic curiosity. Her skin was an unhealthy pale colour, making her seem very fragile. Too many things conflicted…neither did she fit in.
The male continued to stride forward boldly, his expression clearly stating that there was no threat, and if there was…it was him. The younger girl fell into step at his side, seeming naive in her lack of defense. They didn't acknowledge each other in any way, but they immediately became a team…a set…a pair.
The king eyed them judgmentally as the seconds ticked past and they settled themselves into a comfortable standing position at the base of the stairs.
He continued to watch indecisively. This was not what he was expecting but he wanted nothing more than to take advantage of what he was given and give the great rival kingdom a scare.
The advisor spoke quickly, feeling the unease of the two guests rise at being so oddly stared at.
"Greetings…honored guests…" he said quickly, carefully.
The red-headed male nodded his head in acknowledgement. The girl raised her hand quickly and surprisingly, waved.
"Hi," she chirped quite loudly. The advisor blinked, a little astounded at the informal but casual greeting.
The king stepped in. "Do not greet them as such!" he snapped at his advisor. "They are no more than devious enemy soldiers…" he turned back to them with a sneer.
The green eyed male spoke in response. "We have no intention to be your enemies right now."
The king held up the vial. "Too late."
The queen sighed and murmured under her breath. "Just give it to them or risk confrontation!"
"Also too late! We've become enemies the moment you asked for this cure! I see your meddling kingdom is trying to take advantage of its superior rivals! Foolish if you ask me…"
The young black haired girl turned away from the king and to her green eyed companion. Her voice was quiet, questioning.
"Superior rivals?" she asked in a hushed voice, almost like the idea was humorous. The red haired man shook his head, indicating that the statement was false.
The king boiled and snapped his fingers. Trained archers lifted their bows and aimed them at the two steadily.
The girl raised an eyebrow, slightly amused. The red-head didn't even acknowledge the offensive command.
The king gritted his teeth together, finding the two to be nerve-grating and arrogant.
"Stop it!" The queen hissed. "Tell them to lower their weapons immediately! This will anger their empress and emperor!"
Ignoring her, the king spoke to the duo.
"What gives you the right to have possession of this?"
He held up the clear vial with the liquid.
The green eyed man set the king with a sudden, nasty glare. "If you don't hand it over then what gives you the right to be alive?"
The king started at the threatening comment, even the queen and guards fell into appalled silence.
The little girl reached up and gently rested her hand on the young man's arm.
"Asch…" she whispered warningly. His green gaze turned to her for a moment, then he shook his head and turned back to the front.
The king's hand curled threateningly around the fragile vial. "One word from me and these arrows could plunge into both of your foul hearts!"
The fiery haired man's expression did not change. "Try it."
The king bristled in fury. The little girl slapped a hand to her forehead.
"Or…" he sneered. "I could simply smash this!" he said as he raised the precious, tiny liquid-filled bottle.
Asch eyed it for a minute, before his piercing gaze locked back onto that of the kings.
"Try it," he repeated.
The queen sobbed quietly in the background, obviously very opposed to any sort of confrontation. The advisor let out an annoyed breath through his nose.
Suddenly the little girl spoke to her older companion quietly.
"Hey, I'll save our lives but I'm not saving that stupid vial…" she muttered, crossing her arms over her petite frame in defiance.
The man named Asch turned to her with a scowl on his face. "If that vial drops, you catch it! You hear me?" he argued quickly, leaving no room for debate.
She scowled openly too, but nodded.
The king considered for a moment. How would they catch the vial in a mere second when they were almost ten feet away?
The man with the crimson hair turned back to the king and locked his green gaze once more, seeming confident.
"Besides…I doubt he could smash it anyway. It's as valuable to them as it is to me. It would be a complete waste to destroy it," he said, loud enough for everyone to hear.
The last straw pulled and with vanishing consideration for everyone else's safety, the king raised his hand. The archers bows groaned with the strain of the wait.
"You're right, I cannot dispose of this so easy," the king sneered. "But you on the other hand are not so lucky! Fire!" the king yelled.
"No!" the queen screeched in horror.
The arrows slipped from their bows on command and streaked towards the man named Asch and his tiny friend.
Suddenly the little girl moved, slipping in front of her green eyed companion within the second and raising her pale hands in defense. A dull blue glow outlined her fingers and palms and before anyone could ask what she was doing, the barrage of arrows halted in their tracks. They floated lazily in the air, like oddly they were stuck.
