vasta_narada

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My E3 Impressions So Far


Here, I'll do a quick rundown of my thoughts regarding the different games/hardware shown this year:


Metal Gear Solid: Rising (360/PS3)

  • That cutting mechanic is so excessive...it's awesome! I think that the game is probably going to become God of War-like, in gameplay, which I hope doesn't happen. I don't really want to lose the stealth, but otherwise, I'm feeling good about where this off-shoot is heading.

Kinect (360)

  • I don't care. Seriously. I think that Kinect is pretty cool, and a good step forward for motion sensing as a game-related thing, but until some games are announced that interest me, I'm gonna stop thinking about it. Plus, the name should've been announced before Natal became a household name. I'm used to saying "Kinect" when talking about "Natal", but "Kinect" doesn't mean "Natal" to me. 

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

  • Hey, you know them Zelda games? This is one of them, except the sword movements are supposed to be 1:1 with your WiiMotion Plus-enhanced Wii remote; that's pretty cool if you ask me! I'm very much looking forward to following this game.
  • I'm a big Kirby fan--like a big Kirby fan. When I came home after school today and was greeted with a Kirby trailer that wasn't a remake/port/collection, I freaked. When I watched it, I really got into the look (which is very stylish), but I immediately became disheartened, because I thought it would be a 3DS game. Dude, no, it's not! It's a Wii game! HELL YEAH! Now if only that Gamecube game got uncanceled...

Donkey Kong Returns (Wii)

  • The Metroid Prime guys are making this, and it looks like if they made the SNES Donkey Kong Country games better. I don't know much else to say, besides that it's a Wii game as well. Boo-shacka!

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS)

  • Did I ever tell you that I'm a Golden Sun fan? No? Well I am. I'm really looking forward to this, and I think it's shaping up pretty well from the trailer. Good art style, and looks like they kept the psynergy mechanics in from the previous two games. Did I mention that it's coming out this holiday season? It totally is! After the project went dark for a year, I was expecting it to come out in 2011!

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (360/PS3/PC)

  • I'm mostly excited about this one because of the multiplayer aspect. I'll have to admit that I was skeptical of multiplayer AC, but the articles I read make it seem like it works really well, so colour me satiated and hopeful. 

Nintendo 3DS

  • Holy ****. I'm not a movie person, so I don't have much 3D experience, and the 3D I have seen, I haven't really been impressed by (yeah, I saw Avatar). However! If the 3D in this system really works, then Nintendo is my God once more! It's got the cameras of the DSi (which can take 3D pictures O_O), the analog nub of the PSP (which I think is concave, not convex like the PSP, which is way better), and this badass list of software currently in development. Did you see the Metal Gear Solid, Super Street Fighter IV, Paper Mario, Bomberman, Professor Layton, and Shin Megami Tensei titles? Yeah, I'm sold.


So as far as I'm concerned, Nintendo won E3 this year. The past couple of years have been a bummer for Nintendo, so I'm glad to see them picking up steam. I didn't actually see the conferences, so there may have been stuff announced that I didn't see, so if that gets written about (and I'm excited about it), I'll totally update this post. Tell me your excitement list, guys!
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Back From Not Blogging, Kinda

Maybe I'll remember to post here more often? What's up with my Giantbomb friends, anyhow? I've been obsessing over a number of games lately, though mostly over the Boktai series. It got so bad at one point that I overhauled the Django and Boktai 3 pages. I'll get around to everything else eventually, because goddammit! The pages so far are shit!
 
Other games I've been playing include:

  • Battlefield Bad Company 2
  • Final Fantasy XIII
  • Persona 4 (again)
  • Splinter Cell Conviction (don't have it yet, but I'm getting it)
  • Pokemon Heart Gold (say whatever you want, I still like Pokemon)
  • Blur
  • Final Fantasy IX
  • Chrono Cross
 
As you can see, I went a little old recently with some PS1 RPG's. They're still pretty good. 
In real life, I've been going to school, writing, drawing, and practicing kung-fu--the same things I've been doing for a few years now. Time flies.
 
I have to go to kung-fu class now, so I'll write some more later (?). Ciao!
 
P.S. QUESTS ON A WEBSITE! FUUUUUUUUUTUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRREEEEEEEE!!! Almost level 6 motherfuckers!
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Torment -- Prologue (original story)

 

"I've seen a lot of horrible things, and imagined many more. Every time, I'm the guilty party. Is it coincidence, or is there a reason? What don't I know?"

Cyrus woke up with a start, every sense on alert, just like many other mornings. He glanced at his clock, and decided it was time to get up. With the grace of a tiger, Cyrus slid out of bed, eyes darting around. Nothing. Why do I keep feeling this way? He took a step towards his dresser, only to trip over his own feet, clutching his head in pain. Cyrus gripped his face, sliding it though his blue hair, slick with sweat. What a way to wake up from a nightmare...

Cyrus laid on the floor a few minutes, waiting out the pain. Quickly, it subsided, and Cyrus focused on getting dressed: nothing fancy, only a black t-shirt and black pants. Dressed and calm of mind, Cyrus walked into the adjoining room, the kitchen-dining room, and started making toast, his favourite breakfast.

Ten minutes later, Cyrus was seated on the living room couch, staring at the ceiling. It was early Sunday morning, so Cyrus' father was out grocery shopping, and his little brother wouldn't be home from a sleepover. He has the house all to himself—and he hated it. He hated being alone, or rather, he hated the silence. Silence meant his mind was free to wander, and it always drew to two things: his failures, and the nightmares.

"No, please!" A woman's scream echoed. In her eyes, reflected those of another: cold, red, and cursed with the devil. The eyes of a killer. The woman watched her attacker hesitate. Their eyes darted to the side and back, as if indecisive. Only a second passed, before they levelled their weapon with the woman's frightened sapphire orbs.

"Shut up." The single gunshot was all that followed.

The cacophony reverbed inside Cyrus' head several times, breaking his reflective state of mind. This nightmare was a first-person experience, unlike the others, which were third-person. Whose eyes were he using to see the dream? Cyrus walked to the large, wall-mounted mirror in the living room, staring hard into his eyes. He had seen the assailant's eyes in the woman's, and they were harbingers of death. Cyrus stared into his own crimson eyes, wondering. Do my eyes really look so demonic? As he stared into them, his eyes were soft-featured, innocent. The mask of identity? He shook his head to free himself from such thoughts, sighing. I need some noise. No use dwelling on things.

The day came and went without anything out of the ordinary. Cyrus spent his time with homework. His eleventh-grade homework kept him very occupied. Before too long, Cyrus was finished, and looked out of his window.

"Wow. It's night time." He said to himself. "Time for bed, I guess." He went to brush his teeth, before he flicked off the lights, and crawled into bed. Already, he could feel his consciousness drifting, headed for the darkness he sealed away in a corner of his mind. Sleep... He commanded himself. Hurry... Mercifully, Cyrus fell asleep quickly, drifting into blissful unconsciousness. Tonight, there were no nightmares to haunt him, just peaceful darkness. That was, until the spell was broken.

"Cyrus!" Being a light sleeper, Cyrus' eyes flew open immediately. "Cyrus, wake up!" The blue-headed boy sat up, once again alert. He peered into the inky black that pervaded his room. It was still night, meaning the voice wasn't his father's, and Cyrus' brother, Aaron, never woke up at night. Besides, he thought They don't have the voice of a girl... Cyrus didn't live with his mother, meaning it couldn't be her.

"Wake up!" The voice shouted. Cyrus couldn't tell where it was coming from. Left? Right? In front, behind, above, or below?

"I am awake." Cyrus growled under his breath. He pinched himself, secretly unsure. It hurt, just as if he was awake.

"Heed my call..." Cyrus was getting increasingly annoyed.

