Chapter 0 (I) - Innocent Darkside -
Rain pouring down. The dark night, lit by the fires and the constant explosions seemed eternal as we watched each other fiercely. The Elemental Masters were dead. Alexandra was dead and Blind Point destroyed.
Nothing stood between us.
Before me, a man slightly taller than me stood, wielding a shiny halberd. He's Christopher. Someone who has been a hundred years out to get me and still hasn't succeeded. Laying on the floor is the body of the Thornscape Master, who gave us one hell of a fight, but even him couldn't match up to our combined powers. Just the two of us, in that tall building, out for the final battle.
I look at him. Beard, black hair, torn clothes. We've been out for too long.
"Whenever you want, Christopher."
The man smoothens his hair and smiles "Isn't it strange, Ludwig?
It's all over and none of us could change anything! Oh well... we shall see once it's over."
"It is over, Christopher."
"Why?" asked me "Why should it be over? Because Alexandra is dead?
Oh joy, and what a death! The greatest necromancer of the world died!"
I add "And falling from a stupid window."
"Do you think she deserved any better?"
"Nah." I hit my boots with my sword "Not really. I just find it rather disgusting."
"Anyway, Ludwig, let's get this over with. I'm really sick and tired of you pushing me around."
I bow and reply "You can say the feeling is mutual". Using the element of surprise, I dash at him and send my sword at his face.
Caught unaware, he takes it fully, and leans back, blood spurting from his face. From the looks of it, I think I got his eye.
"You fucking BASTARD! I will kill you once and for all!" He screams, and jumps at me. It's funny how, even after all this time, Christopher hasn't managed to break my defense.
Lise did, Mary Ann gave me one hell of a beating, and Joseph almost killed me, but he still has one helluva grudge of a fight with me.
After several failed strikes, I hold my sword up, and he takes the open whole to kick me. I move my left arm instinctively to block it, not realizing he would hit that cursed wound. He hits me and the stinging pain in my left arm takes me back a few steps. He jumps at my, and tries a cross slash to behead me. I react in time and stop the strike with my own weapon. We struggle for a few seconds and he mocks me:
"I thought you were proud of your 'impenetrable defense'."
I smile and reply "I don't think you've done much with that kick."
"Oh yeah, I see your arm bleeding. And like hell."
My left arm is indeed bleeding like hell. What do people want with it?
It has been kicked, punched, cut, stomped, burned and marked with fire.
Whatever kind of depraved endemic fetish is going around here it's definitely not of my tastes and less if they are going to keep pounding at my goddamned left arm.
"That's not really new."
Suddenly, we hear a monstrous scream. That must be Joseph, dying.
It's very hard to mistake someone who speaks with echo. My allies have done their part. I have nothing to worry about now.
I get a hold of his weapon and smile "You will remember this one, dumbass."
My sword begins to glow dark flames, and both our weapons start to heat up to unimaginably high temperatures. Christopher desperately fights to release his grip, but I have tighten my own. I push him back, and turn around wildly, pushing him back at full speed. We crash against the balcony wall and jump off the building.
Thanks to my Dark Banishment technique, our acceleration is far more from the usual 9 meters per seconds allowed by gravity. We crash through the neighbor building, through the other side, and land heavily in the ground.
This hasn't killed us. Christopher has lived around a century or so,
and I have been burned alive and that hasn't killed us. This stupid fall won't.
But it DID hurt.
I work my way back to my feet, and find Christopher, wrecked, against the ground, breathing desperate, reaching for air. I walk up to him and look at his lamentable situation.
I grab my sword, and stood firm above Christopher. He opens his sane eye. "Are you going to kill me now?" he asks.
Of course. "Yes". I bury my sword on his chest.
To be honest, this isn't the kind of death I thought to Christopher. Is a lame kind of death for someone who's several centuries old.
I suppose it wasn't my place to judge so, though.
I drop myself in the floor. I'm tired, I haven't slept in days, haven't ate since this morning - how long has passed since this morning,
anyway? -, my left arm is bleeding out, and my legs simply can't work anymore. I can't hold my own weight, let alone fight. I begin to drift away out of exhaustion, and suddenly I hear a voice.
