Requiem of Souls Chapter 4

Soul Searching

By Artificer Urza

Sitting back in a chair, Yua contemplated her current situation. Things had changed greatly from how her life had been up to that point. For one thing she had been taught never to trust anyone unless they're gullible enough to trust you, 'cause then you could find out their real motives and decide whether to trust them for real. She had broken that simple rule with Draigan; he was so open and honest. They had become very intimate with each other, telling each other details of their lives they didn't tell anyone else. He was an Elder, a leader of the community, and then he was sent up here to govern the garden. The sudden plague that attacked the people left him with many of the sick on the main island. His people were the remnants of the black dragon clan sent to this continent by emperor Zog and he was in fact the descendant of Zog. How they had been sent here, he didn't know, why? Well to prevent the extinction of his people at the hands of the world. She told him that a thief named Karn, who had found her after she had lost her memories, had raised her. After she left that home she had never seen him again. She had found her family two years ago but had not stayed with them. This had prompted Draigan to ask her something.

"Why didn't you stay with them?" He had asked.

"I've spent most of my life as 'Patty the Phantom Thief' and I felt that I needed to find out who I am as 'Yua'." She had replied sorrowfully.

"I will accept you and I will always be here for you, no matter what happens." He said as he held her.

From there their relationship had gone into a more physical aspect. But that was days ago, there was still things she didn't know, like where he went during the day. It was small things like that that irritated her. Knowing that he went to the garden each day, she decided to visit the main island of Skygarden when she was strong enough to walk. And that day was today. She walked onto the blue pad and was astonished. It was as if she suddenly realized she was not where she was a second ago. She was standing in what appeared to be a shrine of some kind. Behind her there was a statue above the blue pad. It was in the likeness of a woman with three pairs of wings. In the statue's outstretched hands floated a key that had the symbol for 'sky' on it. At twelve equidistant points in the shrine there were twelve blue pads with twelve dragon statues with roman numerals on them. She exited the structure to view a magnificent landscape: it was indeed a garden. Flowers and trees of all types were scattered about, dirt paths lead the way through grassy hills, forests and flowerbeds. There were people there too. Some were wandering; some were sitting by themselves, most of them had plain clothes. There were a few who had robes of white cloth on; they hovered among the masses like wraiths. Yua spotted one woman sitting by the stairs to the shrine; she had a faraway look in her eyes. Yua decided that it would be best to ask someone where Draigan was.

"Excuse me, do you know where a man named Drai…" Yua paused as the woman looked at her from the corner of her eyes.

"S-something wrong?" Yua asked as the woman stared at her.

The woman had her eyes so wide open that they appeared as though they would fall out of her head. She stood up and began to mumble something indiscernible.

"What was that? I can't hea-" Yua never had the chance to finish her sentence as the woman began to jump up and down screaming at the top of her lungs.

"YOUHADMEATHELLOYOUHADMEATHELLO" she screeched over and over again.

Yua jumped away from the woman startled. The commotion had caused many to turn and watch. One of the 'wraiths' moved towards the two, his hood thrown back to reveal himself as human. He placed his palm towards the hysterical woman, holding to fingers vertically in front of his face. The woman stopped to stare at the apparent cleric.

"Oh winds of rest, bring this tortured soul to repose. SLEEP!" He chanted.

The women grew drowsy and fell into the cleric's arms. He turned toward Yua one eyebrow arched.

"What the hell is wrong with her?" Yua asked.

"The same thing that is wrong with every one else here. A disease that corrupts mind, body and soul has infected them. If I didn't know any better I would think that Morgion, god of plague and corruption hadn't died during the All Saints War." He replied bitterly.

"All Saints what?" She asked.

"All Saints War. A war between the gods that happened at the beginning of time. The story is a little long but there are some books on the subject in the library on the surface." He explained as he placed the woman carefully on the ground.

"Oh… Say have you seen Draigan by any chance?" she asked hopefully.

"Draigan? No I haven't seen him, but he should be with the children now. Take that path, it should lead straight to him." He stated pointing out the center-most path.

As she walked the path she marveled at the trees; they resembled a tree she remembered visiting near her home of Gate. Draigan had once told her that some goddess had lifted these trees to this place when the Desert of Death swept through the region. There was one last tree, millennia old, which remained on the surface: the tree of life, Yggdrasil still grew strong in an oasis. As she approached a clearing she could laughing: children and an adult laughing. In truth, she had never heard such a pleasurable sound in her entire life. She watched as some children played tag with each other, but then she saw who she was looking for; Draigan was sitting by a tree holding a sleeping little girl in his arms.

"You really care for them don't you?" Yua asked as she entered the clearing. She felt connected to these children, but the reason escaped her, though it felt important.

"Yeah… Spending time with these kids was all I had, until I met you." He spoke solemnly as he rose to meet her. He placed the sleeping child on the grass careful not to awaken her.

"Why do you care so much?" She asked as she found herself pressed close against his body.

