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Chapters 1 to 5 rewrites

So as I’ve started chapter 6, I’ve changed my writing style a bit and… I like it much better. So much so that I’m seriously contemplating going back over all my previous work and reworking them in this new style. For me, it just flows better and it’s easier for me to convey the story across to you the readers.

Having said all that… I’m a lazy slob and haven’t touched the story for a few weeks now… 😦

*I’ll get there eventually…*

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Story

 

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Chapter 5

“Father!!” she screamed, reaching out towards the chaotic scene, which was receding into void. She was on her hands and knees, frozen still like a statue, still reeling from the feelings inflicted upon her in that vision. She was awash with sadness, confusion and anger. It took her a moment to realise that she wasn’t breathing before she gasped in a lungful of air. After settling down a bit, she stood up to stretch out her cramped up legs. Blood rushed down from her head causing her to feel light headed and unbalanced.

She was back in this dull, expansive world of lifeless water and endless dirty red sky.

“Was that me?” Yoora quietly asked, almost whispering.

A thick black smoke started drifting across the water, swirling up in front of her. The smoke started to take shape, forming legs, then body, arms and head. Then the smoke started to dissipate, revealing a girl with almost the exact likeness her. This new figure however was wearing a beautiful dark green silk hanbok with intricate blue and white decals embroidered across the dress. Her blouse was bright red, with golden embroidery around the hems of the sleeves depicting a phoenix and dragon flying about each other. Her hair was glossy and perfectly plaited, which was wrapped around the top of her head like a crown. A gold and enamel hair pin in the shape of a butterfly held the plaited hair in place. Her eyes though were bright red with a piercing, almost paralysing gaze.

“That was us” the apparition replied, a hint of sadness in her voice. “That was our 12th birthday”.

“By us you mean…” Yoora replied, and then paused, unsure how to continue.

Her other self walked up to her and took hold of both her hands. “Have you ever wondered why the spirits of hundred souls haunt you at night? Do you want to know why you feel the weight of all their deaths? I am all the answers to your questions. I am the other side of you. Together we are one.”

Surprising Yoora, tears started to well up in her eyes and her throat tightened. An overwhelming feeling of acceptance and relief washed over her. She was still confused, but she felt as if this image in front of her was the missing piece of the puzzle she had been searching for.

“How did we become like this?” Yoora croaked.

The figure turned away slightly. “There’s a part of us which is almost uncontrollable. We lost it, and as a result, the monk supressed most of those traits into me and split us apart. I don’t know what it is inside of us, but I think we can control it now, especially if we are together.”

“Can we become one again?” Yoora asked .

“Yes. Only we both truly wish for it. I do, do you?”

“Yes.”

Stepping closer, the figure leaned forward and pressed its forehead against Yoora’s.

“Are you sure? Do you really want to know the past? Are you willing to accept the darkness sealed away inside me?”

“You said that together, we can control the unknown inside of us. I want to do this. I need to know who I am, what I am. I feel so hollow as I am.”

She closed her eyes. All she could feel was the warmth in her hands and forehead. There was no sound, and she started to lose track of time. Then suddenly, she felt the floor she was standing on give way, but she wasn’t falling. Feint voices started echoing around her head. Vague images started creeping into her consciousness. Smells and tastes encroached on her senses. All these sensations started to form scenes.

She recognised them as scenes from her past. Bit by bit, years of memories, experiences and feelings flowed into her, engulfing her and changing her.

She opened her eyes to find herself back at the wondumak, facing at two very alarmed men. She looked down at her hands and clenched her fists.
I’m back
She looked back towards Jumong and gave him a cheeky smile.

“That was interesting” she remarked.

Both men were still on their feet and almost in a fighting stance, as if they were expecting to get attacked.

“What happened to you?!” exclaimed Ahn.

“Oh nothing much really.” She replied with a grin on her face.

Her awakening made her realise that she was completely out of tune with the energy around her. Having been desensitised to the natural magic permeating around her for so long, she had forgotten what it had felt like. She took a deep breath and let her senses reach out past her body. The sensation of the raw mana flowing around her sent her into a state of elation. She felt alive again.

“I met someone I knew a long time ago.” She said calmly, thinly veiling the fact that she was feeling increasingly euphoric as the border between her own energy and the energy about her started to blur.
“I remember what happened back then. I remember the blood, the rage, the pain and sadness.” She locked eyes with Jumong, sensing fear from her master and confusion from the head master.
“I took it all back” she said.

Jumong swiftly stepped back, raising his arms in preparation to strike, either physically or magically. Yoona was quicker however, collecting up the mana around her as soon as he started to move and send a controlled blast of energy towards the men, pushing them back slightly and knocking them off balance. Without giving them time to recuperate, she changed the direction of the mana, slamming them onto the floor. She then suddenly reversed the flow of mana, causing the men to be thrown into the air. She held the energy in that state, suspending them helplessly in mid-air.

The whole scene on the top of the mountain looked as if gravity had ceased to exist. Dust and small rocks were floating in the air, and the drooping branches of the cherry blossom now swung about aimlessly in the air. She walked over to the table which had nearly been pushed off the wondumak during the commotion and picked it up. She placed it back in the center, and picked up the boxes and tea set which had been scattered and knocked around. Amazingly, nothing was broken.

After setting everything back to how it was before the test, she sat down in front of the table and slowly released the spell keeping her master and the headmaster suspended in the air.

“I’m sorry masters.” She said calmly. “I did what I had to do to give me enough time to explain myself.”

She paused for a moment, motioning to the men to sit.

“I realise that I might have been… difficult when I first came here. Frankly my memory of that time is still a little vague, though I remember the faces of all those who died at my hands, and a soul wrenching fear which controlled me.”

She paused again, letting the words sink in.

“I’m not like I was back then.”

She shuffled across from the table in front of Jumong then bowed to him.

“Thank you for support and guidance.” She said.

She then shuffled across to Ahn and bowed to him.

“Please guide me in my future. I have a lot to learn about the world and myself. Please help me to trust myself and protect those around me.”

She remained bowed until she felt the large, warm hand of Ahn pat her head.

“I will to the best of my ability guide you to become someone you truly want to be” Ahn said reassuringly.

She sat back up, facing the 2 men.

“The spell on the box was no test” she said, aiming the remark at the headmaster.

“I know” he replied then paused, his face giving signs of an internal struggle of thoughts. “Being honest here, it’s designed to make high risk students face their inner fears and overcome them. Having a high concentration of emotionally unstable teenage sorcerers and sorceresses is a recipe for disaster. The problem is only made worse when they all suffer from insecurities, mostly inflicted upon them by stupid stories passed down through their families.”

“What would my case be then? I have no known family to pass down freaky stories and misguided thoughts. Why make me face my demons?” Yoona replied in an attempt to see if the headmaster knew anything about her past.

“That’s the problem, we know nothing of your past. Also the fact that you were found half dead and covered in blood in a village in the middle of nowhere doesn’t lend you a credible background” he replied.

A wry smile crept onto her face for a moment before she reverted to her expressionless face.

“Why don’t you just tell people the truth about those boxes?” Yoona asked.

