Shun's eyes opened. His face was drenched in sweat. It seems he had been sleeping for a while now. Sleeping was better than weeping. He could only do it for so long before the futility of his unanswered cries sets in.
Ikki was gone.
There was hardly anything in there. The books that the man provided were all in a text that he didn't understand. He tried to pile them like toy blocks but that got old when the bumps in the waves would cause them to tumble. He would've liked to go outside and look at the Japanese waters before he would leave them. He never saw them before save for the dark polluted shore that the boat was floating on.
But since he had no official paperwork he was told that he had to hide inside the room until they were close to Andromeda Island. At least there was a lamp in there so that he wasn't in total darkness as well as a pillow and blanket to keep him comfortable. It was far roomier than the crate that they transported him from the Kido Orphanage.
He was so terribly bored. Suddenly he raised his head.
He crawled quickly to the door and sat in front of it. If he had a tail, it would be wagging right now as he waited in anticipation of what the sailor would bring him. He did promise he'd give him a time killer. He reached over and quickly pulled off the orange hood of his long sleeved shirt, freeing his shoulder length green curly locks. He looked down and made sure his pendant was tucked under, taking special care that not even the silver chain was showing.
Saul, the captain of the one man crew ship, knocked three times at the faded-red door before he opened it. Earlier when he first met him, to Shun's surprise, he was fairly well groomed for a sailor. His thick hair was a bright grey with a well trimmed short beard. He was a jolly man from the country of Madagascar, a place that was pretty far south of where Andromeda Island supposedly was. Shun turned toward the old man as he carried a steaming hot pot and a bright orange bottle.
"Hey, kid. Aren't we looking much better!" he always seemed to chuckle with each sentence. "You're as adorable as my granddaughter when you aren't sad. Are you hungry?" He raised an eyebrow as he slowly nodded with a very soft smile. He knew what the little boy was thinking! His bright green eyes were fixated on the steel pot in his hand. "Yeah, you are, aren't you?"
Shun smiled and nodded. "I am hungry." He was glad he was able to communicate with him. It took a few times but they settled on English since it was the only other language besides Japanese and Greek that was taught at the orphanage.
"I got you some of that chicken noodle can stuff and an orange soda pop to wash it down." he sat it down in front of the child and handed him the large wooden serving spoon that he used to stir it with. Aside from the rust on the side of the handle, it actually made his mouth water.
"It all looks very good!" he grinned, "thank you!" he took his serving spoon and scooped a large amount of square noodles and chicken. He sipped the golden juice before he reached out and grabbed one of the pieces of meat. He broke it in half and looked around it just like Ikki would do for him. His eyes searched but there weren't any of those grainy vitamins that the orphanage would stuff in food like this. He thought about it; Saul did tell him that it came from a can and considering what he had done thus far he shouldn't have to worry about the food he gave him. He tilted his head to eat the broken pink cubed tender chicken morsel.
Saul stood there. He was a little confused by the child's strange behavior but still, he knew there something he forgot to do. "How are your pants?" Shun looked up, patted his clean dry khakis and gave a thumbs up. It was good to see the child in proper spirits after what had happened earlier. How can he blame him? He'd shit in his pants too if they locked him alone in a box, waiting to be delivered. He looked around the food and then he grabbed Shun's bottle. He pulled out his trusty beer opener from his pocket and removed the cap off his drink before giving it back. "Ah there we go; I almost forgot to open that."
Shun cautiously looked at the orange fluid as it fizzed and made funny noises. Ikki told him that if it is sealed, it should be okay. He took it and sipped the contents. His hand reached up and began to lightly press his throat. It burned a little bit but had a very sweet and delightful taste. "It's very bubbly!" he giggled before taking a larger sip.
The old sailor laughed. "Well good! I'm glad you like it! When you finish your food," he leaned down and pointed to a spot by the door, "Just set it right there. I'll pick it up later. Oh, before I go," he reached into his pocket. As his hand dug searched inside, Shun could see the grey sleeve of his shirt scrunch back to reveal a tattoo, "here, I found some playing cards. Listen, I need to get back on deck. I'd hate to run into another boat and they'll definitely pull us over and well… let's not let it come to that." He reached over and ruffled Shun's head of hair. He quickly headed back leaving Shun alone.
Shun went back to his meal. The chicken-noodle-canned-stuff had such a wonderful color and smell to it. It was saltier than what he was used to but still pretty tasty. He picked up a noodle and slurped it up. Perhaps he was being a little silly but he needed something to keep himself entertained. When he's sleeping, he's thinking, and the only other thing that he could think of other than how his brother was doing was if the things the guards that talked to him were true? Is Andromeda Island really that horrible?
"What's the matter? Scared now? Guess what Tatsumi reported? It's a hot desert by day and a frozen wasteland by night. There are no plants or animals. No civilization, there's nothing!" he could still feel the sweaty grip of the guard's hand as he cupped his chin and winked. "But you are quite a cutie. Maybe a few slave pirates will come by and…"
There was another guard. "Nah, it'll be like prison. Fill the place with enough virgins and nature will take care of the rest."
Ikki told him that they're just lies to make him cry. He always told him: Words can't hurt you.
"Pirates… virgins…" he murmured. He had no idea what a virgin was but if they were associated with pirates and prison then they were probably just as bad.
He looked at his deck of cards. He didn't know any games. He only saw playing cards on television when other people were playing with them. He sighed. Two books he couldn't read and a deck of cards he didn't really know what to do with. He thumbed through the cards. He could try sorting them?