"Answer mine!" He hissed, reaching for his mp3 player. "Good night." Cyrus closed his eyes, listening to the soothing sound of a piano. Inward, though, he was worried. Who was this? Nearly asleep, Cyrus' eyes opened one more time, pale-faced.

"Let your soul wake, Cyrus." Cyrus' music was loud, and in a crescendo. There was no way that he could hear someone speaking. He couldn't even hear himself think.

"Can you hear me?"

"I can hear you just fine." Cyrus hissed, removing his headphones.

"...Or can you just not speak it?" The voice's words echoed in Cyrus' heart, silencing him, but he didn't know why. Or can I just not speak?

"...I'm sorry, Scramble..." The voice, after apologizing, quieted for the rest of the night.

Groaning, Cyrus rolled out of bed, much like the morning before. The only difference now, was the pervasive fog clouding Cyrus' mind, instead of the piercing alertness that he usually had. Something had happened last night, he was sure. All he had, though, was ghostly images and a woman's voice, in a language he couldn't understand. An Asian language, maybe? Cyrus strained to remember, the fact he couldn't was eating away at him. He felt like he should know.

"Cyrus? Time to get up!" Cyrus' father called. "School today!" I'll figure it out later... Cyrus decided, getting dressed. However, he was slowly piecing it together. Slowly.

Despite trying not to, the now clear memories of last night were all that he could think of, as Cyrus readied himself for school. He suggested to himself, and quickly dismissed, many languages that the voice could have been speaking in. He was missing something, it had to be! It finally came to him, as Cyrus was about to leave his house.

"Bye Dad!" He called over his shoulder. His father's muffled answer fell on deaf ears, lost to Cyrus' thoughts. German! It was German, how could I not notice?! Instantly, something became clear, something he had missed, even when he had originally listened to the woman talk. Cyrus' concentration was focused on two phrases: "I'm sorry, Scramble." and "Or can you just not speak it?". The question, Cyrus decided Must be the woman asking if I could speak German. He wasn't entirely sure, but the idea satisfied him for now. His reason for thinking so, was the apology. The phrase, he realized, has been recalled wrong. What he missed, was the phrase actually being "I'm sorry, Herr Scramble". That one...I'm sure of. Cyrus, standing in the middle of the street, laughed out loud, earning him a few stares from onlookers. One mystery solved. That wasn't so hard. Cyrus still had a couple questions, but it was best to let the issue sit for a while. Only a few moments passed, though, before a single question popped into his head, and it was arguably the most obvious: Why did she call me "Scramble"?

           Speech can be interpreted many different ways, much like music, literature, or art. Is that why there isn't but a single language? What's the reason?

Read and review, as always. I'm a little rusty, and I was never good at writing prologues, so hopefully the writing isn't too stiff. I've got another chapter on paper, so I'm gonna go type that up. Laters. 
P.S. As with anything, it gets (more) interesting after the prologue :P

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What I've Been Playing: Week 1

Hey y'all, it's about time for a new blog, eh? Thought so. Godofnerdyness started doing this two weeks ago, but I've been too busy actually playing my games, to write about them...until now. So here we go, week 1 of "What I'm Playing": special summer feature (might go past summer).


inFamous 9/10


Oh yeah, inFamous, baby! I love this game! The set-up is that you are Cole McGrath, New York messenger. A package you deliver ends up being a bomb that wrecks the city. You wake up in the middle of an inferno, and slowly realize that you can harness electricity to use at your discretion...and it goes from there.

I'm having so much fun with this game. It's basically Assassin's Creed, except modern, and it's a shooter (rather than the hand-to-hand game AC was) with no guns. LIGHTNING BABY! The game could also be described as a superhero game, which is accurate. Lightning is used as a proxy for a bunch of superpowers; gliding, calling lightning storms, electo-shields, force push, and defibrilators (not kidding. You get good karma for doing this to injured citizens). The game is really tight, fun, and well realized. It's one of the few western games with a story that I'm really engaged in, not to be a JRPG-elitist. If you have a PS3, I recommend you ive this game a shot. Ride the lightning!


Cross Edge 9/10


I don't like to put box art for this thing, but Cross Edge, being an RPG, doesn't lend itself to badass pictures like inFamous does. Anyway, Cross Edge is a crossover RPG from a bunch of different series. Let me name a few (characters included): Morrigan and Lilith (Darkstalkers), Raze and Lily (Mana-Khemia 2 FTW), and Etna and Prinny (Disgaea), among other series like Ar Tonelico. It's neat, but the story isn't too impressive. It's hard to do that with a crossover game, and the game is fun to play, so that makes the story forgivable. It's not that bad anyway. The game features a few original characters like York (he's the pistol-dude front and center in the picture), but it's really about the other series that are featured. Really. In the first 1.5 hours, I had 10 characters, hailing from 5 different games.

You explore on an overhead map, getting into random encounters along the way (you can trigger a battle at any time with R1, as well). When you get into a dungeon, it turns into a basic, 2D platformer for some strange reason. Odd.

The battles are turn-based, like you'd think, but each side of the field is divided into a 4x3 grid. You have your 4 fighters in a formation you create in a menu, which affects which attacks you can use, among other things. The game has an awesome combo system as well. Basically, each skill is labeled A, B, C, or D with a number 1 through 5. If it's a spell, it's labeled as (A-E)-Enchant (1-5). It's also given a designation (an upwards, downwards, or horizontal arrow), that tells you if you can equip it (each weapon can only use certain skills). The C-1 things tell you what skills combo with another skill (e.x: York's Massacre Shot (<- R-1) combos with Morrigan's Libido Touch (<- R-1)), which in turn create combo attacks that you can turn into more powerful combos, and so on. The best part, is that your turn is over, only when your AP is depleted (each character has a certain amount, and each attack drains a certain amount, depending on the skill), or you willingly end it. Okay,enough, I've written way more than I planned on here! You can probably tell that I'm into this game, right? Well, I am. It's better if you watch a youtube video to see what this game's about, but I recommend it whole-heartedly.

Prototype 8/10


Prototype...is about blowing the shit out of everything. That's what I've gathered from my two-and-a-half-or-so hours of playing. It's constantly on in this game. Nothing takes it easy on you. Seriously! The gameplay is essentially GTA except you have mutant powers. You can drive tanks and helicopters, run up the side of skyscrapers, glide over buildings, have multiple powers, upgrade extensively, blow up a helicopter then throw it at another helicopter, and general crazyness. I would've never played Prototype, simply because I like inFamous better, but I managed to get a free copy.

The father of one of my students at my Kung-fu school asked if I could be entertainment at his son's birthday party (who has the same birthday as me, wierdly). I said sure. I got $40, lots of candy and cake out of it. The best part, was at the end when I was talking to the kid's dad. Turns out, he makes games. naturally, I was like "Awesome!", but then he asked me if I had heard of Prototype (because I appearantly, don't look or act like I have any interest in games), to which I said yeah. The dad told me he was a programming engineer on Prototype and asked if I wanted a free copy. Naturally, I said hell yes. Yesterday, after class, he walks up to me and hands me the game. I went straight home and played it. Fun game, but I still like inFamous better. I think it's the pacing. It's super intense during a mission, but then it halts to an almost stop and you have to run to the next mission. The story's alright, but I suspect it will pick up...inFamous had me from the start, though. Whatever, this game's fun, pick it up if you like to blow things up and/or be a homicidal maniac.


That's all for today. I've been playing more games, but I've wrote a lot already, so I'll write more tomorrow. Until then, laters!

P.S. The dad also said he's starting pre-production on the Spiderman 4 game, so except that in, I think 2010/2011. You heard it here first.


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The Fate of Time

The entirety of the following tale details the ambitions of one on a path, never meant to be taken. This may seem to be a conflict between the forces of Law and Order, but what it truly is, is a clash between fantastic delusions and realistic notions. This tale is the battle between a man of prosperity, and the one who would forsake their own purpose, and cast aside the very notion that life cannot exist except as it is.