“The truth scares people. It’s easier to let them think it’s a test.” He replied. “I don’t do this will all students though. Only the ones who have the power to influence others, in one way or another”

The headmaster reached over and opened her box and took out one of the small vials of liquid. He popped off the lid and held it out to her.  A sweet but foul smell filled the air around her. She took the opened vial and held it.

“What does this do?” she asked.

“Supress’ bloodlust” the headmaster replied calmly.

She eyed the blackish liquid swirling around in the vile before tipping it down her throat as quickly as possible.

The liquid hit her stomach like a punch to the gut. Her first reaction was to throw up, but the feeling passed before she could, only to be replaced with a paralysing chill spreading through her veins. The cold was stabbing her mind with knives, her vision fading in and out. The feelings subsided and she found herself staring at the floor of the wondumak. Her body ached and she was out of breath.

“That was horrible” she said wryly.

Sitting back up, she felt a change inside of her. She was more relaxed; as if the lid of a pressure cooker had been open slightly, gently letting out the violent and angry steam within.
She noticed that the lid covering the top compartment of the ‘test’ box was sitting slightly askew. She set down the now empty vial with the others and removed the lid. Below was a gold banded ring inscribed with the words ‘Wish to be hidden and let the darkness drown you’ in the old imperial language.

As she picked up the ring, she could feel it drawing in some of her energy. She realised that the ring was meant to supress or hide her power, but the feeling of having her mana drained was uncomfortable.

“Is this ring necessary” she asked the headmaster.

“You don’t have to wear it now, but as we get closer to civilisation, there are people and machines sensitive to a walking mass of concentrated energy. Also you’ll intimidate the other students less” he replied.

Yoona wondered for a moment as to how the headmaster knew that she, according to Jumong, was more powerful than the average person, but that chain of thought answered itself. Jumong had to have told him.

“When do we leave?” she asked.

“As soon as you’re packed!” the headmaster replied.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Story

 

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Chapter 4

Pain shot through her eyes and head as she started to regain consciousness.
Urrg… my head… my head….
She lay flat on her back for a few minutes waiting for the pain to subside and to regain feeling in her body. She rolled over onto her stomach and slowly pushed herself up. Sitting upright, her head felt heavy and her vision was swimming about.

I’m in that dream again…

The sky looked as if thick black smoke had blended into a blood red background, leaving it black with a tinge of red spread through it. She felt unsettled watching the red and black swirl and mix together in the sky. There were faint sounds of… something drifting across the mirror like water surface surrounding her. Every now and then, a raised voice would wash over her like a gentle pulse of air, but the words were undistinguishable.

She finally got up onto her feet, feeling a little unsteady for a few moments. The feeling of smooth silk sliding against her body drew her attention to what she was wearing. Instead of the rough temple clothing she regularly wore, she was wearing a fine orange silken dress. The dress was embroidered with a minimalist representation of a scene depicting a bird of fire flying over mountain peaks protruding from clouds. The thread used for the embroidery constantly shifted slightly in colour, and even at times seemed to give off light. The hems were finished off with a strange golden metal which seems to be as flexible as the fabric itself, and gave tinges of green and blue when viewed at from different angles. She had wearing around her neck a golden medallion stamped with a mysterious yet familiar symbol.

Instead of feeling alarmed at her sudden change in apparel, she felt comfortable in them as if the clothes she was currently wearing were something she had worn her whole life. She walked over to the water’s edge, and noticed that the cobblestone road dipped slightly below the water line, rather than end abruptly like in her previous dream. The path seemed to extend about an ankles depth for as far as she could see.

She casually waded into the water, making no effort to keep the bottom of her dress dry. Small waves propagated out from around her feet, disturbing the mirror like water surface.
She walked for what seems like hours, slightly hypnotised by the feint voices and the sound of water splashing about her ankles. The submerged path she was walking on looked as if it was leading her towards a golden glow on the horizon, but no matter how long she walked for, it did not seem like she had covered any ground.

Her head started feeling heavy and her eyelids started to droop. Her stomach turned over as hopelessness started taking over. Overcome with weariness, she fell to her knees and let her head slump. Tears streaked down here face as she cradled her head in her hands.

“WHAT AM I DOING HERE?!” she screamed into the sky.

She held her breath for a moment, half expecting a response, but nothing happened.
Exhausted, she leant forward onto all four limbs and looked down at the water. A weary face looked back at her, its eyes a piercing glowing red. Her stomach churned over and fear gripped her heart. Her thoughts immediately turned to the dream she had the previous night.
Please, not again!

She threw herself backwards away from her reflection, falling onto her back in a large splash of water before shuffling backwards a bit, as if trying to escape something trying to chase her.
A few moments passed before her breathing started to ease.

“Why are you following me?!” she moaned under her breath.

No reply came. Her eyes and head felt heavy. Her exhaustion was eating away at her consciousness.

“Why do you bring me here?” she half-heartedly asked her surroundings.

“For you to remember who you are” a familiar, kind female voice said softly.

Floating in the water on her back, it took a few seconds for the words to sink in. Realising that she had finally gotten a response out of the emptiness around her, she sat up… then froze.
Where there was nothing before but an endless horizon, a set of heavy wooden doors illuminated by 2 blue fire torches filled her entire vision. A floating sensation overcame her and her vision wavered and blurred. As she started to settle down, a gut wrenching fear gripped her at the core, causing her breathing to be erratic and her limbs feel weak.

She looked around and saw that she was no longer surrounded by an endless stretch of water. The sky was dark and cloudy, and a thick heavy mist blanketed the area, making it hard to see past a few meters. She was sitting back on a granite path which lead off into the mist. She could see dull blue glows through the mist which were evenly spaced along the path. For some reason, she knew that those glows were lanterns lined up along the path, and that the path lead out to one of the fortress’ walls. She also knew that along either sides of the path grew large majestic maple, cherry blossom and pine trees, though none could be seen through the darkness and haze.

A creepy chill came over her which caused her to start shivering. She noticed that the lamps were beginning to dull even more, and the lamps further out were extinguishing one by one. Her limbs felt like lead but she forced them to bang on the door in front of her.
THUD… Thud…. Thud…..
She was quickly loosing energy whilst fear and panic were chocking her from within. The sounds of footsteps echoed down the path through the darkness. Exhausted and frozen with fear, she turned around and leant against the door, giving up on getting in and mustering the courage to try fight off whatever it was coming down the path. She slowly stood up, her shaking legs nearly giving way a few times before she was completely upright. She clenched her fists as hard as she could and felt a sharp pain in her right hand. She opened her right hand to find herself clutching a small red diamond rose necklace. Some of her blood stained its delicate golden leaves, but traces of deeper blood stains could be seen. The sight of the necklace brought back a memory of a girl sprawled out on the ground, her lifeless body covered in small cuts and grazes and her blank gaze staring unwaveringly into the sky.
He killed her! He killed Ji Na! That MONSTER!
A surge of heat flowed through her body, her rage manifesting as wild uncontrolled energy causing the air around her to violently stir up, picking up small stones and leaves off the ground and hurling them in random directions.

She screamed in rage, inadvertently firing a pulse of compressed air down the pathway, extinguishing all the lamps in pairs as it travelled. Absolute darkness engulfed her as the last of the lanterns were blown out. No longer feeling the heat in her body, the chilling fear returned causing her to lose the last of her strength. She fell against the doors and slumped to the ground. Tired, exhausted, cold and petrified, she could do nothing but stare blankly into the darkness.