"Ludwig! Are you okay?"
That female voice is definitely Michelle's, my best - and perhaps only -
friend. Despite my undying love towards her, I can honestly agree with something here: that was a very stupid question.
"What do you think, girl?"
"Well, how do I explain. You look kinda bad, but you'll be okay. I'm sure. You've been through worse. You went through a whole Spinal Tap concert. You will survive, honey."
I raise an eyebrow. Another voice does joins us. "How about Christopher?
That's Lise. Beautiful, intelligent, and definitely trampling. She looks at me and smiles. Without bothering to smile back, and I answer "Well, he stopped breathing."
She laughs and replies "That's _usually_ a good sign of defunction."
Michelle gasps, and suits her glasses, then she holds me tightly.
I complain loudly due to the pain on my left arm, and she tells me "That was from Tresh. He asked me to say goodbye to you."
"So he's lost now..."
"Don't put that long face now. He was already dead. He sold his soul to help us. He knew what he was doing." says, sharply, Lise.
"I'm not sad. I just kinda would have liked to say goodbye."
"He took that for granted."
The two girls help me back to my feet, and we walk to the building I just jumped up. The elevator, of course, it's out of order. We have to go up twenty five stairs.
"Okay, if we get out of this alive, Ludwig, you go on diet. Hell are you heavy." says, jokingly, Michelle. Lise laughs out loud, and I reply humorless "Don't pester me now, girl. I'm annoyed right now,
and you know how much of a pain in the ass I can be if I'm annoyed."
"Okay, okay! Geez. Some sense of humor now that we're about to die would be nice!"
I certainly don't enjoy that comment.
We finally reach the final floor. We stand there, and I watch the Crystal Cyclix going insane, and I watch the Time Vortex sucking things up and down. For some reason, I don't think that's good.
I get a grip of my sword, and listen to the ambient. There it is. The sound of death. I do not know how does it sounds like, but it feels like the silent hiss of death. I raise my sword, and my two partners imitate me.
Our three powers combine with the Crystal's and a massive glowing wave explodes from the building, destroying everything on its path. That is.
The Dark Plague it's over. Whatever's left of it will be of no consequence. However, due to the tremendous amount of energy channeled through it, the building begins to crumble down and falls.
We three begin to fall down, inevitably, to our doom. I watch Michelle yelling something at me, while Lise is unconscious. I can't hear anything, because I keep listening to the death. The last thing I remember is the Deatheye looking menacingly at me and the Time Vortex flying around. I lose my senses seconds before I hit the ground.
I thought death would be more interesting.
Chapter 0 (II) - Boomerang -
The start of the day, usually, was something I longed for. Nowadays, though, it's something I dread horribly. I wake up slowly, and I find next to me the naked body of a man with gray hair, though he looks like he's twenty or so. I caress his back and say "Good morning, Hawk."
I throw myself into the bed and he gets up and gets dressed. He looks at me benevolently and asks me "Ready for another royal day?"
"No" I answer.
"Why not? What do you want to do today?"
"Nothing. I want to lay down and die."
Visibly concerned, he sits next to me and asks me "What's the matter,
Riesz? Since last week or so you seem to have catch a very deep depression."
I don't answer. It's useless. The heavy burden of being the Queen of such kingdom as Rolante proved to be a lot more heavy than I had thought. Each and every day I feel the need to idealize my father for doing so for so long. Being married has been wonderful, but sometimes I feel so tired, so bad... I think our marriage was rushed.
We were too young and impulsive, and our decisions were wrong. We have paid a high price for our innocence. I wonder how has Duran's marriage developed. They seemed so much ready than we were.
Or so I thought. I simply think that too many things went below the table and I didn't saw them.
"It's nothing Hawk. I am just tired."
He gets up and tells me "Anyway, I have great news! I figured out you were probably missing all those good days, you know, slaying demons and risking our lives without any reason... so I sent a lil'
letter to a few old friends..."
My eyes light up and I shout "Duran?! Angela?! Carlie?!"
"Well, yeah, and perhaps someone else. I don't know. But rest assured that, to the very least, we will spend a good night."