                                                                                                                                                           

The world does not exist in a single state. It alternates between phases of order and chaos: decline and prosperity, respectively. This is because the life on the planet cannot exist in a perfect reality. They would perish, unable to adapt to the absence of randomness, tragedy, and the flaws that make up our reality.

A group exists, known simply as “Chaos”, named for their purpose. They live within the fabric of reality, itself, and exist only to be the heralds of chaos. All to allow life to thrive as it should. The beings of Chaos are known as Avatars. All Avatars live with crimson clocks imprinted above their heart. These clocks are in sync with the cycles of the planet. One full rotation marks the end of one side of the cycle, and the beginning of the other.

When the planet is under the influence of chaos, the group is made of humans, called Harbingers. Though they are mere mortals in this state, the members of Chaos do retain some level of their supernatural ability. When the world goes through a season of order, Chaos is a group of Avatars, and have full control over their talents. The time when Chaos’ members are Harbingers, is called the Chaos Phase. When Avatars reign, the time is called the Avatar Phase.

The single difference from one full cycle of chaos to order, and back, is its length. One could be as short as twelve hours, and the next as long as a year. The Chaos Phases passes naturally; however, the Avatar Phase must be forcibly progressed by Chaos. This is done in the manner most fitting the desired result: cause chaos. The Avatars do whatever they can to maintain aspects of chaos. This includes, but is not limited to: murder, natural calamities, plagues, minor accidents, and other menial problems. However, they’re efforts are meaningless unless done in pairs, as one Avatar cannot channel enough energy for the planet to feel any effect, and any more than two Avatars for one task puts too harsh of a strain upon the world.

Chaos’ current leader, also puts limits onto which activities that Chaos is allowed to perform. The leader is chosen based on who progressed the Avatar Phase the most in the previous cycle. Consistently, the leader had been a man known to his peers as Charos. However, the latest leader was the younger, Seth. Seth had plans for the future of the world, and there was nothing, that he believed, could stop him.

                                                                                                                                                           

            Seth stalked away from Chaos’ headquarters, through the dark mists that surrounded the world he lived in, called Null. Not far in the distance, was a door made entirely of light. I’ve begun… He thought proudly, staring at his crimson-bathed hands. Seth was not teen feet from the door that would lead him to Earth, when a black figure stepped in front of it.

            “You are guided by deluded notions, Seth.” The figure stated in monotone. Seth furrowed his brow, his proud grin contracting into a dark frown.

            “I’d recognize that voice anywhere, Charos.” Seth answered, walking forward until he was within arm’s reach of Charos. “I’ve already started this, so you can’t stop me. Don’t even try!” Charos folded his arms across his chest.

            “I don’t intend to, Seth.” Seth looked puzzled. “I’m merely here to see you off.” Charos continued, stepping aside. Seth looked at the opposing man darkly.

            “Why aren’t you going to stop me?” Charos is cold, but he’s not stupid, and he certainly doesn’t lie. Seth asked, mentally attempting to deduce what Charos’ intentions could be.

            “Any human does what they feel they must. We are no different. I see no reason to stop you, if you truly feel that you are walking this path to do good for our world.” Seth’s ruby eyes flared in anger.

            “You mean that I’m wrong, and destined to fail, so there’s no reason to stop me, correct?” Seth translated angrily. Charos cocked his head, an action he did whenever trying to reason someone else’s reasoning. It was his only display of humanity, and justified it with the phrase “My action is not complex, rather very simple. I don’t immediately understand.”

            “Don’t try to act like that’s not what you meant!” Seth shouted, watching Charos’ head tilt. Pushing through the door of light, Seth added one last statement. “You are one of the only two Avatars left. Since you really think I’m wrong in my beliefs, come stop me and prove it.”

            Charos stood at the entrance to the mortal realm in silence. You are a fool, Seth. Everything in existence is facing erasure because of your actions. The lone man turned and looked back at the Chaos headquarters, his only home, impassively. He knew what lay inside, but, like always, he felt nothing towards it. A side-effect of what he was: empty. Putting his hands in his pockets, Charos idly strolled towards the building. When he opened the door, he saw a woman crying over several cadavers.

            “Calm down, Pandora.” He said, taking a seat next to the woman.

            “Calm down?!” Pandora repeated, incredulous. “They’re all dead, Charos, and you want me to calm down?! Xoán, Anxo, Riku, Kerr, Ryota, Shiro, Emil, Luka, and Senka are all gone!” Charos passively observed that Pandora was excruciatingly close to breaking down.

            “Have you forgotten Seth’s ‘talent’?” He asked. Pandora clenched her fists, staring at the floor. The scene was quiet for a short moment, as she tried to reach tranquility.

            “So they’re dead…” She said finally. “…And they’re Seth’s puppets…”

“They are Seth’s puppets, yes, but Seth’s talent resurrects them.” Charos corrected. Pandora swore under her breath.

            “I’ll get that bastard. One way or another…” She muttered. Charos stood up, summoning two daggers in a swirl of dark mist. He handed one to Pandora, and kept one to himself.

            “Blood oath.” He explained, sliding his dagger across the palm of his right hand. Pandora did the same. “We heralds of chaos swear upon the blood of Avatars, an oath of murder. Seth’s life will disappear, or we sacrifice ours as payment for failure.” Both Charos and Pandora recited, as they did before undertaking any task involving murder or assassination.

            “Our whole organization is against us, Pandora.” Charos advised, standing in front of the door to Earth, with Pandora.

            “I know…” She replied, sullen. “…Seth will pay for this…” Charos nodded, and ushered his partner through the light, following after.

Humanity as a whole, attempts to put a face, a cause, or even reason into the calamities of their world: Hitler and the Nazis; government; or science, in the case of a “natural” event. The truth behind these incidents is Chaos. However, the struggle that Chaos will eternally find themselves in, the struggle that keeps the planet within its manmade limits, will soon become more than a struggle. Do you hear the drums of war?

Every Avatar has a unique talent. They also have the ability to summon any object they have written a blood seal onto. The talent of each member, except for Charos’ talent, is public knowledge among Chaos. Charos’ is a secret known only to him and Pandora. For good reason.


It's about god damn time I wrote something, eh? Well, all I have to say about this, is that it seems like a promising project, and is about as fun to write as The Archangel Legacy was. I just wish Giantbomb could display mathematical expressions like MS Word, because there's supposed to be one at the very beginning. One can dream, I suppose. Read and review!

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Reality's Fangs - Prologue

Title Track: Breaking Inside - Shinedown

These songs relate to the chapter, and just generally set the mood. You don't have to listen, obviously,  but I find that it makes the experience better. Plus, don't you guys wanna know what I listen to, and possibly find more music you like?


PROLOGUE


August 13, 2008

3:18 PM

“I’ve been…afraid…afraid of what I’m becoming—what I see…” A boy explained, lying on a couch. Wiping the sweat from his brow, the boy let his arm drape down the side of the furniture, grimacing as it moved. “I walk down the same street I’ve been on hundreds of times, and sometimes, it twists, darkens, and the buildings around me transform. The sky turns a pinkish-crimson, and everything else is inverted, and washed out. People’s shadows rise from the ground, like someone played a tape of them melting, in reverse. The shadows run some kind of spike through the people, killing them in a spray of blood. Next, they turn to me and charge. I close my eyes, embracing my fate and…everything’s normal when I open them…”

            “From what you’ve said, Noah, I can only conclude that you are beyond my help. Your case is extraordinarily unique. You almost seem…conscious of the shift between reality and your hallucinations.” As if I didn’t already know that… Noah thought dryly, sitting up.