“My my my…” a voice mocked in the distance. “Heck of a punch for someone as young as you”
The footsteps were getting closer and closer.
“Such a waste having to kill such potential. But I can’t allow you to mature. Your existence is a threat to us. Too long has the fires of heaven controlled this country. It’s time for a new age! One not bound by the decrepit decrees of your family. One where we are all truly free to choose our own destinies, pave our own paths. For that, you must die here, tonight.”

She could tell that the killer was close now. Her breathing started getting more and more ragged as her mind went blank with fear. Tears streamed down her face, the realisation that she might actually die finally starting to dawn on her.

Mom… Dad… help…..

“No one’s coming to save you. Stop resisting, and I’ll show you mercy”

Completely disheartened, she could no longer find the energy to keep herself alert. Her heavy eyelids drooped and eventually closed. Time seemed to slow down, the echoes of the assailants footsteps grew longer and further apart. Her mind started disconnecting from her body, her limbs numb and heavy.

In her feint consciousness, she could feel the breath of her assailant against her face. A sharp pain stung her neck but she couldn’t muster the energy to escape it. She tried to cry out in pain, but all she managed was a groan. She was paralysed; her body was being drained of all its warmth and energy.

Crack! Whoosh!

She gasped in shock as the door propping her up fell away behind her. In an instant, her eyes flew open to see a huge ceiling of rolling blue fire roar over her head and explode on her assailant in a multitude of colours. Before she could comprehend what was happening, she was hastily picked up and rushed through the doorway. Her head hung backwards unsupported, her state of delirium preventing her from consciously controlling her own body. The world she could see was upside down and blurry. Cursing and shouting emanated from beyond the wall as well as shock waves from the ensuing spell battle.

Lanterns, trees and rock features sped past her in a blur. Her vision started to fade out, eventually leaving her in complete darkness. She could however still feel the bone jarring steps taken by her rescuer. She lost track of time as the repetitive jolting and her fading energy pushed her closer and closer to unconsciousness.

“Yoora! Yoora! Wake up! Wake UP!” a panicked female voice sounded in the darkness. She noticed that the jolting had stopped. She tried to move, but her entire body was cold and numb. She was so weak that she couldn’t even blink, let alone respond.

“Elder!  The Earth clan’s leader is demanding your presence in the main hall!” a panicked voice cried.

“SILENCE!” a deep authoritative voice boomed. “Yoona my angel, wake up” the same voice sounded again, but almost whispered. She could feel warmth spreading throughout her body, and her energy was slowly being built back up.
A face slowly faded into view as she started regaining sight. She body erupted into pain, pins and needles jabbing here everywhere. As suddenly as the pain erupted, it subsided. Realising that she had regained her sense of touch, and could move again, she reached up at the blurred face in front of her. She knew from the voice that the face was her father, but her blurred vision meant that she couldn’t make out the features of his face.

She felt her hand enveloped by another large, warm and reassuring hand. Without warning, her father hugged tightly, drawing her into his chest. Hot tears streamed down from his face as he mumbled
“I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry”.

Her father embraced her for some time before releasing her.

“Yoona. You must live. You are the jewel of my life, and the hope of this nation”, her father said.

Picking her up, he placed her in the arms of someone she couldn’t see. Still unable to see properly or move properly, she struggled to keep her attention on her father.

“This is your birthday present. My gift to you.” Her father said softly.

With a sweeping movement of his arm, a sword materialised into his grasp, which he set down. He drew closer and stopped right in front of her. He propped up her head by the chin, and recited

“I, keeper of the Grand Library, Guardian of the Spirit World and Head of the Fire Clan, bestow upon you the means, the key and the spirit to guard the teachings of old, ferry lost souls to find peace and rule in the stead of your predecessors”.

He leant forward and kissed her on her forehead.

He continued, “I give to you the seed of the heavens. May you nurture and grow this seed, so that you may protect those you treasure most, now and for eternity”.

He leant forward and kissed her on the forehead again, but unlike the previous kiss, her body felt as if it was burning up. Amongst all the energy surging through her body, she felt her mind open up and expand as if no longer confined to the limits of her physical body. She could vaguely feel the emotions of the people around her. She was reading overwhelming sadness and anger from those around her, and a huge amount of regret and possibly pride from her father. Despite the depressing atmosphere, she couldn’t help but feel elated.

The sensation slowly died down leaving her feeling a bit more grounded and subdued by the atmosphere. She looked up only to catch her father turning away. He paused, looked over his shoulder at her and said

“Live Yoora, live…”.

He Scooped up the sword that he placed on the ground then turned to face the few dozen  warriors standing in formation a few meters away.

“My warriors! The council of elders has betrayed us and the people of this nation. We were weary, but in the end, my failure has lead to use being caught off guard and on the verge of being annihilated. I have failed you all.”

He paused for a moment, letting complete silence set in on the room.

“I do not ask your forgiveness for my short comings, but I do have to ask you to forgive me for what I’m about to do, and what I’m about to ask of you all.”

Yoora could sense that the soldiers were starting to feel uneasy. They were all ready and willing to die for their leader, yet they were about to be asked something which seemed above and beyond the sacrifice of their lives.

“In a few moments, I shall face the council alone. I command all of you to flee this place and hide yourselves. Preserve the ways of our clan until we are ready to re-instate our position once again.”

Everyone in the room remained silent and unmoving.

“GO!” her father Roared.

At first, there was a bit of hesitation, but then a flurry of movement started as the people in the room started running out, taking different corridors to each other in order to escape the palace. She lost sight of her father in the chaos. She tried to make it through the moving mass of people but was picked up by one of the soldiers and carried out of the palace, never to see anyone in her family again.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Story

 

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Chapter 3

A sharp tingle down her spine jolted her into consciousness. Within moments, she was acutely aware of her surroundings, despite not having opened her eyes yet. She was lying in her bed, listening intensely to her surroundings for the source of the alarm. She could hear birds outside fluttering about, tweeting and chirping at each other. She could faintly hear the sound of running water from the stream nearby feeding off into the Hanul falls. The smell of burnt out candles filled the air around her. There was no wind as she could not hear the whistling of air rushing between the jagged rock peaks, or the bristling of branches of the old oak tree. She lay silently still for a few minutes, feigning sleep. After a while, she slowly opened her eyes, focussing her attention on what little she could see around her. The lighting was dim with the only source of light the faintly backlit paper screen doors separating her room with the main corridor of the building. The room itself was scarcely furnished, with only a small polished wooden table adorned with a few old books and a candle stand sitting up against a wall with a drawer cabinet sitting next to it.

After scanning the room for anything which might have caused her to wake, she slid out from under her blanket carefully as to not disturb or deform how the blanket lay. Confident that she was not in any immediate danger, she pulled over her head the cotton night gown she was wearing and walked over to the drawers, pulling out a change of clothes.
What was that dream last night…
Her heart started drumming insider her chest and her stomach turned over as she started recollecting the dream.
She quickly changed into her usual temple clothing and quietly slid open the door. The hallway was well let due to the doors at either end allowing the sunlight to flood in. The well-polished oak wood floors helped carry the light through the corridor. She softly walked down the hallway towards one of the doors, shielding her eyes from the bright sunlight as she emerged from the building.

