Wow, okay, nothing has been posted on my account in years. Ignore the old stuff. This is the good sh*t, I kid you not.
And I promise, there isn't actually any swearing in this first chapter.
Luin, named after its unfettered resolve to be rebuilt after any great disaster, was always a fairly prosperous town. Because of its proximity to the once popular Tower of Mana attracted a lot of tourist attention, and being built across Lake Sinoa helped bring in trade as a fish market. The people were pleasant, the views were breathtaking, and there was usually a warm welcome there for anyone who happened across it.
The last time it was destroyed it had been rebuilt, just as it had been before, aided by the last Chosen of Regeneration and her companions. As a tribute to their kindness three statues were erected: one of the guardian summoner, one of the great healer, and one for the brave hero, all of whom helped the town during their plight against the Desians.
Of course, all of this was common knowledge. This history was taught in every school around the world, prominently so in Luin because of its historical ties to the heroes themselves. In the three hundred years since the rampage of the Giant Tree the last Chosen of Sylvarant and her companions had become legend, overshadowed only by the Great Hero Mithos of the Kharlan War over four thousand years ago. Some of them faded into quiet lives, returning home and starting families, with only the occasional glimpse of fame when the need was called for. Others travelled, helping those whose lives had been uprooted by the tragedies that had struck the world. Memorial sites were common, and always blessed with flowers.
Over the years Luin had grown, expanding onto the mainland surrounding the lake and flourishing still. The main bustle of life was central to the lake, where souvenir shops and fishing boats were about around the docks, always milling with people even around the winter months. Multi storey buildings housed many of the civilians, whilst others were used either as holiday inns or accommodation for families to come and send their children to one of three schools housed in Luin.
Roads had been paved through the streets to allow passage for delivery vans and people travelling by vehicle or carriage, the raised sidewalks on either side keeping pedestrians from harm's way as best they could. They were the main veins through the city, the two leading in coming from the East and West, which eventually lead to Asgard and an abandoned hamlet further south. They were the main source of income for the merchants: easy access from distant towns and cities to see the sights and buy the produce.
The town had matured well over the years. Civilisation had grown and filled out the once small group of houses, turning it into a bustling selection of multi storey buildings, organised schools, and busy shops and markets. In these early hours of the morning metal poles and wooden planks were being arranged to erect the stalls, and children were headed for their respective schools, the younger herded by their parents or older siblings, and each one dressed in pale blue.
In passing the statue of the Great Hero many of the young children stopped to bow their head in respect with smiles, some more than others, much to the pride of their watching parents. A debt of gratitude was owed to the people who saved the world, and by teaching their children the stories of their courage and strength he would live on for centuries.
Today, there was a man stood before it. Wrapped up in an old fire cape of black and red he was reading the plaque at the edge of the fountain, a small smile on his features as his gaze was eventually drawn up to the statue itself. As with every other morning the children walked by, some of them bringing their hands together and offering a small bow to the statue; others were giving the man a curious look, and some were doing both. There weren't usually any people around the statue this early in the morning.
As the bustle died down eventually the man was alone again. It had been a long time since he'd been in Luin, and he was almost surprised at the change that had happened. Everything grew so quickly, it would be hard to keep up.
From up the path along the side of the fountain came the patter of feet rushing in this direction. Dressed in a pale blue shirt and dark shorts a young boy was running as quickly as he could without slipping along the damp wood, a dark leather satchel swinging behind him from across his shoulder as he made a mad dash towards the school across the bridge and at least three streets away. Its distant clock tower poked up from between the rooftops, and when he read 9am on its face he gave a little whine and picked up his pace.
Passing by the fountain the young boy slowed down, staring at the stranger in the dark cloak in curiosity despite his tardiness to school. He was a tall man with auburn hair, a part of his face hidden by the long side-swept locks that hung across the front, and the tip of a scabbard barely touching the floor from beneath the hem of the cape. When the boy slowed down, he turned his head in intrigue much like he had done to him. Brushing longer parts of his blonde hair back behind his ear he stepped up to the fountain away from the man, and after a final quick glance at the stranger he looked up at the statue, pressed his hands together and bowed his head with a small smile.
When he looked up again the strange man was now watching him, which finally bothered him enough to raise his voice a little.
"What are you looking at?" The man chuckled softly, shaking his head before looking up at the statue.
"I guess showing such respect to the Great Hero has become a tradition over the years..." The boy shook his head.
"Those kids do it for a while because they're learning about him at school," he said, before looking back up at the statue with a proud smile. "…I do it because he's family."
The man smiled with a small nod, looking at the statue himself.
"Then I should do the same." He brought his hands together and bowed his head, whilst the young blonde gawked at him.
"What? But… I thought his only family was here…" said the boy, a bemused expression clear on his face. The auburn haired man chuckled softly.
"I'm here, aren't I?"
The forests around Luin hadn't changed much. Paths were well walked, and some of the woodland had shrunk the closer it was to town, but the deeper areas still seemed as dark and foreboding as always. It was still early morning and Kratos had decided that now would be as good a time as any to begin his exploration. Three hundred years on this merged planet had caused significant changes to a small town like Luin: he hadn't seen these kinds of buildings and road structures for centuries, so Meltokio and Palmacosta must have developed into enormous monsters by now.
