The Map of Six Point
The Heroes and their Strength
Talia’s Twins and the Stars
Where Did Our Spirit Disappear to?
A Song for the Biomech
The Map of Six Point
Six Point (Coloured) (https://imgur.com/7KY5uM6)
Six Point (Default) (https://imgur.com/om6kIf5)
Eastern Six Point (https://imgur.com/wGpLOMj)
The Heroes and their Strength
Nothing struck the heartstrings of adventurers more than the prospects of fame, treasure and visiting the mystical lands far from the comfort of home. The exhilarating encounters with unknown creatures was a rush only known by adventurers.
To break through the mould and overcome the impossible was an attribute reserved for the greatest of adventures, and it was a defining characteristic of a Hero.
But not everyone was born to be an adventurer, let alone a Hero. The world was cruel; far crueller than one could possibly imagine. The thrill of adventure was a deadly lure to many, and resulted in death or other unfortunate fates.
The few that are lucky to survive such atrocities or impossibilities retire from their roles, like Bailey – who was a promising mage, and among the best in Colight.
But after coming face to face with a Demon, she realised the inevitable fate of an adventurer, and how daunting the world beyond the safety of the Kingdoms truly was.
But a Hero was different. They didn’t have a choice to quit like the adventurers. They could only move forward, no matter what.
Somewhere, deep in the forsaken forests west of Farshard in the southern region of Colight – a fury of metallic clangs shook the air. The reverberating sounds could be heard from a great distance.
The trees trembled as a flock of birds fled from their canopies in fright, blocking the sun like a rogue cloud. As animals and creatures shifted within the dense shrubbery at the forest’s floor; a battle cry erupted.
“TAKE THIS YOU PLANT!”
It came from a young man, who was in the process of a broad swing. His white-coloured armour clambered with his movements, and in an instant, he cleaved through a wall of vines.
In the explosion of bark and plant matter, arrived a thick vine that lunged straight for his head. His attempt to dodge it was slow, however, he wasn’t alone in this fight.
“Already on it!”
The voice of the familiar golden-haired girl caused him to grit his teeth as a shield suddenly parried the vine in the nick of time. It split against the oval shield, and the vines quickly ensnared it by the edges in an attempt to pry it off her.
She braced herself, and battled with the force as she grit her teeth, allowing Haiyoto to swiftly hack them away. His sword easily cut through the vines, despite being as thick as arms and having a metal-like skeleton in its centre.
The two swiftly backed pedalled to safety, stabbing, bashing and slashing whatever vine was thrown at them. At the back-lines, a familiar red-haired mage laid waste to numerous vegetation and trees using a devastating magic called [Fire Whip].
With both hands, she made waving motions and incinerated all vegetation surrounding them. She side stepped and nimbly dodged the razor sharp leaves that were spat from the treetops as two ten-metre-long flaming whips followed the movements of her open palms.
The trees and vegetation crackled in an unnerving manner, far from what would expect from an inanimate object. A high-pitched screech echoed around her as they were burnt to cinders.
The fear of starting a widespread forest-fire was negligible here, or rather – it would be beneficial. Nearly every plant in this section of the forest was deadly in its own regard. From trees with sentient vines that would skewer and entangle prey, to giant flower bulbs; which released an ever-so tempting scent to lure unfortunate victims.
This unforgiving place was where the thousands of Otherworlders had fallen.
Amy bared her teeth for the world to see as she yelled all sorts of curses. Her emotions held a rein on her, although she was still level headed enough to provide support to her fellow party members.
“Put my buffs to good use, you guys! I can hold on a little longer back here, but just don’t die on me or we’re all getting an earful from Inkshard!”
“If you can still make jokes now then you can hold on for a while more! Lizen, keep your shield up! I’m going in!”
“Going! Just back off if you get caught! The last thing we want is to turn into one of those!”
Indeed. Their main enemy wasn’t the dangerous vegetation around them, but instead, it was a living tree. It boasted a size similar to that of an elephant, and from its branches hung many hundreds of miniature heads.
Those were the Otherworlders and other unfortunate souls that were absorbed into its body. Thick roots anchored it in place, and it extended out for more than a few hundreds of metres into the forest, controlling the plant-life and turning them into the deadly monsters they now were.
This was a Chaos Ent – a monster that was quite unlike any other. In a sense, it was the hive-mind of the plants under its control. Every creature it absorbed only strengthened it, and judging by the number of heads, it was fairly powerful.
However, it was only as strong as its controllable parts. With Amy’s inferno, and Haiyato and Lizen’s cleaving of the vegetation prior to the battle – it was significantly weakened.
For now, its only defensive measures were the thick vines that protruded out from the base of the tree. Dozens of them pointed their sharp, hollow tips towards them in anticipation as a giant eye at the centre of the Chaos Ent stared at the duo nonchalantly.
Lizen held her pale shield close, and her spear closer as Haiyato took a stance behind her. In an instant, ten of the vines were thrust towards them, and half was received by the shield, whilst the other went for a flank.