Feeling her hunger all of a sudden, she made her way to a set of trapdoors positioned on the back of the living quarters. Grabbing hold of one of the handles, the door opened silently, revealing a set of steep, uneven stairs leading down into a cellar. With practiced efficiency, she skipped down the stairs 2 at a time, landing gracefully at the bottom despite the cellar being almost pitch black. Her eyes quickly adjusted for the lack of light, allowing her to see through the darkness. There were several sacks of rice piled up in the corner of the cellar, with a few open crates of potatoes and other herbal ingredients placed along the wall opposite the stairs. She picked up an empty sack which was lying on the floor to her right and walked over to one of the crates. She saw a folded piece of paper sitting on top of the contents of the crate.

‘Meet me at the Sunrise Peak’ the note read.

She folded the note back up and placed it in one of her pockets, and proceeded to fill her sack with rice and chestnuts. With her cooking materials in order, she quickly climbed the stairs and gently closed the door. She collected up a pot and quickly cooked herself a simple meal.

The Sunrise Peak… why there? Yoora thought as she cleaned up the pot and put it away.

It was mid-morning by the time she stepped out of the temple grounds and started climbing the steep rocky mountain face towards the peak. Having grown up on the mountain slopes, she navigated through the steep and slick terrain with relative ease, ‘hopping’ from one safe footing or ledge to another. The air was cool and sweet with a slight breeze that had picked up, bringing along with it the fragrance of the pine forest below. Large puffs of slowly drifting clouds high up in the sky were softening the harsh glare of the sun.
She stopped about 20 minutes into her travel to rest. Sitting down on a ledge, she let her sight wonder about, taking in the gentle swaying of the forests which lined the valleys to the majestic rock formations lining the ridges of the mountain tops. Small birds were playing between the branches of the trees and she could see a small heard of mountain deer working their way through the slopes of the opposing mountain. She tilted her head back slightly, resting it on the cliff-face behind her and closed her eyes, basking in the tranquillity. The day was as peaceful as they come.

She spent about 5 minutes in shallow meditation before she started moving again. The rest of her journey took close to an hour with only a few breaks in between. As she reached the summit of the mountain ridge, the familiar site of the majestic weeping cherry blossom tree began to fill her view. The trees trunk had a massive girth, possibly wider than her temples Do Jang and had a multitude of smaller elegant branches covered in pink and white blossoms, swaying back and forth gently in the breeze. It seems as if it were snowing pink snowflakes with the wind dislodging loose blossoms, blanketing the ground below with a soft carpet of colour. At the base of the tree stood a ‘wondumak’, a small wooden hut with an intricately tiled black roof raised slightly on a base of rough grey granite. The wood was polished and waxed, bringing out the deep colours and grains of the oak timber used.

As she got closer, she could hear the booming laughter of an unmistakable voice she had just recently encountered. The sound died down, replaced with the soft whistling of the breeze through the tree branches. Approaching the hut, she could see her master and the Headmaster sitting down enjoying some kind of beverage. Tea she guessed, as she could see an earthenware tea-set set out on a small collapsible wooden table. Next to the Headmaster was a stack of thin dark wooden boxes, each of them intricately and uniquely decorated with ‘mother of pearl’ paint and enamel.

Pausing for a moment, she mustered up her courage to continue on, challenging herself to turn her fear of people into a test of how self-controlled she had become. She started placing her feet down carefully, selecting areas where there we no loose rock which might give away her approach. She figured she may as well practice stealth movement on someone new, as she had reached the point where her master could no longer detect her without magic if she chose to remain hidden. Timing her movements with the wind and bristling of the tree branches, she made it to the small set of stairs leading up to the raised floor of the wondumak. The two men were oblivious to her presence.

Slipping off her shoes, she sat down between and just behind the two men who were looking out towards the tree. Silently and swiftly, she pick up one of the small earthenware cups, making sure she didn’t accidentally knock the cup into anything else,  and poured herself a cup of the green tea that was prepared. Carefully placing the teapot back on the table, she brought the cup to her lips and noisily slurped in a sip of the tea. The reaction from Jumong was as she expected, his body flinched with surprise and quickly spun his head around with an astonished look on his face. She almost had time to laugh. Almost.

The hulking arm of the Headmaster swung around towards her with such ferocious speed that she had no time to think. Her body automatically arched over backwards in order avoid collision with the speeding trunk of muscle, watching it speed over her in almost slow motion cm’s above her nose all whilst keeping her cup perfectly still as not to spill anything. Tingles were sent down her spine as she felt the pressure wave created by the attack.
Whoa! That could have killed me! She realised.
She slowly sat back upright and attempted to take a sip of her tea though her shaking hands. Adrenaline was surging through her body causing her heart to hammer in her chest.
“WHOA! That was close! You surprised me!” laughed the Headmaster. “Good thing that old geezer trained you up well!”
“Ai yai yai…” Jumong sighed as he started cleaning up the tea off his clothes that he had dropped “You know you shouldn’t try to kill potential students as you interview them, it’s a bad business model”
“Ha ha ha…” The headmaster looked over toward Yoora with a sheepish smile on his face “Sorry about that!”
Doing her best to keep a calm demeanour about her, she replied “Ah… That’s ok…”

Both men let out hefty sighs and proceeded to finish off the pot of tea in silence. The mood had somehow suddenly turned from happy and light hearted into something more sombre and serious.

“You must be wondering why we called you up here” started Jumong. He sat staring out toward the cherry blossom as he spoke.
“It’s been 6 years since I brought you here and well, you were something else out of this world then…” his voice trailed off slightly towards the end of that sentence but then regained composure and continued
“I swore to myself that I would protect and guide you to lead a normal life. You trusted no-one, tried to kill me more times than I can count but I never gave up on you.”

Yoora felt her face get hot with embarrassment. She turned her gaze to the cup she was holding near her laps in order to avoid eye contact with either of the two men.

“I’ve taught you all that I know, and guided you as far as I can take you. This place will always welcome you home, but the world is out there for your taking.”
Jumong held out his hand, catching a cherry blossom petal in palm and started making it dance around in the air.
“The world is beautiful Yoora. There are lakes that look crystals kilometres wide, forests which stretch on as far as the eye can see, islands that float in the sky, waterfalls which fall endlessly, and millions upon billions of plants, animals, insects and spirits, each unique and full of mystery. So much to see, feel, smell, learn. You can’t experience all that here. It’s time you set forward into your future. You belong out in the world, not cooped up in the far edges of existence with an old geezer like me”

Silence befell the wondumak. Only the soft sounds of the wind could be heard. Her stomach started to tighten up and her heart started racing. Her throat felt constricted as she realised that she was being told that her time here was coming to an end. The days of peace and security away from other people would come to an end. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to face the world. She had read in the text books that there existed cities with millions of people packed tightly together, vastly different to the 30-40 people villages in the mountains she had encountered. She had only barely held her nerve in those villages.

Before she realised, her eyes had watered up and tears were streaming down her cheeks.