There was a group of gasps, and the king went wide eyed in horror. So this was why they sent two…no more was necessary.
Asch nodded knowingly and placed his gloved hand on his female companions shoulder. She turned her head and smiled at him weakly.
"Underestimating numbers will get you and your kingdom killed. I suggest you turn over the vial now, before that day becomes today," he warned. Then he raised his other hand –palm up – and waited patiently.
Dumbfounded by the turn of events, the king remained idle. Quietly around him, guards and servants alike began to suggest that he hand the medicine over and be done with it all together.
When after a moment he still didn't show signs of handing it over, the young girl who had shielded her companion and herself from the arrows gave an aggravated sigh. Then suddenly the arrows flipped and pointed themselves at the king. His eyes went even wider.
"Listen, we don't have all day to wait while you show us the exceptionally small size of your brain…so if you don't mind could you hand that stupid bottle over…please?" she tacked on rather unhelpfully at the end.
The king's advisor moved then, reaching out for the king's fist and taking the tiny vial. The king didn't even seem to notice, stuck in his deliberating phase.
With a tiny flick of his wrist, he threw the vial to the man with the flaming hair, who caught it easily with his outstretched hand and immediately withdrew it close to his body.
It seemed the little girl hand no intention to really harm anyone because the moment the bottle was in her companions possession, she released all the arrows from her strange powers and let them clatter to the floor noisily.
"Thanks," she said cheerfully, as if the whole violent thing had never happened. The advisor blinked and shook his head, taken aback once again with her weird choice of words.
"Be gone, quickly!" the queen cut in harshly but it sounded a little like she was concerned for the guests safety, secretly. They nodded meekly in response and turned and began to walk back to the doors.
They sat in the fancy carriage as it rolled quietly along, heading back to their home city…the reality flipped city that resembled Grand Chokmah of Auldrant. Their home city was beautiful, with complicated crevices of running water and fountains as high as trees. She liked to climb them on occasion, though preferably in secret…to avoid the consequences part of it.
It was just the two of them in the carriage, silently going over the irritating events of the hour. She looked out the window as she thought, ignoring the bright-eyed reflection that always seemed to be in the way.
"Why were they so uptight?" she asked absentmindedly. "I mean it wasn't like we were asking for their castle or something…jeez…"
Asch sat on the red upholstered seat quietly beside her, his eyes closed and his arms folded in front of him. He did speak though, indicating that she wasn't being ignored.
"Jealousy…" he answered quietly. "Enemy kingdoms are always looking for ways to disband their own enemies."
Sin rolled her eyes at the window. "Shooting us would just make Dailiin and Syft mad…" she replied bluntly. "…It's scary when they're mad…" she added under her breath.
"He thought it would make our kingdom back off…if he killed the two of us. Scare us into staying away…"
Sin smiled and shook her head, still on her knees on the seat and leaning towards the window. "All this over some stupid medicine? It looks awful…such a waste of time…"
"Sin…" Asch suddenly said severely. His tone made her look away from the window for a moment and into his piercing green eyes. The moment she did this her cheeks were burning and she had to duck her head a little.
He continued. "If I hear you say it's a waste one more time I swear I'm going to thump you something good."
The replica blinked and then smiled sheepishly. "I didn't mean it like that…" she hurriedly corrected herself. "It's just that none of the others have worked yet…"
He closed his eyes again and leaned back. "That's why we have to keep trying. There is a cure for everything…somewhere."
She had to smile. "But I found my cure already…it's sitting right beside me…and honestly it tastes better…"
The edges of the former God-Generals mouth twitched upward, though his eyes remained closed. Sin was just about to embrace him, but before she did, he spoke.
"You're still taking it."
"Ugh…" she groaned, instantly pulling away and putting a scowl on her face. He was so stubborn sometimes.
She leaned on the palm of her hand, her mouth pulled down in a crooked frown.
"Can I put it in something else?" she muttered.
"Well then can I eat something else afterward?"
"Then can I just—"
She set him with an annoyed glare. Sometimes it was near impossible to resist the urge to punch him…and usually when she did she found herself with a bruised fist.
The fifteen year old turned away, trying to ignore him and find the window more interesting.
"You're awful at negotiation…" she stated, gritting her teeth.
He laughed very quietly, just under his breath…it sent shivers up her spine.
