And it's CHAOS RINGS! I am seriously IN LOVE with this game. It's so ADDICTING, and I LOVE all the characters. All their stories were so engaging. And Ayuta's story just blew me away. So basically, this fic is a narration of the ENTIRE game, of EVERY story, with a few extra scenes thrown in and other scenes extended to give the story more depth. So we'll be starting with Escher's story, titled Dawn. After this, we'll do Eluca's (titled Sunrise), then Ayuta's (titled Sunset), then Olgar's (titled Nightfall). Keep in mind that this is the order you should play the stories if you want to get the game's full experience. For example, Escher's story will seem kind of dull if you play Eluca's first, and if you play Olgar's story before Ayuta's, Ayuta's story will seem really repetitive and boring. Not to mention, there is a HUGE spoiler for Ayuta's story RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING OF OLGAR'S. So enjoy the first part of Escher's story!
Escher leaned back in bed. Having just taken his medicine, he felt rejuvenated and energized, but decided to follow the doctor's orders for once, now that he had free time on his hands. He sighed. He tried to keep his illness a secret from everyone, but one of his colleagues found out and reported it to his boss. Soon enough, his boss forced him to take medical leave, even though Escher knew that he was still well enough to fight. It was bright and sunny outside, but suddenly, a shadow enveloped the room. Escher sat up when he realized that the shadow only seemed to be growing larger and larger. Soon enough, the entire room was cloaked in darkness. Escher sprang out of bed, shoved the bottle containing his medicine in his pocket, and grabbed his sword. The darkness grew more profound as the last shaft of light disappeared. Suddenly, everything went black…
Museia stared up at the sky. It was a clear, cloudless blue, and the sun was shining brightly. Running her fingers subconsciously over her rapier, she glanced around at all the children playing. One of them, a young brown-haired boy, ran up to her. "Museia, Museia!" he called. "Come play with us!" Museia gave a small smile as the boy tugged at her hand and pulled her with him. She stared up at the sky, only to see something eclipsing the sun. The children began to panic as the entire area grew dark. Museia drew her rapier cautiously.
"Everyone, get behind me!" she ordered. She glanced around and pointed her rapier in various directions as the darkness grew more and more profound. She cast one glance back at the children, who were all motionless, expressions of shock, anxiety and worry frozen on their faces. When Museia stared up at the sky, everything went black…
When Escher opened his eyes again, the first thing he noticed was that he wasn't in his room anymore. He appeared to be in some grand golden hall with people he didn't recognize littered across it. There were two knights, one a man with long blonde hair and the other a girl with pink hair cropped short. Then there was a black-haired girl dressed in an elaborate pink kimono with a brown-haired boy about her age standing cautiously in front of her, as if he were protecting her from something. Next to them was a tall, muscular, dark-skinned girl standing next to a much younger, equally dark-skinned boy. Finally, there was, quite literally, an old married couple, looking slightly solemn as they gazed at their surroundings. "What is this place?" Escher asked, scanning the crowd.
"Die!" a female voice shouted. Escher turned his head, only to see a blonde woman lunging towards him, brandishing her rapier. Escher swerved smoothly out of the way, and she knelt on the floor. He unsheathed his sword and placed it on her shoulder.
"Why did you do that, woman?" he asked. The woman turned to glare at him. There was pure, unadulterated hatred in her eyes.
"Hmph," she grunted as she stood up and dusted off her clothes.
"You don't want to tell me?" Escher asked, sounding slightly amused. "Fine. Wouldn't be the first time a woman hated me." He placed his sword back in its sheath and crossed his arms. "But I will say this. Try anything like that again…" He narrowed his eyes dangerously. "And I will kill you." He scrutinized the woman's features as she pointedly ignored him. Still, judging by the way she dressed, Escher supposed she didn't live too far away from him. "Hey woman," he greeted. "You're from my country, right?" The woman just glared at him. "Do you know what happened?" The woman crossed her arms.
"I don't see why I should answer your questions, you bastard," she shot back angrily. Escher smirked.
"Ouch," he said. "Now you've hurt my feelings. We've just met, and you already hate me." He shook his head and chuckled. "Anyway, all I remember is the sky getting pitch-black even though it was the middle of the day." The woman kept her silence. Escher smirked again. "Nothing to say, huh." But what if… "Hey… you didn't kidnap me and bring me here or anything, did you?" This time, the woman did answer.
"No," she replied, still glaring at him. "But… you may be here because I wished you to be."
"Huh?" Escher asked. "What are you talking about?" Her lips twitched upwards in a bitter smile.
"I'm so happy to see you again," the woman said. "Escher." Now it was Escher's turn to glare at her.