“I…. I” she stammered. Her throat was so tight and her breaths shallow that she struggled to say anything.

“Yoora, this is where I can help” the headmaster said.

He placed one of the wooden boxes he had in front of her. With 2 swipes of his fingers across the front edge of the box, the two golden latches slowly melted into the box’s artwork giving it a golden tinge.
It took her a moment to regain her composure enough to focus on the box.

“Open it” the headmaster gently instructed.

She looked over to Jumong, who gave her a reassuring nod.
She gingerly and slowly opened the box. Inside the box was lined with red padded felt, and the box itself was separated into halves width ways. The bottom half contained small glass vials of a dark brown almost black liquid and were capped off with golden lids finely engraved with all sorts of animals. The top part had what looked like to be a polished plain black lid covering whatever was contained there. Upon further inspection, she could see the lid had extremely small and fine grooves winding their way around the surface in no discernible pattern.

“Those tonics can supress your powers and outburst. What’s under that lid is a test. It will test you to see if you’re ready. It’s also the entrance examination for my academy.”

“Can it really help me?” Yoora asked.

“It will help you if you’re willing to help yourself” he replied.

She looked down at the box in her hands.
This may be able to change me. Can I really put my past behind me with this?
She took several deep breaths to steel her resolve. She looked up to the headmaster and asked
“How do I take the test?”

The headmaster beckoned towards Jumong.
Turning her attention to her master, Jumong’s face seemed to relax into a pure smile. He reached into his robes and drew out a small sheathed dagger. The dagger’s handle and sheath where both polished black with green vines and pure white flowers snaking their way around both the handle and sheath. The decorations were done in ‘mother of pearl’ enamel paint, giving off the slight illusion that the colour in the vines and flowers were changing and moving about as the light struck at different angles.
He reached out and placed the dagger on the table in front of Yoora.

“It takes a blood toll to start the test” the headmaster said. “Just the tip of your finger should do”

She picked up the dagger and slowly unsheathed it, revealing a well-polished silver blade which reflected hints of red and gold. She stared at the blade for a bit, unsure what to do before realising what ‘blood toll’ meant.

Holding the dagger firmly in her left hand, the tip of the blade quivered near her right thumb as nervousness took hold of her.

“What happens?” she asked, slightly motioning towards the box.

“Nobody can tell you what the test is. It’s different for each person.” Jumong explained. “The magic used for the test is not from our time, though nobody has ever been hurt by the test.”

Yoora took a deep breath and pushed all doubt from her mind. She somehow felt deep down inside that moving on from the comfort of the mountains was something that was meant to pass, and the opportunity was sitting right in front of her now.

Blood slowly welled up around the edges of the blade as the dagger tip pierced the skin. She put the dagger down and placed her thumb on the lid. Nothing happened. She attempted to pull her finger away, but it felt like it had been glued to the black surface. The tried again, but she could not pull her finger off. The spot under the thumb began to get warm, and small bright orange lines started snaking around the lid, originating from her thumb.  The lid started to get burning hot as the lines drew out a bird. She could not look away from the lid. The pain from the heat was beginning to fade as she started losing awareness of the world around her. Her whole focus was the heavenly bird of fire, the Phoenix, which seemed to be looking right at her.

The world around her had slowly faded away to nothingness, and the only things left were herself, the box and the Phoenix. The bird was growing in size as the orange lines left the box and started forming in mid-air. The box itself eventually faded from existence as the Phoenix stretched its wings and started flying about, leaving a trail of magical embers and specks of gold. It fluttered about her head before suddenly flaring up into a giant ball of golden/red flames, engulfing her in a mesmerising display of patterns. She felt secure for the first time in conscious memory enveloped in the fire. The flames were not hot; rather she felt the warmth deep inside her, a mysterious feeling of comfort and relaxation.

The tattoo on her right hand was glowing softly with same hue of gold as the flames around her. She felt weightless and joyful. She felt as if some powerful and benign force was taking control of her, but she did not care. Suddenly, the world brightened up and the flames dispersed. She found herself flying through the sky high above the clouds. The clouds themselves were thick and dense, forming a carpet of fluffy white as far as she could see. She felt exultant as the sound of air rushing by filled her mind, and the sun was shining brightly above her. For the first time in her life, she felt free and un-afraid. She yelled out in joy, and to her surprise, let out a high pitch screech. Confused, she look around and noticed instead of arms, she had beautiful fiery wings. She looked down at her body and saw that instead of her legs, there were 2 powerful talons tucked into her fiery red/gold feathers.

Despite discovering that she was not human, it felt completely natural. She tumbled and soared through the air, screeching in joy. Nothing was ever going to get in her way.

THUD!…

Darkness.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2012 in Story

 

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Chapter 2

Red. Black. Blue.
Yoora could only see swirls of those 3 colours through her partly open eyelids. Her head and body felt heavy and numb. She couldn’t move a muscle, though she was aware that she was lying on her back. All she could do was stare at the hypnotic mixture of colours above her. A few minutes passed before she could do as much as open her eyes and start to feel for her fingers and toes. Regaining senses in her arms and legs, she felt the ground around her for any clues to where she might be.
Hard… stone floor?
Her fingers traced out rectangles by following grooves and edges she felt.
No. Bricks? Urg… my head hurts…. Where am i? What’s going on…?
 She still couldn’t move her body fully, but she was able to roll her head sidewards. The view was a vast stretch of mirror smooth water, right out to the horizon. The horizon itself was almost impossible to distinguish as the water took on the appearance of the swirling sky above, blurring the boundary between the two.
An undefined amount of time passed before she felt that she was strong enough to start moving again. She sat up and propped herself up on one arm, waiting for sudden dizziness to disperse as the blood rushed down from her head. Now feeling though as she could move freely again, she looked around checking her surroundings. Behind her the rough marble brick road stopped suddenly, falling off around 30cm into the calm water below. In front of her, the same road slowly trailed off into the water. She was effectively stranded on a small island surrounded by a single sheet of mirror smooth water.
Thud thud….. thud thud….. thud thud…..
A wave of giddiness flooded over her, causing her to fall to her knees. Her mind was clouded once again, focusing only on her sudden thumping heartbeats and a strange thirst which bourn itself from her uneasiness.
Water! Water…. Want, NEED water!…
She crawled over to the edge of the road, and plunged her hands into the clear pristine water, scooping up a handful and gulped it down in an instant.
More! Still thirsty….. so thirsty….
She plunged her hands in again and again, drinking water like a parched man on a desert trek. After a few handfuls, she doubled over clenching her stomach, coughing madly.
Urg… I feel sick….
She calmed herself took a few deep breaths. Fear gripped her as she noticed swirls of red in the water where she was drinking. She checked her hands to make sure she wasn’t bleeding then looked back into the water. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The eerie sky was just as eerie reflected off the water; her own reflection was just as she remembered it. Or was it? The more she looked at her own reflection, things seemed a bit off. Her jaw line? No… Her reflection was wearing a smug grin! The image in the water was looking right at her, rather than just being a reflection. The image then smiled at her, exposing 2 sharp pointed teeth, its eyes turning a deep crimson colour which seemed to glow in the dim environment.