However, Haiyoto’s swings were faster. His speed was uncanny, and befitting of a Hero. His swings were tight and the sound of metal on metal reverberated once again. Lizen was forced to tank a hit from the side, which was thankfully deflected by her armour.
If it weren’t for Amy’s ‘buffs’, which consisted of [Strengthening] magic, [Defensive] magic and [Pain Resistance] – she would’ve been winded, and on her knees.
“Close – but this armour’s second to none! Go Haiyato! Cover your eyes!”
“Got it! Those vines will be easy pickings! Amy! Get ready for the final blow!”
“You’re already going in!? W-wait a second-!”
“We don’t have a second!”
“Grr! Alright, give me half a second!”
“Dammit –! I know, I know! Just don’t blame me if you get smacked by my [Fire Bomb]!”
By her call, both her and Haiyato charged forward as one. As ravaged plant matter kicked up behind, Lizen braced herself for the next barrage of tendrils as she growled and cried:
Not a second later, a blinding light exploded from the centre of her shield. The forest was painted in a pale light, and even Haiyoto could clearly see it behind his tightly shut eyelids.
The sole eye of the Chaos Ent shivered and shrunk in a disoriented fashion. Its tendrils were thrust towards the last seen location of the duo, which was effectively countered by Lizen’s shield and another burst of magic which tore them apart.
Blades of wind were fired from the edges of her shield, effectively protecting her from any flanks. As she battled out with the flailing tendrils, Haiyoto had already disappeared from behind her, and was in the middle of a wild charge towards the monster.
His speed was impeccable, despite the armour he bared. With his broadsword clutched tightly in his palms, he let loose of a battle cry when he reached within twenty metres of the monster.
“I’m right here you plant!”
The Chaos Ent was no mindless creature. Even without its sight, it could still use its other senses. It seemed like Haiyoto’s taunt was his undoing, as all remaining tendrils suddenly struck right where he was.
However – that was his intention. They hit nothing but the ravaged forest floor, the tangled mess squirming in confusion as the young man suddenly appeared within a metre of the monster’s base.
If an Otherworlder had to explain what happened; Haiyato ‘aggroed’ the tendrils with his voice, and used a magic called [Dash] to instantaneously propel himself forward – far faster than a normal human could perceive.
The magic was also a modified variant of it. With his knowledge from Earth, he made it so an afterimage would be left in place when he disappeared. But that was unnecessary, for the monster was blind.
Now within the roots of the tendrils, which surrounded him like miniature bamboo trees, he cleanly cleaved them apart with devastating swings. By the time the tendrils could turn around to react, it was already too late.
He had severed the tendrils from the roots, although it wasn’t easy. As he took a moment to catch his breath, a sudden shriek caused his blood to run like ice.
“GET OUT OF MY LINE OF FIRE! HAIYOTO!”
It was Amy’s voice.
The girl – who had already burnt the surrounding vegetation to cinders – held a massive orb of fire on top of her head. This was her acclaimed [Fire Bomb], which had the destructive power of a bomb and a firestorm fused into one.
Similar to her first fire spell which was used against Kalis, except it was uncertain whether he would be able to tank something of this calibre. It swelled and spun like a star, gaining size and robbing the surroundings of its heat.
Needless to say; if Haiyato didn’t move, he would be erased from existence.
He didn’t waste any time to [Dash] away to Lizen, who held her shield defensively just in case. It was planted deep into the ground as a [Hybrid Barrier] extended from its translucent edges.
“Fire in the hole! I hope you burn forever for killing so many of us!”
And at that moment – Amy thrust her hands forward and released the ball of flaming destruction. It flew in the air at a speed that matched it size. For a mobile target, the magic was effectively useless as it was far too slow and would easily miss its mark.
But for a Chaos Ent, which was eternally rooted to its place – it was perfect.
As it inched closer and closer to its mass, its sight finally returned. Its head-shaped leaves trembled at the sight of the sun right before it eyes. Before it could even have a chance to understand what was going on – it was already too late.
In a flash of red, a flaming dome suddenly engulfed it. The heat was so intense, that the ground began to sizzle as greenery burst into flames. An immense shockwave was sent through the forest, pushing back the Heroes as they held on and watched the magnificent sight.
Their bodies trembled, and their boots skidded for a moment. Surely, if Amy hadn’t reinforced them with [Defensive] magic, their eardrums would’ve burst. The sky darkened during the entirety of the event.
And soon after, the generated heat and flames returned to orb like vacuum, disappearing altogether.
When the light and the sound of crackling returned, Lizen and Haiyoto carefully peeked around the shield as Amy hunched forward in fatigue. She had used a hefty amount of mana this time around.
But no one could blame her.
The Chaos Ents of this forest were responsible for killing so many people from her world – Earth – on the first night they arrived here in Six Point. The many heads that hung from its branches only served to fuel her rage.