"How do you know my name?" he asked. "I've never seen you before in my life!" The woman fell silent and began glaring at him again. Escher's hands balled into fists. "Hmph. This is pointless." And with that, he turned on his heel and walked away. The others had migrated elsewhere, leaving the two knights there in the room. Still, Escher felt that he would rather explore the area than talk to these two strange people. He made his way to a staircase that led down into an entirely different area. The dark-skinned couple eyed stood there, eying him warily. Escher chose to ignore them and continued gazing about the room. Finally, the boy spoke.
"Even if you were being attacked," the boy said in a serious tone, "that's no excuse to draw your sword against a woman…" The girl crossed her arms.
"This is no time for petty squabbles," she warned. "We need to assess the situation calmly and precisely." It took a minute for Escher to realize that she was talking to him.
"Hey," he defended, crossing his arms. "She's the one who attacked me." The boy stared blankly at him. Though his eyebrows were furrowed slightly, Escher could sense no malice from him.
"You're not from our country," he observed. "Why are you here? Did you take us to your country?"
"That's what I'd like to know," Escher countered. "I don't have the faintest clue what's going on." The girl clasped her hands together and stared at the floor.
"Keia, god of the sun…" she mumbled under her breath. "Omali, god of the moon…" She looked up at Escher and her partner. "When these two gods cross paths, it is said that the world will end… It's just as the legends say… Except…"
"Something's not right," Escher finished. "The fact that we're alive."
"Not to mention this…" the girl continued, "unnatural force I feel…" Escher stared up at the ceiling. Suddenly, it felt as if someone placed a tremendous weight on his shoulders.
"No doubt about it…" he mused. "Something wants us dead."
"I have a bad feeling about this…" the boy whimpered, his strong façade quickly disappearing.
"I bet we'll be seeing the lord of this place soon," the girl said, more to herself than to the others. "Whether we want to or not." Escher made his way back to the main room. The blonde woman from before was still glaring at him, so he made his way around her, down the staircase on the opposite side of the room. Down this flight of stairs was the old couple and the couple with the black-haired girl. Escher couldn't help but notice that the old man and woman seemed completely unfazed by these unusual circumstances. He took a deep breath and walked up to the man.
"Hey," he greeted. "Do you have any idea what's going on here?" The old man paid no attention to him.
"This time, we will end it for sure," he said.
"Yes," the woman next to him agreed. "We will put an end to this once and for all."
"Um…" Escher said awkwardly. "Excuse me."
"I'm thinking about our current situation," the woman told him calmly. "I don't feel like talking to you know."
"I wasn't talking to you," Escher snapped back. "I was talking to Mr. Macho over here." He jerked his thumb in the old man's direction.
"I have nothing to say to you," the old man told him seriously. Escher smirked.
"Well that isn't very nice," he said as he backed up towards the other couple in the hall. The black-haired girl was panicking and the brown-haired boy was clasping her hands, desperately trying to calm her down.
"Father?" she gasped. "Mother? Where is everyone? What happened to us?" Her voice rose higher in pitch and volume with each question.
"Princess Mana, please calm down!" the boy pleaded. "Wherever this is, I don't think we're dead. It looks like we're in another country… Perhaps we've been spirited away."
"Wait, so you guys don't have any idea what this place is either?" Escher asked incredulously.
"Spirited away…" the girl Mana continued as if Escher hadn't said a word. "Maybe that's why it became dark so suddenly?"
"I don't know," the boy said uncertainly. "But I can say this." He grimaced slightly. "This place is extremely dangerous… I can feel it in the air."
"Ayuta…" Mana mused. The boy Ayuta gave her a reassuring smile.
"Don't worry, Princess Mana," he assured her. "I will protect you with my life." He released her slowly and stared up at the ceiling. "What is this presence I feel… Is a human capable of this?"
"I don't know," Escher answered. "But something's not right here."
"I can see that," Ayuta agreed. "Whatever it takes, I will protect Princess Mana, even if it costs me my life."
"Ayuta…" Mana whimpered. "I'm counting on you…" Escher sighed and made his way back to the main hall. The blonde woman had stopped glaring at him, but now resorted to ignoring him altogether.
"It looks like all ten people here are divided into couples," the pink-haired knight girl observed.
"Now that you mention it…" Escher mused. "But why did I get stuck with her?" He glanced briefly back at the girl.
"That's true," the pink-haired girl agreed. "You certainly don't look like a couple… Have you met her before?" Escher gritted his teeth together.
"Never in my life," he denied.
"I'm Garrick, and this is Alto," the blonde-haired knight introduced. "We are fellow knights in the same order. We were attacking a castle when, all of a sudden, it grew dark well before evening. Our friends and enemies seemed to freeze in place, and before we knew it, we found ourselves here."
