Breath of Fire 2: The Destined Child
Chapter One: The Beginning
His eyes snapped open and the blue haired youth found himself lying in his bed once more. It seemed real, a void where there was no light it was cold. A single eye, larger than he was, watched him, examining him as though it could see into his mind, trying to judge whether he was up to the task, and then it spoke. The voice hadn't been normal; it was deep, almost demonic, coming from the eye itself.
"I don't have enough strength left...you must give yourself to God...pray to God…you will become God's strength."
That was all, the boy remembered before he awoke. It was someone calling him that dragged him from that place, and a moment later, he heard it again.
"Ryu...Ryu, come down here for a moment"
Rubbing his eyes, he quickly ran downstairs to not keep his father waiting. When he got to the base of the stairs he found a tall man waiting patiently. Dark grey hair with the sides going white fell to his shoulders, he had a powerful build, more of a warrior's appearance then the priest he was, and he was dressed in blue robes.
"Ah, Ryu, good. I need you to go out and find your sister, she ran away from me again. I'm not looking forward to her getting older if she can elude me this easily now. It's time for her nap, and I must have let it slip, so she ran off."
"Of course, I'll be back soon" he replied
Ryu quickly exited the church and was outside. He lived in the church with his father and sister, the church of St. Eva was a modern building, a bit smaller than they usually were in cities, but Gate was a smaller village. A peaceful place with a small population of people, they got very few visitors since it was out of the way for most travellers, hidden at the base of a large mountain, and the only way here was through a series of caverns and a large forest, the next nearest civilization being the kingdom of Windia, but it was quite a journey to there.
Being a small community, everyone knew each other well, and as he walked out, he spotted two women who had become good friends with his mother, waving him over. "Hello Ryu, what are you up to this afternoon?" the one named Mary asked him
"Yua ran off again, my dad send me to go look for her so she could go for her nap."
"Little Yua, isn't she usually playing at the back mountains?" the one named Nancy asked her friend "She is really looking more and more like her mother. Oh, I'm sorry Ryu, it must be sad to hear about her still, isn't that right?"
"It's okay, we miss her, but, I still have my dad and sister." He replied
"That's good, I guess you can't be sad forever, you're a big boy now, Ryu" she said patting him on the head. "Oh, and I think the mayor wanted to talk to your dad about something, maybe you could stop by and get the message, kiddo."
With that, the two women started gossiping again and Ryu went to continue his search for his sister, but noticed the Mayor standing just outside of his house, he was the next to wave Ryu over.
"Hey Ryu, come here for a minute, I need you to give a message to Father Ganer. Tell him to be careful, lately there are kids out there stopping by the churches, spending the night, by pretending to be orphans or homeless kids. Once they get in, they steal whatever isn't bolted down. I'd hate to see something like that happen here, so just tell him to keep an eye open for me, won't you?"
Ryu nodded. "I'll let him know, thanks Mr. Mayor"
Behind the mayor's large house, a worn path leads through a grove to where the base of the mountain was. The mountain was home to where a large dragon slept. Appearing a year ago, it seemed to the villagers to be a good omen, during a demon attack on the village the dragon mysteriously appeared and stopped them along with Father Ganer. It was that day that Ryu and Yua's mother disappeared, they were unsure of what really happened. Here by where the dragon's head rested was where Yua often visited, and as he expected, she stood with her palm resting on its muzzle, her eyes closed, looking peaceful.
Ryu slowly began sneaking up to her, he was going to get a hold of her so she wouldn't be able to run away, but before he took two steps, the tall grass beside her began rustling and a strange monster appeared, a monster titled the Gonghead. It was about the size of Yua, but bright blue, floating and covered in spikes, a pair of large eyes and a sharp looking beak told him that it wasn't here to be friendly. Picking up a nearby branch, he ran between the monster and his sister.
"Yua, look out, get back, I'll protect you" Ryu cried out as he began swinging wildly at the monster. It would not be deterred so easily though, the monster began snapping at Ryu trying to get the makeshift weapon from him so he would be defenceless, and after a few attempts it caught the branch in its beak and snapped it in half, then rammed its body into him. Without anything to fight off the creature, Ryu stood in front of his little sister, awaiting it to strike.