Yoora screamed, throwing herself back away from the water, her breathing heavy and erratic.
“Why do you run away?” a voice echoed softly around her. Yoora felt herself being dragged back to the water’s edge by an invisible force. She tried to resist but found herself staring back at the image in the water.
“You’re too cruel on yourself! You’re not that scary…” the voice said, sounding amused.
Unable to look away, think or respond, all Yoora could do was to stare into its eyes; its deep, hypnotic eyes. Without thinking or realising it, she was being drawn slowly closer to the water. Her hair fell ahead of her, spreading out like a fan on the water’s surface. The small ripples caused by her hair distorted the image, breaking the lock the image had on her. Reflexively she threw herself away from the water, nearly choking as she inhaled sharply.
“Why do you deny yourself? I am you. You are me.” The voice sounded again.
“Please! Just stop! Go away…” Yoora replied meakly. “I just want to live normally! Can’t I just relax and have fun?”
A creepy laugh erupted around her, the sound seemingly rolling around her.
“Normal? What’s normal?…” the voice seemed to fade away.

For a moment, everything went dead still and silent. She could hear her own heartbeats and her heavy breathing. Movement in the corner of her vision caught her attention. She quickly looked in the direction of the disturbance to see nothing but ripples disturbing the glassy water. Her stomach started to clench up and her heart started beating even harder. She felt sick with fear and uneasiness. A splash to her right made her flinch. She spun around only to see ripples again propagating along the water. She felt shivers down her spine as she sensed an oncoming hostile aura. No, she felt lots of small aura’s, all hostile but all somehow familiar.

Unknown things kept disturbing the water’s surface. Large splashes erupted from random points in the water. No matter how fast she turned to follow the disruptions, she couldn’t catch a glimpse of what was breaking the surface. She edged herself closer to the water in order to look into the water. It was only then she noticed the edges of the road she was on was crumbling into the water, and the water itself had turned nearly completely black. Suddenly a half decomposed arm thrust out from the water aiming for Yoora’s leg, forcing her to pull her leg back to evade the grab. Another arm thrust out, which she dodged as well. Another. Another. These arms started dragging up dismembered and decomposed torso’s. Skulls with scrawny patches of hair still stuck to their crowns looked up at her with their empty eye sockets. They were closing in on her, like a pack of wolves closing in on their prey. She was slowly running out of space to manoeuvre.

“Come to me” the voice sounded.

A corpse launched itself at Yoora from the water, tackling her to the edge of the island where a dozen hands lay waiting. The sudden impact of being tackled dazed her for a split second. When she regained her composure, she was staring straight into mouldy, semi decomposed face. The corpse still had both its eyes but the eyes were clouded grey and almost pupil less.
“Die… monster…” the corpse rasped whilst throwing both its hands around her neck in an attempt to strangle her. She couldn’t compete with the strength of the corpse. Her eyes were stinging and she was losing focus.
Help me… I don’t want to die…
Suddenly the world around was plunged into darkness as she was dragged underwater by an unseen force. All she could hear was the muffled sound of water rushing past her, or rather her being dragged through the water at a frightening pace. She could see the warped image of herself chasing after her with outstretched hands. Closer and closer it came. It rapped its arms around her and drew itself face to face. The image smiled, a genuine happy smile.
“Finally…” the image whispered intimately.
Locking eyes again, her apparition drew forward and kissed her on the lips. Everything went silent. She felt as if her breath were being sucked out of her. A mix of feelings and thoughts flooded into her as the two Yoora’s consciousness started to connect. Love. Hate. Loathing. Longing. Loneliness. Sadness.

CRACK!!

Pain shot through her head as if it were hit with a large rock. Completely dazed and unable to comprehend what was happening, she tried to focus on her surroundings. She could feel the water pulsing, shaking and shocking her down to the bones. Her apparition was drifting away from her, with an apparent look of fear then anger on her face.

CRACK!!! Thud! Thud! Thud thud thud thud…

She tried to scream as pain tore through her body, but was muffled by the water. She felt as if she was being torn apart, being pulled in a thousand different directions.
I don’t want to die!!! Help… help… help……….hel..p…..h………

Her vision was fading, but she noticed a pinprick of light in front of her growing progressively larger. A slow chant faded into her surroundings as the blackness around her turned to a brilliant gold.
Ow… too bright… my eyes hurt…


Suddenly, all forces on her released, and she felt as if she was lying on something solid. Her vision was out of focus, and her body was tingling all over. She tried to sit up, but her body refused to listen to her. Feeling tired and unusually famished, she rolled her head to either side then upwards to see her Master sitting cross legged and stone still with his eyes closed, right above her head.
“What happened?” she attempted to ask, but only managed to let out a moan.
“Sleep now… we’ll talk when you wake up.” Jumong said in a low voice, patting her head as he spoke.
Feeling warm and comfortable from his touch, she immediately fell to sleep.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Story

 

Chapter 1

The first rays of the morning sun reached over the high jagged mountaintops, attempting to penetrate the heavy morning fog blanketing the mountain sides. The air was cold but not harsh and there was a moderately strong breeze flowing through the trees, typical weather for the start of spring. Small patches of hardened snow were glittering in the morning sunlight, like small diamonds encrusted into the scenery. Snow covered pine trees and maples trees covered the mountain sides, only broken up by the handful of streams and small rivers that flowed down and through the mountains and a dozen or so clearings. Giant plumes of slowly rotating fog reaching up hundreds of meters were drawing up the morning fog into the sky.

A pure note of a bamboo flute resonated around the valley, echoing around the mountains. The note led onto another note, which in turn played out into a slow and peaceful melody. Standing at the source of the sound was a girl no older than 14. She had long black hair down to the length of her waist which was blowing around her face in the wind.  She was wearing plain black loose sleeved clothing with white and golden lacing around the edges which fluttered around her in the breeze. Feint grey symbols and runes could be seen either embedded or painted onto the black fabric around most of the seams. A dark brown lacquered bamboo flute was held up to her lips by both her hands, letting her sleeves slip down to her elbows, exposing on her right hand a gold tattoo of a legendary bird of fire, a phoenix, with its head facing down her thumb and its tail wrapping around her wrist.

She swayed with the tempo of her music, eyes closed, letting herself get caught in the magic of the song.  She was standing in the middle of a rocky outcrop which penetrated out of the dense forest below, as if she was on a stage where the trees in the forest were the audience. Dark shadows were flowing in between the dense trees packed around a rocky outcrop, carefully keeping out of the morning light but helplessly attracted to the source of the sound, like insects to a light. The outcrop was surrounded by a column of fog which lazily spiralled into the sky.

The whole world seemed to have paused to listen to the music, not a living creature stirred. After a few minutes, the song came to an end and the shadows dispersed back into the dense parts of the forest, the parts which almost never see the light of day. The girl opened her jet black eyes to see the sun now fully clear of the horizon. She took a few deep breaths, watching the fog float from her into the now almost non-existent upward spiral of air.
Another beautiful morning’ she thought as she gazed into the light, letting the sun illuminate her face.
She tucked the flute away into a fold in her shirt and started making her way down a small animal trial leading up the side of the majestic granite mountain. She climbed the trail for about 45 minutes before reaching a small temple, her home since she was brought here 6 years ago.

