Chapter 4:

The Atlants

Crimson: The New Wonder of the World

"W-what do you mean?" stuttered Dion, as his face suddenly turned a shade paler.Bookmark here

"Before answering to your question, I want to ask you something. Who are you?" asked the prince with a grave face, which slightly intimidated the boy. Bookmark here

Dion sighed nervously, as drops of sweat were forming on his face. "My name is Dion Harrathos. I am 14 years old and am the son of Diana and Lycus Harrathos. I was born in a small and pretty remote village, in the Greek nation. A war started, and my father left the village to fight off the invaders. As I told you, I have a brother, Elias. He is two years younger than me, and he pretty much always had something against me, especially because I was his older brother. Yesterday, we went to sell cabbages at a massive market near the sea, but two fishermen showed up and asked us if we wanted to fish for them, in exchange for some money. We accepted, and my brother and I went fishing. But... while we were away on the sea, the market was struck and burnt to the ground by the invaders. We had a fight, during which the nearing storm caught up with us. I tried as much as possible to avoid the more dangerous waves, but, unfortunately, we ended up being knocked over by a gigantic one. When I woke up, I found myself on the shore, and then ventured into the forest with hopes of finding my brother, Elias. And after that... you know what followed." he replied.Bookmark here

The prince sighed and lifted his hand to his forehead. He looked at the boy with a weary, yet worried expression. "You will be fine, Dion. You are in good hands." He patted the boy's shoulder in a friendly manner. "However, there is something I must tell you. It is about the story of this land," the prince added with a mild smile. "Are you ready to discover this story?" asked the prince.Bookmark here

"Definitely!" replied Dion, now intrigued.Bookmark here

Kai drew a deep breath. Suddenly, his hands and iris glowed bright green and the whole landscape changed. It was as if he melted and reshaped reality itself into something else. Apparently, their surroundings turned into a training yard, where people seemed to be training with swords and with superpowers. Dion was left completely speechless.Bookmark here

"Long time ago, the world had many humanoid species. And these two species were considered the smartest: the humans like you, and the Atlants like me." said Kai, closely watching the boy for his reaction.Bookmark here

"The Atlants?" asked Dion in a mildly curious tone, dumbfounded by Kai's transitions, and by the intensity with which the people around practiced their movements.Bookmark here

"Yes, the Atlants." replied Kai. "We, the Atlants, differ from you, ordinary humans, because we underwent a remarkable evolution. The Gods have given us the gift to use a higher percentage of our brain, thus resulting in obtaining various powers and abilities which you, typical humans, don't have."Bookmark here

"Sorry, but powers?" inquired Dion, still unable to tear his gaze away from their surroundings. Bookmark here

"Indeed, powers. By that, I refer to a variety of abilities, which at a first glance may seem very... unnatural. These abilities are split into many categories. There are elemental abilities, psychic abilities, nature-related abilities, physical abilities and miscellaneous abilities. Their users also can differ, as there can be universal users, or specialized users." explained Kai, while pointing at the energetic people in the barracks' yard.Bookmark here

"What do you mean by universal and specialized users?" asked Dion, looking at people either throwing fire at dummies or crushing them - through telekinesis, or by punching them really hard.Bookmark here

"Well, let's take an example. A universal element user can control, generate or manipulate at least two elements of nature, while a specialized user can exclusively control, generate or manipulate only one element of nature. Usually, they can master it much better than a universal user. But you should also keep in mind that these categories and characteristics will constantly evolve, and new types may emerge in the future." replied the prince, showing the young boy some people exercising their elemental powers.Bookmark here

"And... what abilities do you have?" asked Dion curiously, taking his eyes off the people for a moment to look at Kai.Bookmark here

"Oh! I am a specialized hybrid user." replied the prince with a gentle smile.Bookmark here

"Hybrid user?" asked Dion, confused.Bookmark here

"A hybrid user is an individual who uses a mix of certain ability types. In my case, I can create illusions and freely control them as I wish. They may look real, but they don't actually exist. My abilities are considered hybrid because they are a mix of the psychic and miscellaneous. However, if I wish to, I can turn these illusions into reality, but it requires a large amount of energy. Not to mention that sometimes I lose control over them." replied Kai, clenching his fists as if remembering something that bothered him. "However, we Atlants shouldn't rely purely on our abilities, but also on our own raw strength. Only wimps rely wholly on their abilities," spat the prince, failing to keep a completely calm voice, creeping Dion out a bit due to his passive-aggressive attitude.Bookmark here

"Oh! I see." replied the boy amazed, noticing that someone burnt himself trying to summon fire, and got yelled at by the others because he was pathetic. "But how crazy can these powers get?" asked Dion, watching the man who had burnt himself throw fireballs at his comrades.Bookmark here

"There are many levels of mastery of these abilities... and they can get very fierce. You can burn yourself just like that man, but you can ignite an entire nation instantly. It always depends on the user, some can be weak, and others can be God-like." replied Kai.Bookmark here

"How strong are you in comparison with other Atlants?" the boy couldn't help but ask.Bookmark here

"Oh well, I am not that strong, Dion. Sometimes I consider myself lucky, that's all." said the prince, shaking his head gently.Bookmark here

"I think you are only being modest. I can't believe a prince like you cannot be strong!" replied Dion grinning.Bookmark here

The prince laughed and moved his hand, making the surroundings disappear. Suddenly, a map of the vast island popped up under their feet.Bookmark here

"Why is there a map of the island under our feet?" asked Dion, amazed by the size of it.Bookmark here