            “Thanks for your help, anyways, Doctor.” The psychiatrist finished writing his notes down on the notepad he seemed to always have, standing up and leaving the house, nodding to Noah and bowing graciously to Noah’s parents. The boy sat up silently, and stalked into his bedroom, leaning on the closed door.

Noah threw off the long-sleeved shirt he had been wearing, staring down at his right arm. No matter what those ‘psychiatrists’ say…no matter what anyone says…this place…is real. He gazed blankly at the lacerations on his forearm, subconsciously clutching his head with his left hand. I don’t want to see there! This world is all I want!  Slowly, the world dimmed, and everything contorted, appearing to be trying to defy the laws of physics. No! Stop! I don’t want to see it! Noah screamed in agony, falling forward, hitting the wooden floor with a hard thump. A soft, harsh voice beckoned from the depths of Noah’s mind, bringing with it, the abyss. “Let me in…only then can we judge…”

“Noah!”

“Son!” Noah’s parents shrieked, slamming open the door, witnessing the teenage boy lying facedown in a pool of ruby liquid.

The darkness gave way to light, as Noah blinked open his eyes, staring up at the aqua ceiling of his bedroom.

“What happened?” He asked aloud, waves of pain radiating from his right arm.

“You had another attack.” A cheerful voice answered. Noah looked over at its owner, smiling at the girl.

“Sorry for worrying you, Soleil.” He said, pushing himself upright. The girl plucked her tan coat from the closet, slipping it over her purple top, brushing invisible dust from her white pants.

“Not a problem, Noah.” Soleil answered, squeezing Noah in a tight hug. “I can only imagine how tough it must be; you can always talk to me if you need too.” Noah nodded. I’m trying my damnedest to stay in this world, so there’s no chance in hell I would ever want to visit the other, just so I can talk about it… Soleil was the only person that Noah thought might actually care about him, without obligation, so, naturally, he didn’t voice his thoughts.

“Unfortunately, though, I have to run.” The girl said brushing some of her long, black hair from her brown eyes. “Math homework doesn’t write itself…and if it did, I’d be out a lot of fun!”

“I couldn’t keep you from your precious equations.” Noah replied, laughing. “I think I’ll sleep some more anyway.” Soleil slid through the doorway, waving goodbye, shutting the door. The moment she left, any trace of happiness left Noah. He stared straight ahead, truly afraid of letting his mind wander. I just want to live normally… Distant sounds called to Noah, so faint that he couldn’t decipher what they might say. “Tick tock, Noah…time’s a wasting, and there are Shadows to bring to light…”

“Why can’t that strange place and those voices just…go away?” As he asked himself the question, Noah watched as everything around him accepted the darkness. Terror running through him, Noah backed into a corner, huddled in the fetal position. It’s okay, it’ll go away…it’ll go away… He convinced himself, watching as his room moaned, changing. Please…stop… A pool of black, opened in the side of the room, opposite Noah. Stop! A figure rose from the puddle, bearing serrated fangs, and crimson eyes. Aside from those two characteristics, the figure looked a lot like Soleil, shrouded in black mist. It snarled, its expression contorting into a sadistic grin. Noah brought both trembling arms to either side of his head, as if to shake away the chance that this was real. Blurriness edged through his vision, most likely from frightened tears, though possibly from the onset of a sudden migraine. Why won’t you go away!? The creature extended an arm, sharp barbs poking from the flesh. With a quick exhale of breath that sounded much like a hiss, it charged, barbed-arm going straight for Noah’s heart. I’m going to die… Unlike every time before, Noah didn’t close his eyes. They were wide open, watching as his personal reaper drew closer. Why was I doomed to go like this? The offending arm an inch away from penetration, time skipped for a fraction of a second. Along with the phenomenon, a single phrase echoed through Noah’s head. “Accept this reality and let your strength flourish…or continue to flee and eventually condemn yourself to a meaningless death.” Instantly, the beast exploded into a cloud of mist, and the world returned to normal.

“W-What…in God’s name…” Looking down, Noah’s emerald orbs settled on a large gash, just below the heart, bleeding profusely, his left arm already covered in blood and traces of black. Being diagnosed with CIPA (Congenital Insensitivity to Pain), he easily brushed off the wound, terror worming through his system. “I’ll make this ‘other world’ go away. Just let me in, Noah!”

Having cleaned and bandaged his chest, Noah put on an ash shirt, and threw on a black jacket, zipping it up to the top of his chest. It had been at least twenty minutes judging by Noah’s internal clock, and he could barely contain himself. Spasms still raced through his body, so Noah had decided on going for a run to both relieve anxiety and give him some time to think.

“I’m going now!” Noah called behind him as he left, letting the sound of instrumental music in his ears soothe. He dove off the staircase in front of his door, falling into a roll as he landed. Keeping up his momentum, Noah dashed down the street, hopping, sliding, and avoiding all obstacles in his way. As he ran, townspeople greeted him with upbeat auras and emotion. Stupid people… Noah thought angrily. They all know who I am, and know my problem, so they pretend to care…damn them… In a flurry of emotion, Noah headed for the forest in his local park, just to escape the people’s prying stares. Ripping the headphones off his head, Noah flopped onto the ground, pushing ragged, dark-grey hair from his face. Noah shoved a hand into his pocket, retrieving the painkillers he always took with him when he went out, should he suffer the usual migraine. Christ, I hate this… He thought, swallowing a pill. After a few moments of rest, the troubled teen stood up, using a tree to brace himself.

“Night’s coming awful fast…” He mumbled, consciousness leaving him. Just before the darkness fully consumed his mind, Noah barely made out the landscape shifting, blackening. Damnit…why…now? He thought finally, his mind succumbing to the abyss. “Good lord, finally! Sit back, Noah, and watch the master work his trade…”

11:49 PM

Shrouded in darkness, a terrified man tore down the streets as silently as he could, dodging around any and all sources of light. I have to get the hell out of here! He screamed mentally, frantically searching for a place to hide. The only conceivable place was a nearby alley. However, the man hesitated, shortly wondering if it was a dead-end. The rhythmic sound of shoes hitting pavement shooed away any doubts, and he dived into the alley. Damnit, a dead-end! He thought, looking at a stone wall. Instantly, he whipped around, desperate to find another place. Anything to stay away from that black, demonic, figure. The man only managed to take a step before a hand slammed into his throat, pinning him against the cold stone. Oh god…I’m dead…I’m dead!

“You’ve been a bad person…” The hand’s owner hissed, bearing a toothy snarl, fangs glinting in the moonlight.

“I-I haven’t done anything! I swear!” The man protested, trembling.

“Maybe not you, per say, but someone very close…” The figure insisted, twirling a dagger in its free hand.

“So kill them!” The figure cocked its head in confusion, and the dagger stopped, blade angled at the man’s jugular vein.

“Why waste the effort, when I could just kill you and get the same result?” Before the man had another chance to speak, blood sprayed in front of his eyes, his jugular slashed. The figure watched the man fall, running a hand through blood-speckled, azure hair.

“You have the right to know the name of your killer, I suppose…” The figure said, locking eyes with the fallen man, watching the life drain. “Chronoa will do just fine; however, I’ll have to attribute this unfortunate event to Noah…” Grinning in delight, Chronoa drew a finger across fresh blood of the now deceased man, and began to write on the alley wall.

He read aloud, deciding it sounded exactly right.

Chronoa paced down the empty city streets, bored. What to do…what to do… He wondered idly, observing the twisted black buildings. He sat down on the sidewalk, sharpening the ebony katana he had found lying around the local forest he awoke in. Giving it a few test swings to gauge the cutting power, Chronoa slid it into the rope loop he had prepared, tying it around his waist so that the sword was horizontal across the small of his back.