"RYU, GET DOWN" commanded a powerful voice. The two children ducked into a ball, and a bolt of lightning struck down from the sky hitting the monster dead on. When the smoke cleared, nothing remained of it. Father Ganer rushed quickly over to his two children.
"I saw what happened, Ryu, you were very brave to try and protect your sister." He turned his gaze over to his daughter "Yua, what in Aspiria were you thinking coming here alone, it's dangerous here, there monsters around. You had me worried."
"I wanted to see Mom" she whispered "when I come here, Mom appears in my dreams"
Father Ganer walked over and placed his hand on the dragon. "Your mother, huh" he said, pausing. "But Yua, your mother..."
"I know dad, mom...is dead." I heard the two really talking ladies say it one day. If this dragon hadn't appeared, we may all be too."
"They do have a habit of gossiping about everything. Yes, perhaps if I had been a bit stronger, she would still be with us." He bowed his head sadly.
"Daddy, you are! You are strong!" she stated proudly "You and the dragon fought to protect everybody that day they say. Mom would have been proud of you, too."
"Thank you, Yua. I still regret that day, your mother loved you both so much, and she would love to see you both now."
Yua ran over to her father and hugged him. "Daddy, would you tell us the story of how you met mom again?"
"Of course, let's head home; it's getting to be time for your nap."
At this, Yua scowled, but knew it wasn't a time to argue after what just happened. "If you sleep here, Ryu" She asked her brother. He nodded, but then she ran over to him and whispered in his ear "you might have a dream about mom too."
He turned around to look at the dragon both his father and sister seemed as fond of as they walked ahead of him, but suddenly his eyes became heavy, and a moment later he drifted off to sleep before it.
"It is time" it said as the eye once again watched him with a piercing gaze.
Ryu awoke again, it was near sunset. It was odd that he just fell asleep like that, and even odder that after he and his sister were just attacked by a monster, his father didn't come back to see what was keeping him, he was usually quite protective. He brushed the dirt from himself and hurried back home before it would begin getting dark.
As he walked back into the village, something about the town felt different to him, less welcoming for some reason. There was no one out even though night had not fallen yet. He was just walking by the local shop when the two women he spoke to earlier came out, knocking him over. The woman he knew as Mary looked down at him, not with a look of apology for knocking him down, but of distaste at him being in her way.
"I'm alright." Ryu said dusting himself off once more, a little upset that she had not even bothered to help him up.
"Nancy, it looks like we have another filthy orphan here."
"Orphan? I'm not an orphan" Ryu replied "It's me, Ryu, Father Ganer's son."
At this, she scoffed. "Ganer? What are you talking about, boy? The Father of this town is, and always has always been, Father Hulk. You are a liar, boy. St. Eva will punish you."
The two women scoffed at him and walked away, leaving him shocked.
This must be some kind of joke he thought I don't get it, but, it is late, maybe they will be back to normal tomorrow.
Ryu walked to the church, but before entering, he noticed the guardsman at the entrance watching him intently, as though he expected trouble. Shaking off the strange glare from the guardsman, he entered the church and found the strangest surprise of all.
Where his father usually stood at the altar, before the statue of St. Eva at the front of the church, now stood a different man. White hair covered the sides of his head but the top was bald, he was about the same height as Ryu's father, but where Ganer was build like a warrior, this new man was far more portly, and dressed in orange priest robes. He looked up as Ryu entered, and a thin smile appeared on his face, one that did not make Ryu feel comforted, but gave the impression he was waiting for him.
"Hello, my child, welcome to the church of St. Eva. It is getting late; I assume that you are here for shelter for the night." He paused for a moment, examining him. "Do not worry though, St. Eva is merciful, we would not turn you away, even if you were a thief."
Ryu remembered that the mayor mentioned that children were pretending to be orphans to get into churches and steal; perhaps this man had come from another town where that happened before and was being trained by his father. Either way, it was time to get to the bottom of whatever was going on today.