The temple consisted of 3 buildings; A prayer hall, a Do Jang (tr: school/place of training), and a living quarters, the latter being the smaller of the 3 buildings. The buildings were arranged so they all faced into a stone floored courtyard with a single old oak tree seemingly growing out of the rock. Its knotted branches seemed to struggle to reach for the sky, attempting to find sunlight that the steep mountainside deprives it off.

Just next to the tree in the center of the courtyard was an old monk garbed in grey robes. A polished steel sword glittered as it swung in great arcs, wielded by the monk as if he was fighting and invisible foe. His eyes were closed and his face wore a calm and collected look. His movements were athletic but graceful despite looking over 60 years old. The girl passed under the old wooden gateway into the courtyard, bowing slightly as she walked through.

“I am back master” she said. The monk stopped.

“Mmm… welcome back” he replied. Pointing at a pile of sacks and bags stacked beside the living quarters, he said “The villagers brought food again. They wouldn’t stop thanking me for your work.”

Without taking much notice of the food, the girl walked over to a small stone water fountain and splashed some water on her face. Feeling refreshed, she walked towards the stack of food and picked up a bag containing some green vegetables and a heap of potatoes.

“I’ll make us breakfast now” she said.

She walked around the back of the living quarters and retrieved a small iron pot before filling it up with water from the fountain. She then set up some small pebbles in a circle.

“Make enough for 3 people this time. We have an important guest here today, he arrived whilst you were out” the monk said.

The girl’s stomach tensed up a little and her shoulders stiffened.
Shit! A stranger!
She forced herself to take a deep breath and calm herself down.

“It’s unusual we get visitors” she replied, trying to supress the slight uneasiness in her voice.
The monk looked at her with a stern expression, and said

“Our visitor is someone important to me. He can be trusted… YOU can trust him. I know you still get nervous around strangers given your past. He’s…”

The monk paused and picked up a sheath which was lying down in the roots of the courtyard tree. Twirling the sword around once more, he soundlessly sheathed the weapon before turning towards the girl.

“I understand” the girl said. “So who is this person?”

“I’ll let him introduce himself. For now, I’m getting hungry!” the monk replied.

Placing a hand over the stones, she closed her eyes, letting herself focus completely on the stones in front of her.
Let the energy flow through the palms… control the pattern…
The small pebbles started glow red, like smouldering coals, heated up by a basic elemental technique. She placed the iron pot on the pebbles, and waited until the water started boiling. She threw in a few ingredients from the village plus a few mountain herbs of her own. Within minutes, the smells of her cooking dominated the air around the temple.

The girl lifted the pot off the rocks and put it aside, grunting as the pot landed touched down on the floor.
Oh… didn’t realise how hungry I was. It’s been 2 days since I’ve last had a proper meal!
She set down 3 bowls and began filling each of the up with a portion of the soup.

“Mmm… something smells goods!” boomed a voice from behind the paper screen door to the living quarters. Without warning the door slammed open, exposing a giant of a man, at least 2 meters tall, and muscles rippling out from every part of his body. He was topless and wore tight fitting shorts which moulded around his huge quadriceps. “Oh WOW! What a nice morning! It’s been a while since I’ve woken up to fine mountain air!”

Keeping her composure, the girl stood up and bowed slightly towards this newcomer.
“Good Morning. I’m Yoora.” She said calmly, supressing any anxiety she might have been feeling.

“Oh! Good morning Yoora, and you old man Jumong!” the man replied enthusiastically.

“Watch who you’re calling an old man you geezer…” Jumong replied with a dangerous glint in his voice. The air seemed to freeze as tension quickly rose around them.

“AH HAHAHAHAHAHA!” Jumong exploded into laughter, “You look better than last night. You looked like shit when you rolled through the gates!”

“4 days travel, night and day! I’d like to see you do that and still have the strength to fight off an overcautious monk!” the giant of a man responded.

“You know though, I bet Yoora would give you a run for your pride on that feat of yours” Jumong said, pointing at Yoora at the same time.

“About that, Yoora…” the man began.

“Ehem! We’ll do that later, for now let’s eat.” Jumong interrupted.

 

It was mid-morning by the time all 3 people had eaten breakfast and everything had been cleaned and put away. The sun was slowly warming up the air around the mountains, and there were only a scarce scattering of clouds in the sky. The valleys were alive with the calls of birds, with a few small brightly coloured birds flittering around the branches of the trees surrounding the temple grounds.
Despite being such a fine day, all 3 people headed into the Do Jang.
The Do Jang was a stone floored hall with a large array of bladed and ranged weapons line along the walls. There were air and light gaps in the upper parts of the walls allowing thing beams of light to shine through, barely illuminating the inside of the hall.

“I’m sorry I haven’t introduced myself yet. My name is Ahn Tek Ho, headmaster of the Hwan-Sae Private Academy of Magic, Alchemy and Education.” Tek’s voice resonated around the hall, “I’ll make this as simple and as quick as I can make it. You’re approaching the age of 14. You’ve spent most of your life in these mountains, in isolation from the outside world. Both Jumong and I have decided that it would be best for you to attend the academy; to see the outside world.”
The headmaster paused for a bit, seeing Yoora’s face pale slightly, and continued
“I know you fear to be with people, not because of what they might do to you, but what you might do to them. This is an opportunity for you to regain confidence in yourself. You’ve come a long way since you’ve lived here. You can only learn to forgive yourself by facing your fears. You’ve done well in learning to live with yourself up until now, and from now on you will have my full support as well.”
The headmaster walked up to Yoora and squatted down to be at her eye level. He placed a hand on her shoulder and said
“This is a chance for you to make friends of your age. Learn about the outside world. Experience the life a normal teenage girl…”

Yoora started to laugh, a kind of slow, creepy laugh that sent shivers down the headmasters spine.
“A normal life… ha ha ha… what bullshit! How can I live a normal life after what I’ve done. I see the ghosts of hundreds of people in my dreams; I’m trampling on all their corpses… my hands are soaked in their blood!”
Her eyes started to fade into a deep crimson colour that gave off a feint glow in the gloominess of the hall.
“Don’t shit with me!” She screamed, emitting a shock wave which knocked the headmaster off his feet and forced Jumong to erect a barrier to protect himself.
“Do you know what I see when I look at my reflection in the eyes of those I’ve killed?! I see death, the very depths of darkness found only on those god forsaken moonless nights.”
Streams of silvery tears were rolling down her face, quivering with her uncontrolled shivering.

Red and black. That’s all she could see looking at the 2 figures standing before her. Thousands of small interweaved red threads were wrapped around and through the silhouettes, pulsating in sync with their hearts.
Thud thud thud thud thud thud…
Her heart was pounding in her chest, the rhythmical beat flooding out any coherent that might have formed in her mind. She had the urge to kill them, slice them apart, feast on them.
NO! No no no no! I don’t want this! Calm… calm… calm… I need to stop… stop…
Her vision started fading, the last thing she saw was the world tipped sidewards and both the headmaster and her master running towards her.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2011 in Story

 

Prologue

“Mr Harren, do you find these conditions favourable?” asked a deep, slow and monotone voice. The owner of the voice was leaning back into his padded leather armchair, his large frame causing the worn wooden frame to creak under his weight. He wore a matte black cotton long coat, soft rubber boots to muffle the sounds of his footsteps, leather gloves and a black plain akubra which covered his facial features except for his blonde goatee. His cigar lit up in an intense illumination of red, lighting up his intense blue eyes which were scrutinising the middle aged man sitting across from him. His customer wore a light grey suit with a plain white shirt underneath, hiding a relatively thin and underdeveloped body underneath. His jawline was long and pointed, and his eyes sharp and clear, searching and probing every corner of the dark unlit room. The only source of light was a single wall of windows with half closed office blinds. White shafts of light shone through the blinds partially illuminating both men.  He breathed out a puff of smoke, watching it float across the glass coffee table separating Mr Harren and himself.

