After Johann’s father collapsed, he was returned to bed by his son and the doctor. Such an incredible display had left him weaker than ever. He had gone comatose and the doctor was examining him. Johann brought in the longsword that his father used too. It really was a strange thing. The design was more intricate and complex than their village's technology could’ve possibly allowed, and it didn’t look or feel like ordinary steel either. Johann had never seen it before either, so he wondered where it could have come from, but after noticing some upturned floorboards in his father’s room, he figured that must’ve been it. There were a few other things beneath the floor as well including a map, compass, and a photo of a young man who kind of looked like him and some other people he didn’t recognize. Meanwhile, the monster was being disposed of by the villagers. To pass the time while waiting for the doctor’s diagnosis, Johann decided to help them, leaving the doctor to his work.
“I believe this is yours.” John tore out Johann’s survival knife from the beast’s eye.
“Thank you.” Johann took it back and sheathed it to his waist.
After being thanked profusely by John, Susie, and their family for the girl’s rescue, he got to work. They decided to take it a reasonable distance away from the village and burn it. It was larger than a human for sure, but it was still able to be carried. It took four men to bring it to its destination, a clearing a few hundred feet away. They stuck it on top of some firewood and lit some kindling. The resulting bonfire towered far into the sky and created a smog so foul that it resulted in a few people becoming ill. But it was gone. The nightmare that had plagued their peaceful village had been vanquished. After the fire died, all that was left was ash.
It was late when Johann returned home and spoke to the doctor.
“There’s no way he will survive tomorrow. I don’t know how he mustered all that strength, but it took a serious toll on his body. I’m not sure if he’ll even wake up again.”
Johann’s father had been terminally ill for years, so he had already accepted his death, but hearing that he was going to die tomorrow was surreal. Johann’s mother had died when he was very young, but his father had been there throughout his entire life. Life without him was unimaginable. Not to mention what had just happened early that day. Their family weren’t originally from Flecht, they came from somewhere else; Johann had no idea where. Even when he asked, his father never gave a straight answer. Does his father know more about that monster? Does it have something to do with their family’s history? Johann had to know, but for now, all he could do was wait and hope.
Johann woke up early from a restless sleep the next morning. The first thing he did was check up on his father who was still alive, but still in a coma
Normally, he would’ve started work on breakfast, but today he stayed by his father’s side.
Quite some time had passed before Johann’s father finally awoke.
“Dad…!” Johann shot up.
Johann’s father croaked, “Johann, there’s something I need to tell you.”
“What is it?” Johann moved closer, ready to listen.
“It’s about that monster, and our family’s past.”
Johann’s eyes widened as he heard the words he wanted to hear most. He readied himself to listen even more intently.
“That monster was a demon.”
“Yes, demons are created when somebody becomes completely consumed by their own sins. I was able to defeat it because I have a power similar to that of demons.”
“A power similar to demons?”
“Yes, and you do too.”
Johann was just a normal guy, right? How could it be possible for him to have the power of a demon? Wouldn’t that make him a demon too?
“What do you mean by this!? Are we demons or something then!?”
“No, we're not. It’s difficult to explain, and that’s not important for the time being. What’s more important is where the demon came from.”
Restraining himself, Johann sat and listened.
“Far from here, about a two week journey, there’s a massive city, bigger than you can imagine, called Dis. That is where the demon most likely came from.”
“Dis? You mean those cities that you told stories about, do they really exist?”
“Some of them do, some of them don’t, but Dis is definitely real. It is where you were born, after all.”
“Yes, your mother and I fled when you were still just a baby and we came here.”
Dis. That was where he was born. Johann had wondered for years about his origin. He loved Flecht and was accepted, but he and his father always still stood out. Even just hearing about it, he was filled with an overwhelming curiosity.
Johann’s father continued, “Back in Dis, I fought against the demons, but I gave up and ran away. Now, the demons are coming here too. Johann, I’m a coward, it was my responsibility to defeat the demons, but I became hopeless and scared, so I fled. I’ve regretted that decision for years, but there’s nothing I can do about it now in this shape. Johann, I know it’s unfair, but please inherit my legacy, take my sword, and fight against the demons in my stead!”
Johann was shocked. Fight against demons? He wasn’t some kind of hero, he knew that much for sure.
“I can’t fight demons! Are you being serious?”
“Johann, I’m sorry, but you must! Each year, the world becomes more depraved. More demons will come for Flecht. Dis is the capital of the world, the source of all evil. If you can defeat the demons there, the problem will be solved worldwide.”
His father was right. That demon could’ve torn apart the entire village. If any more come, Flecht will certainly be destroyed.
“Johann, I know you can do it. Please, it is the only way to protect Flecht.”