She wanted to puke, but she held it in and wore a victorious smile. For the first time, they had defeated a Chaos Ent without the help of their mentor Kalis.
No one said a word. Haiyato’s fatigue soon caught up to him. Through heavy breath and sweat, he slowly approached the charred remains of the tree which bled a red tar. It was split open like a decayed tree, and the stench was unlike any other.
He pinched his nose, and covered his face with his arms but to no avail. The smell wasn’t from the creature’s innards, but rather, from its victims. Judging by the smell, they could tell just how many the Chaos Ent had absorbed.
His stomach churned, and he grit his teeth. An overwhelming sense of sorrow washed over him as he failed to find the strength to peer into the Ent’s remains.
He knew all too well what was inside. From the previous battles, he had seen all sorts of liquefied remains and organs, which were swimming in plant-like worms. One look, and he knew he’d be on his knees.
But even so, a proud look washed over his face as he admired their strength compared to when they began.
Lizen was mostly the same. She admired the looks of her companions as she picked her shield and approached Haiyoto.
“Don’t let it get to your head. You did great, and don’t you forget that. You finally avenged them with your hands.” She spoke with a soft voice, placing a hand on his shoulder before leaving him for Amy.
“Yeah… we finally did it ourselves, didn’t we? Haha. At least we didn’t get burnt by a certain mage.”
He looked down at his palm and clasped them, smiling to himself.
“Lucky you... Haiyoto. Maybe I should only... give Lizen my broken buffs… since you’re so cool.” Amy argued in between heavy breaths, as Lizen arrived to support her. “See… Lizen’s such a good friend.”
“Maybe. Then he can shut up about friendly fire, considering he likes to hide behind me.” Lizen teased nonchalantly as she gently patted Amy’s back.
“Already being betrayed, I see. Well, you can’t deny that Amy does tend to go overboard.” Haiyoto laughed.
When he brought himself back, he cleared his throat.
“Anyway, I’m kidding, Amy. Thanks for your magic. You had our back there, as always.”
He didn’t turn around. His words were pure, and they came from the bottom of his heart.
In Truebirth, most of the fame fell onto him and Lizen, as they were always in the foreground of combat, and had exceptional skills in using weapons.
Amy however, was always at the back-lines, supporting them with her magic. While she was adored by all in the Institute of Magic and a few certain crowds, she was overshadowed by the two.
Amy was the unsung Hero of the group, and both Haiyoto and Lizen knew that. For an Otherworlder, her magic skills were fantastic. She could use [Sixth Tier] magic without a chant or a magical circle. Her knowledge from Earth and mana capacity as a Hero was truly an advantage no normal human could ever dream of possessing.
She knew this, but rather than rubbing it in, her eyes softened as she stared at his back.
Then, she mumbled.
“Do you want me to hug you? Fall for you? Quit saying cool lines like that. It doesn’t suit you at all. Well, maybe not now.”
“At least you acknowledge that I can make the distance.”
“Not if I burn you before that happens, of course.”
“Can you two please stop being so childish for once?” Lizen muttered, but Haiyoto easily overheard.
“Hey! Didn’t you try to make fun of me just earlier?” He turned to see the stern face of the blonde-haired girl.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Was her nonchalant reply.
“Childish? Me? No, that can’t be right, can it?” Amy bit back, although she was largely ignored by Lizen. Then, her eyes sparkled as if she realised something.
With her mouth brought close to Lizen’s ears, she whispered:
“Ahh – don’t worry, I was kidding about falling for hi – mnnngh!? Lizen!?”
Lizen’s gentle pats suddenly turned into a thundering slap. The thud surprised Haiyoto, who wondered what was going on with them. Because Amy’s armour consisted of mostly cloth and leather, Lizen’s strike was quite painful.
Amy didn’t dare to strike back. She remembered what had happened to her hand the last time she tried.
“Don’t make me slap you.”
“H-huah!? Can you say that before you hit me!? I’m crippled enough as it is!”
Needless to say – the sombre mood was replaced with a rather livelier one. As they argued and joked, there was a strange sense of peace. It was strange. They were still within the forsaken forests in the southern parts of Colight, but for this one instance, it felt comfortable.
In addition, there weren’t any hazards nearby. After the death of the Chaos Ent, almost all controlled plant-life had reverted back to their original forms. The blaze that erupted during Amy’s [Fire Whip] was neutralised by the suction of her [Fire Bomb].
If anything, their bickering was their greatest threat.
That aside – it was astonishing even to themselves of how far they had come since they first arrived in this world. From being unable to fend off simple bandits, to taking down monsters in an A-ranked restricted area all by themselves.
The daily training from Kalis – the son of Mildly Taniawort – had come a long way.
Haiyoto fondly smiled, sheathing his blade as he stared up into the sky. For the longest time, he was haunted by the first death he had ever witnessed. And it wasn’t just him. Lizen and Amy felt the same way.
Truly, if it weren’t for Exrite, Frosty and Khaos – they would’ve been killed by the bandits. In their eyes, they were the real Heroes.