"Excuse me, Sir, where are Father Ganer, and Yua?" he asked
"I'm afraid I do not know who you speak of, child; there is no one here by that name." At this moment, Ryu thought he saw the priest's eyes flash black for a moment, but when he looked again, they appeared normal.
"What do you mean, aren't you here to study under him? He lives here, where are my father and sister?" Ryu was beginning to grow uneasy, Mary and Nancy may be playing an unusual prank on him, but why would a priest he never met participate in something like that?
"I'm afraid you must be mistaken. It is growing late, perhaps after you've had some rest, your memory will be working better. There is a place to sleep for you upstairs, get some sleep child and tomorrow the light of day will make everything clearer."
Ryu was about to question him further, but suddenly felt as though this was not a joke, something unusual was going on, and he wouldn't get clear answers from this man. He nodded and suddenly the priest was at his side, guiding him up the familiar stairs to his room, or what was formerly his room. As he entered, it too felt different, the bed was made for once, he had not bothered this morning after Yua decided jumping on it to wake him was a good idea. The pictures of his family had vanished, and there was someone in his sister's bed. He walked over to it to see if it was Yua, but rather than seeing her blue hair poking above the blanket, a boy with features similar to a puppy was there. His face was covered in light brown and white fur, he had big floppy ears and unlike Yua who slept on her side, this newcomer was flat on his back, his mouth open, and just then a loud snore came from him.
Backing away, Ryu put out the candle lit by what was once his bed, but now felt unfamiliar and climbed under the covers still in his clothes. His mind was racing trying to figure out where his family went, but before he knew it, he was asleep.
It was pitch black again; a large eye once more looked down on him. Ryu felt as though it was seeing everything, even though there was no light and all he could see was the eye. A moment later it closed and Ryu awoke.
"And up we get!" came a voice from beside him.
Ryu looked over at his new roommate; he was young, about his age. It made sense; he was sleeping in his younger sister's bed so he would have to be a kid just like him. The kid grabbed an overcoat from the chair next to his bed and began rummaging around the room.
"There's nothing good in this place, guess I'll just take the candles then." He said to no one as he grabbed the one by his bed and by where Ryu was sleeping and put them into a pocket in his coat. "Guess I better get out of here before the priest wakes up now."
As he was about to leave the room, Ryu got out of bed and walked in front of him.
"Hey buddy." He said "You don't have to say anything; you're just like me, right. Pretend to be an orphan to get into the church, and then take whatever you can sell and move on. This place doesn't have anything good though, we need to hit a bigger town, like Windia or something."
Ryu was about to say something, this was his home after all, and this stranger was saying there wasn't anything good here, but then he remembered that his stuff had vanished. He couldn't blame this kid, his belongings wouldn't have fit in just an overcoat and by the looks of it, even in the dark, and all the stranger had was just the candles he just took. On top of that, this was the first person he met since waking up by the dragon who he wasn't getting a strange feeling from. The boy was looking at Ryu in the dark, waiting for an answer.
"Where are you going?" Ryu asked him.
"I'm not sure yet, but we can't stay here, it's a small village, and if the priests sees that I took his candles, well, there probably isn't anywhere to hide, everyone might know each other here."
Having lived here, Ryu knew everyone knew each other, but, that was before. He still wouldn't want to take the chance. "Yeah, we should probably head away from here; something seems odd about this village." Ryu told him. "My name is Ryu by the way."
"Good to meet you, buddy, call me Bow. Bow Plainsrunner."
"Ryu Bateson. I'm not sure how we'll get out of here though, the guard at the front gate doesn't let children out unaccompanied, and I doubt he'll let anyone past at night."
Bow went over to the window. "Uh, what guard, there's no one there buddy. Maybe he's on break or something, guess we should hurry before he gets back then."
Bow walked out first, as he did; Ryu pulled an amulet from beneath his shirt and pointed it at his new friend. The jewel in the middle turned blue. The amulet Ryu carried he called the Dragon's Tear, he didn't truly understand it, but it read people's emotions. Blue was a sign the person was trustworthy, and Ryu put the amulet back in his shirt and followed him.