He spread them out and began shifting them around. He placed two piles before them. It made sense to have letters on one side and numbers on the other. "Uh oh, where's the one?" He had numbers 2-10. How can he play with an incomplete set?
His alphabet pile was worse. All he had was the A, J, K and Q. He did like the pictures though. He sorted all the people out and began to look at the different art. Some people had swords while others had flowers. He picked up the K card with the red hearts on it. It was strange and a bit more morbid than the other cards. He took the card and kept flipping it. Either way, he was stabbing himself. After looking at all the pictures, he placed the deck down by his two useless books. He finished his food and placed his pot and empty bottle by the door. All he can do was walk back to his pillow and rest his head. His belly was full, and perhaps he will have good dreams this time? He would like that a lot.
Uh oh, he forgot to pray!
Ikki said that Mommy liked it when he prayed for her. He told him that she could hear him from heaven. He sat up and reached around his neck to pull off his silver-star pendant. That was the nice thing about being alone; he wasn't worried about the other orphans trying to take Mommy's necklace. Despite it all, Ikki always found a way to track it down and bring it back to him. Although, every time he brought it back, he had this strange look like he was in his own little world.
"Shun, don't show this to anyone. If they see it, they'll try to steal it and sell it off. Don't leave it lying around either. Promise me, okay?"
"Uh huh, I will, brother!"
"Shun… don't forget, to pray to Mommy every night with it. Always pray… to Mommy."
It was such a beautiful necklace. He raised it above the lamp and smiled as the pendant slowly turned and reflected the yellow light making it look like the tiny room was filled with endless stars. He took the necklace and then wrapped it around his hands before they came together. He bowed his head before the light. It gave his face a golden glow and warmed his cheeks. He never really knew what to say to Mommy but Ikki said anything will do. She just wanted to hear his voice every night.
"Dear God, please watch over my brother at the orphanage and the others as well. Watch over Mommy in heaven and… um… wherever Daddy is right now.
Yours Ever, Amen."
He turned around and placed his head on the white pillow. He pulled the blue blanket to his chest. His tiny hand reached over and turned off the lamp. It was so dark that he couldn't even see his hands in front of him. He closed his eyes. It was time to dream.
The boat he was on passed Okinawa and proceeded to leave the borders of Japan.
After a few days, Shun was permitted to leave the room. He stepped outside on the deck and saw some dolphins swimming alongside the boat. He then glances toward the horizon. It was then he finally got his first glimpse of the supposed six year hell he must endure: Andromeda Island.
You think you know a story, but you only know how it ends. To get to the heart of the story, you must go back to the beginning.
King Henry VIII from "The Tudors"
Love You, Kill Me
Part One: The Chain Gang of Andromeda Island
Chapter One: Sword and Friendship of Cepheus
"Won't be long, kid," commented Saul as he gave Shun a big pat on the back.
The child stared blankly at the rocky features as the sea mist struck his face.
Shun's attention drew to the large twin volcanoes near the east side of the island. The place from a distance looked like it was just one big rock that formed into an island. The only colors he could see were the red lava at the top of the active volcanoes. The water around the island, was strangely grey, a clear contrast with the bright blue ocean around them. Not only that but it formed a perfect circle around the place. As the boat crossed the border, the sky seemed a little darker and the temperature almost shot up. Shun looked down. The dolphins that were leaping next to their boat had turned away.
"Brother…" Shun mumbled as he instinctively stepped back. But Ikki wasn't there to reach over and place his hands on his shoulders. Instead, soon he will once more say goodbye to the sailor and he would be alone with who knew what. Shun's body sank down as he held onto the rail. He closed his eyes, came back to his senses and rose back up. He had to be brave. "This is nothing compared to Death Queen Island," he reassured himself. Ikki would not want to see him like this. Besides, what could he do? Even if he ran away, he'd have no place to go. He doesn't even know how to swim.
The man looked down at him. "Are you nervous?"
Shun nodded. Sure the man smelled like cigars but he needed someone. He walked over and buried his head into the sailor's side. "Why is this place so different than the other islands?"
He rubbed Shun's hair. "That is because, it is different. The man of the island there, Daidalos… I personally just call him Dal or Al determining how he's acting." He pointed over toward the island. "He once told me that the waters around the island are cursed."
Shun tilted his head up. His pupils were about the size of saucers at that moment. "How is it cursed?"
"I don't know. I've never seen anything cursed about it except it's a horrible fishing spot and hotter than hell. I think it has something to do with the island and the waters just have too much stuff that causes the life around it to die out. Other than that, it is not the worse place to be. I don't think you have to worry about anything, trust me, I've been coming to this place for about oh… fourteen years."
Shun turned away from the depressing island. Perhaps the man could tell him more about the place before they reach the dock? "That's a long time. What do you do there, Saul?"
Saul leaned against the rail and chuckled. "The easiest job I ever had. I'll tell you what, all I have to do is deliver supplies once every two months, make emergency trips like taking you over there and he'd pay me more in that time span than two years of fishing ever would. Of course, fishing isn't what it used to be." He took his hand and patted the right side of his hip.
Shun turned toward the black semi-auto. It was a Browning. He knew; the guards were always using them. He felt a small pain in his left foot. "You didn't shoot anyone with it, did you?" he asked nervously.
Saul shook his head. "Nah, I know these waters and where all the hot spots are. Still, I keep it and if I die without firing a shot, my wife can yell at my grave for wasting three hundred Euros on the damn thing." Seeing no reaction from the child he reached over and flicked a little lock of Shun's bangs from his eyes. "What's wrong?"
Shun continued to stare out at the island. "What is he like?"