They had to shoulder a weight that nothing in this world could compare to, and whenever they saw Exrite outside training for hours on end with the Guildmaster – it would fill them with motivation.
But that was a few days ago. It had been almost a week since they left with the Commanders to presumably Saicry, and there wasn’t any indication of when they would return.
Haiyoto sincerely hoped that it would be soon. After all, things were beginning to unravel in Truebirth. Not only was there the war, but also a newfound threat; the Undead.
Rather than being part of the planned occupation of Palvel – they would be tasked to investigate the burial grounds north-east of Palvel, where there was an unusually high reports of Undead.
They needed time to prepare themselves. But unfortunately, time wasn’t on their side. This would be a test to their mental fortitude – for the Undead were reanimated corpses, and humans were not excluded.
As they embraced the bright moments of the present, they hoped that Exrite and the others would return when the inevitable darkness of the future sets in.
With a hopeful smile, Haiyoto returned to the girls and offered Lizen a hand.
“So, what are we waiting for? We’ll worry everyone if we stick around any longer.”
“Their fault for letting us come here alone. But you’re right. Let’s go.” Lizen nodded and took his hand as she gently supported Lizen.
“I thought you’d… never ask!” Amy laughed. “While you’re at it… wanna carry me?”
“What kind of a question is that?” Haiyoto raised a brow.
“Moron.” Lizen’s hand suddenly became itchy.
With that, the Heroes trailed back to the Capital. But with Farshard being a stop along the way, they planned to greet Talia and the White Knights stationed there.
Most of their days were like this; intense at times, but mostly laid back and carefree. It was an attitude unfitting of a Hero, but in the end, it made them who they are.
Talia’s Twins and the Stars
Night. New moons, full moons; and a sky that never seemed to change.
The same stars were scattered over the night sky, like glitter thrown onto a black canvas. The endless puffs of violet nebulae, and the not-so-black background of the sky was always a sight to behold.
Even if it was the same image from more than six thousand years ago.
Underneath the pleasant sky, she spent a night on a garden high above the Capital. A lonely apple tree shaded her generously as she admired the beautiful sights.
It was something her mother used to love, and adore. Even though the world always moves, everything above remains frozen in time. Every night without fail she would come up here to watch the night sky like she always had with her mother.
Comforting. She felt like if she stretched her hands up, she could touch them. It was a silly thought, especially for a six thousand year old Spirit.
But she tried it anyway.
“So close, but so far. If only we could reach out and touch them, then maybe so many people wouldn’t have to suffer.”
A voice came from beside her.
From the light-blue hair of the figure that spread out like wings on the soft grass, to her face – it was a near splitting image of Phase.
It was Inkshard.
Like any other night, she found herself joining Phase up on the gardens to sight see. Normally, Talia would join them as well, but because someone needed to receive the message of the Gods, she had to unfortunately return to the Chapel of Balance.
While it should’ve been Inkshard, Talia insisted. Inkshard was still, after all, a child in her eyes. She had gone through many hardships because of her role, and often found herself segregated at a young age.
After seeing Inkshard break down when the Heroes were sent to Fairant, and her smiles and friendship with unlikely faces, her motherly instincts kicked in. She wanted to protect that smile at all costs.
And besides – it wasn’t like Inkshard was old enough to single-handedly receive the message of the Gods yet. For now, she could only answer and give guidance to those who visited the Chapel, although that role was rather… difficult, in a way.
Phase closed her hand and only grasped the air. Slowly, her hand fell down beside her face as she whispered:
“The world is complex. Just touching the stars doesn’t mean you can overcome suffering.”
“I know that. But that’s not what I mean.” Inkshard shook her head gently reached for the stars. “They’re like beacons of hope, all around us. But we can never touch them, only chase them. And when people realise that, they become sad, and do cruel things.”
“That’s the balance of hope and despair. Fall to the depths of either, and you’ll eventually find yourself on the other side...” Phase spoke, as if she knew from experience.
And it was true. She knew her only hope was her mother, and in turn, it became her ultimate despair. The balance of hope and despair, or anything wasn’t so black and white.
But there was no one in this world who could deny it, or resist it – because it was always there.
She held a pale-blue orb close to her chest; the one that contained the soul of her mother. She vowed to protect Inkshard and Talia from falling into the same trap she had, where everything in her world revolved around one thing.
And even now, she was still trapped.
“Isn’t… that sad?”
“You find it sad?”
“Of course! Isn’t it sad to know that the things you chase after will one day hurt you!? Isn’t that unfair!?” She suddenly yelled, turning towards Phase with furrowed brows.
The Spirit turned as well, meeting her gaze with a slight smile.
“If it’s unfair, then why aren’t you doing anything about it?”
“Because –!” Inkshard couldn’t respond.
She hated the unfairness of the world, but she didn’t know how to stop it. All of her faith was put on Exrite and the Heroes. But when it came down to her, she had nothing at all.