"That's exactly what happened to me," Escher said. "Except for the attacking the castle part." Garrick smirked.
"When you consider the couple factor, this situation becomes truly fascinating," he commented. "Don't you agree?"
"More like a pain in the ass," Escher retorted bitterly. Garrick chuckled softly.
"I see," he said understandingly. "I can understand that. But me, I was getting tired of my life anyway." Escher glowered at him.
"How can you possibly get tired of your life?" he asked. Garrick looked confused for a brief moment before his eyebrows furrowed.
"Hey…" he whispered. "Can you feel that?" Escher turned around, almost subconsciously. The blonde-haired woman was staring straight at him, but Escher knew there was someone else there.
"Yeah…" Escher whispered back. "Someone's watching us."
"It must be the host that invited us here," Garrick pointed out. "And it doesn't look like they want to throw just any old kind of party." He smirked again. "I can't wait to see what they have to say."
"Welcome, champions of the world," a new voice said, sending a chill down Escher's spine.
"What was that?" he gasped, drawing his sword and glancing around nervously. From the stairway on Escher's left came the dark-skinned couple.
"Eluca, what was that?" the boy asked. "Who said that?"
"Quiet, Zhamo," the girl Eluca snapped. "Whatever it is, we'll be fine." Next came Ayuta and Mana from the stairway on Escher's right.
"Did you guys hear that?" Ayuta asked, running to the center of the room.
"Ayuta, I'm scared…" Mana whimpered.
"It'll be ok, Princess Mana," Ayuta coaxed. Finally, the old couple arrived, looking impassive and bored as usual. There was a loud boom, and a black metal figure stood on a balcony near the ceiling.
"Wh-What is that?" Alto asked, a hint of fear to her voice.
"Is it human?" Garrick asked. "No, it can't be… What is that thing?"
"I am the Agent," the black armored figure said.
"The Agent?" Alto repeated. She quickly grasped Garrick's hand and squeezed it tightly. Escher noticed that they were both wearing silver rings. Were they engaged?
"Escher and Museia," the Agent said. "Zhamo and Eluca. Ayuta and Mana. Garrick and Alto. And, Olgar and Vahti."
"How does he know all our names?" Zhamo whispered to Eluca.
"Don't ask questions," the old man, presumably Olgar, warned Zhamo.
"Welcome, my children," the Agent greeted in an emotionless voice. "Welcome to the Ark Arena, where the world's strongest compete… and where you now will fight for your lives." Mana instantly panicked and Ayuta stepped in front of her.
"For our lives?" she repeated. "No… No, I don't want to die!"
"Calm down, Princess Mana!" Ayuta yelled. "I promise, I'll protect you!"
"Did you just say…" Eluca started. "Fight for our lives?"
"All of you here are but one sheep in two bodies," the Agent continued. "The person standing next to you will be your partner on this journey." Escher cast a sly glance at the blonde girl, Museia. "Of course, we do not ask you to do this for nothing." Escher raised his eyebrows. "To the last pair left standing, I promise eternal life and eternal youth."
"Immortality?" Escher clarified, smirking. "I like the sound of that."
"Me…?" Museia mumbled. "Pair up with… him?"
"You may not refuse to compete in the Ark Arena," the Agent instructed. "Likewise, ou are prohibited from fighting until I allow it."
"What happens if we break these rules?" Escher asked, smirking arrogantly.
"You will pay with your lives," the Agent answered mechanically.
"Stop!" Eluca yelled. "Before you speak further, answer me this! Where are we?"
"Why do we have to fight each other?" Zhamo yelled up at the Agent.
"I am under no obligation to answer your questions," the Agent replied. Garrick just glared at it.
"Hmph," he grunted. "You really think we're stupid enough to fight each other just 'cause you say so?" He drew his large sword and pointed it at the Agent. "Know what I think? I think it's be easier to just kill you and escape."
"I take it you do not intend to fight in the Arena then?" the Agent asked after a brief fight. Garrick's smirk widened as he let out a laugh.
"Oh, I intend to fight," he said. "I'm just going to fight you!" He sprung at the Agent and raised his sword, only to be knocked back by the its large arm. The Agent stared at Garrick with its glowing red eyes.
"Only death awaits those who do not follow the rules," it said. Before Garrick even had a chance to react, what appeared to be the Grim Reaper materialized in front of him. It raised one of its scythes and slashed at Garrick. Garrick was enveloped in a purple light. He gave a scream of agony, and then he was gone. Escher heard everyone in the room except for Olgar and Vahti gasp.
"Garrick!" Alto yelled, launching herself at the spot from where he disappeared. "Garrick! No! Garrick!"