"I've heard from the other kids that came here that he can be strict. To be honest, I've worked with him and another lady since they were about your age. From what I've seen he's always been polite to those who come over. Bright too, I keep telling him what the hell he's doing wasting his life there but keeps saying that he can't tell me why. Oh well, you may want to ask June, she's a little girl that hangs around him a lot. You'll like her, she wears a mask but you can tell she's quite a sweetheart," Saul looked down and winked.
Shun, feeling confused by the gesture. He winked back before he turned his head toward the foreboding island.
Saul stood there as he tried to think of a way to cheer the child up; "wait here." He walked away toward a small box on the deck. Shun turned his head over and watched him reach into the box and pull out a couple of bottles. He took his bottle opener, popped open the metal caps and handed Shun the brown bottle. "There you go, have a lager! If you're man enough to go over there, I suppose you're man enough to have beer."
Shun looked down at the three horses on the label before he smelled the top. He looked over as the man goofily opened the orange soda and watched the bubbles fizzled inside. Shun frowned, "can we trade?" he asked as he held the bottle up to him.
The sailor stupidly eyed the bright orange drink, before doing a double take, "Are you sure? Once you get there, I doubt he isn't going to let you have any of that! What you got there is a MAN'S drink!"
Shun turned toward it and frowned. He could care less if it was a MAN'S drink or not. "I like orange soda!"
Saul shrugged and switched their bottles. Shun started to chug the sweet orange bubbly brew.
"Ah there you go! Now you're smiling!"
Shun couldn't help it. Perhaps the trip did start off rough at the harbor but the second he stepped on Saul's boat, he had stopped crying and quite a bit of anxiety that he had for the island of pirates and virgins had went away. Soon he'll leave too though. Why was it that every time he meets a kind person that they always leave him?
June stood tall on the final Elysium Cliff. She turned her head and noticed Saul's boat, "La Patte de Singe" or "The Monkey Paw", approaching from a distance. She will need to work quickly. She examined the two offensive ends for the Andromeda practice chains. She was supposed to test them to make sure they were in good condition but a quick glance was all she needed.
The edges were dull and brittle while the heavy coating of rust made it blend in with the rest of the ground. This year was probably the worst for the Elysium Pretest. They hadn't had anyone survive it for eleven months. The two that did were both transferred out leaving no one to try for the most important cloth on the island. Her finger slid into the open offensive triangles. With barely a tug, the two ends broke off. She kicked the decomposing stake into the pit below. She reached into the bag the Master gave her and pulled a new wooden stick and three freshly forged offensive triangle ends.
She looked at her hand and it began to glow silver. She took the stake and set the tip right in the middle of the three of them. She raised her fist in the air; glowing with Cosmos and slammed it causing the wooden tip to break through the rock, securing it firmly into the Earth. Her job complete, she quietly jumped off the edge. Her hand instinctively grabbed a ledge and she quickly free-climbed down to the canyon below.
The boat was close to the rock pier now. A girl with long blond hair and a mask stood on it. Was that his master? Saul told him it was a man. Shun headed over to the sailor and tugged on his brown leather coat. Shun reached out and pointed only to see that by the blond haired girl was a man now. Shun let go and stared in confusion. Where did he come from?
He was fairly tall, not as tall as Tatsumi but he definitely looked way stronger. The scientists at the Orphanage had shown him and the other orphans old pictures of the "cloths" that Saints wore. Most of them were old and broken. The few that were fixed were often shaped as various things like animals and objects. It was the first time he had ever seen someone wear it. The man turned his head toward Shun and all he could do was shy away from his gaze.
The boat was finally close enough. Saul reached out for a wooden platform and swung one side over to the Saint. He takes it and placed it down on the dock. After that he took his foot and pushed down on it. "D'accord!" he gave a thumb up and then gestured over to them.
Saul nodded and looked down. "Come on," he held Shun's hand and walked him over the wooden plank.
It wobbled a little bit but it felt sturdy enough. Besides, Shun was pretty good on the balance beam. It almost seemed like the sailor had more trouble walking on the plank and was using Shun as a support. Once they reached the other side, the Silver Saint approached the two and shook hands with the sailor. To Shun's surprised, despite the fact that the Saint was far taller and stronger than the sailor; the old man came forward and hugged him and ruffled the Saint's hair a little bit like a little child. They bantered back and forth in French. Shun couldn't understand a word of it. Instead he relied a little bit on the sailor's vibrant gestures.
The sailor reached over to the man, pulled his shoulder to his level. The man looked a little embarrassed as he rose up before the sailor pulled him back down to his level. Saul waved his hand flamboyantly, sometimes pointing over to Shun. He then slapped the man's back before the two of them gazed over to Shun.
Feeling shy, he took a few steps back before the Saint reached out and grabbed his hand. Shun felt his foot slide a bit at the wooden plank before he was pulled forward. "Careful, you just got here," the Saint remarked as he switched back to Greek. He helped Shun back on his feet and studied the young boy.
The young Japanese child was doing his best to smile but his eyes waivered. The Master wasn't afraid to admit that his armor can look rather imposing especially with two hanging chains on either side. He knelt down on one knee until he was about the boy's eye level. The first thing he did was reached over and pulled off his right gauntlet with the large heavy spiked ball chain and place it on the ground. Underneath was a large strong but rather human hand with a thick layer of matching blue leather covering it, "welcome to the Andromeda Island Training Grounds, Shun Amimiya," he slowed his speech near the end with careful enunciation. "Is that how you pronounce your name?"