"These kids are like me in a way. They're orphans, they have no family. I may have a father, but he… He never acted like it. There was always something happening that prevented him being with me. So, I try to be as much of a father as I can to these children." He said as he held Yua close, a note of regret in his voice.

"Is that why you care for me too? Because you can relate to me?" She asked softly.

"It is one of the reasons." He stated.

She had no chance to reply to him as he kissed her passionately. Yua simply let the warmth of his embrace wash over her.

***********

A small boat reached the southwestern shore of the Outer Continent. It had taken the boat a long time to make the journey, but due to its inherent magic it remained intact and it's passenger safe. The Wanderer disembarked, shrank the boat to its wood carving state and returned it to his pouch. He briefly surveyed the landscape: a dry desert devoid of plant life, veritably uninhabitable. Out of the corner of his eye he perceived movement from his left.

"Tyr's welcoming committee." He said as he spied a small platoon of robots heading his way.

The robots had a uniform design: they hovered on one leg had no arms and unremarkable faceplates. They had no visible weapons, however, since these were the goddess' creations one could not judge upon appearance alone.

"Good, I need the exercise." The Wanderer said as he unsheathed his sword.

The blade seemed to glow as he closed his eyes. When he opened them again they were the eyes of a serpent. He charged at the approaching robots, slicing one into two pieces and spinning to bisecting another one that had gotten behind him.

"Warning! Target displays full-grown Brood abilities! Initiating defensive protocols, requesting assistance!" One of the robots squawked.

The machines began to circle the Wanderer at a high speed. Expecting some kind of attack, he went into a defensive stance. Suddenly, lightning shot out from all directions, shocking the Wanderer. The jolt of pain caused him to lose his sword; it flew through the air and the blade sank into a stone. Reacting out of draconic instinct he fought back using his fists. His enhanced strength allowed him to break through the circling robots, though the pain still caused him to stumble in an almost drunken manner. When he got his bearings he saw that three more robots had taken up a defensive position. They were larger and more heavily armed than the others; sporting two guns in the same position arms would be on a human. The lead robot had been charging up and seemed ready to fire off its weapon.

"Oh shi-" He began but had no time to finish as the energy bullet fire catching him full in the chest.

The blast actually did little damage due to his armor, however the impact was enough to send him flying into the waters deep enough to hide him from view from the machines. The robots took up a defensive position along the beach and simply waited for the Wanderer to surface. No figure rose from the ocean, but the water began to bubble as though nitrogen had been placed in it. Suddenly a dragon burst forth from the water, the water behind it frozen. The robots fired at the dragon but they were not fast enough to hit it before it rose out of range. The dragon remained aloft; it's white as snow scales gleamed in the sun, it's fangs and claws seemed to be made of ice though they truly would never melt. The ice dragon inhaled, preparing its breath weapon, and dived. Its wings tucked in so that it achieved tremendous speed. At the last second before it hit the water it opened its wings and charged toward the robots never loosing its speed. The dragon unleashed his breath weapon: a potent cold blast of absolute zero. Most of the robots froze as the blast hit them, others froze then shattered under the force, and the rest scattered to avoid their destruction. Landing on the beach the dragon destroyed the frozen robots and turned its attention to the others. They put up a pitiful attempt to subdue the mighty beast, but to no avail, as they were smashed one after another. The only one remaining was the one that had fired the energy bullet before, for this one the dragon raised a massive claw and squashed it. The massive creature settled on the ground and began to change. The wings wrapped around him like a cloak and a moment later became a red cloak. The Wanderer's features became prominent as scales melted into clothing, claws and fangs shifted into hands and human teeth. The Wanderer breathed heavily as though the strain had been too much for him. Black wisps of smoke came out of his mouth as he began to cough uncontrollably.

"D-damn… -cough cough- He got here b -cough- before me." He grabbed his chest as though to contain the pain therein.

He stumbled toward the stone that held his sword to remove it. As he sheathed his sword he closed his eyes so he could focus. Again he began to change, his hands becoming claws, his face elongated into a dragon's snout and his cloak seemed to spread into wings. He further changed in size and shape until he was a full-grown gold dragon. He flew up into the air until he could see for miles. He inhaled sharply and held his breath for a moment; he then unleashed his holy breath upon the continent. It blanketed the land, encountering black mist as it spread: the two gasses neutralizing each other. As the holy mist spread, he relaxed, very tired after his journey and the sudden exertion. A flash of light from the ocean caught his eye and he turned towards it. Just beyond the horizon, almost beyond his draconic vision, he saw a ship assaulted by a storm. The storm was definitely unnatural as it covered so little of the sky and was focused.

"Damn you Tyr! I won't allow you to hurt him or his friends!" He growled to himself as he flew towards the ship.

***********

Gaist sighed at the empty food sack, as though he were attempting to wish food into existence with the noise.

"I'm hungry!" He moaned.

"Shut up." Garr growled at him from his corner.

"I'm starving!" Gaist repeated.

"Shut up!" Garr growled, a little more forcefully this time.