“Hey!” A distorted voice shouted, a man rising from the ground, black mist encircling him. Just after him, three other men of great physical ability, judging by their looks, rose. “That’s my sword! You’d better give it back, boy, or be ready to die!”  Chronoa eyed him darkly. Disgusting creatures…all they are, is evil. Nothing can come from their existence… The blue-haired teen stood up, brushing invisible dust from his jacket.

“Get off it!” Chronoa barked angrily. “There are no laws in Siphous; I can have it if I want it!” In response, one of the bulkier men lunged at Chronoa, jabbing with a spear. Chronoa glanced at the spear impaled in his side, uncaring.

“Oh right, I’m supposed to be in pain!” He laughed, drawing his sword. His laughing stopped the instant his attacker was beheaded. “Let me do my work…” He mumbled, ripping the spear from his flesh, suddenly all business. The other two men rushed forward, one wielding an axe, the other a katana. Chronoa, holding both the spear and katana, span in place, lashing out with the spear, catching the axe-wielding man in the arm. Just as the other man swung his sword, Chronoa brought his own katana in place, knocking the man’s sword back. Next, the lone warrior hopped over a horizontally swung axe, burying a sidekick into the sword-bearing man’s gut. Still in the air, Chronoa brought his blade around, driving it into the owner if the axe’s heart. A short burst of fire confirmed the death of the Shadow.

“You guys aren’t any fun.” Chronoa complained, mocking a pout.

“Die!” The remaining opponent cried, wildly slashing his blade. The azure-haired teen nimbly dodged each attack, but the assailant proved just as proficient at not being hit. Chronoa stabbed, only to have his sword knocked away. The man brought his blade downwards, aiming for Chronoa’s head, but the boy easily blocked, backhanding the man with the same arm.

“Okay!” Chronoa sighed, annoyed. “This has gone on long enough.” As each word passed his lips, Chronoa’s skin grew darker and darker, more black mist swirling around his figure, markings etching themselves in his skin. Finally, crimson eyes glowed ominously, hinting at the eternal darkness in his opponent’s future.

“Welcome to hell…” Chronoa hissed, elongated fangs poking out from his closed lips.

“Oh lord…a Siphous Knight…” The bulky man said under his breath, but one thought racing through his mind. Run! Complying, he threw down his weapon, turning and ran as fast as he could. The black-shrouded teen chuckled and dashed after him. You can never run from me! Quickly, Chronoa caught up, leaping on to the man’s back, tackling him to the ground. He landed on his back, Chronoa sitting on top of his chest, pinning his arms under his knees. Then, the maniacal teen hammered fists into the assailant’s face, laughing all the while. After a few blows, Chronoa raised his katana, bringing it down, using both hands, onto and through the man’s skull, flames engulfing the body.

“Well, that was certainly fun.” The boy commented, standing up with a satisfied grin and turning to face the only person left, already yards away, running for dear life. Chronoa frowned momentarily, his grin quickly returning, taking off.

After only a few moments, Chronoa’s speed allowed him to catch up to the runner.

“Hello there…” He greeted with a cherry voice, tripping the man. “What’s your name again?”

“U-Uhh…N-N-Neir, sir…” He stuttered, backing away slowly. Chronoa paused, his blood-colored orbs observing Neir curiously.

“You can go, Neir.” He said soon, a smile worming onto his features.

“I-I can!?” Neir cried happily, but confused.

“Sure.” Chronoa affirmed, gesturing to go. “I killed you fifteen minutes ago, why go through the effort to do it again?” Neir froze, wide-eyed. He killed me? “Surely you know that when your human ‘Mirror’ dies, you go too?” Chronoa explained, quizzically, wondering if a Shadow could not know that fact.

“I did—“As if fate was attempting to spite the man’s plight, he burst into a cloud of flames. Chronoa watched the embers slowly dissipate, a dark snarl on his face. ‘Chronoa’ will do just fine… He thought, his mind relapsing to the murder in the alley fifteen minutes prior.

A short sprint later, and Chronoa was back at the alley. Nodding absentmindedly at the corpse, he sat down, resting against the cold concrete. His appearance falling back to a regular teen, Chronoa drifted off to sleep, letting the other presence in his mind take dominance for when he woke up. Surprise, surprise, Noah…

People describe reality as something tangible. However, with millions of different perceptions, all without common factors, reality is lost. The truth? “Reality” fails to exist…

How was that? All my stories have slow starts, but it gets interesting soon, I promise! I appreciate any and all feedback, positive and negative. It helps me get better, and I write faster when I have an audience to write for (proven fact. I've written 4 chapters of Reality's Fangs, already, and it took me a month (being lazy and having other stuff to do, didn't help). I've written multiple chapters to The Archangel Legacy in a week, before, but I had an audience of about 6 to write for). Viva la internet! G'night folks, I'm off to play some Persona 3 FES!

*I don't own any of the "Title Tracks" songs, I'm just linking to them for you to hear.

2 Comments

360 Died

That's very not fun. Dad's calling up Micrsoft tomorrow, and seeing about getting it shipped out soon. Graphics processor crapped out on me, if you're curious.

4 Comments

Who wants to read The Archangel Legacy?

Raise your hands! Alternatively, would you like to listen to an audio-book version of The Archangel Legacy? Raise your hands! Remember to specify if you raise your hand.

On a completely different note, who saw this week's House? I recorded it, as I don't get home from kung-fu in time to watch it, and it turns out that the recording stopped before it finished T_T I saw up to where the sick guy decides to trade House for the new meds, so don't talk about anything other than that. If you do, I will hate you, and/or block you; whichever's worse :P

P.S. Would you like to read/listen to my new project (still work in progress)?

3 Comments

Okay, awesome...

About a week and a half ago (or whenever the GB story about the NXE beta went up), I signed up on the Microsoft site for the NXE beta. I was supposed to get an e-mail if I got in, a couple days later. I didn't, and gave up hope. Now, today, after I had given up all hope, I came home and decided to check my e-mail. Sitting in the inbox, was a message from Microsoft saying that I'm now in the beta. Awesome! It's installing the update as I speak, so my impressions will go up soon.

Later y'all!

5 Comments

The Archangel Legacy-- Epilogue (Don't look unless up to date)

            “To this day, I’m still not quite sure why I spent as much time as I did, just lazing around. Maybe it was the beauty of the world, maybe the only three people around me that I gave a damn about. Most likely, though, it was simply because I understood. Probably better than anyone could’ve known…”        

            A young-looking woman leaned on the edge of the guard-rail wrapping around the second-floor balcony, playing with her blonde hair. She sighed, gazing at the two males sparring in the yard, impressed with the fluidity of their movements. He’s coming along nicely… She thought. A gust of wind ran past her, chilling her bones, reminding her that autumn had come. That’s what she told herself, though. The truth was; she was tired.

            “I knew I’d find you up here!” A feminine voice rang cheerfully. The woman turned around to face a raven-haired girl of the same age, carrying two mugs of what appeared to be tea.

            “You know me too well.” The blonde commented, accepting the offered drink before turning, beginning to watch once more.

            “How is he?” The newcomer asked, leaning against the railing as well. The first girl sighed longingly.

            “He’s picking up the art impressively quick…” She replied, her voice, while still proud, carried a sense of longing. The second girl knew exactly what the problem was, but let silence consume them. What place did she have, opening wounds that would never heal?

            “Take a break.” The older man commanded, acknowledging the bow and ragged breath from his teenage sparring opponent.

            “Thank God…” The teen complained, falling onto his back. The older male smirked humorously, walking inside. The teen smirked as well. He’s finally coming around… He thought, brushing the hazel hair from his emerald eyes, before toying with his short ponytail. I guess I should change, or my clothes will reek for weeks... He mused, flipping onto his feet and dragging himself inside.

            The older man headed straight for the staircase leading to the second floor, keeping his pace general, yet personal. It took effort, but it was working so far. Quickly, he paced into the bedroom that led to a balcony, forgoing knocking.