Shun reached over and shook it. His hair was a very light blond. It was long and went past his shoulders. The one thing that really stood out was that his eyes were almost as blue as his armor. He didn't even know why he felt shy before. He really was as polite as Saul had said earlier.
"Shun, can you understand me?" The Saint typically had quite a bit of information over the students he received. Unfortunately, except for Shun's name and the fact that he, or was it a she, is from Japan, he didn't know anything about them.
Mustering up a little more confidence he sharply nodded once. "Yes, I can, you don't have to slow down for me. I can understand you just fine." back at the orphanage, everything was heavily taught in Greek. Mr. Kido made sure that if they weren't training, they were learning how to speak the language well. The hardest were the Greek Weeks where Japanese was forbidden and anyone caught speaking it was punished.
He looked over the shoulder guard of the Saint and noticed the same young blond girl behind him. Now that he was closer, he could see two red curvy streaks on her face. Her bright pink top with a sunny yellow sash on her hips brought quite a bit of color to the dull rock island. She took her hand and waved to him. Shun raised his free hand and waved back. Despite the fact that he couldn't see her face she too seemed friendly. Maybe the island wasn't that bad?
Saul looked at his watch before he leaned over to the Saint and whispered in French. "[Dal, I need to get going, I heard that a storm was moving in the direction I'm heading and if I don't leave soon...]" he quickly whispered.
The Saint looked up, "[No no… go right ahead. Thank for taking care of this. I appreciate you going as far as you did.]"
The Sailor then handed him a manila envelope with several papers inside. "[Here, this was left on the crate he was in. Can't read a lick of Greek, but I'm going to assume they are the boy's files.]" Daidalos took it and waved goodbye.
Shun looked up and did the same. As soon as the boat left, the child looked over to his new teacher. "What's your name?" He knew Saul told him a few times, but it seemed a little long and complicated. He doubted that he would want him to call him Dal.
He stood up; Shun's eyebrows rose up in shock. The Saint was a lot taller than he thought. Shun probably reached about the top of the armor on his thigh. "My full title is Saint Cepheus Daidalos, but as your teacher and mentor, you will refer to me as Master Daidalos or simply Master will also do," he gestured over to the girl. "Over here, is my assistant for the Andromeda Bronze trials as well as my trainee for the Chameleon Bronze Cloth, June. She's about three years into her cloth. However she has six more years since she chose to go for the Bronze-Trainer title."
Shun approached her. It was rare for him to see other girls in person with the exception of Saori. She reached over and held out her hand. Shun shook it before letting go so he could wipe his face. The heat of the Island was three times worse than on the boat.
"Shun, it's time to go we have a long ways to the living area. This way, please," Master Daidalos spoke as he began to walk forward. June instinctively followed.
Shun looked over and grabbed his bag and ran over to Master Daidalos' left side. As they walked farther from the port area, the hot air felt like it was choking him. He wasn't worried; perhaps he wasn't really used to the weather yet? The path was dirty and dusty with large rocks placed at either side.
June reached over toward her side and pulled out a leather skinned container of water. There wasn't much left but Shun was extremely grateful for what little she had to offer. Halfway through, they all stopped at a large light grey pot. The Master pulled the top off, grabbed a nearby cup and filled a cup to hand to Shun.
Typically, he should check it to see if it had the funny particles like at the orphanage. However, he was too hot right now and didn't care. At this point, Shun was a sweaty mess. His orange hoodie was weighted down with perspiration. He had marks under his arms, chest, back and even his hair sagged with sweat. His face was red and he was panting heavily. He drank the cup and wiped his forehead with his sleeve. He took his collar and pulled it from his neck to vent some of the heat from his chest.
"Would you like more, Shun?" the Master asked him.
Shun thought about it. "I think I'll be," no, he couldn't wait. He was so parched right now. "One more, please." He handed his cup over to the Saint. He felt embarrassed because the sides were covered in his salty sweat. The Master simply filled it up and handed it back to Shun.
Half an hour later, three huts began to appear. The largest one obviously belonged to his teacher. It had a chimney inside of it and a deck. Two others huts sat next to each other. They looked about one room each all made of lightly colored wooden planks with angled white roofs. Right outside the Master's hut was a bonfire area with chopped wood carefully placed to the side and five rocks. Over in the corner was a huge perfectly round rock. A wooden sign was planted in front of it with the greek words "Don't push" in purple chalk.
The Master reached around his belt and pulled out an elaborate scroll that was made of bronze. It was silver plated with a band of gold trim featuring all twelve signs of the zodiac. The three metals of the scroll represent an equality of loyalty toward Athena. "Shun, before we go in, I want you to read this, it's called a blood contract. All students are required to make the decision to sign it in their blood before they can begin. If you choose not to sign, I or any other Saint cannot train you. I will allow you to stay over here until Saul is able to return. He can take you back to Japan. This is your choice, Shun." He handed the scroll to the child. He looked down on him and thought of what Saul told him earlier. "Shun, before you sign, could you read it out loud? I want to make sure you understand what is written here for once you sign, you start the path of Sainthood and there is no turning back."
Shun looked at it and rolled it out. His eyes shifted a little bit as he mumbled the words. It was in Greek but he found it far easier to read than to speak it. Once he reached the bottom he faced the Saint of Cepheus with his eyes focused on the writing before him. "I swear by my blood that I will train for the right to become a Saint of Athena. I understand the dangers in the passage of Sainthood and…" he looked at the word. It was a little difficult to pronounce.
June walked to his side and whispered "…failure…"
Shun thanked her and continued, "…failure to obtain a cloth, whether bronze, silver or gold may result in…" Shun paused.
