The King of Felinhand saw the demigod Vakixos standing in the throne room’s doorway. The midday sun shone through the glass window, casting the king’s silhouette against the floor.
“What brings you to my court? ” Asked his Majesty with genuine curiosity.
“I come to warn you,” said Vakixos. “The god of the earth is angry and he will soon unleash his wrath.”
The king scoffed. “What business do you have here? A matter of true importance? Or just idle curiosity?” He asked. The king stepped away from the sunlight and walked towards Vakixos.
“It is about your son.”
The king furrowed his eyebrows. “What about him?”
“I require his help,” said Vakixos. “Is he available at this moment?”
The ruler laughed. “Who are you to think you can make demands of me? Do better than that if you wish to see my son!”
Vakixos looked at the king with a sly smile forming at the corners of his lips. “You are so confident in your standing with us”, his voice drifted, remembering the glory days of the past. “You do not know who you’re addressing,” he said as he raised his arm and pointed a finger at the king.
The king’s mouth opened in shock as he felt an indomitable force grip his entire body. He felt like they were ripping away and tearing through his muscles and bones like they were paper.
As all this was happening before his very eyes. He knew what it was. This was earth power, pure and simple. Vakixos had gotten much stronger and had taken control of him with a thought. Now, all that he could do was a shriek in pain as it tormented his body.
“ICHIRO!” he shouted. “ICHIRO!”
Vakixos turned his back on the king while waiting for the little prince to arrive. He made a half-hearted gesture with one hand to release the king from his pain. But it didn’t work – the king could still feel his life force wasting away, draining from him with every beat of his heart.
Ichiro, a young boy with violet eyes, rushed in and witnessed his father fall to the ground.
“Father!” he shouted, again and again, trying to wake him from unconsciousness. The boy turned to Vakixos and looked him in the eyes. “What have you done?”
Vakixos shrugged. “Nothing more than what I set out to do,” he replied. He got down on one knee beside Ichiro and placed a hand on the king’s shoulder.
“Your father led his armies to victory with our help. Now it is time for me to collect what is due.”
“I will not let you take my father!” shouted Ichiro. He looked around and then grabbed a dagger from the throne behind him. “You may be a god, but he told me I am just as strong as you.”
Vakixos laughed loudly and stood up slowly. “How many times must I say it?” The demigod laughed, this time devoid of all pretence of formality or respect.
Ichiro felt his body being controlled by an external force. His eyes turned a dark purple and turned to face his father. He fought the rage that was building within him, but it was not enough.
With a quick flash in his eyes, he witnessed his father’s throat being cut.
His words echoed in his mind,
“You may be a god, but I am just as strong as you.”
The king choked on his blood and died. Vakixos raised an eyebrow at the child. But he did not laugh; instead, he pulled the child with his powers close to him, bent down to Ichiro’s level and took him by the shoulders.
Vakixos questioned him, “What do you think you are?”
“I’m a boy,” replied the prince.
“A child, yes.” said the god. “You are still growing and have much to learn. But know this, you will never defeat me.”
Vakixos turned to the dead king. “In fact, a pact made long ago binds you to be my slave and serve me well, you see. When you are older, you will understand why I need to do this. You shall understand that the world needs to change. It is a new age, and it needs a new way of thinking. You shall see that, too.”
Vakixos turned to the boy with a blue glimmer in his eyes. “I helped you murder your father because change must come upon Felinhand.”
Ichiro looked at the body of his dead father.
He cried. His actions betrayed his thoughts and emotions. He knew his actions were not his own. They were those of Vakixos.
“It was necessary. Your father was a fool, a weakling who would not listen. And he was a human. Humans will not survive here soon. After all, we live in a world different from theirs. This place is ours and we will keep it. All of it. Even the parts that humans call ‘magic’.”
Ichiro fell silent. He felt he had no choice in this matter and had a hard time accepting it.
“Human? I am human, but why have you spared me?”
Vakixos laughed. “Because I want you to know what it feels like to kill. To do it yourself and not have it done for you. Do you think I enjoy this? My actions always have reason and never involve mercy.”