"Well, I wanted to tell you the beginning of our history. Do you mind?" asked the prince, his voice now calm and much warmer.Bookmark here

"Yes! I would love to hear it!" replied Dion, getting overly excited for the story of the Atlants.Bookmark here

"You see, our nation used to live united in prosperity. We used to have the most ideal and thriving society in the entire known world. But suddenly, it all collapsed, for unknown reasons. After the fall, the occupation of the northern part of the island by the barbarians followed." added the prince, as his face fell into a deep ocean of sorrow. "They currently are the curse of our island, and threaten our existence. They are savages who came merely to raid, pillage and conquer us. Thus far, we suffered two tremendous wars, which were started by them, but we won both, banishing them to the north of the Great Northern River. Each time they crossed the river, we were capable to knock them back, especially in these two wars. However, in the present circumstances, they are fiercer than ever, and their numbers are truly shocking. Our nation is too divided to fight them off, and their united horde is unstoppable. Their ultimate goal is to exterminate us," he finished in a grim tone.Bookmark here

"But, from what I can observe, their country is much smaller than yours. I thought you had an advantage because of your abilities!" said Dion with an indignant voice.Bookmark here

"They took advantage of how divided we are. We used to be united in a single kingdom, but after the collapse, our nation split into many villages and towns. However, there are only five major Atlant city-states that represent the superpowers of the Atlant nation: Atlantis, Elgya, Persena, Yiria and Nomertis. Unfortunately, when the Third War started, Yiria and Nomertis fell under the barbarian occupation, together with countless villages. Persena has been under siege for 26 days, and I believe it will soon collapse, and the barbarians will carry on to the walls of Atlantis." said Kai, pointing to the cities and the barbarian forces on the map he had just created. "We and the Elgyan Atlants remain the only ones untouched."Bookmark here

"But why can't you help Persena?" said Dion, crouching over the city on the map.Bookmark here

"Because we have other worries. Namely Elgya. We have been fighting a constant espionage war against them for 6 years. That's because both states have the same goal: to unite the entire Atlant nation, and to get rid of the barbarians." said Kai, standing next to the city of Elgya. "But each dynasty expresses its own interests, and none are willing to give up on their power they have over their own land. Plus, they don't claim that our city is the direct successor of the Old Atlant Kingdom."Bookmark here

"But what can be done to cease this war you have with them, and to unite against your common foe, the barbarians?" asked Dion, outraged by this fact.Bookmark here

"No one truly knows." replied the prince disappointed. "We can only hope that diplomacy will solve this issue. Although, two centuries ago, a great Atlant was able to keep the barbarians away and the land united. His name was Yuya, and he is the one responsible for the creation of the Great Northern River. He was one of the strongest Atlants, and was so strong, that everyone wanted him dead. As a universal element user, he could shape the land and even change the weather! He looked like a demi-God incarnated on Earth. But one day, he completely vanished. No one knows where he ran away, but his legend lives on, even to this day." revealed Kai, returning everything back into the original room.Bookmark here

"But why did everyone want him dead, if he in fact helped all Atlants and tried to keep the barbarians out of these lands?" asked Dion, feeling a bit sad for Yuya.Bookmark here

"You will eventually understand why, Dion." replied Kai, patting his head with a sad smile.Bookmark here

"But... are there any other strong Atlants like him left in the world, your Highness?" asked Dion.Bookmark here

"Sadly, no. But maybe, you will be strong like him." said Kai, snapping his fingers. The room melted just like a cover, slowly disintegrating by Kai's green light, and a dungeon emerged instead.Bookmark here

"What?! The room was another illusion?! And what do you mean by strong like him?! I am not an Atlant!" said Dion shocked, as fear crept into him, noticing that they were actually in an underground cell, where everything was made out of mossy stone, except the bars, which were made out of iron. Kai sat up and picked up a golden vase, like an urn, which was in the corner of the cell. The urn was covered with a golden lid, with peculiar markings and symbols on it.Bookmark here

"Indeed, but this room is not an illusion. Now, tell me, Dion. Are you ready for what is about to happen?" asked Kai with a firm voice, placing his right hand on the lid while holding the urn with his left one. "Just answer with 'yes' or 'no', Dion." said the prince, holding the lid tightly due to his slight nervousness.Bookmark here

"Well, maybe... I mean, yes!" answered Dion confidently, but with a shivering voice.Bookmark here

"Fine. Then I will let this urn do its job." said Kai, taking off the lid, letting the urn fall to the ground. Then, in a hurry, Kai got out from Dion's cell, observing everything from the outside.Bookmark here

Dion sat down in the corner of his cell, staring at the urn in fear. From it, a jade snake with sapphire eyes came out hissing aggressively. It was amazing that a snake made out of stone and jewels was alive, but it was still dangerous, just like any live snake. It was menacingly approaching Dion, making the boy sweat nervously. What could that snake do? This question would be answered soon, when out of nowhere, the snake simply jumped at Dion. He was targeting his face, but Dion was able to cover it with his hands. Unluckily for him, the snake bit his right arm. The veins of the arm turned black, as if poison was spreading very rapidly through his body. Dion's heart started to beat faster and faster, until it ultimately stopped beating at all. The snake returned to its urn, and the boy collapsed to the ground. Kai got inside the cell and instantly covered the urn, putting the lid back in its place.Bookmark here

"This is the moment of truth, Dion." said Kai, staring down at Dion with pitiful eyes,his hands held together as if he was praying.Bookmark here

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