"No…" he started smoothly, "You are awful at negotiation."
Still looking out the window and up and the very blue sky, she scratched the back of her head. That was true, she had never been good at bargaining or what-not.
"That's because I don't have anything left to give up," she scowled.
"Then maybe you should reconsider the next time you come into my room in the middle of the night and offer something you can't get back."
The heat instantly prickled her cheeks in the form of a very noticeable blush and she had to turn fully away from him in order to hide her obvious embarrassment. Oh, how he aggravated her sometimes.
"You. Give. Me. Headaches!" she mumbled fiercely while boring her eyes into the window. He laughed quietly again.
She was silent for a moment, ignoring him in her embarrassment…but as she thought more about it, an idea came to her.
"So is that what you want? I could give myself up…again..."
"Nice try. Not until you're sixteen. You're taking that medicine, so just let it go."
"Ugh…fine…" she muttered finally, finding that that last idea was a long shot anyway. He had been completely solid as stone in that matter from the moment it had even hinted of coming up again…and it had come up tons of times the moment they realized he was no longer married. Apparently...except for that one exceptional time...he still thought she was too young. It was definitely a hard one to keep in check…a desire so hard to ignore.
The both of them drifted back into silence as the conversation finally came to a close. Once again it seemed to favor him, and she was betting the day it favored her she'd probably die from surprise and it would be totally useless anyway.
Things had changed dramatically and yet somehow remained exactly the same. When he told her the story of Dailiin's scheme to overthrow the treacherous advisor she could only sit and listen in complete disbelief. Dailiin apparently was a much more intelligent woman than she had given her credit for. That plan was one of the finest she had ever heard of.
And now things were finally the way they should have been all along. Asch at her side, a pair, a couple and they weren't the only ones that knew now. Others had finally been let in and this solidified that they were both taken. It was wrong to keep it a secret, in the long run it had just created too many problems to count.
As she sat thinking in her daze, something suddenly zoomed by the window. She jumped and was instantly pressing the tip of her nose to the glass, trying to catch a glimpse. She leaned on the seat, supporting herself with just her knees.
"Whoa did you see that!?" she yelled frantically. "What was it!?"
She pushed her cheek closer to the glass as she continued to look for the mysterious figure.
Suddenly Asch's voice cut in. "Sit down, love…" he stated.
Sin frowned and turned to him. His eyes were still closed, his arms were still crossed.
"What? Why—Ahhhh!" The carriage heaved, throwing her from her spot and into the other wooden side with a loud thump.
"Ow!" she hissed loudly, unscrambling herself and bringing her hands up to rub her throbbing head. Asch just shook his head at her, finally opening his green eyes.
"I told you to sit…"
"Even you couldn't sit down that fast!"
The former God-General frowned for a moment before nodding. "I suppose that's true…" he admitted grimly.
He stood up finally and rather than opening one of the doors and peering out, he lifted his arms and unlatched a small lock on the roof of the carriage. Then he pushed open the small door and it flung with a noisy clack onto the roof itself.
"I didn't know that was there…" Sin said, after finally finishing rubbing her obviously very sore head. He extended a hand to help her up. She accepted it gratefully.
"It's weird…the carriages in Auldrant didn't have these…" he replied, furrowing his eyebrows. It just proved that not everything was a mirror image.
Asch stepped onto the cushioned seat and then straightened himself, allowing a good portion of his upper-half to be outside as the carriage continued on. He examined the situation grimly.
"What's going on?" Sin asked from below.
He ignored her for a moment and continued to look around. He wasn't quite sure yet.
He narrowed his eyes and peered off into the distance as the wind blew his red hair around his face. He spotted a bunch of quickly moving figures and his face fell slightly in irritation.
"Great…" he muttered. "We're being followed…"
Suddenly there was a loud noise and then Sin below him.
"Ah!" she yelled in what seemed to be frantic surprise. Then there was a noise of something that definitely shouldn't have been in the carriage.
"Asch! Problem!" he heard his tiny partner screech.
In one swift movement, he pushed himself from the opening in the roof and down into the carriage.
What he found was one of the enemy soldier's in there with her, his sword trying to cut her neck as he pushed her back. She had both her hands on the man's wrists, trying to force the blade back towards his body. It didn't seem to be going well though, a fifteen year old girl, weakened certainly didn't have good enough odds for his liking.