June peered over his shoulder once more. The lettering seemed to have smudged from Shun's sweaty finger poking at it but it was still very legible "…death…"
Shun shook his head, "death, should I not provide the proper blessing of my Master or forgo the path of the Ekdromos…" Shun stopped, puzzled by the word.
"Ekdromos is an ancient Greek term that is used to refer to our infantry. Their cosmos is classified as below that of a bronze saint but high enough to serve Athena. Their armor has no special capabilities whatsoever. Does that answer your question, Shun?" spoke the Saint of Cepheus. He watched Shun nod his head. "Good, you may keep going."
Shun looked back at where he stopped. "I will abide by all the rules that govern the training area and understand that there will be…" he looked over and pointed to the long word.
"…consequences…" June whispered to him.
"…consequences should I fail to do so," he reached the end. There was no turning back. Maybe deep inside he had thoughts that he could try his best and the Cepheus Saint could send him home. Ikki could return with his Cloth and they would still be reunited. However, based on what he read, that doesn't seem to be the case. "I'm ready to sign."
Master Daidalos reached for Shun's hand and folded his fingers except for his pointer. His eyes looked at Shun's hand. It was so small compared to his. He then pulled out a small ceremonial golden dagger with a very thin three inch triangular blade. With a flick of the wrist, he gently makes a small cut on the tip of the child's finger. A small trickle of blood ran down and landed in the Master's hand.
Shun flinched a little as he reached out and signed his name as quickly as he could. There wasn't a lot and he ended up smearing the "n" in his name.
The Master looked up. "Shun, I hate to do this to you, but you need your last name too."
He looked down, there wasn't really that much left. That was when the Cepheus Saint held out his hand from where the blood dripped earlier. Shun took his finger and dabbed it like a quill and finished his signature.
June stared at her teacher's bloody hand and wrapped her arms around her stomach.
Shun looked up and watched the Master walk to her side and reached over to the girl's shoulder. "June, go into the Temple and gather the things needed for the pretest. I think that it's better than waiting out here."
She silently nodded and broke off toward a sandy trail.
Shun felt confused. "Did I make her upset? I just couldn't say the words in the contract," he mumbled. He really wasn't trying to be rude. He took a few steps in her direction and coned his hands around his mouth, "I'm sorry, June!" he called out.
"Shun, don't worry about it. You didn't do anything. On these days, she tends to feel ill," spoke the Master as he rolled the scroll up and headed straight for his hut. "Come with me, Shun, we have something that we must talk about."
Shun walked over to the Master's residence. The Saint opened the door for him. Two chairs were in the middle of the room. Shun took a seat on the right hand side. The Master entered, grabbed the right wing of his helmet and pulled the whole thing off. He placed it and the manila folder on the light brown desk next to a pot of fresh water.
Shun's curious eyes wandered around the room. Behind the desk was a matching wooden chair. A shiny black pen with a golden top was placed on the right hand side of the desk. There was a wooden cabinet that seemed heavy with papers, and another drawer labeled medical supplies in the Greek text. He turned around and noticed a large ornate silver box next to a large bed. It must be used to hold his teacher's Cloth. Shun pointed to it.
The Master turned to his Cepheus Pandora's Box. "Go ahead."
Shun nodded and approached the mystical object. Just like the Cloths of Saints, the only time he's seen the actual boxes that held them was on pictures from the scientists. His hands reached out and felt the patterns along the sides. The metal was so shiny that it perfectly reflected his face. He gently knocked on it. It didn't even echo even though it was probably hollow with his teacher wearing his Cloth. He looked down; using his finger he lifted the handle up before lowering it back down. The scientists told him that many Saints believed it was a bad omen to open another's box without the permission of the Saint.
On the front was a man holding a scepter. The metal was warm to the touch but not from the heat of the room. It was like touching another person. He hovered his hand near the front. It almost felt like the box was alive as he could feel the faint traces of air blowing against his sweaty hand like it was breathing. Shun traced the King's face before he heard what sounded like a woman's voice:
Phobou tous Danaous kai dōra pherontas.
Shun jerked around. All he saw was the Saint of Cepheus holding Shun's cup and the pitcher.
"Shun, is there something wrong?"
Shun shook his head. "No, I just thought I heard something." He understood the words, but not the meaning. He took his wet sleeve and wiped his face. Maybe he was so hot that he was imagining it? "What does Phobou tous…uh..."
Phobou tous Danaous kai dōra pherontas.
Shun widened his eyes. "Phobou tous Dana dora pher…"
Daidalos raised a brow. "What?"
Phobou tous Danaous kai dōra pherontas. It means beware of the Dannans, you know, the Greeks, even bearing gifts.
It's a warning in ancient , never mind. Father thought you were a girl.
"Oh, I still don't get it…" Shun mumbled.
The Japanese boy turned around. "Master?"
The Cepheus Saint raised an eyebrow. "What did she tell you?"
Shun shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know." Shun was telling the truth. He had no idea who was talking to him and what there was to worry about.
The Saint nodded, sensing the child's earnest confusion and dismissed it. He reached over and helped Shun up and guided him to his chair. Daidalos walked back behind his desk and sat down to assume his role of the Saint of Cepheus once more.
"How was the boat ride," Master Daidalos asked as he handed a cup of water to the boy.
"It was good. The Sailor was very nice to me. Although, it was a little boring since all I could do was sleep most of the time," Shun muttered before he greedily chugged the water from his cup. The Saint refilled it and Shun drank it just as quickly.
