Breath of Fire 2: The Destined Child
Interlude: His Story
Trout's downfall brought a feeling of peace back to Hometown, yet, as we sat at Kilgore's table, Bow retelling the story of his defeat in a way that made it seem like he handled the demon all by himself, I found my thoughts plagued by something else.
"So, I saved the damsel in distress, and took down a demon that was threatening my town, where would you be without me, eh Ryu?" Bow was saying. I just shrugged as he continued to make himself out to be the hero, used to it after a year of working together. "Sure, most Rangers probably would've run when confronted by a demon, but I like to think I'm a bit tougher than most, right, buddy!"
"I can't believe that Trout was a demon, I knew that he was greedy" Kilgore began "but, to think he let that consume him, and it turned him into a demon, it makes me think. I had better be careful, or else something like that could happen to me, too. I've heard of people doing terrible things to get ahead, and if the result is becoming like Trout, it's a terrifying thought."
"I don't think that was what did it," Nina began. "Lots of people have negative emotions in them, greed, or violence, or fear, or doubt, but if that was all it took, the world would be a much darker place."
"Interesting notion, Miss Windia, I know you four have seen a lot more in your travels than I have in my stay here. Finding out that Trout was a demon I will admit has left me a little unnerved, have you encountered any more beings like him while you were away?"
Katt jumped into the conversation. "That's how I met Ryu here. In Corsair, I caught him trying to sneak a peek at me," I rolled my eyes at her, wouldn't she ever let that go? "But, it turned out that he was actually trying to warn me about what the boss there was planning. Augus was trying to have me killed off and make a show of it, said something about some god he worshipped, and he was a demon, too!"
As they talked, I felt as though I was being watched. I noticed Patty the Phantom Thief had been staring at me ever since we rescued her from Trout's prison, but it wasn't her that I was sensing, it was something else, something familiar from long ago.
"Yes, we also discovered that the leader of the Joker gang was a demon as well. That was how I met Ryu; their gang kidnapped Princess Mina, and held her hostage, trying to force me into being their slave…"
"Well, aren't you the hero, buddy. Saving two beautiful women, I guess they both owe you." Bow said suggestively and winked at me. Katt reached over and punched him. "Ouch, I'm kidding, I'm kidding!"
"Ryu's not like that. How did he ever met perverts like you and Sten, it's beyond me!"
"Bet a lot of stuff is beyond you, trying to fix a house by swinging your staff." I heard him mutter under his breath. Lucky for him, she didn't hear or she probably would have hit him a lot harder next time.
"I would have thought having Trout out of the picture would make me feel better, but hearing about what else is happening out there, it hasn't really put my mind at ease. In fact, I have a feeling we haven't seen the end of this yet."
Those words, how true they felt.
Augus, a blood thirsty man bent on bringing out the violence and hatred of people. A powerful being of brute force, his demon form transformed him into a two headed werewolf. Cruel and bloodthirsty, he was willing to do whatever it took to corrupt people and bring out the violence people didn't want to admit was in them. Feeding negative emotions to his god, he sold his soul not for money, just for the power to decide what fate would fall upon whoever passed through his coliseum. How Corsair would have changed with him in charge of the coliseum could have only been for the worse.
The Joker, a greedy thug who leading a small army of thieves and other criminals, he sought to lead a more powerful army. A massive, hideous demon, like a toad from a nightmare, he was power hungry and infused his followers with the same desires that corrupted him. His plan to force Nina to be his slave would have given him that, and where ever he set his sights on would have been in trouble.
Kuwadora the shape shifter, if he would have been allowed to carry out his plans in Simafort, the whole kingdom would have been under his rule. A demonic representation of a lizard, Kuwadora prayed on people's fears of their secrets coming out and used that fear to force them under his control. It was only a short time he was there, but in that time he had already had the people praying to St. Eva though I wasn't sure why, it left a disturbed feeling towards the religion if he was one of their followers.
Trout, the most recent demon we encountered had taken Hometown as his personal city in the short time using a Ranger's mistake to his advantage. He was a crafty demon that used the darkness to hide his position and strike out when the opportunity presented itself. A man driven by greed, he wanted everything and used money to pull it into his grasp. Soldiers paid little to follow his orders, people kidnapped and forced to steal for him, and it was unnatural how easily he crippled what the Ranger guild could do to stand against him.
I saw each of them while the feeling of being watched intensified.
"Anyways, before I forget, Tada, Kilgore, I got you your Whisper Hood back. Patty had it, and returned it after I rescued her, she's not so bad, and once you get to know her I guess."
First a shot at Katt, now a shot at Patty, a month apart, and I forgot about the little quirks in my fellow Ranger's personality.
"Thank you, Bow" Kilgore said holding onto the Whisper Hood, a small piece of cloth that started so much trouble. "This thing sure is a troublesome relic, gets you wanted for grand theft, and my nephew locked up. Oh, I wanted to sincerely thank you Rangers for setting him free, he was the one Trout locked up that was simply selling Whale Cakes here a little while ago. Said Trout robbed him and locked him in the cell so he wouldn't tell, I was wondering where he disappeared to for two weeks."
"No problem, Kilgore, that's what we heroes do. Better late than never, as I say." Bow stated. "So, what does that thing supposed to do? Why is it called the Whisper Hood?"
