Chapter 0:

Hiroki's Tavern

Golden Beads - The outside world

"I know a story, and this one is about the Golden Beads."Bookmark here

Everybody in Hiroki's tavern looked towards Adam, an old man on which time has left its mark.Bookmark here

"The heroes?" A boy asked.Bookmark here

"Heroes, Legends, or just misunderstood villains. Who knows, who cares? Now, this story was told to me by my dear Patricia, may she rest in peace, and as far as I am aware this might be the last time the Golden Beads were seen together."Bookmark here

"Wait for a minute old man," said Arnold, the blacksmith of Nusa, "for such an amazing story, it is only fair to have a drink to match it, right? Hiroki, bring everyone the most exotic drink you got, on me."Bookmark here

Hiroki smirked and jumped over the counter, heading to the deposit room. The 19 years old then came with a chest half his size, from which he pulled out a round, orange fruit.Bookmark here

"I found these on my last trip. They are pretty much like gambling, might be sweet and delicious or sour. The catch is that you don't know which is which until you try it. I was planning on keeping them for a game night, but if you pay a little extra I think I can make an exception.Bookmark here

"You little thief, " Arnold laughed. "Fine, I'll take them."Bookmark here

"Then I'll go prepare the drinks. Don't start the story without me, old man."Bookmark here

"Sure thing." Adam laughed.Bookmark here

Soon everybody got his drink and the story was ready to begin. The whole tavern fell silent. Adam took a big sip of his drink and then started coughing.Bookmark here

"Sour..."Bookmark here

Everyone started laughing.Bookmark here

"Alright, so it was a terrible night. The sky was burning and the wind was blowing so hard that it could easily take a small kid up and carry it for a few meters before kicking him out. The walls of Falania, our neighbors from the west, fell and the Freaks got in. Hundreds of abominations running up the streets and killing everything that stood in their way: men, women, and even cows.Bookmark here

The survivors were running blindly, probably hoping for some kind of miracle to come or I don't know. And that's when it happened. Near an oak forest, where no sign of civilization was visible, a woman tripped and fell. Obviously, the Freaks went straight to her, but before they got the chance to reach the women, a huge bullet fell between them and then blew up, sending both the freaks and the poor lady straight to the gates of hell. It was the sadic, the masked man from the Golden Beads. Before he could shoot a second fire, the Shadow Man, who can appear and disappear wherever he pleases, and the lady with the knives, beautiful as the sun and cruel as the moon, jumped into the fight too. After that, one by one the Golden Beads came in and turned the whole thing from a human massacre to a Freaks one.Bookmark here

But the danger was far from over because a huge red dragon came out from the black clouds and blew up the entire forest in one goddamn blow. Everything that was left was only fire and dust. The black dragon took a small retreat before returning flying towards the survivors, who have grouped by now behind the Beads. That's when the captain of the Golden Beads, known as the strongest man alive, stepped in. In a matter of seconds, he grouped up his men and came up with a plan. Most of the beads returned to fight the freaks, except for a priest that was, if you can believe, even older than me, and a young boy, that went to the group and told them not to move.Bookmark here

Now, this story was told to Patricia by a woman that was in the group that night, and needless to say, she didn't felt very confident in their protectors, especially when the boy started to sing. She thought of running, but her legs just didn't work. And bless them legs, cause soon the boy's hair turned light blue, and around the group a blue yet transparent aura started to form. Before they knew it, everybody was flying inside a blue replica of the dragon, and the beast didn't appreciate it. The red dragon started chasing them and shoot balls of fire with every occasion he got. But the boy was also a heck of a driver, dodging all of them like he was born and raised in the skies.Bookmark here

In the meantime, the priest started to pray, encouraging everyone to do the same. As soon as they did, a yellow armor started to form around the replica, and when the armor completely covered the drake, the boy stopped flying. The red dragon stopped too, but only to throw as many flames as his lungs could hold. Everybody thought they were doomed, but surprisingly or not, the flames avoided the replica like it was behind a wall. I must say, there probably was a hell of a view inside that dragon made out of magic, too bad people were too busy praying not to die to admire it. 