"I thought you'd like him. He's my supplier for this island and a damn good one too. Anytime I need something, he was always there for me." Master Daidalos stopped and made a strange face. He reached over and brushed some of Shun's green bangs out of his eyes. "You look a little pale, if you aren't feeling well, we can delay our meeting for another time," he took his pitcher and filled the empty cup again. "You've had a very long journey; perhaps you should rest for a day and gather some strength."
Shun shook his head. Ikki told him that it was important that he made a good first impression to whoever was going to teach him. "No, I'm fine. It just feels really hot in here. Besides, I don't really want to go back to sleep." He drank half of his cup and looked up. "I'm sorry, I'm so thirsty," he bowed his head. He felt like a sweaty pig.
The Master took the pitcher and filled the rest. "Water is very important on this island, Shun. If you drank the recommended eight cups a day, I can guarantee that you'd sweat it all out before noon today without any physical activity. Drink as much as you need, especially if you're thirsty."
Shun thanked him and drank two more cups afterwards. He kept looking around and was surprised by the amount of different tools that were hanging on the wall. Many he didn't recognize, but things like the hammer and a wrench were easy to spot. On top of the mantle of the fireplace was a beautiful chess set carved out of stone, a large book with a faded cover. At the far end was a long pink ribbon.
He turned to Shun with a concerned look. "Shun, tell me, how much information they gave you about my Training Grounds?" he took his pitcher and filled Shun's glass.
He swallowed hard as he took a big gulp of the precious fluid. "They told me about it on the way to the bus. They said it would be hot and cold and there were pirates and virgins here too."
The Master flinched as he filled Shun's glass again. "Most of the pirates come from Somalia as well as many others. They rarely ever attack here on the land, they prefer boats. The island does serve as a good halfway point from Somalia and Yemen. It's also uncharted too. There were times when they've tried to wipe us out and claim it or at least they try to." He wasn't going to comment on the last part. It could've been a simple mistranslation.
Shun held his glass as he absorbed the information. His lip quivered ever so slightly. The guards, they were all liars. They only want to make him cry! Ikki said they were all liars but all he saw and heard had come true. "Master Cepheus Day-da-da," Shun struggled with the last part.
"It's Daidalos. Shun, you can just call me Master. You don't need to use my full title."
Shun nodded. "I just wanted to ask why you wanted to know. Did I do something wrong?"
He watched as Shun guzzled the drink down. "I ask because for as long as I've taught, I've never met anyone who came here with a long sleeved hooded shirt and pants. This place is notorious for its weather. During the day, it never falls below a hundred and determining on the volcano and where you are at can be between 130-150 degrees," he looked down at Shun's glass and casually filled it up.
"I didn't plan on it," he stopped midsentence and took another drink. He didn't want to tell him they stripped him in the middle of a bedroom full of kids and threw on whatever was nearby; but he didn't have to lie either. "I don't own a lot of clothes. I knew it would be hot, but I didn't think," he looked at his empty cup and Daidalos had already filled it up. Shun gave a weak half smile, at least the teacher here was nice.
Master Daidalos turned to him. "Did you thought it be like Japan where a nice ocean breeze will cool it off?" Shun nodded. "Technically," Master Daidalos drummed his hands once on the handle of his pitcher. "It should be, or at least slightly muggier, but we have Poseidon's Ring to thank for that."
"The curse?" questioned Shun. Was this what the sailor was talking about?
"Poseidon was quite furious with what happened with The Sacrifice. So he created a ring around the island. This place used to be a lot more tropical; it had many things that the other paradise islands had in addition to being an important resource for Concentrated Stardust. The ring somehow chokes the island; marine life won't approach this place with the exception of a few. The weather became messed up and due to its rapidly changing nature it virtually killed anything green, turning top soil to sand, fields into desert. Those that used to inhibit this place cursed the day that Andromeda was rescued. When she was saved; everything died. I hate Ovid, but at least his ending was better than the truth."
Shun thought of the dolphins. They looked like they didn't want to be near Andromeda Island. Ikki said dolphins were really smart too. His eyes looked over toward his half full glass and turned toward the Master. Something else was troubling his mind. He seemed nice, but there was always this sad tone to his voice regardless of the subject.
He looked over at the green haired boy. "Shun," he reached into one of the drawers and pulled out a box and handed it to the child. He watched as the young boy curiously pulled the top off. "Are you familiar with the wooden sword?"
His green eyes looked up. Ikki was always into that part of the Greco-Roman classes. "Gladiators earned them when they fight well and survived in the coliseum then they receive it," Shun shut his eyes as he tried to think of the word for it.
"Exactly, it was a symbol for a man to never fight again," he spoke as he took Shun's hand and placed the sword's wooden grip in it. "Shun, this is a very dangerous place, and only those who willingly dedicate their lives to earning Sainthood will survive. In fact, over here, most don't even survive past the first month and tragically, some don't make it through the first day either."
"What happen to them?" he blurted out. He turned toward the yellow ribbon that was tied around the dull blade of the sword.
"Many things, heat exhaustion, frostbite, poison, parasites, training accidents," he spoke as he faced away, grasping his hands behind him, "poor choices… there are countless things on this island determining what cloth a person is going for… the Andromeda one that you seek, I could count on one hand on how many people actually live by the fifth year." He turned around and looked at Shun. "Even now, as I look at you, your face," he narrowed his eyes as he twisted his face and waved his finger a little bit as if he was thinking of what to say, "it has this familiar look that I've seen many times: can I truly make it here? Am I right?"
Shun looked at the sword and rested on his shoulder with the false blade near his neck. "I-don't… maybe?"