"I really wish I had some of Miranda's Beast Meat Stew right now. With mushrooms and spices and…"

"If you hadn't went off course we would never met that sandworm, never lost our supplies or the sand-flyer. So stop dreaming of your girlfriend's cooking 'cause you're just making things worse." He stood as he said this, frustration over the last few days finally coming to the surface.

The two had made it to the beach; however, Garr had stopped speaking to Gaist, combined with the lack of nourishment, tension had risen over the past few days. Gaist's way of breaking the silence was adding even more strain to their friendship.

"I wonder if those are edible?" Gaist pointed to something behind Garr

Garr turned to see three giant crabs approaching and he groaned; this was not turning out to be his day. Gaist motioned that he would take the two on the right and Garr could have the one on the left. Gaist, taking out his Beast Spear, focused his power preparing to take out the first crab quickly.

"SHIPPU KEN!" He yelled as he thrust his spear forward.

The wind gust caused by his wind strike technique flipped the crab on its back. Gaist propelled himself upwards using his spear like a pole vault. He descended using his full weight pulled by gravity to plunge the spear through the crab's soft under belly. He leapt of the crab and turned to his new opponent, focusing his energy for another attack.

"SHIPPU KEN!" He yelled, repeating his previous actions.

However, this crab used its giant claws to block the blow. Gaist merely smiled and stepped back a few paces.

"Better than I thought… Good." He chuckled to himself.

He charged at the approaching crab and vanished. The crab halted in its tracks, confused at the sudden disappearance of its opponent. Without warning something began to strike at it from all sides. The beast cried out in confusion and pain, unable to defend itself. As swiftly as he had disappeared, Gaist reappeared smiling with confidence his spear at the ready.

"Let's end this!" He whispered under his breath as he charged his energy again.

The crab placed its claws in front of itself to defend against what it thought would be another wind strike. This time however, a ghostly image of Gaist appeared in front of the crab and thrust its spear forward. The force of the spirit blast technique shattered one of the claws of the crab, causing it to lose its defensive pose as it roared in pain. Gaist charged towards his enemy and vanished, using his shadow walk technique to attack within the crab's guard. He thrust upward with his spear, the blade piercing its brain case, killing it instantly. Wiping sweat of his brow, Gaist turned to see how his apprentice friend fared against his own opponent. Gaist was quite astonished at what he saw: Garr was continuously dodging the monster's attacks, holding his hands together in prayer.

"What the hell does he thinks he's doing? Does he expect the Goddess to come down and strike his foe with holy lightning or something?" Gaist shook his head at what he believed was sure idiocy.

Gaist was about to help his friend when suddenly Garr stopped moving. Garr then thrust his hands towards the sky, his palms upward and began to chant.

"The time of exorcism is at hand, Venomous serpents unleash thy dark flames! FIREBLAST!" Garr cried.

A great pillar of fire engulfed the crab, its insides boiled under the incredible heat. The pressure caused by the magic turned the crab on its backside revealing its underbelly to blackened and charred. Garr fell to his knees with exhaustion, unused to using his magic.

"Forgot you were studying magic for a second. Okay, I'll clean 'em, you cook 'em!" Gaist grinned at his former weapon's student.

Garr, desperately hoping Gaist was joking, attempted to dissuade him of the notion when he noticed that Gaist's expression had changed, becoming far more serious than normal. Gaist turned towards the sea, searching for something. His eyes widened as he had apparently found what he was looking for. He charged for the water and dived in. Garr, still weak from the use of his power, sat on the beach attempting to catch his breath. He scanned the sea in hopes of spotting the same thing Gaist had. Then he saw it: lumber and scrap from a ship-wreak, only a few hours old. His eyes followed Gaist as he returned to the beach carrying someone in his arms. It was a young man with blue hair. The young man's wounds were not visible at first until Garr saw that the young man's chest was partially deflated as though a heavy object had smashed it. Blood covered the young man's face and arms and Garr could see that the young man was clutching to something in his left hand. Garr would have said the young man was dead until he saw a finger twitch.

"Holy shit! He's still… He's still alive?!" Garr said, only now beginning to catch his breath.

Gaist laid the boy on the ground and placed his hands over the wound and began to focus. The words of his teacher coming to his mind: "Do not use healing magic on broken bones, unless it is a life or death situation. Since the magic only accelerates the natural healing process it can do more harm than good in that case."

"Oh glorious Goddess, lend me thy radiant power to breath life into this withered body! RENEW!" He chanted, praying fervently that it would work.

The young man's face twisted in agony as the magic took effect but eventually calmed down as his wounds healed. Gaist collapsed from the exertion glad to see his patient had survived. The young man's eyes fluttered open weakly as he tried to speak. Garr bent over him to hear what he said.

"Who… am… I…?" The young man asked before he fell unconscious.

Garr looked at the young man and his friend. He noticed the young man had loosened his grip on what he had been holding. Garr saw that it was a woman's purple gauntlet.


Chapter 5

Artificer Urza's Fanfiction