"No!" Ayuta yelled as he held his arms out, trying to restrain her.
"Garrick!" Alto yelled again. "What did you do to him? Garrick!"
"No!" Ayuta yelled again. "Don't fight! You'll die if you do! Stop!" Alto relaxed slightly in Ayuta's arms before shaking uncontrollably.
"Garrick…" she whimpered, shaking. The Grim Reaper disappeared in a black cloud.
"You may be the chosen warriors," the Agent continued, "but you are not yet qualified to fight in the Ark Arena. In order to qualify, you will first need to equip the rings beyond this door. That will be your mark." And with that, the Agent disappeared.
"Did you say rings?" Escher asked slowly.
"Why do we need those?" Eluca asked.
"It doesn't matter why," Olgar said in a low voice. "If we don't play along, we'll all be killed. That much is certain." He and Vahti seemed to be the only ones completely unfazed by the scene that played out in front of them. Ayuta reached for the swords strapped to his back.
"Looks like we'd better listen to him for now," he suggested.
"I see…" Vahti said morosely. "So that's what's going on…"
"Garrick?" Alto mumbled faintly, collapsing to her knees. "This is a joke, right…? You wouldn't go down that easily, right?" Tears filled her eyes. "C-Come on out already… This isn't funny, okay? You promised we would always be together… Garrick…" Ayuta gave a heavy sigh.
"I'm so sorry, Alto…" he apologized. "If there's anything I can do…"
"Just leave her be," Museia advised. "She's in shock about what happened. Words aren't what she needs right now. Ayuta sighed again.
"Just…" he said. "Just let me know… if you need anything…"
"Garrick…" Alto mumbled again.
"What a mess," Escher scoffed. "Not like there's anything I can do about it. It's out of my hands."
"How can you say that?" Zhamo cried. "Her loved one just died!"
"But he's right, Zhamo…" Eluca said softly. "There's nothing we can do about it… although I don't entirely agree with his phrasing. Ayuta stared up at where the Agent was.
"Those things are definitely not human…" he mused. "There is no way I could defeat them."
"No…" Mana moaned. "This is all wrong. None of this should be happening… My country… What happened to my country? I just pray it's all right…"
"Why was I even brought here?" Ayuta asked rhetorically, looking rather uncomfortable and confused. "I'm just a stablehand…" A determined expression crossed his face. "Still, now that I'm here, I must keep Princess Mana safe…" Escher gave an arrogant smirk.
"If I were you, I'd pray you don't get me for your first opponent," he said cockily. Ayuta now seemed to panic even more than Mana did before.
"Damn it!" he yelled. "Isn't there any way out of here?" Mana took his hand.
"Everything will be fine, Ayuta," she coaxed. Escher found it strange that now she was the one comforting him, when he was the one comforting her just a few minutes ago.
"There's no way those things just now were human," Zhamo whimpered. "Where in the world are we?"
"I definitely didn't expect anything like that," Escher said flatly, smirking lightly. "Things are getting really interesting now."
"How can you say that?" Zhamo yelled. "Our lives are at stake!"
"Hey, I don't have a problem laying my life on the line to obtain immortality," Escher retorted snidely.
"I can't believe you…" Zhamo said quietly.
"We don't have to listen to that monster," Eluca said adamantly. "The fact that we came here from the outside means that there must be a way out. All we have to do is find it…"
"There's only one door in this whole room, though…" Escher pointed out.
"Either way, we have no choice but to move on," Eluca said, sounding slightly uneasy herself. "But still… I wonder where that door leads to…" Museia still glowered at him. Escher had to resist the urge to glare back at her.
"What do you want?" he snapped finally.
"Are you really planning to go through that door?" she asked, her tone serious.
"What other choice do we have?" he asked. "Besides, there's no point hanging around here, right? Now I don't like being told what to do, but…" He smirked. "I like the idea of becoming immortal." Museia's eyes narrowed slightly, and Escher's smirk widened. "You can come along if you want. I'm used to looking after helpless women."
"Why you…" Museia growled. "This is revolting. I've traveled the country looking for him, and now…" She let out a sigh. "Fine. You won't escape me again." Her eyes narrowed. "I'd watch your back if I were you." Escher chuckled.
"Now things are getting really interesting," Escher observed. Olgar's eyes were narrowed slightly.
"So…" he said ominously. "It's begun.
Gahh, you readers have no idea how tiring it is to go through the ENTIRE scene and type out ALL the quotes DIRECTLY from the game. Not to mention, if I accidentally skip a line, I have to start all over again to get it. So I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of Chaos Rings: Daybreak and Dusk. PLEASE REVIEW!