            “I take it you’ll be leaving?” A blonde girl asked, entering from the balcony, her sight resting on a mirror in the corner, as per habit. The man nodded, his gaze softening as he saw what the girl was looking at.

            “Indeed. I’ll be back later for evening practice, as per usual.” He informed, letting a grin play upon his features. “He’s doing quite well, don’t you think?” The girl smiled, despite herself.

            “Yep; it’s in the genes, I think.”

            “You’re leaving again!?” Another, ebony-haired, girl broke in from outside the room, disappointed.

            “Yeah...” The man affirmed.

            “Why can’t you just stay here like me?” She asked, frustration starting to seep into her words. The man sighed, and looked at the two girls.

            “You know I can’t…after what I’ve done…training the boy is the least I could do…” He replied, glancing at the mirror, then the two women, and left. The discussion was over, the blonde sighed, attracting the attention of the second girl.

            “You sure do sigh a lot.” She mentioned offhand.

            “He’s just so difficult!” The first cried, lying through her teeth. Deciding that now was as good a time as any, the second girl spoke again.

            “Say, you never did say where you got that mirror.”

            “…I-it was a gift…” The older woman said, tears starting to show.

            “From him?”The girl pressed, starting to play with her raven locks, looking to the ground shamefully.

            “Yeah, Jemm…it was from...Subaru...” Jemm perked up at hearing the deceased’s name. She immediately craned her neck to look at the object. The shattered glass had been put back together, transparent tape used to hold the sizable pieces together. It was obvious that the mirror no longer held any practical use. Jemm noticed that the blonde was becoming depressed, and went to console her. What place did she have, trying to understand an unimaginable burden? Proof that the pieces of her heart, while never mending, had been repaired… Jemm thought, staring into the fissures in the glass.

            Ahh…that’s much better.” The hazel-haired teen sighed, content with his clean clothes and soothingly cold water. He walked down the main entrance, deciding to tend to his garden. He stopped, hearing a frustrated-sounding girl shouting at someone, most likely his teacher. That’s the last time I let this slide… He thought to himself, leaning against a wall just under the overhang of the second floor. His teacher motioned to open the front door, cuing the teen to speak, while brushing hair from his eyes.

            “It’s so amazing, how easily you brush them away.” The older of the two men withdrew his hand, turning to face the teen.

            “I can’t stay…not after what I’ve—“The man replied, his voice saddening.

            “I don’t understand what Jemm loves about you!” The teen shot back, slamming his foot into the floor.

            “That’s enough…” The man’s response met a shaking head. “…The blood I have on my hands causes both Jemm and Misora so much distress. There’s no way I can stay, while causing them to feel that burden.” The teen looked down, understanding how his teacher could be feeling.

            Yelling broke the somber silence between the two girls. Jemm looked up.

            “Was that…” She trailed off, standing from her seat. The blonde girl looked up. “Let’s go see, Misora!” She spouted, suddenly, pulling her and the other girl out of the room.

            “Shh…” The blonde hissed, mischievously.

            “Sorry, Misora…” Jemm whispered, turning her attention to the scene below her.

            Just as the older male was walking out of the newly opened door, the teen looked up.

            “All three of us forgive you for what you did in Ragnarok…” He mumbled, making his teacher look back.

            “How do you know?” He asked suspiciously.

            “Unlike all you Grim Angels…Riine, I was born awakened to my existence as Survivor, and naturally, I have the memories of the previous generation…” Riine smiled, closing the door, and walking back inside.

            “I suppose I can stay then.” Jemm and Misora walked down the stairs, grinning, much to the two males’ surprise.

            “Thanks Saya!” Jemm yelled, quickly hugging the teen before running to Riine. Saya looked up to his mom, curious to her reaction.

            “Thank you, son.”

            “We all wanted him to stay.” He replied, nonchalantly. “Besides, I’ll need more training if I’m to eliminate Katsu.” Instantly, Misora’s face contorted darkly, at the mention of the god. Saya looked up, concerned. “Is something wrong, mom?”

            “Katsu…caused us all a lot of pain.” She replied, gripping the railing. “Subaru, especially…” The teen cocked his head in confusion.

            “He’s…” He mumbled quietly, looking at the ceiling, trying to remember. After a moment, Saya fixed his eyes back on Misora’s. “…The Child of Light…” Misora, Riine, and Jemm all stared at him. “…Right?” He asked, skeptical. Jemm drew a hand to her chin in thought, and Misora didn’t know what to say. It was Riine who answered.

            “That he is.” The Child of Dark confirmed, nodding. “However, he was also your father.” Saya looked at him, incredulous.

            “…That would certainly explain why I only have the memories and experiences of the Grim Angels before mom.” He said to himself. It would also explain why the fact I have no dad wasn’t apparent to me until now…and why I can’t care…

            “I suppose you would like to train, right now, then?” Saya nodded, grinning.

            “You know me well, Riine!” He said, dragging the teal-haired man with him to the backyard.

            “It would seem so.” Riine remarked, sighing.

            “That reminds me; you really need to work on having emotion when talking.” Saya continued, patting the older man on the back. Jemm laughed, as did Misora. Laughter takes away my pain and lets me do my job... The blonde reminded herself grimly.

            “Time went on, and so did our lives. However, as much as things changed, they remained the same. Mom was still mom. Jemm was still like an aunt and Riine was like the father I will never know. As for me…still the same rambunctious teen with energy-issues as I always was.”

            “What the hell do you mean!?” Saya roared, furious. “It’s been three months of non-stop training since I found out that dad was he Child of Light, and I still can’t go after Katsu!?”

            “I realize that you have a number of ambitions, now, Saya, but trust me when I say you aren’t ready.” Riine countered, using his katana for support after the sparring match that had occurred not two minutes ago. “You can’t even defeat me, and Katsu could easily win against me.” Saya clenched his hand around the staff he was using, trying to slow his heart rate. He took a deep breath, his weapon instantly jabbing at Riine. The attack was knocked away easily, with Riine’s own staff, but not without surprise.

            “Maybe I’ve been holding back.” Saya shot, withdrawing the rod. The older, stoic man weighed his options. On one hand, I could refuse, have Saya be angry for a week, hold a grudge, and sneak off to the Ark; while, on the other, I could fight him, and possibly lose, proving him right, and he goes to the Ark. He wondered twirling his staff expertly. It was no katana, and thus he didn’t possess the same mastery, but the staff was quite a marvelous weapon nonetheless. …Lose-lose situation… Riine concluded, replacing the very slight frown on his face, placing his traditional, expressionless face in its stead. Saya knew that look.

            “Let’s dance!” Saya announced, radiating enthusiasm. No matter the issue, a nice, challenging, spar always did the trick.

            Saya charged forward, swiping at Riine’s legs. The man hopped over the weapon easily, landing with a hard foot to the middle of the staff, snapping it in two. Saya frowned, Riine aiming his own weapon for the side of the teen’s head. Saya raised his forearm in-between his head, and the stick, blocking it with great pain. With a grunt, the hazel-haired boy used the same arm to grab the end of the rod, keeping it firm, waves of pain washing through his arm. Riine twisted his foot around Saya’s, attempting to kick it out from under Saya, using the Achilles’ heel as the target. The only downside, was that for however short a time, the user was on one foot, having to whip the feet upwards in order to perform it correctly.

            “Damn your sole sweeps!” Saya complained, hopping over the technique, much like Riine had, cracking an elbow into the man’s skull. Stumbling sideways, Riine pulled his end of the staff over his head, so that it was diagonally cutting off the two males. Thinking quickly, Riine used both hands to shove the staff further away, crossing Saya’s arm across his body, exposing his torso. Skillfully, Riine smashed a punch into the teen’s ribs, managed to complete a sole sweep, and collapsed Saya’s remaining leg by kicking the back of his knee.