She swallowed her words, but Phase quickly added:
“But you’re still young, Inkshard. No one expects you to be anymore abrasive than you already are.” She smiled, almost childishly. “The world could always use more people like you, who want to make the world less of a hellhole than it already is… but maybe that’s the problem. Maybe now, you’re only reaching for the stars and not chasing after them.”
“T-that’s…” Inkshard’s words betrayed her as she looked back to the sky. “… right. Maybe I am only reaching…”
“It’s hard when you realise it. If you want to cry, then –”
“Then I only need to start chasing!”
“I said – I only need to start chasing!”
“Wait – you’re still going on about that –!”
“Phase, hope can’t only exist to drive people into despair! Surely, if someone keeps on chasing, they’ll make it to the end! I’m sure of it! Otherwise, what’s the point!?”
A flame was ignited in her heart as she roared. Just as she clasped her hand, a small apple fell straight into her palms, as if it were an act of fate.
Phase was dumbfounded. She expected Inkshard to be at least cautious about the prospects of hope, but she believed in it wholeheartedly. She believed in dream of chasing a star for the rest of her life, no matter how impossible it seemed.
Slowly, she pushed herself up from the grass and knelt beside Phase’s head. She grasped Inkshard’s hands as a heavy breeze swept by. Before the girl could utter a word, she was pulled up and in an instant – the ground was no longer underneath her feet.
They soared through the air at breakneck speeds. If someone were to see them, they’d be mistaken for a shooting star. The colourful lights of the Capital slowly began to merge into clusters of balls as they shot through whips of clouds.
Their hair fluttered alongside their dresses. Phase held the girl securely in her arms as she cried:
“Look! Wake up Inkshard! No matter how far we keep going, there’s no end to it! We can go as fast as we want, for as long as we want and as far as we want – but no one will ever make it to the stars! We longer we do, the harder it becomes to accept it!”
The stars never moved, or grew closer for that matter. They were in a state of limbo, climbing an invisible ladder that led to nowhere. If they kept going up, surely, they wouldn’t be able to tell which way was where anymore.
Hope was a toxin; a blinding disease. Those who chased it; who were ensnared by its catch could only follow the light when they were in so deep.
Like Phase herself. When her mother died, there was nowhere else to go. Nothing else to do. Her world was gone in the blink of an eye, and she didn’t know why until only recently, when Uru shattered her lonely world.
As she came to a stop, the world underneath them was barely visible anymore. The lights of the Capital was just a giant spec of light, and a part of Mount Winterfall could be seen from here; which resided far in the north, within the region of Demora.
A translucent [Barrier] encased them. The air was so thin that Inkshard would likely suffocate. In the silence that enshrouded them, and tossing winds that could easily topple matured trees – Inkshard still had her eyes set onto the world above.
Suddenly, she yelled:
“Why did you stop, Phase!?”
“Because there’s no point in going any further!”
“But you don’t know that!”
“I do, Inkshard! I do! Don’t test my patience! You may be the main priestess, but I won’t tolerate any insolence! This is for your own good!”
“If it’s for my own good, then why did you tell me to chase after hope if it’s truly pointless!?”
For the first time, Phase couldn’t find the right words to say. Why did she hate the idea of chasing after hope, despite suggesting it?
Her eyes trembled for a moment. A solemn frown swept across her face as she looked down at the girl and saw her eyes, which glistened with the stars above.
Then she realised; she was still staring through the same lens as she had been for the past six thousand years. No. Surely, there was a time where the light of the stars could be reflected in her own eyes.
A time, perhaps before her mother’s death. Where she truly believed in hope, and that everything would work out if she was a ‘good girl’.
Phase’s face was soon covered by a veil of hair. The orb dangled around her neck like a necklace too, glistened with the stars.
A tear fell onto the orb.
“… I don’t know what happened, Phase. But I’m not someone who will give up trying to bring smiles to everyone in this world. The wars, the slaves, the grief, the famine – no one wants it. No one wants to suffer!”
She roared the last statement, her words nearly lost in the sea of winds. But Phase heard it clearly.
“Hope… is fallible. I just don’t want you, or Talia to go through what I had to so long ago.”
“Hope isn’t fallible! The Gods exists, and that alone is proof! While I don’t agree with what they did to Exrite, Hope definitely exists in this world to save people from Despair! So long as they keep striving, they’ll make it one day! I know they will!”
Phase didn’t say anything. As the Spirit of Balance, that was obvious. But she had seen the Gods herself, and experienced the blinding curse of hope. It destroyed not only her life, but an array of many others.
And Uru was only one of them.
Perhaps that was it. Perhaps she saw herself in Inkshard, and didn’t want her to fall for the same trap as she did.
Maybe, deep down, Phase wanted to relive her life through Inkshard…
What a joke… Even now, I’m still a child, aren’t I mother…?
Another tear fell, and with it, came Inkshard’s voice.