Anyway, after a few minutes, the boy started piloting the dragon again, this time back towards falania. As they were passing by the dragon who was still confused about how in the world they were still alive, the women that told Patricia the story saw 2 men, one with wings carrying another towards the back of the dragon, but that's all that she saw. When they arrived back in Falania, the city was torn down to pieces, but so were the Freaks too. After only a few minutes, the Dragon fell from the sky in defeat too, right in front of the gates of Falania, like it was meant to serve as a reminder for the ones that dare to attack the city again. As for the boy, the priest, and the other Beads, they vanished before anyone had the chance to even thank them. Bookmark here

Now, this story was told to me about a year and a half ago, and when Patricia got there, the city was still rebuilding. This is why I believe this was the last time the Beads were ever seen."Bookmark here

"The beads were able to kill an army of freaks and a dragon like it was another day in the office, it is scary only to think about what may have taken them down," Arnold said.Bookmark here

"Maybe they were caught alone." a man from the back of the tavern said.Bookmark here

"All of them?" another one laughed.Bookmark here

"Everything's possible," said Adam while taking another sip from the drink before starting to cough again.Bookmark here

"Maybe the legends are fake, as the Golden Beads." Said Eva, a young rebel from the town. "I mean, come on...a small group of people can do what entire armies can't? Who are we trying to fool? Sometimes I feel like the Freaks are a lie too, a story to scare the children that went too well."Bookmark here

"I can assure you that the freaks are as real as the wood we're sitting on." Said Hiroki.Bookmark here

"And isn't like this affirmation helps you, right?" Answered Eva ironically.Bookmark here

"What are you trying to say?"Bookmark here

"Come on Hiroki, your business revolves around exotic foods and drinks that only you can provide. If the freaks were not to be real, it would really hurt your business."Bookmark here

"Come on kids, don't fight each other. The Freaks are real, Patricia told me about them countless of times." Adam saidBookmark here

"Well maybe Patricia is a liar too" mumbled Eva.Bookmark here

"What did you say?" Adam said getting up from his table and going to Eva's.Bookmark here

"Nothing..."Bookmark here

"If you want to insult someone, at least have the courage to say it in his goddamn face!" Adam punched the table making Eva tremble.Bookmark here

"Enough!" said Hiroki. "I think we all drank too much this night. I'm out of stock, I'm closing earlier tonight."Bookmark here

Adam's face shifted from anger to worry.Bookmark here

"This're going outside?" The old man asked.Bookmark here

"After that story," said Arnold "I must say, you have some balls Hiroki."Bookmark here

"I'll be fine." Bookmark here

"That's what Patricia said too." The old man replied with a tear rolling down his cheek.Bookmark here

"Look, I've been doing this long enough to stop because of a story. I know what is outside, and I know how to protect myself from it."Bookmark here

"I know, I know, but.... Look In 2 weeks it's a year since Patricia left for the last time. If you'll be able to come until then, it'll mean the world to me."Bookmark here

"I'll be here."Bookmark here

After everyone left, Hiroki cleaned the bar and went upstairs, where his room was, to pack a few things. His room was a mess, with everything from clothes, books, and maps thrown everywhere, yet the boy knew exactly where every single item was. He packed a few provisions and then opened the drawer and took out an envelope on which was written: "For Yuudai". After staring at it for a few minutes he let out a huge sigh and left it on the bed.Bookmark here

"One day for sure," he mumbled.Bookmark here

He then left in the black forest, a huge forest that acted as a border between the city of Nusa and the outside. The forest was special because on the huge black trees, glowing mushrooms which smell was thought to be poisonous for the Freaks grew, therefore protecting the city from it. At the end of the forest, a huge lizard, half-orange half-white, with 2 giants legs and 2 small arms was sleeping.Bookmark here

"Time to go, Zig." Said HirokiBookmark here

The lizard opened one eye, and upon seeing the boy jumped on his feet and started to run circles around Hiroki. Hiroki responded by petting the monster and playing with it for a while, before jumping onto his back to scan the area. From distance, in the plain fields, a roar like a clap of thunder could be heard, hard enough to scare even the most fierce gladiators from the Nusa's Arena. The lizard took a look at Hiroki and let out a shy growl as if asking him if he's sure. The boy answered by patting the lizard's head.Bookmark here

"Let's go," Hiroki said.Bookmark here

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Taylor Victoria
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