            “Finished proving my point?” Riine asked, indifferent. Saya let out a long, frustrated sigh. In a flash, he propped himself on an arm, allowing him to flip his legs up, and collapse Riine’s legs. Saya flipped up, grinning.

            “I could say the same for you.” He sniped, readying as Riine got up. They stared, sizing each other up, for a few moments. Saya threw a quick punch, easily blocked. Gritting his teeth, he used his forward momentum to spin on the balls of his feet, allowing him to use a spinning back-kick. Riine blocked that too.

            “Damnit!” Saya shouted, planting his kicking foot down, and using his other leg to jam a sidekick into Riine’s gut. As the man flew back from the force of the kick, Saya rushed, springing into the air and crashing a fist into Riine’s shoulder, severing it.

            “Saya…” Riine gasped, choking on the pain. “…That’s enough, you win…” Saya shook his head.

            “You aren’t going all-out!” He objected, rather loudly. “Use your katana, and I’ll show you my Gift!” Riine kept a hand on his injured shoulder, thinking about the offer.

            “Fine.” He agreed, glancing at his injury warily. “But remember: you’ve already won. I say it’s enough, and this spar is over.”

            “Right, right.” The teen said, watching as Riine slid his katana from its place forever on his person. “Let’s rock!” Saya declared, springing into the air. From there, he whipped an arm across his body, causing the air to move, much like a wave would in the ocean. Riine ducked under the attack, barely able to put his sword in front of the second blast Saya created as he landed. Saya smirked, and Riine’s eyes widened a touch. The attack went through the chokuto, striking Riine in the chest.

            “It’s what I like to call ‘Shining’.” Saya explained snapping the staff he dropped during their fist-fight. “I condense the spirit energy in the air, and throw it at my target. Naturally, as I’m sure you know, too much spirit energy can be deadly to the normal human.” Riine sprung forward, thrusting his katana, only for it to be batted to the side with part of Saya’s broken staff. “For Grim Angels, I can use Shining to attack the inside of their body, without affecting the outside, as the amount of spirit energy needed to use Shining would kill a normal person.”

            “Useful.” Riine admitted, slashing diagonally. Saya barely glanced at the offending weapon before blocking. “That doesn’t explain your sudden speed.” Proving Riine’s point, Saya blocked the next two attacks with ease, before slipping behind his opponent, unleashing a volley of waves at the man’s back.

            “That?” He asked. “I’m just good. The excess spirit energy from Shining that seeps into my muscles helps too.” Despite the aching in his back, Riine smirked. Same old Saya…you’re just like your dad.

            “I’ve always thought that Riine was the only obstacle in my path to killing Katsu. He’s not. Sure, I tried to think he was, tried to prove to myself that my thoughts were the truth. Fact is, Riine’s my enabler. Mom couldn’t help me this way –and I couldn’t ask her too—neither could Jemm. Riine was the only person in the entirety of Mu who could teach me properly how to survive. Ironic enough, seeing as I’ve been the Survivor since birth. Oddly enough, though, is that the things Riine taught me never seemed like things he’d teach. Dude’s just not like that. When I asked him, the hesitation told me everything; Riine was teaching me the things Subaru would’ve taught, himself. Just what kind of guy was Subaru?”

            “I assume you saw?” Riine asked, striding into the kitchen with a slight limp. Misora set her tea down on the table, and looked at the Child of Dark.

            “Indeed, I did; quite surprising, hmm?” Riine looked at her blankly, deepening his limp for show.

            “I take that as a ‘yes’” She continued, chuckling.

            “Never mind that…” Riine admonished, taking a seat next to the blonde. “What do you think?”

            “Think about what, Riine?” Misora asked, venomous innocence dripping from her words.

            “…Saya’s situation.”

            “What about his situation?” Misora asked, getting up and placing her mug in the sink, and turning on the faucet to do the dishes.

            “Stop dancing around the subject!” Riine snapped, uncharacteristically, slamming a fist on the table. “He won’t get any stronger or more prepared here, than he already is! You saw the fight I just had with him; he… is ready.” The man looked at Misora, gritting his teeth. The woman was staring vacantly into the running water, a lone tear running down her cheek.

            “…He is…” Misora agreed after several moments. “But…I can’t let him go.”

            “You have to.” Riine pressed, calming down, seeing the girl’s state. She held back more tears, and nodded slowly.

            “…Could you tell him for me?” Misora asked, still transfixed on the water. Riine smiled a weak, knowing smile.

            “It wouldn’t be right of me. You have to.”

            “That’s alright, Mom.” Saya interjected, sympathetic, hanging by his feet from the ceiling-mounted chandelier in the next room. Riine rolled his eyes. Predictable, considering him… Misora grinned, some of her enthusiasm from years past returning for a fleeting moment. “So…” The teen started, dropping to the floor with grace. “When do I leave?”

            “Tomorrow’s as good as ever.” Misora answered, tossing the boy an apple.

            “Awesome!” He shouted, catching the apple without acknowledging its presence, bouncing like a four-year old with a new toy.

            “The news that I was leaving to do what I must, was just the first of my surprises—some, more awesome than others. I wanted to be as happy as I was presenting myself as to Riine and Mom that day. No matter my nature, who my parents are, who Katsu is, what he did, or even what any of the other Grim Angels did, I just can’t bring myself to hate, or be happy about anything. Other emotions—fear, sadness, joy, acceptance, content—I have no problems feeling. It scared me a lot, especially during that day. I, however, believe the one inhibition keeping me from being happy, was the prospect of blood on my hands—to kill... the one inhibition keeping me from hating…no clue.

            Misora stood in the attic, staring into a dark corner of the room. Black shrouded the images within the concealment, but Misora’s heart told her mind what belonged there; the things inside the darkness triggered long suppressed memories. Subaru… The name pierced her mind’s eye, bringing with it a wave of loneliness. Taking a deep breath to center herself, Misora paced towards the corner with great hesitation. As much as she loved him, a part of her didn’t want to remember the rose-haired Grim Angel. Maybe I’m just a horrible person… She thought, fleetingly, reaching for a large, unintelligible object. Withdrawing her hand, Misora looked over the blue cloak she remembered adorning Subaru at nearly all times.

            “You’ll probably need this too.” A voice advised, Misora turning to face it. The voice’s owner handed Misora a wakizashi, revealing their raven hair.

            “Yeah…” Misora commented, staring into the gleaming metal. “I probably will, Jemm…”

            “Come on.” Jemm prodded, grabbing the other girl’s hand. “We need a break.” Misora rolled her eyes, amused.

            “Your breaks aren’t relaxing, most of the time.”

            “Well…” Jemm started, embarrassed. “There was that one time we tarred and feathered Riine.” The girl’s eyes shined in remembrance. “That was pretty relaxing.” Misora chuckled in response.

            “Until he tied us both up by our feet, and kept us hanging from my ceiling all night.”

            “Buzz-kill.” Jemm shot, climbing down the ladder, onto the second floor.

“I never once stopped to wonder about what I was doing. It all became clear on the day I left. It was like someone finally gave me the answer to a really hard math question; all the pieces fell in place. I thought that it would remain in my mind forever. However, the second I arrived, it all became a blur…”

            “This is it.” Saya said to himself, glancing behind him, at Riine, Misora, and Jemm. They smiled encouragingly, noting that there wasn’t much else they could do. Sighing, the teen turned his focus on the gigantic doors in front of him. This is not going to a good place… He mused, reaching into the crevice between the two doors. With extreme effort, Saya tore the door open just enough for him to slide through, the process leaving him breathless. Taking a few deep breaths, he turned around to face the adult role models in his life.

            “Well, I gotta go…” Jemm smiled, ran, and gripped him in a crushing hug.