I get up and hold him with all my strength. He chokes, and finally I let go of him. It's funny how I could be even stronger than he is... but it's all in the training and our own paths. He choose to be a Wanderer, to know the world, and to love it. I Choose to be a Star Lancer, to honor the Goddess and fight for her laws.
He plays dead for awhile and I begin laughing, first silently, and it then evolves into a mighty laugh attack which I can't control.
He smiles and joins my hysterical happiness.
I finally recover in his arms, and he tells me "I love you, Riesz.
Do you love me, Riesz?"
"I love you, Hawk."
"I hate you, Riesz. Do you hate me?"
"I hate you, Hawk."
I tuck myself between his arms, and kiss him. Sometimes, just sometimes, I feel like this wasn't a mistake.
"A lie always returns. Be careful how you catch it."
Boomerang (Classic Edition)
Chapter 0 (II) - Simple Kind of Life -
"OH YESSSSS! OH YEAH! THIS IS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT!"
Don't get the wrong idea. I'm not doing anything wrong. I'm just overly happy. News like these don't come around very often.
"Oh my goddess, Duran, what the hell is wrong with you? Loki can't sleep with all that noise!"
I turn around to watch a beautiful, purple haired girl,
with a little kid on her arms. That's Angela, my wife, and Loki,
my son, whom I named after my father. After defeating the Dark Lich,
I came with Angela to settle down on Forcena, and got married. We soon had a child, a hyperactive blonde small thing which I can hardly believe I made.
"Come here, champion!" I hold him in my arms. It's my son. I have the right to.
"What is it, Duran?" Angela asks. I extend the letter to her.
"It's an invitation to a party tonight. To Rolante, babe! It's gonna be great!"
"Oh dear, you could have read it without making such a rubbish."
I hold her and kiss her. After marrying, I became known as the Paladin of the World, and I give away faith and protection. I also earned a virtual Golden Knight like my father once was, a very big honor. I don't wear a golden armor, though. I have much better stuff to wear.
I moved from my aunt's house and she moved to Navarre for some reason with my sister. Angela works as a teacher of sorts in the castle.
"We have to go! I mean, it's been like a year since we last saw 'em! I miss them lots!"
"Of course we're going, honey." Agrees my wife. She kisses me back and plays with Loki for a few seconds. She then blows yet another kiss to me, and runs up the stairs to keep the kitchen from blowing up. Like it has happened several times.
I guess that's what a normal life is. Boring, but quiet.
"No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings."
William Blake "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell"
Chapter 0 (III) - Caught Beneath the Landslide -
Another day, another opportunity to change someone's life.
Each day I wake up and begin my duties as the Priest of the World. Each day I come to the temple, and bless and give advice to the people who ask for either. They come and leave happy regardless of what they get for an answer, just by my presence and their own faith they find solace.
And I end up happy for each person who comes here and leaves happy.
Wendel hasn't been the same ever since the Beastmen attacked it a few years ago. On this very place, Riesz found the dead corpse of my grandpa. This very place, it still smells like blood on the walls, they still feel sticky. This place still feels like a giant coffin, nailing me down.
A couple comes, and I bless them. They ask about their lives.
I say that life's what you make out of it, and as long as their lives were guided by the light of the Goddess, they would be alright. They leave, content of feeling enlightened, and I stay, content of seeing them with new ideas on their heads.
I sigh and watch the people walking around. Sometimes I feel tired of this, but the pleasure of helping people is simply too much to just forget it.
Uh? What is this?
A guard comes by and he hands me a letter. It's from Hawk!
What a beautiful surprise! He tells me to come over by sunset.
Flammie would come and pick me up. Well, this is sure a good thing. I need some rest.
Now, however, I need to talk about this vision I had...
"Each day, I fight for my life and win. Each night, I fight to remember my name, and lose."
Grafted Skullcap (seventh edition)
Chapter 1 (I) - Once again -
The wind blows heavily as it always does in Rolante. The fountain outside the castle - background for many love histories and fitting ending for them as well - shows a young woman, blonde, using a light blue armor. Her very long hair swings back and forth with the wind,
and her hand touches the water in the fountain. When the waves would come to a stop, Riesz, the Queen of Rolante, can be seen reflected on the clear water.