“Can’t you do any better? 3000 serans*per head is still a lot for this breed of people”, Mr Harren replied rather casually. “If you not going to be more reasonable with your price, your merchandise better be top quality. I came on recommendation… Mister…”

“Ghost” the man in black replied.

Mr Harren frowned for a moment, but quickly reset to his impassive expression. Despite making up for his lack of physical presence with his extraordinary abilities of manipulating and fishing out peoples deepest and darkest secrets, he could not get a firm control over this mysterious man dressed in black. What made him even more uneasy was that he didn’t even know the real name of the man he was dealing with. ‘Ghost’ was what he was referred to as, and ‘Ghost’ is how he knew him. For the first time in his professional life, he was powerless against a business partner.

Ghost smirked, sensing the uneasiness within his prospective client. He stood up and walked towards the back of the room until he was completely swallowed by the darkness of the room, letting only the periodic cigar glow give away his position.

“I’ve studied your clients Mr Harren. I assure you my merchandise meets their tastes. But of course, don’t take my word for it.”

On cue, 2 men opened the main door to the room dragging a small girl dressed in a high cut china dress between them. The girl looked no more than 10 or 11 years old, her silky dark brown hair hanging down over her panicked and fear stricken face. She shuddered a little as she caught sight of Ghost, or more accurately his cigar.

“She’s the sample. If you agree to the price, she’s yours to take now. Feel free to check.” Ghost said casually.

Mr Harren got up and grabbed the girl’s wrist, signalling the 2 men to let go, and threw her onto the couch he was sitting on. Before the girl could even react, he gripped her jaw with one hand and brushed the hair away from her face with the other. He traced the outline of her face, neck, body and legs with his free hand, all the while keeping her from facing away from him. Tears were streaming down the girls face but she made no noise.

“Now now… don’t be scared” Mr Harren whispered into the ear of the girl as he started feeling up her dress. The girl tried to squirm away, but Mr Harren held on tight. He stared into the eyes of the girl before suddenly letting her go and standing up.

“You have yourself a deal” Mr Harren announced.

Ghost smiled, extinguished his cigar and walked over to Mr Harren extending his hand out. It was met with eagerness from Mr Harren who was not hiding a large grin.

“My clients will be very happy with these. 30 to the designated address, I’ll send you the payment as soo…”

Mr Harren was cut off as a huge explosion erupted outside, throwing both men off their feet and shattering the glass windows on the front of the room.

No thoughts could collect in Mr Harren’s mind. He lay on the ground for what seemed to be an eternity, waiting for the pain in his head to subside. He stumbled to his feet, uneasy on his footing, grabbing onto the back of the couch he was using only moments ago for balance. The whole world around him was different. There was a heavy glow of oranges and reds flooding into the room, which now fashioned one less wall and concrete blocks lay strewn around the room, remnants of the destroyed wall. Looking around, he noticed Ghost was missing and the girl who he was supposed to take was bleeding profusely from the gash in her head.

“Shit…” he gasped.

He stumbled out of the room where the front door used to be, pausing for a moment to fully regain his balance before navigating the complex array of suspended walkways over the tonnes of stolen military munitions. He needed to get to safety and attempt to work out what just happened.

He managed to walk about 100m along the walkways before he felt a chilling sensation down his spine. He slowly turned his head to see a small figure, silhouetted by the fires burning around it, looking right toward him where he was only moments ago, piercing him with its glowing red eyes. The figures lips moved, and all of a sudden he felt all the strength he had managed to recover drain from him. ‘What the fuck! Move! Run! Why are you just standing there?!’ he thought to himself. The small figure started walking towards him. He immediately felt his vigour return to him and did not hesitate to turn around and run.

Greys, blacks and blues streaked passed him as he sprinted along a metal suspension bridge. His sole thought, just survive to see another day. Whatever was chasing him was of magical decent, and he was not prepared to deal with anything overly powerful in magic. He only had a few magic charged bullets loaded in his pocket handgun, something that’s only effective if the target is caught off guard.
‘Like hell am I going to catch THAT off guard’

He could see it, the front roller doors to the storage facility. ‘Almost there… almost there…’ he thought. At that moment, he heard a cracking sound, followed by the sensation of falling, then darkness.

 

The world was blurry, and all sounds were dampened and incoherent. He could see orange, red, black, gold. Long dancing shadows cast by the flames of hell danced as the building around him burned. His body was numb all over and his head felt extremely heavy. He looked up to see the small figure which had been chasing him standing about 15 meters away, looking at something near the roof. 12 bodies were littered around the floor, each sporting deep slashing and stabbing wounds. He stomach hit the floor as he realised who those bodies where. His 12 bodyguards which he had left at the entrance of the facility all lay dead around him.

“Please no! Please!! Spare me! Please!” his trembling voice cried. A small young girl turned to face him. The girl had flowing black hair long as her waist, a face so pretty and refined that it would’ve been mistaken for a dolls, and eyes of dancing fire burning with unconstrained blood lust. Her figure was slim and malnourished, her limbs covered in bruises and scratches. She wore what once was a fine red silk dress, embroidered with flowers and a clan symbol now undiscernible through the rips and blood stains. “Please… I beg of you…” he pleaded. He tried to back away from the girl, but his body wouldn’t stop shaking. Any physical strength he could’ve had counted towards nothing in this situation. He groped around for anything he could use to drive away the terror now walking towards him. His hands only found the bare concrete floor.

The light from the fires around him glinted off a seemingly oversized sword, wielded inhumanely by the demon of a child who had swiftly and mercilessly slaughtered all of his bodyguards, the best of the Dol-Han clan’s armed division. Silently and slowly the girl advanced on him, a dead expression was across her face hinting at no emotion. The blood started to drain out of his face as the realisation that he was going to die sunk in. In what seemed like an eternity he was face to face with her, staring directly into her eyes. He couldn’t look away. Those glowing eyes of red and black, like smouldering coal, had him transfixed. He was paralysed with fear. No thoughts, no sounds, no chance of escape.

“Stay away! Go.. go away! Please!…“, he stammered.

“Die”, the small child whispered.

A sharp cold pain sheared through his chest, and blood started flowing into his mouth. He looked down to see that cold steel the demon was wielding buried deep into his chest. He tried to scream but all he let out was a gurgle of blood. He was blacking out, his vision fading. He looked up to see the impassive face of an 8 year old girl splattered with blood, and the tears of an innocent child screaming to get free from behind those dark, dead eyes.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2011 in Story

 

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