"If that is the case you don't deserve to be here. This sword is yours, and if you wish, you don't have to be here. You don't have to train on Andromeda Island. If you truly wish to not be here, then by tradition, you simply hand it over to me and you won't have to worrying about having to train here anymore."
Shun looked down at it and started to cry. "NO!" he screamed. His hands instinctively flew to his face causing the wooden sword to fall to the floor. He felt guilty for his clumsiness, but he couldn't help it. He was angry and sad. He hadn't been here for a day and already his teacher is telling him to give up. He can't go back to Japan after all that Ikki had done for him. Why did he even contemplate it? "I can't! What about the contract I just signed?" He whimpered as his wet eyes looked toward the Saint.
The Master pulled it out, walked over to the cold fireplace and held the scroll next to it. "No one has to know, Shun."
June approached the Nebula Temple. It was a large chunk of black molten lava that the Master had carved and hollowed out into a black sphere. It was fairly large, at least large enough to fit the Andromeda armor on a large pedestal and tall enough to where the Master wasn't worried about bumping his head. She could tell he had to make adjustments over the years.
A giant arrow drawn in the sand pointed straight toward the box as if it mocked those who had tried to steal it. The Master described to her how capricious Andromeda was. From what he told her, The Princess was tired of pirates trying to take her. The dried blotches of red reflected how many who have tried for it and failed. There was a large box drawn in the sand. Although the Nebula Chain can cross dimensions with its infinite length, without a wielder, the Nebula Chains were limited to about five feet. The Cepheus Silver Cloth bearer was the only one who could cross the box area without permission of the Andromeda Cloth due to the special bond they share. It can also manipulate the Cloth and even use the chains if needed due to the fact that it was the only way the Cepheus Saint can administer the Sacrifice Ceremony.
Every once in a while a student would wander inside. As long as they don't cross the line, it would just sit humbly in its box. Sometimes, it didn't even care if they did cross the line. It's not rare for the Master to come in and the cloth would be toying around with the latest Andromeda Saint candidate. What was strange was that when she came, all the Andromeda Cloth felt was its hatred for her. Its normal gentle rose colored cosmos would darken considerably and it would always rattle its chains like a snake warning off its adversaries. Still, whenever the Master needed something, she would never think twice. Besides, she hated the first meeting of the new students. Even if it was dangerous for her to be in the Nebula Temple, she would rather deal with an unruly brat than spend the hour wondering if the meeting went well or not.
The walls inside were black with several chains that were strung around. They were light pink in color due to the Cosmos that emitted from the Andromeda Bronze. It was like they were blessed by the Cloth and were suitable in simulating the Nebula Chains. In the end, they were still normal chains that can break, rust and dull.
June took out her whip; all she needed was fifteen feet worth. That should cover all three of them for today and tomorrow. She cracked it and broke the first link off. It fell to the ground while the rest continued to hang on a hook on the wall. She turned her head toward the Pandora Box. The Princess was awake now. The triangular end flipped the top open while the circular defense slithered out. The strange shadows, that the chains on the walls had casted, were growing larger and more foreboding.
June turned toward the ground. She was very close to the line as well as the chain. It had fallen within the borders of the safety box area. She eyed the other end of her measurement and broke the link. As she feared, the chain she needed fell within the boundaries.
If she grabbed it with the whip, chances are it would attempt to drag her within its reach. It had a longer reach but it would be too slow. It had tried it once; luckily the Master was around to stop it from drilling a hole through her head. Her hands would be much quicker. The Master told her that she was having trouble, than she should just contact him. Her eyes turned toward the fallen links. They weren't that far from the line.
June knelt down on her yellow leg coverings. Her hand was barely outside the line when the two chains arched up, ready to strike. She jerked her hand toward the pink linked chain and grabbed it.
Like a bolt of lightning, the square end shot forward. Her hand quickly seized the chains and she rolled to the side and quickly tucked her head toward her chest. Pieces of rock blew all over the place. She brushed it off her hair and turned around. A small crater was left where she had pulled the chains away.
Shun cried as the Master shook his head and placed the contract on the corner of his desk. He then reached down and picked up the wooden sword from the floor and the box it was held in. He had carved them himself. Some of them had small indentions from when children would play fight with them. "Shun, why did you came here when it wasn't even your choice?" he looked over at him and then the sword. He took Shun's hand and placed the sword in it.
This time, he gently placed it back down in the chair next to him. "I-I have chosen!" he tightened his fists with the sound determination of a kitten. "I choose to stay here and become a Saint!" he cried as his voice cracked. He closed his eyes and began to sob even harder. While it was kind of pathetic, this was the second time Shun said no.
He felt Master Daidalos' hand; at first he thought he was trying to give the sword again but instead it was merely a piece of cloth. Shun gently took it and wiped his face. He heaved as he reached over for his cup and drank more water.
Master Daidalos placed a frustrated hand on his temple. "Shun, you picked a random place from a lottery box and then they sent you away," he then turned around. The Master threw his fist down and tightened it. "Shun, of all the children that have trained under me, not one," he banged his fist into his other gauntlet, "NOT ONE came here under forced pretenses; I certainly do not wish to make you my first." he walked over to Shun and grabbed his shoulders and shook them. "This is your chance!"
Shun dabbed his eyes with the cloth. He'd never seen anyone look so concerned before.
"Shun, why don't you leave? If you leave, you don't have to face the hardships of this island. If you think its hot now, just wait till you reach the desert part. All you've really done today was walk from the pier to here. What will happen to you once you start fighting and the physical training?"