After sighing, Johann replied, “Okay. If it’s the only way, then I’ll have to.”
“Good, now I’ll give you some directions.”
Dis was located to the south of Flecht, and the journey took about two weeks. Johann would use the map and compass from beneath the floor for navigation. He’d also take along the photograph. Apparently, he’d need to show it to someone in Dis to prove his identity. The journey began in forests, an environment that Johann was experienced in, but it mostly took place over a vast desert, an environment that Johann had never even been to before, so his father gave him a plethora of survival tips such as how to find food and water which were written down in a notebook. There would be no cities along the way, but there would likely be small settlements and abandoned towns where he could restock supplies. Finally, his father bestowed upon him the basics of swordsmanship. Johann had learned some martial arts, but swords were totally foreign to him.
“That should be everything, now when I die, please bury me beside your mother.”
“And, this is very selfish of me, when you leave, please burn down this house.”
“This house, just like us, doesn’t belong here. It’s obvious with just a glance. Nobody will be able to maintain it while you’re away either. It will become disheveled and infested. Finally, with the house gone, you’ll have nothing to come back to. You’ll be forced to commit to your journey.”
Johann understood his reasoning, but this house was his home. Having your house burn down would be anyone’s worst nightmare, but it’s his father’s final wish, and if Johann was serious about his journey, this move made sense.
“I understand. I’ll do it.”
“Good, thank you so much, Johann. You’ve made me proud, and I hope you can forgive me for this.” He closed his eyes. “You know, I’ve been seeing your mother ever since I first got sick. Now, I see her more clearly than ever.”
“He must be really starting to lose it,” Johann thought.
Johann’s father smirked and opened his eyes. “You must think I’m losing it, huh? Well, maybe, but I think that the reason I’ve been able to see her is because I’ve been getting closer and closer to the realm of the dead.” He closed his eyes again. “Yup, I’m almost there…”
He lied there for a few more moments peacefully still before his life fizzled out.
The next day, Johann’s father had been buried beside his mother in a corner of the graveyard a distance away from the other graves. Johann had been a bit emotionally detached his whole life. Even now, he has remained fairly stone-faced. Maybe if things had been different, he would’ve cried or mourned, but he didn't have the time. Today was the day he would leave the village of Flecht and travel to the City of Dis. He perhaps might never even return, but that was just how it was.
He returned to his house for the last time to equip himself. He wore old-fashioned travelling clothes along with a cloak. He brought with him rations and a flask of water as well as the compass, map, and photograph. His bow, quiver, and arrows were essentials too. And finally, he attached his survival knife and his father’s longsword to his waist and stepped outside.
“You’re really going to go through with this, huh?” John was standing outside, waiting for him.
“If I don’t go, more demons will come.”
“Yeah...” John looked like he had something he really wanted to say. Suddenly, he burst. “Take me with you!”
“What!?” Johann wasn’t expecting that.
“Please! I want to protect the village too! And you’ll need help!”
Johann was quite taken aback. John might’ve been his best friend, but he wasn’t expecting this amount of loyalty.
He replied, “I’m sorry, but I can’t let you come.”
“My father left this task to me. No one else. Not to mention, you have your own duties in this village.”
John wanted to refute that, but he knew it to be true. His responsibility was within the village, Johann’s was outside.
“Well, at least let me help you burn this place down.”
“All right. Thanks.”
The two young men lit a small fire on the porch and before long, everything had been engulfed. The cabin was a fair distance away from any trees, so there wasn’t a concern of the fire spreading and before long the fire had burned out and all that was left was ash.
It didn’t feel real to Johann. Just like how he felt his father might show up at any moment, he felt that his house wasn’t truly gone either. It was as if it would just magically appear if he wanted to go home.
“It’s really gone.”
It was almost noon, so Johann decided to leave before it started getting dark. He walked south through the village, passing most families on his way out. They all said goodbye and wished him a safe trip. Some even thanked him for his bravery. John’s house was at the very end of the village, so that’s where the two would part ways. John joined his family and they said their goodbyes.
“It’ll be boring without you around, Johann,” John said.
Johann smiled a bit. “Heh, you’re saying that like it’s a bad thing.”
“It’s true!” Susie interjected. “You played with me sometimes. Now you won’t be able to.”
“Ah, it’s okay.” Johann tried to console her a bit. “Your brother said he’d pick up my shifts.”
John sighed. “Don’t put words in my mouth, man.”
Johann laughed a bit. “Come on, don’t disappoint Susie.”
Susie started bouncing around. “Yeah, let’s play!”
“All right, fine! We’ll play once Johann’s left!”
Johann and Susie were both satisfied by that answer.
Each party kept waving goodbye as Johann left Flecht and set off on his long journey to the City of Dis.