Izoold was his next destination, where he should easily be able to travel to Iselia. Like Luin, the skilled fishermen had most likely brought in a lot of market-goers and tourist attention, and so it was probably a thriving town much like its lake-based neighbour. The statues would be all that were remained from the year he left that would look remotely the same.
But the landscape had changed drastically since he'd been gone. Expecting to easily find Hima when he'd first left the altar he'd instead seen three towns: one by the ocean to the west, one hidden in the surrounding forests to the north, and one built into the forest to the east. He could vaguely recognise the Imperial Research Academy from above, but only by the great clock tower that it had. Even with his ability to fly it was hard to get any bearings without a map, but without money there wasn't a point in landing.
So he flew, following the landscape to the east until a recognisable continent came into view: mountainous down the centre, with a curve of plains to the south east dotted with civilisation. Lake Sinoa wasn't hard to spot either, being the largest body of water besides the ocean, though the town surrounding it had surprised him a little initially.
Hours felt like minutes as he walked through the fields. When he first came to the altar by the Tree he never realised how much he'd missed the simple movements of nature across the earth: the perpetual silence of Derris Kharlan was finally broken by the simple rustling of leaves in the wind. The whole of the altar had been overgrown, the enormous hole underneath obscured by bushes and roots that grew out the sides, brightly coloured by thousands of blooming flowers. One of the first things he'd done was sit down by the river, enjoying the sight he'd been without since he'd left on Derris Kharlan.
Luin had been his first interaction with people. Yes, there had been angels with him on Kharlan, but they were rather lacking in conversation beyond 'what would you like us to do now?'. Other than the young boy at the fountain he'd spoken with the owner of one of the stalls by the square, who was selling small, handheld devices named 'arms'.
They were weapons, capable of firing between five and twelve rounds, the likes of which he hadn't seen in many years either. These were far more basic than any he could remember: plunge one in water and that would be the end of it for a while. He was only looking at them when the man who owned the stall started speaking to him, suggesting he buy one if he had the identification to get it.
Shop owners had started becoming brasher by now as well. There was no holding back when it came to selling, and after perusing one or two other stalls – cakes and pastries from Asgard, and finely crafted wooden trinkets from Ozette – he left, realising that they were all after money which he didn't have at the moment.
There were obvious tyre tracks in the earth of the paths, cut up only by the smooth stones and occasional footprints. A few carriages had driven by, pulled along by aged lizards or large birds, which was when he noticed how little wild creatures there were left. He'd seen a few groups of large wolves, insects and the like, as there had always been, but that was about it. They didn't even attack: the first few wolves he'd spotted had growled viciously at him, but backed fearfully into the dark woods without another sound.
People around Luin had been armed. The salesman at the firearm stall was happy to sell his wares. But if monsters were too afraid to attack then what was the point? He hadn't been questioned about his sword but he clearly didn't need it.
"Halt!" He slowed down as he approached the next turn in the path. The trees around here were thick: he could only catch a few partial glimpses between the trunks as he walked, and eventually made out three people standing amongst a group of four or five men in armour. As he approached he could see weapons drawn as well. "State your identification, and the registration for your cycles."
"Yeah, yeah, we got 'em right here…"
They seemed to be soldiers, judging from their matching armour and weapons, and they were harassing two young women and a young man in possession of two two-wheeled vehicles. They were all dressed in brown leather biking gear, and a large bag each was strapped to the backs of the vehicles, stuffed to bursting with possessions.
Riffling through a side pocket of one of them the boy eventually pulled a set of papers into sight and handed them to the nearest guard, who snatched them off him and lifted the visor of his helmet to see them. Eyes narrowed, he read over each one carefully.
"Flanoir…D-rank vehicles?" said the armoured soldier, scoffing slightly as he looked at the cycles again. "I'd believe it too. Piles of junk."
"Do you need anything else? Or is that it?" asked the older woman, doing her best to keep her voice strong. It wasn't difficult to see that both girls were a little nervous. The soldier handed the papers back, before stepping to one side and gesturing to the others to do the same.
"You're good to go. Good luck riding those mobile disasters!" The boy started muttering profanities under his breath, but did nothing more than heave the bike back into motion along with his companion, and continued walking.
Who were these soldiers going around demanding identification? Were they the reason people were armed? The boy pushing the cycle had a firearm hanging from a belt around his hip, and the younger of the two girls was armed with a mid-length sword. They hadn't drawn them, but they didn't seem to need them either if they weren't being attacked by monsters.
They walked past without noticing him, and the guards up the path carried on their way in the opposite direction. What was with all of this identification business?
He carried on through the woods, making sure the path he was on was different to the soldiers he'd seen. Better to be unseen than to cause a scene, which shouldn't be too hard considering the amount of noise that rusty armour made. He should be in Izoold by morning at least, if the landscape was anything similar to how it used to be. If he just followed the path, he would probably be alright.
His quiet walk through the forest was abruptly ended when he left the safety of the trees, as directly before him twelve guards were stationed on the bridge that joined the two continents. It was too late to turn around – they spotted him the moment he left the woods – but slowing down his pace so much had drawn the curiosity and suspicion of every single guard. One of them stepped forward: he was dressed in silver lined with gold and appeared to be much cleaner than the rest.
"State your identification!"