They continued to wrestle until he finally lunged, grabbing the other man and yanking him back, away from the replica. This was easy enough for him, the other man seemed to be pretty scrawny.
"Get the door!" Asch winced as the other man tried to elbow him in the side of the face. He turned his head away quickly.
The young replica lurched onto the carriage door and yanked it open quickly, avoiding a nasty kick from the other soldier in the process.
Asch struggled with the very reluctant other man as he tried to push the victim to the open door. Soon enough Sin joined him in the fight, and although she couldn't put much strength into it, she did a very good job in tripping the man up along the way.
As Sin pried the other man's hands from the doorframe, he shoved, and finally the enemy soldier went tumbling out the carriage door to tumble on the bumpy, grassy ground instead.
Sin let out a reluctant cough, due to her illness and then turned to him with a smile. "Thank you—"
Her foot slipped on the edge of the carriage and too suddenly, Asch found his reflexes shot out to grasp her. His arms enclosed around her waist as he pulled her back up safely, close to him. Then he pulled back and closed the door, sealing most of the wind out again.
He found himself standing there for a moment, hugging her before he pulled away and began to climb back up to the roof.
"Now could you please stay out of trouble…" he stated rather than asked.
"Like that was my fault!" she called up to him. She got defensive easily.
He observed the scene once more. Nothing had really changed except the charging people in the distance were a lot closer and a lot more threatening. It seemed like the king really was set on taking their lives and causing devastation. Asch found himself feeling oddly sympathetic for the queen and the good advisor. He wondered how long they had to deal with things like this? No wonder the two nations didn't get along…their king was a lunatic.
Asch blinked as he felt a small pressure on his side and then quickly he learned it was Sin who was squeezing up beside him to have a peek of her own. He gave her a questioning look.
"There isn't enough room," he protested loudly, but she just ignored him until they were both half up there and looking around. This certainly was not comfortable.
"You're the reason there isn't enough room!" she replied over the wind. "Jeez why do you have to be so big!?"
"I'm not big!" Asch argued in spite of himself. "You're just skinny and vertically challenged! No wonder everyone else looks big!"
"Hey! Take that back!" she demanded, trying to elbow him with a little success.
"No! It's true!" he shouted, the wind howling in his ears.
Her eyes narrowed into the distance suddenly, obviously spotting what he already had.
"Are they still after us!?"
Asch nodded and then shook his head.
She tried to lean closer so she wouldn't have to speak as loud. "Are you going to stop them?"
He thought for a moment and then nodded again. Wiggling his hand free, he extended it towards the long line of enemy soldiers in the near distance.
"Oh frigid blades pour forth! Icicle rain!" Sin chanted beside him, a smile in her voice.
A tiny smile crept to the edge of his mouth too hearing the old incantation. He rolled his eyes and unleashed the spell.
Fonons in this world were extremely plentiful, since it was much less developed than Auldrant in many ways. Cities were built around where the most fonons gathered still…but they weren't utilized to their fullest potential like the other world's was.
So when he called upon his spell with no incantation and with hardly any effort at all, the spell unleashed itself as though Lorelei himself had done it.
Huge shards of ice formed and fell downward, looking more like icebergs than icicles. There were more than enough of them and they crashed into the ground just a few feet from the approaching soldiers, instantly cutting off their path.
The spell continued as he willed it on, looking like the same old spell he used to use for his own benefit in Auldrant…except magnified by ten.
The soldier's stopped following them, but Asch didn't know if it was because they couldn't get through or because they lost hope. He didn't really care which of the two it was…he just wanted them to stop.
"That should hold them," Sin grinned at him. He lowered his hand slowly and nodded.
With a little bit of odd difficulty, they managed to climb back into the carriage.
There was no way they were getting their filthy hands back on this vial. He already had it stored, already had plans for it.
He was going to use it to cure Sin, cure her illness, and with that, he was going to cure himself.
Well there you have it, the sequel has begun in full tilt. Surprises shall come! You know they always do! I hope you all enjoyed the first chapter of One Reality. I decided not to name the chapters again –sigh— because I'm very careful when it comes to giving things away. I'll write a chapter name, and it'll be like one word…and I'll be like 'Nope! Can't do it! I already said too much! Gah!'
Lol well, welcome back everyone. I look forward to reviews (Hopefully…)
If anyone is new to this and is slightly interested (but also slightly confused) I suggest you check out the first story before proceeding to this one. Thank you.