The God closed his eyes and stood still. Ichiro sensed thoughts of another entering the god’s mind. He was receiving instructions, “But now it is time for me to go. Goodbye, Ichiro. We shall meet again when the time is right, but if we can’t, I shall find another pawn.”
Ichiro did not respond. He simply walked away from the demigod, leaving his father’s lifeless corpse behind him. With that, the demigod vanished with a burst of smoke and a smell of sulphur.
With the murder of the king on his hands, there was only one thing to do now: run.
Ichiro ran as fast as his legs could carry him. He wanted to get away from Vakixos and the trauma of what just happened, not caring where he went as long as it was far away. He kept running until the sun descended behind the mountains, removing its energy-giving streaks and plunging the world into near darkness for another week.
Ichiro’s violet eyes glowed, giving him sight in the perpetual seclusion around him, and took a seat on the comforting soil below him.
His stomach grumbled, reminding him of the last time he had eaten, the last time he would have breakfast at his kingdom, with his father. He looked up and watched as the bioluminescent beings and their child stars filled the night sky.
He thought about his father, and how a god manipulated his powers to kill him.
Or was it by his own hands? As the time passed, he questioned his own recollection of the encounter.
He felt dizzy and tired as he continuously focused on it.
Ichiro closed his eyes and fell asleep.
In his dreams, Ichiro saw a being dressed in white robes. She came closer, and Ichiro could see her face was stern but gentle. The being smiled and offered to take Ichiro away.
He nodded slowly, and the two suddenly propelled into the air. They flew over mountains and oceans until finally; they reached another land where everything was bright and vibrant. It was a stark contrast to the dark and desolate Felinhand.
The being brought Ichiro to a lush forest and pointed to a cave.
“You’ll be safe here young one.” She explained. “Until you are strong enough to continue your journey.”
“I’m afraid I won’t be strong enough,” Ichiro said. “They have a bind on me, and I am to serve them. How can I stop that?” A tear rolled down the young child’s face.
“Do not worry young one.” The being comforted him. “I will wait for you, and when the time is right, you will be ready.”
She gave Ichiro a hug as he wept. He felt consoled at the moment, safeness he didn’t feel for a long time.
The being smiled at him and disappeared in a flash.
Ichiro woke up from his dream and knew he had to find that place. He got up and tried to fly as the being showed him in the dream. To his surprise, he lifted off the ground, ever so slightly, but only so much.
“I guess this will do for now.” The child conceded. “I will rest my legs even as my mind is active.”
With that, he glided to the mountains and into the forested area.
Half an hour later, he finally came to a clearing that met with much of the ocean. In the distance, there was an island with a small cave carved into the rocks. There it was!
Ichiro left his items at the shoreline and glided towards the island. He didn’t know how water would affect his new powers after all. As soon as he reached the dry land, he was proud of his accomplishment and headed into the cave he saw in his dream.
Inside, he was greeted by a young girl dressed in traditional Felinhandian robes. She was thin and pale and her long black hair complimented her green eyes. She had pointed ears, much like his own, but her hands were otherworldly in appearance.
“I am glad you learnt your new powers, Ichiro.” The girl welcomed him with a warm smile. “I am Caenes, a templar against Vakixos and the Alter Gods.”
“Alter Gods?” Ichiro questioned. “You mean those gods are not the only ones?”
“Not at all! They do not stand for what the Earth truly wants!” She explained. “My mother showed you the way, so we can take care of you until you are strong enough to defeat Vakixos.”
Ichiro looked at the ground and noticed a small patch of grass that seemed unusually greener than the rest. He felt his strength return as he sat down on it.
The templar notice this and further explained, “You see; you gain your strength from the Earth. So it feels so good when you rest directly on it.”
She took out some soil dough from a bag next to her and offered some to Ichiro.
“Thank you,” he replied gratefully before gobbling one bite after another.
Ichiro decided he could live simply for today, but with a promise that someday soon, with all his strength, he will fight and defeat Vakixos.
And with that, restore what was rightfully his: the Kingdom of Felinhand.
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