            “Don’t let Riine’s training go to waste, or worry your mom, got it?” She warned, Saya understanding that it was her way of expressing concern.

            “N-Naturally…” He choked, visibly wincing. “You’re hurting me, though.” Jemm blushed, removing her arms. Then, she stepped back and let Riine come forward. The two stood in silence for a few seconds, staring into each other’s hard eyes. Finally they grinned at each other, Saya holding his arms out. At first, the older man looked confused, but quickly grasped the concept and held Saya. As they stood, Jemm crossed her arms.

            “Hey, kid! Hands off my man!” She shouted playfully. Saya instantly jumped, landing a few feet away.

            “Whoa, hold up!” He cried, flustered. Riine stopped, eying Jemm with a degree of surprise, pretending to chuckle. Does she… Putting aside his suspicions, Riine reached behind his back.

            “Here, Saya.” He said drawing his katana, still inside its sheath, and holding the end out for the teen to take.

            “Riine…I…” Saya started, eyes showing surprise, excitement, and confusion. “I can’t take this. It’s yours.” The corner of Riine’s mouth curled upwards in a slight smile.

            “Correct me if I’m wrong.” The teal-haired man replied, reaching for his spine. “But I relinquished ownership to that, a few seconds ago.” While explaining, Riine pulled Subaru’s wakizashi into view. “…As well as for this.” Memories washed through Saya’s head. Memories, but not his memories. Subaru… Saya thought, staring into the blade idly. This was yours, wasn’t it? I remember now…

            “Saya?” Riine asked, putting a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Snap out of it.” Instantly, Saya’s head snapped up, completely alert, Riine withdrawing his hand.

            “Right…right…” He wrapped a hand around the wakizashi, using his other to secure Riine’s chokuto diagonally across his back.

            “Your destiny is to save those to come from the cruel fate that falls into the hands of Grim Angels, by killing Katsu. Destinies come from those who know the future, Saya.” Riine started, walking back to his place beside Jemm and Misora. “However…that does not mean you should allow yourself to become arrogant. The future is just as fragile as the lives of the ones in it.” The teen nodded.

            “I’ll be fine.” He supplied, realizing the futility of nodding to a person’s back. Misora walked up next, eschewing words in favor of embracing her son.

            “I’ll be fine.” He repeated, feeling comfortable. The blonde released Saya, reaching for a parcel on her waist.

            “Here.” She offered, sticking the box in Saya’s hands. “Open it.” Complying, he pulled the top off, revealing a blue cloth. He picked it up; finding out it was actually a cloak.

            Awesome!” He cried, flinging it on. Misora smiled.

            “I knew you’d like it; you and Subaru always had really similar taste.” Saya looked over his new cloak, surprised. This was Dad’s?

            “Now go do what you have too.” She said, stepping back. Saya smiled somberly, nodding slowly. He turned and stepped through the picture-perfect scenery that made up the entry to the inside of the Ark.

            “See you in a little bit…” He said, taking one final look back.

            Saya sat in the bight white light of the Ark, staring at the landscape that was so far away, but so close only moments ago. What was the name of the place… He wondered. After a few short seconds, the answer came to him.

            Mana!” He shouted at the top of his lungs. Waiting expectantly, Saya quickly grew suspicious. Something’s wrong here… He thought, coming to the obvious conclusion. Suddenly, everything seemed to shift, much like an earthquake.

            “Hello…” A voice echoed within Saya’s head.

            “Who’s there?” He asked in response. A snapping sound resounded, and an image of a person came into view, flickering like static. The image was of a teenage-looking boy, ruffled black hair and onyx eyes, catching Saya’s eyes. Under the boy’s eyes were red, backwards sevens, and formal, bleached-white robes adorned his body.

            “I am Susoono, and I am the Ark.” He said in a gentle, calming tone. Saya eyed him cautiously. “…And you, Saya Ryou, are required payment.” The hazel-haired teen ran a hand through his hair, before folding his arms across his chest.

            “What for, my liege?” Saya mocked, defiantly.

            “Everything has a price, Survivor.” The Ark explained, using an equally mocking tone. “You obtained your Gift, with no repercussions. I’ve simply decided that now would be best to collect. Not being a God, you would have to pay for your travel, anyways.”

            “Fine, what must I give?” The teen relinquished, recognizing that the being in front of him held all the cards.

            “That is your choice.” Susoono elaborated, sitting. He gestured for Saya to do the same, a firm shake of the head indicating a negative. Being as he was, Saya had to wrestle some control over the situation, no matter how small. “Depending on what you decide, one item may be enough for both prices.” Saya closed his eyes in deep thought. What could I give up? I need to remain ‘me’, or I won’t be able to kill Katsu…hmm… Impatient, the Ark, sighed.

            “Might I suggest the only candidates you are likely to choose?” He asked. Eyes still closed, Saya nodded. The black-haired man smiled, snapping his fingers. Instantly, three glowing sigils appeared, floating in mid-air. Saya opened his eyes, mind already set on a payment, but deciding to humor the being in front of him.

            “The first…” Susoono started, pointing to the sigil on Saya’s left. “…Is your memories. The second is your Gift.” He continued, pointing to the center sigil. “Finally, the last of the three, is your persona, and the recollection of you by anyone who knows you.” The Ark finished, gesturing to the symbol on Saya’s right. The teen stood, eyes transfixed on a particular sigil. Susoono’s charcoal eyes shone with a hint of playfulness.

            “You’ve decided, I assume?” He asked, to which Saya could only nod, expression not present.

            “Yeah, I suppose I have.” Forgive me…everyone…

            “Which will it be?” The Ark asked. Finally, after several moments, emotion played across Saya’s face, in the form of a smirk.

            “I actually had a different proposal in mind.” The raven-haired man’s quizzical stare lasted only as long as the explanation had taken.

            “That’s quite an interesting proposal.” Susoono took only a brief pause. “…Granted…” Saya contained all the feeling welling up within him, as he walked past the figure.

            “One last thing…” The Ark said, tone completely even. “…When I meet you again, we won’t be talking.” Saya stopped, just short of the exit.

            “No matter the cost or circumstances…Katsu…I’ll kill you.” Just as he walked through the portal, Katsu’s face lit up with a smirk. We’ll see, Saya…I can only hope you’re alive to find out…

“It’s amazing, the things I get away with. People fear me, hate me, love me, like me…but none of them remember me. I practically bathe in the blood I’ve amassed at my hands, and there’s nothing—no one to recall who is responsible…but, I suppose, that’s the price I pay, for not paying my dues, and for omitting the law of the world. This is the way it was meant to be…and I hate it.”

            In a brilliant flash of light, Saya landed with grace into a cavern much like the one in Mu. He looked around, noticing something strange.

            “No shadows.” He concluded, looking down. “Except for mine.” He unsheathed Subaru’s wakizashi, running it across his hands with a wince. …And the clock begins to count down… He thought, staring at his uninjured hand, ever-so-slightly transparent as it was. As the blood dripped to the floor, Saya pressed the same hand onto a nearby, stone wall. There was no sensation at all. Outside of contact with himself, and things he used against himself, there was no feeling. Noticing a small pool of water, the teen looked into it, anticipating his reflection. As expected, his right eye was altered, inverted. His pupil was colored, and his iris was black. Hooking around the top of his eye was a black marking. He closed his eye and noticed that the marking was striking through his eye, the end in a point, just under his eye. Knowing that it was only a matter of time until the black marking reached down his right arm and spread to his hand, indicating both failure and infection, Saya had but one thought. Dead man walking…

Mana is a world devoid of shadows. Saya made a deal to keep him intact, as a person, unknowing that it would soon poison the only world he could live within. He also knowingly sabotaged his chances of success; at least, in the way everyone had thought it would happen.

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