“Besides… I’m not doing this alone. I have my mother, Haiyoto, Lizen, Amy, King Inclark and Ectarod, Kalis, Lie, Anoma – I could go on until the break of dawn! We all see the same stars above us, so we can all chase after that same star, can’t we!?”
In one phrase, Phase realised what it meant to be a human. The collective will to strive for one goal was fantastical in one word, and almost inconceivable in another.
She was a Spirit – or more specifically – a Spirit of Balance; and the only one left of her kind. Her ability was to consume the souls of the dead, and to transform into them. In essence, she was everything in one body.
A body of a million, but the mind of one.
Humanity had the power to band into one and to achieve the impossible. But no amount of hands reaching into the night sky could ever dream of grasping a star.
But maybe it didn’t need to be hands, or humans for that matter.
Maybe there just needed to be more people willing to strive for the same thing.
Similar to how the Gods garner power through the consumption of souls and other form of energy. But for the Children of Balance – they needed the emotions of hope and despair.
To be stuck in between the limbo of both was suffering in its purest form. In silence, she gave Exrite – the Exrenity – her condolences.
But at the same time; she had hope.
She wanted to laugh, but her tears kept streaming down her hidden face. It was agonising to admit it now that she realised it, but in the end, she couldn’t help it.
If she kept running away, then how would her attachment with her mother finally… end?
Out of all people, the young Inkshard made her realise this. A human no less.
But she found it fitting.
Their flight suddenly stopped and soon, the side-wards breeze came from underneath. Inkshard’s heart sunk, and within moments, she was shaking Phase and screaming out at the top of her lungs.
But Phase laughed. She laughed like never before. It was fitting for Inkshard to be her eye opener; her lens changer after all this time. Maybe now, the stars could be reflected in her eyes, and she could follow the same dream she had.
Surely, it was something her mother also would’ve wanted.
Inkshard was like her ideal self. But rather than injecting herself into her, she vowed to protect not only her smile, but her dream. Maybe then, she could find a purpose to roam this world once more without her nameless mother.
In the midst of Inkshard’s cries, Phase embraced her and began to angle their descent steadily. Soon, the individual lights of the Capital returned, and with it, so did the small garden with the apple tree.
Funnily enough, Inskahrd still had the apple in her hand.
While it wasn’t a star, it was still something.
Once on the safety of the grass, Inkshard yelled:
“Are you insane Phase! A-are you trying to scare me with that, cause that’s not going to work! Don’t make fun of me because I’m still young! Phase! Do you hear me!”
She laughed again, her light blue eyes softening as she swiped her hair to the side. But before Inkshard could say another word –
“Inkshard. You’re… stubborn.”
She embraced her once again. Their childish height made for a strange scene, and one could find the Heroes passing by and spotting the strange twins. For some reason, their pace increased all of a sudden, and they were gone before Inkshard could even blink.
It seemed like the embrace managed to defuse her. Now, it was just the sound of the grass and the rustling leaves. Slowly, Inkshard returned the hug with a slight pout.
“It means I won’t be swayed so easily. And… why were you crying, Phase. Did something happen?”
“You, a human, happened.”
“M-me!? And I have a name –”
“But… thank you.”
“What? Phase, are you ok? Is your head alright?”
“If another human asked me the same thing, the wouldn’t have a head right now.”
Inkshard made a meek “S-sorry.”
They stayed like this for a while. Inkshard offered some awkward strokes, which soon became gentle and motherly.
“Inkshard, you have no idea what you just did to me. For the longest time, I’ve been lost. But I think I have something I can now follow now. You, Inkshard.”
“Me…? Wait, but didn’t you hate –”
“I’ve changed my mind. I realised that maybe, if it’s you, then the world can become a better place. No one will ever have to go through what I did, or have to suffer anymore.”
“Then watch! As the main Priestess of Balance, I’ll make this world a better place! I promise you, Phase, you won’t regret it!”
“If a human can become the Exrenity and the Maiden of Time, then maybe nothing in this world is truly impossible. Now, I can finally say this for once – I have high hopes for the future!”
“Likewise! Let’s head back now, Phase! Ah – no, wait. You don’t need sleep, actually…” She broke away from the embrace and slowly walked away to the entrance. She turned with a wide wave before she disappeared; only to come back a second after.
“A-also, if you need someone, there’s plenty of people in the castle willing to help! Or you can just talk to my mother! She’ll always lend you a hand especially!”
“I’m more than six thousand years old. There’s no one with more experience than me. Goodnight. We’ll meet again in the morning.”
She bowed respectfully. Phase was, after all, a Spirit dedicated to her Gods. When Inkshard disappeared, Phase stared out into the distance and softly smiled.
“… maybe I’ll do just that… but first – is there something Talia might want from here? Food? But what?” She asked herself, already finding a grove of shops to choose from.
The Spirit was hopeful that everything would work in the end. With everything regarding Exrite’s situation, absolutely anything could happen.
Humans were strange creatures indeed.
And maybe that's why the Maiden of Time chose Exrite, although, why him in particular was still a mystery to this day.