"Glad you asked, Bow. I had it created for my nephew, he runs a tourist attraction near Simafort, and it's supposed to allow the wearer to hear someone from great distances. Very useful to keep track if anyone gets lost down there in the caves, or something like that. It's just a prototype, I wanted to have a couple made for him, but it seems like there won't be time now, he's got to be heading back home very soon, and I wouldn't want his family worrying even more about him."
The atmosphere in the Elder's office was grim when we entered. Elder Mason stood at his desk looking troubled, but with the scene before him, it was easy to understand why. John led the guild's elite team, taking on missions that most people would turn away from. They looked defeated, their weapons nearly broken, covered in wounds, some of which were still bleeding slightly.
"You know we're not cowards, Elder, but in all the time I've been a Ranger, I have never encountered a demon like that. It was a full-fledged demon, stronger than any we came across before. We didn't stand a chance; he just toyed with us and left us to run away after, as though we didn't matter."
I heard a chuckle as John said this; something found their defeat amusing, and it was something that was familiar.
"As though they didn't matter, as though they did not stand a chance. How amusing to hear they understand their place, and how terrifying for you, surely you understand their situation, that feeling of helplessness. Tell me, Destined Child, will you prove to be more than they were, or will you cower before me, as you did as a child?"
I was trying to listen as John and his team explained what happened, but their words were barely registering with me, I was trying to pay attention, but it was like trying to hear someone from a great distance. They left, leaving the two of us alone with the Elder.
"Elder, what happened?" I asked him, though as I said it, I was feeling like I didn't want to know.
He began to explain, but again, as I was trying to listen, it was though I was trying to hear someone who was far away, and suddenly I felt my vision being drawn away.
"…the whole area around them died…turned lifeless overnight…tormented them and terrorized them…Our most experienced Rangers stood no chance against this…"
"Perhaps you would like to see what happened there, Destined Child, it was after all once a meaningful place to you. See it yourself…Gate."
I saw the place that used to be home before I met the demon, the nightmare. For so long I didn't want to believe it really existed, but I could never truly deny it. It was a constant presence, something dark, and malicious that I worked to keep at bay, but it was always there.
I was in Gate; it looked as I had remembered. The church that used to be our home, the townspeople wandering the worn paths, carrying about their business as usual, yet, something was wrong. They looked exactly as I remembered, as though when I was taken away from here fifteen years ago, not a day passed for them. They didn't appear to have aged a day; everything looked like it did when I was a child.
"So peaceful here, but such things are fleeting. Watch, Destined Child, watch what your precious home has suffered."
I sensed the worst kind of presence, something was here in Gate. I didn't want to watch what it was about to do, but I couldn't turn away. The ground started shaking wildly, the town seemed to darken and I could hear screaming around me. It felt as though the earth was about to open up, but as suddenly as it began, it halted. The townspeople, seconds ago gripped with fear at what was happening, immediately returned to their activities, the earthquake as though it never happened. It wasn't like that for the rest of the inhabitants around Gate however.
The sky darkened further as birds that used to call this place home suddenly fled in terror, fighting each other to get away as quickly as possible. They weren't the only ones, wildlife of all kinds didn't dare to stay here a moment longer, and from the forests, and dozens of creatures of various kinds ran as though demons were on their heels.
The trees and plant life, once vibrant green in moments was no more, drained of its life force, it changed from a healthy green to a dull brown in seconds, looking as though they had been left to die for years, yet it all happened in several blinks of an eye.
Through it all, the villagers carried on, unaware that their home had changed at all. They didn't have any idea something was here, corrupting them, poisoning their home from within.
"How long do they have, Destined Child? God waits for you. A being of hatred, of death, given form, ready to spread evil throughout the world, and they think you will stop it."
The image of Gate and what happened faded, and I found myself back in the Elder's office, Bow pleading to the Elder to allow the two of us to take the job that left John and his team so broken.
"How foolish, your friend seems so eager to confront me; I look forward to putting him in his place. Will he be the only one, or will you bring me the others as well, the Woren, or perhaps present me with the pleasure of the Windian. Oh, the horrors I will show them, will their screams rouse you to fight, or will you cower before me still as they die."
You didn't kill me when you had your chance, things are different now, I'm not a helpless child anymore, you can't scare me anymore, and I won't let you near anyone else. I thought at the demon.
"Brave promises, eventually we will see how brave you truly are, Destined Child."
I saw the watching eye close, its darkness fading, but it was still there.
"Bow, even if I wanted to give you this job, and I truly do not after what happened there, Gate is no longer accessible. The pass leading there has been sealed by some kind of force. When John awoke, he found the cave through was shut by a wall of dark energy that he could not move past. I'll be sending word to Windia for some assistance with this problem, as it has become too big for just the Rangers, however, I do have a task for you two."
"Excellent, we're up for any job that's too big for John and his crew, Elder" Bow told him, but was met by a stern glare.
I felt shaken, Bow was oddly eager to charge into the encounter with this demon, to prove himself a hero. Sylvia draped over his arm, he left with a silly grin on his face, and I found myself standing alone with Patty the Phantom Thief, the Ranger's Guild suddenly deserted.
This one is short, but I wanted to establish the demon as something that will now be a part of the story for Ryu. With this chapter done and out of the way, I can now get back to work on advancing the actual story again, and focusing on the other characters and the adventure once more.