Downstairs, the church was lit still by a few candles so they could see easily, but, suddenly Bow stopped. The priest was still at the altar, he'd send them back upstairs and see Bow took the candles, but though his eyes were opened, a light snoring could be heard.
"Praise St. Eva…Let God show you the way" he muttered.
He was sleeping standing up, it was creepy, and they opened the door quickly and left the church. The guard was still gone, so the two of them rushed out of the village.
"We made it out, Ryu. So, I'm guessing you're from around here, right. Where should we g...uh oh" Bow sniffed at the air, something Ryu chuckled at, he put his nose up just like a dog would. "It smells like it's going to rain"
No sooner had Bow said that then a few drops landed on them, and in moments, it was pouring. "Ryu, we can't go back to that town, is there anywhere around he we can get out of the rain?"
Ryu nodded and pointed to an outcropping of rocks. "Over there are a bunch of caves, they lead north, and beyond them is the path to Windia, but it's still far off."
"Well, lead on, we should get out of this rain before we get soaked, neither of us brought more clothes." They both ran as fast as they could and quickly found the entrance. They were out of the rain, but inside there was no light.
"How are we going to get through here, we can't see...oh wait, I took the candles from the church, they should help us get through here." Bow took out both candles and lit both, handing one to Ryu and keeping the other one. They walked for a few minutes but soon found themselves at a fork in the path. "Ryu, which way should we go...hey, did you see that?"
Bow was referring to something that caught the candlelight off to the left path. "There's something shiny over there, maybe its treasure that could be useful for when we get to Windia. Let's go get it before we get out of here."
Ryu was about to say the path out was the other way, and they shouldn't go wandering around in dark caves, but his new friend was already walking towards it, so he followed. Oddly, each time they seemed about to get close, it moved back a bit, almost as if it were leading them somewhere. He figured this out too late as the two of them followed the shiny object into a large cavern and something large and heavy fell behind them, blocking them in. Their candles barely lit what was in front of them but a second later the darkness vanished and they could see as though they were in a well lit room.
What they saw frightened them both. Before them, its head reaching nearly the top of the cavern which was about 20 feet high was a demon. Its body was covered in a hard shell that looked like no weapon could pierce, the tail was as long as the demon was tall, and that was what was blocking their exit out of here, it was covered in tough looking scales that looked almost metallic, which was probably what was the object they mistook for treasure and followed. It stood on 6 legs, each ending in a point, they were like a spiders legs, but covered in scales, and far thicker than either of the two boys. Two powerful claws were at its front, with three sharp nails emerging at the end of each, and they were covered by a thick shield. The worst was that it had three eyes, two almost human looking ones despite them being much larger than humans, and one above in the middle, that was even larger, and strangely was the one that Ryu had been seeing in his dreams from earlier today.
"A d-d-demon!" cried Bow. Those were the last words that he spoke as the demon's tail swung and struck him knocking him against the rocky wall of the cavern. Bow slowly slid down unconscious. Ryu was terrified, he tried to protect his sister from a monster earlier with a twig, unsuccessfully, but his father stepped in to rescue them. This demon was far more powerful than that thing could dream of being, and he was certain his father wouldn't be stepping in soon to help him here.
The demon looked down at Ryu, that piercing gaze analyzing him. "So, here you are, the destined child" its voice said, shaking the cavern. "Long have I waited, patiently. Come then, show me your true strength, the power they believe meant to defeat the demon."
All Ryu remembered being frozen with fear as the demon swung one of his powerful claws and he felt pain tear across him, then all was dark.
It was like waking from a long dream...
But, now his father and sister have disappeared and no one else recognizes him...
He dreamt of a horrific demon that ripped his mind and body apart...
But it remains just a dream
Yet, the vision remains strong.
Deep within the corners of his mind, he hears it calling.
A different world...
A world of silence...
A world of darkness...
He moves toward it, feeling both fear and exhilaration.
He succumbs and the darkness welcomes him.
"You are the one" The demon says, reaching deep within his own heart, he realizes that it is true.
Then, in that moment, reality washes away and the dream begins to take shape...