With that aside, Phase set off to a store that looked promising.
She planned to bring delicious sandwiches to Talia, and maybe even some pastries.
Her only hope now was that Exrite and Inkshard wouldn’t stray away from hope in the midst of it. Because if they fell and that light disappeared – then there was nowhere else to go.
Where did our Spirit Disappear to?
In the sacred realms of the Gods, resided a pair that was infamous amongst the Gods of Six Point. Atop their steep platforms, they sat in mid air, finding comfort in the most simplistic of positions.
However it didn’t detract from their ultimate majesty. These two were the Children of Balance; Hope and Despair. They resided in a wold of nothing but spiralling background of black and white, and a floor made of an unknown transparent gem.
Their platform floated in a sea of emptiness, and the only predominant structures were the strange orb above their respective staircases. Although, only the white orb – which was paler than anything in this world – remained.
Whether one viewed this object from a distance or closely – none could see it as a sphere, but rather, as a hole in space itself.
Their domain was something out of the depths of a bizarre dream. At times, chequered patterns, among many others, emerged in the animated surroundings. It made no sense, but to the Children of Balance – it was more than perfect.
However; they’d much rather have foothold in the Overworld of Corozin.
And with that in mind; there was a certain Spirit that was still out there.
“Late. Did our little Spirit become a stowaway?”
Despair tapped the invisible air as she sat as if she was on a throne. Her head rested on the knuckles of a hand as she shut her eyes.
“We gave her one chance to redeem herself for betraying one of our past Exrenities, and she betrays us instead.”
“I don’t believe that was a betrayal, but I want to know what that woman said.” Hope spoke from the opposite platform.
Her posture was far more elegant. Compared to Despair, she was a being who encompassed everything that was holy and pure. From her fingernails to her hair – there was not a single flaw with her being.
“I want to see that Eye of Hope myself.”
“We’ll have to wait a little longer. Our Exrenity is still far from being competent. You’ve fed quite nicely on his hope so far, and now I’m just aching for my next feed.”
She pressed a finger against her lips, her demeanour becoming sadistic.
“But that’s not your focus now, is it? Are the words of that woman really that meaningful after she disappeared from the face of this world for so long? Perhaps, Exrite told our Phase something that she’s not prepared to relay.”
As Hope remained silent with a generous smile and gentle eyes – Despair snapped her fingers and her eyes suddenly illuminated with a red glow.
“Or, did she find hope outside? Such a shame, if that’s true. I’ll miss that despair-eaten Spirit.”
“I’m hopeful that the message isn’t something unfortunate. If the previous Maiden of Time is still alive and well; then we deserve to know.” Hope elegantly hummed. “I can only wish nothing happened to Phase.”
“She’s safe. For now. When Exrite finally liberates at least the Maiden of Realms – then that Spirit will have nowhere to run from our authority.”
“Phase still has her use. We can use her as a vessel to make our transition into the Overworld smoother. No one is so inclined to believe we’re the Children of Balance just because we claim it.”
“Eradicate those that say otherwise. It’s simple; and the despair I can devour only makes it far more tempting. I already have my own vessel to harness all the despair I need to make my grand appearance when the time comes. But you need Phase, or another vessel for that. Not we.”
Despair already had her master plan in the workings. Phase was nothing but an obedient Spirit, who was due for another cruel punishment.
But Hope saw the Spirit of Balance as something more. Although, she couldn’t help but feel disappointed in the Spirit for failing to abide a simple request.
Hope wanted to know if Gaia said anything about them.
She knew Exrite already wore the Eye of Hope; and wished to see it herself. But she couldn’t communicate with him through the Eye. There was a certain stage he needed to fall into; which was called the Voice of Hope.
It was the stage after the changing of the Eye’s iris. Unfortunately, Exrite didn’t make it that far. But the hope he managed to generate was something that couldn’t be overlooked.
And she gladly devoured it. The mere thought of it whetted her appetite.
“My plans can wait until you’re finished, dear sister. Because in the depths of despair, one will always find the salvation of hope; no matter how small that glimmer is.”
In an instant – her eyes suddenly glowed a gentle blue as she continued:
“And our Spirit of Balance was no exception. Let me give our faithful Priestesses a message now –”
In an instant, the background of the world became blank, like an empty canvas. With a voice with unfathomable purity and authority – she spoke:
“Grant the presence of the Spirit of Balance presence to our beloved followers across Colight; let her set the stage for our inevitable arrival, and bolster the hope of the Kingdoms for your war!”
The world soon returned to its black and white spirals, as a devious smile formed across Despair’s face. The Children of Balance were confident that their plans would bear fruit.
After all; fate was a force of the Gods, and it was always on their side.
Progress was being made not only by Exrite and the Kingdoms, but more so, by the Gods themselves. Their intentions remained a mystery, but it could be summarised in one phrase:
They wanted to leave their domain.
And in Hope’s case, she needed two conditions to be met:
The defeat of the Maiden of Realms, and;
Phase, or another vessel, to set the stage for her arrival.