The tears fell harder and faster than before. He wanted to leave. The heat in the room alone was making him suffocate and the thought of having to fight for the next six years made him sick to his stomach. He trembled as he held his hands. He could feel the paper, he could hear Tatsumi. He wanted to leave…
DEATH QUEEN ISLAND!
…but he must be brave.
"But I don't get the cloth!" He screamed as he held his head so tightly that he ripped a few hairs out. "I won't leave without it!" Shun expected him to counter it. Instead he looked up and watched the Master place the sword back on the white cloth and handed it all back to him. He sat by the poor boy.
His gauntlets weren't on. He reached for the cloth that he handed him earlier, took it and dabbed his red eyes. "All right," he sighed. "You may stay; but only if you promise me this: You will keep this sword at where you stay. AT ANY TIME, you change your mind, present this to me, and I'll make sure you are off Andromeda Island and you won't have to fight anymore."
Shun looked down at it and placed the top cover back over. "Okay," he heaved.
He took his hands and placed them on Shun's shoulders. "How do you feel?"
Shun relaxed a little bit. "Better, thank you."
Master Daidalos walked over toward the door, opened it and pointed outside. Shun got up, tucked the box under his arm and then stuck his head out the doorway and peered outside. "Go to the hut closest to here. Your training clothes are there on the bed farthest from the door. I wasn't sure of what size you wore. Pick the one that fits best, tell June and she'll get you more. They are probably better suited than what you are wearing right now. There is a book as well. It has all my rules on how you should conduct yourself on the island. I strongly recommend you read it. Shun, you are free to go."
The little boy nodded. "Thank you," he lowered his head and bowed, "Master Daidalos. I'm sorry… I acted…"
The Master shook his head. "Shun, this was a very difficult choice you had to make. There's no need to apologize. Now, go get changed, you'll feel a hundred times more comfortable when you're wearing something lighter and more suited for this environment. The Pretest Introduction will be in an hour. I'll see you then." He smiled a little bit and waved to Shun.
Shun smiled back. "Thank you for the wooden sword, Master." He exited the hut and headed straight for his destination. He took a moment to look at the simple hut. He opened the door and to his delight, he had his own bed, a table and a chest to put his things inside. Shun gushed a little bit before walking inside. The room seemed so quiet compared to the orphanage. Nobody was screaming or stealing anything. There was plenty of room and it had the pleasant scent of vanilla and flowers instead of mold and concrete. There were two water pots with dishes next to them with pink chalk hearts on the front of them. There was even a funny poem written in purple chalk on the wall with a brown square to mimic a picture frame.
He ran over to his side of the room and instinctively lay on the farthest side. He looked around before he rolled over and spread his arms and legs and stretched them out as far as possible. "My own bed," he grinned. He bobbed his head a little. "My own pillow!" It was so soft. Maybe being here, won't be so bad? He reached for his collar and waved it a little bit. He ran to the door to shut it so he could change into his trainer in private. His Master, while a little strange, is a lot nicer than Tatsumi and his guards.
Master Daidalos walked over to his desk and opened the top drawer. Two other freshly written contracts were already inside. He placed Shun's among them and shuts it. "Three students, three meetings and none would heed my siren's call." He opened a book, stamped it and set it aside. He then reached over for his golden dagger and placed it back in another drawer. "Athena, thank you."
He shuts it.
Test of False Freedom
The Andromeda Cloth requires a heart of sacrifice: a heart that will unselfishly be devoted more to his/her comrades than themselves. Thus why the Test of False Freedom was born, to create an offer so tempting that if they did possess the qualifications to be the Andromeda Saint than they will always forgo whatever it is than to it give up.
There is no such thing as a Wooden Sword in the Training System of Athena but was merely a long term test of the Andromeda Bronze Saint. Should your own will prove weak, you will leave Andromeda Island as promised by the King, he will free you of life's troubles and your body will tossed from a cliff to the sea below and feed the ever hungry Ring of Poseidon.
There are limits of course to when the Saint of Cepheus performs the test:
-When they arrive
-The student has fifteen days of consecutive battle losses: Battle proficiency is essential for a Saint.
Before the Following Exams:
-"The Elysium Leap Pretest"*
- "Queen Cassiopeia's Desert Labyrinth"
- "The Meditation of the Oracle"
-"The Court of King Cepheus"
-"Princess Andromeda's Sacrifice Ceremony"
*Formally known as "The Charge of Perseus"
Once the Trainee denies three times, the Saint of Cepheus yield until the next time one of the conditions stated above had been fulfilled.
The Test of False Freedom cannot be administered if the Trainee is mentally incapacitated and can only be done while the student is alone.
Though the siren's call is limited in usage, the Saint of Cepheus is required to gather information to create the perfect song for freedom at his discretion.
Former Alchemist of Mu and Creator of the Andromeda Cloth
Chapter 2: First Steps
Shun meets his fellow students and afterwards he is introduced to the Elysium Leap Pretest. After seeing it, he wondered if he'll even make it to the actual training itself.
Have you ever felt the true power of your Cosmos?
Author's Note: Well guys, this is my first try at writing a Saint Seiya story. I figured I'd try to an origin story over the sexy beast known as Shun. Anyways, I would really appreciate feedback. "The Chain Gang of Andromeda Island" has all been written down but I'm still proofreading and adjusting those chapters. Oh and one additional note: Yes I know, it's Cepheus Albiore in the anime (kind blond with the personality of a tree stump) and Cepheus Daidalos in the manga (unemotional Ikki/Shura love-child). I basically tried to blend the anime and manga together. You'll see more of that later on.