It's no one's secret that the Queen has been unhappy. Perhaps not sad, but certainly overwhelmed with the passions of being a Queen and ruling a whole country. Their people love her, and they support every decision she makes, but each and every day they have grown used to see her dying from the insides and it pains her people not to be able to help.
Flammie, the mighty father of the skies, flies around the castle, carrying three people. Hawk jumps out of the castle to receive the outsiders, their friends, and they jump out of Flammie to basically land above their friends. The five resting Heroes of the Sword.
Duran and Riesz hug each other effusively, like they longed for this for more than a year. Hawk takes a moment to watch Carlie, who has grown from that little girl who looked like a baby to a totally stunning blonde girl who's almost as tall as he is.
As the group eats and drinks, over chats and meetings, they remember the old times. The quests to save the world. Hawk's legendary kiss in Rolante the first time they met. Duran's bad jokes. Carlie's incredible grown.
"Oh well, This was what we needed..."
The whole group turns to watch Hawk, who's smiling and watching his wine glass, playing with it as if it was some kind of weapon. He finally rises it and proposes a toast "For us. For our friendship. For our lives."
Everyone agrees, and laughs. Finally, Carlie decides to go into a more serious tone and begins speaking:
"People, there was a reason why I wanted to see you all. I had a vision."
Riesz frowns and asks "Anything wrong, Charlotte?"
"I don't know. I had a dream about three person falling from a really tall building, then an eerie eye appeared, a wild tornado, and finally the words "Death" and "Interesting". It isn't normal that I have such dreams. I'm sort of disturbed by this. What do you think that could mean?"
"Well, my mom says that death usually means the beginning of something. The rest are definitely out of my league" Proposes Angela, smiling. "That's a very educated idea, though."
Charlotte collapsed into her chair and sighed heavily "I don't think that has much to do with this... But thanks. Perhaps it isn't anything at all."
A knock on the door. A guard enters, very agitated, and looks at the whole group "Queen, I think we need your help!"
"What is it?" asks, concerned, Riesz.
"I don't know, " begins the guard "We found a very strange person on the Summit of the Skies. Only you're allowed up there and anyway the way up there is ridiculously difficult to find, so we don't have any idea how did he reached the Summit."
Hawk bit his lower lip and looked at Riesz "I think we better go and check, honey."
The Dungeons on Rolante are usually empty. There is no point into filling them, as crime is simply non-existent there. As dark and as uneasy as any jail, a small guy, with long blonde hair and a slim build sits, with his face between his knees, in the floor, holding an enormous sword just behind himself.
"We couldn't take it off him. He agreed to come, but he refused to let go his sword."
Riesz looks at the guard, then directs her view at the prisoner.
"Mister? May I speak with you?"
"You shouldn't be so polite, the dude looks like a criminal..."
Riesz hit Duran with her elbow on his stomach "Please, Duran, let me handle it. I do not think he's dangerous. Mister?"
"Please, don't call me 'mister'"
The guy raises his face to reveal a good looking, but definitely young looking face, and he glares the group, and buries his face again between his knees "What do you want? How long are you gonna keep me here?"
"As long as you don't cooperate, kid, so get up." demanded Hawk.
He simply ignored this.
"Please, let me speak. Who are you? What were you doing up there?
How did you get here?" Asks Riesz once again.
"That's something I would like to know" Replies without showing his face.
Riesz, slightly frustrated, decides to enter the door. "What the hell?" cursed Duran, but Riesz pushes him away.
I think I can help him. I enter the cell, but he doesn't acknowledges my presence. I walk up to him, and kneel down, putting my hand on his shoulder "You will not be hurt. You just need to understand we do not trust strangers."
"Do you fear them?"
I tighten my grip on his shoulder to sit down, but, acting on reflexes,
he throws his sword at me. I barely manage to evade it. I'm a dumbass,
I forgot I was unarmed.
But obviously he doesn't knows me.
He throws another strike that I dodge, and throw a short knee strike to his stomach grabbing his head. He takes it fully and falls down to his knees, but he recovers quickly and points his sword at me, and challenges me "Don't even move. I have a very bad and ugly sword ready to slice you up if you make a bad move."