A Song for the Biomech
Melody adored Auga’s static voice.
Whenever she sung, she would always smile and listen to the voice that pain many. She knew how imperfect Auga’s voice was, but she couldn’t deny the heart it beared.
“Auga~ I told you if you want to sing, then you need to speak more clearly.” Was a common phrase Melody would say to the timeless Biomech.
“Like this?” Auga would always ask, uncertain of her own voice.
And without fail, Melody would smile and comfort her.
Although, there were times when Melody would say that regardless of whether her voice was clear or not.
Because it belonged to Auga and it came from the depths of her ticking heart –
She loved her voice.
Likewise; Auga adored Melody’s voice, just as her children did. Their daily gatherings around the ancient oak, in the centre of the broken pathway was always a moving sight.
A green-haired woman harping on her crystal violin, singing her song alongside a Biomech was something out of a dream.
Nights were the same, but at times, they sung separately. Melody would often perch herself at the edge of the chasm and perform underneath the crowd of stars.
But Auga sang alone, to her sleeping children. Their smiles were everything to her, even if they weren’t aware of it.
They were machines that could bleed, think and feel emotions. But she couldn’t see herself as such. She was incomplete, because her purpose was still uncertain, and her children could never express their emotions, no matter what.
It was depressing.
Singing was a way to cope with her despair. But she could only maintain it for so long, and for the longest time, she stopped and nearly forgot how to use her voice.
That was until a certain woman arrived one fateful day.
“We’re one of the same, aren’t we? Left alone to the mercy of time; helpless, and insufferable. Here – let me show you something nice. I’m Melody, Realm Melody. What’s your name, Biomech?”
She remembered the violin, and the face she wore that day like it was only yesterday.
“Au – ga? Auga? Perfect! Your voice is pretty, but it needs some work… did you forget how to speak while you were left here by that cruel Maiden?”
“… I… I… don’t know...”
“You don’t know? Try saying my name.”
“You can speak, pretty fluently as well… but you’re not very clear. How about your emotions? You haven’t smiled or frowned once, or is that a Biomech thing?”
“No… I… have emotions…” Auga’s blank eyes fell onto her children, which stared back with nonchalant faces. “I’ve been… sad for the longest… time. I can… only wait… for Gaia to come back… and complete me… what did I… do wrong?”
Melody didn’t say anything immediately. Instead, she pulled out a crystal violin and bow. Within the next moment – she played a beautiful song.
Suddenly, all eyes were on her. Little by little, the children gathered around her with curious eyes, entranced by the gentle harps and astonishing voice that no creature could dare to mimic.
Auga was surprised. She had never seen her children so attracted to something before. While she knew they were curious, they were never like this. Soon, she joined them and became engulfed by the woman’s song, which sparked a strange warmth in her cold, metallic heart.
When Melody finished, she turned to Auga and smiled.
“Auga. Rather than loathing on what you did wrong, why don’t you distract yourself with a song? You have a voice – and it’s quite lovely at that; so long as you keep it clear~”
“… I have… so long ago… I’m incomplete… my voice will reach… no one...”
“Like mother like child – if you’re always like that, then do you think your children are going to change? Even a little?”
Auga’s eyes suddenly lit up.
She knew this wasn’t possible. Her children didn’t have the appropriate [Gears] to maintain emotion. But at the same time, the Biomech weren’t just machines. They were living machines; ones that could coexist with nature, and change over time.
But the difference was that she was created by Gaia – and was tasked to ‘wait’ for her return.
The same couldn’t be said about her children. They didn’t have to suffer like her, but there was nothing she could do…
Melody’s words seemed hopeful, but she didn’t know what to believe. So much time had passed that she was at the brink of hopelessness; as Melody said.
“Will… my children… change if I… change?”
“Auga, use your eyes. Look around us, around you. Your children are curious, just as any other child. I don’t know much about your race, but a curious child is a learning child. They mimic what they see, and learn from experience. If you can’t give it to them, then they’ll never grow.”
“But… the [Gears]...”
“Then if you won’t, I will.”
“… you will?”
“… why are… who are you?”
Melody laughed and harped on her violin.
“Melody – the Maiden of Realms~!”
At the time, she couldn’t believe it. But in retrospect, it made complete sense. The [Barrier] which surrounded the Biomechanical Gardens wasn’t something that just anyone could pass through.
That aside –
Auga warmly smiled at the sight of her sleeping children, who smiled, stretched and playfully rolled around.
This never happened back then.
Maybe Melody was right all along.
She gently planted her back against the indent of the oak tree and softly whispered.
“Even though my systems only reads zeroes and ones, your words reached me. You said that you loved my voice that I once hated; so I’ll never stop singing alongside you, Realm. I sing louder, because your stage is the world; and I want to show them how your voice keeps on delighting my world.”
Her voice was crystal clear, almost as beautiful as Melody’s herself.
With those sincere words, she stared up into the stars and silently thanked Melody for…