I raise an eyebrow and think. I can hit him again, but his endurance seems to be very high. With such a defensive stance, I could overcome his wall and take him down, but I don't want to hurt him. "I will not hurt you... what is your name?"
"Ludwig. Ludwig Crowbane, Hell Knight from Break Point."
What the hell did he said?
"Uh, well, I am Riesz, Queen of Rolante. The white haired guy is my husband,
Hawkeye, Wanderer from Navarre, The blonde girl is the Priestess of Light,
Charlotte, the big guy is Duran and the other girl is Angela, the Princess of Altena. Now that we know each other, I have no idea about where does 'Break Point' stand..."
"I could say the same for all that you've just say."
We look at each other in the eyes. I know he is not lying, but, I can't really believe what he just said. How can he ignore all those names? Isn't he from this world?
"Please, first lower your sword."
He thinks for a second, and then lowers it. But, suddenly, I hear a powerful crash, and it's Duran breaking the bars and entering the cage with his sword up. Before I know it, Ludwig pushes me back, and hits Duran with all of his might with a roundhouse, sending him against a wall. Once again, I think, he doesn't really knows me. I use the momentum from his prod to turn around and hit him with a powerful roundhouse on his face, then I put my leg on his shoulder, grab his right arm, and pin him to the floor to control him. He doesn't seems to put up much resistance, but then escapes my grip easily, and heads a quick fist at me. I block it, and with a second roundhouse I throw him against a wall, putting him out of his senses.
"Well, dear, that was a short but intense exercise" complains Duran "That dude owes me one."
"Save it for later. Charlotte, do something to keep him sleeping. We will bring him up for interrogation." I order. Hawk looks at me disturbed and asks me "What do you mean? Are you gonna free him? Have you even seen what he can do?"
"I think, Hawk, that I have proved that I can deal with him. Is he strong? Yes. Is he stronger than I am? No. Now calm down everyone, is nothing we haven't seen before."
"I hope you are right, Riesz..." finishes, stern, Hawk.
Everyone looked at Carlie, who was keeping Ludwig down using her white magic. "I don't think he might be dangerous. I just think he's scared.
Angela smoothed her hair and said "Well, let's get this over with."
I sighed, and told her "Believe me. There is nothing I would prefer right now."
"Neither do I"
We all look at Ludwig, who's not only awake, but also completely on his senses. Duran drew his sword and pointed it at Ludwig. "Don't even move."
Ludwig swallowed and asked "Listen, I'm not staying here. I don't even know where am I, and, frankly, I don't feel like listening now to you,
so, kindly move the hell out of my way."
"Try me" challenged Duran.
With the speed of lightning, Ludwig threw himself out of Carlie's grip, and jumped at Duran, tackling him and taking him out of the way. I watched, totally stunned, and produced my spear, adopting my battle stance. He stopped for a second, raised his sword, and then tried to run at me. I say tried, because the instant he started to run,
he fell face first into the floor.
"Not all of our tricks require lightning speed." said our personal Magus, Angela, who had frozen the floor beneath his feet. Hawk lifted Ludwig's face and asked, kindly "Now, what are you doing here?"
"I haven't the faintest idea"
"He doesn't!" screamed Charlotte, desperate "Don't hurt him!"
"Oh no, girl, don't worry..." said, easily, Ludwig. I raised an eyebrow and looked at him, and asked "So, what do you plan to do? You can't really do much in your current state."
"Oh, yeah, remember the ice?" he asked.
We all looked at his legs. The ice had melted.
"I did it. And you are DAMN right, girl! I'm off!"
He pushed everyone away with a quick rolling kick, and then back flipped out of the window with supreme charm.
Duran nearly laughed until we heard some mess outside the castle. I ran at the window, and saw him running away into the darkness.
"Well" said Duran, regaining his composure. "I think we got a situation here..."
Well, the end of the first chapter. Actually chapters 0 and 1. I don't know how to spell the cardinal number for zero.
Yes, Ludwig's a new character of mine, the main one from another history. Feel free to email me any questions, though, if everything goes alright, on my page you will find the answers for any questions you might have.