Ruler of the Outland
I didn't realize that my father had used his magic on me when he'd cupped my cheek earlier until I was suddenly dragged into his mind, reliving his memory. Too much in shock, I barely reacted even after I knew I was under some spell. It was his last attempt to tell me everything by showing his memory to me, even if it's now too late.
As if I was given the front seat to watch the movie of my father's memory, I stayed back and watched. My head was like a blank canvas at the moment. I had no idea what to think. Nothing made sense in the slightest. But I could probably find the answers to my questions in his memory, which was why I let the spell take over me.
King Yoshio brought me back to that horrible night ten years ago. I watched all the scenes through his eyes as he came to visit my house and I was surprised to see my mom opening the door for him. She was still alive. This was before the accident happened.
My mom looked around warily before letting my father enter the house. "Yoshio, you should take him with you to the other side for the time being. You know, teach him control. The necklace isn't strong enough. I'm not sure it can hold out. Last night he almost drowned us in his sleep."
King Yoshio strongly disagreed with Mom’s suggestion. "We talked about this, Kohare. I don't want him to go to the Outland. Not yet. No one there should know about his existence. It would be too dangerous. Besides, I want to make sure he lives through his childhood without having to know the Outland's existence with all the weight he would carry in the future. About your concern, I’ll give him a stronger magic seal. I’m very well aware he’s getting stronger each day.”
"It's cruel, making a child live without his father. He's a strong kid. He can handle the truth about who he is. And I know he'll be safe there because you're with him.”
“I can’t now. I mentioned this to you before. After an heir is born, a fairy king will gradually transfer all his power to his heir. I’m not as powerful as I was before. Teruya is inheriting all my power, whether he wants it or not. And someone who doesn’t like it will come after him.”
“What do you mean by that? Who would do such a horrible thing? Teruya is just a kid.”
“If I’m losing my power, then I’m not fit to be a king. My heir will have to step up. If the council knows about this, they won’t like it. I’ve been their king since the beginning of time—since the Outland first existed. If someone else suddenly became their king, I don’t think they would accept it easily.”
Mom sighed as she massaged her temples. She didn’t seem to like King Yoshio’s idea, but she’s unable to come up with anything else. “Then what should we do? Are you suggesting that we keep him here?”
“Yes. It’s the best option we have for him. Let him live like a normal kid. I’ll come by to see him every once in a while, like how I’ve been doing to visit you. Maybe one day, I’ll tell him the truth and bring him to the Outland. I do want him to be a king. But not for now.”
I saw my eight-year-old self walk down the stairs, sleepily rubbing my eyes. “Who’s that, Mom? It’s late.”
Mom glanced at King Yoshio, who shook his head, before answering me, “It’s just a friend, honey. Why are you still up? You should go to sleep.”
My younger self kept staring at King Yoshio in curiosity. “Can’t sleep. Can I sleep in your room, Mom?”
“Sure. I’ll join you after this.” Mom gestured at me to go to her room first, but my curiosity glued me to the spot, eager to find out who the man was and what he wanted with my mom.
Suddenly, someone barged into the house unannounced, pointing a gun at me. It was Chief Hakurei—the real Chief Hakurei—wearing an SCD uniform, already going undercover in Zerin. She was alone, not with another agent, unlike what Minister Zabatsu had told me.
“Hakurei, what are you doing here?” King Yoshio sounded surprised. He must have no idea that Chief Hakurei was following him all the way here.
Chief Hakurei bowed to greet the king without lowering her gun. "My apologies, Your Majesty. The council has come to an agreement that the heir should be eliminated to save the Outland from being ruled by a mere child. I volunteered to do the dirty work. For the greater good. You can punish me afterwards. Even if it’s not me, others will come for him and finish the job."
King Yoshio stood in the line of fire, blocking me from Chief Hakurei’s view. "Wait a minute, Hakurei. Teruya will not immediately take my position as king. I will teach him everything I know. And he will take over once he's old enough."
Moving a few steps to get away from the king, Chief Hakurei aimed her gun at me again, "But he's not you, Your Majesty. And he will only have half of your power. It's the most he can inherit from you, being half-human. He will never be as good as you. We can't be sure what will happen until after it's too late."
King Yoshio relentlessly went to stand before her. “Don’t do anything rash. We should talk first and find a solution to this. There must be another way that the council will approve of.”
“There’s no other solution. Your son has to be killed for you to regain your full power. You’ll be back being powerful again without an heir for you to transfer your magic. I’m really sorry, Your Majesty. I won’t ask you to forgive me, but I have to do this.”
Chief Hakurei moved with her inhuman speed to avoid the king and pulled the trigger. Mom went just in time to cover me with her body, getting shot in my stead. Blood flowed out from her stomach where the bullet had lodged into. She collapsed to the floor, her breath uneven, right before my eyes.
“No! Mom!” I yelled hysterically as I shook my mom’s shoulders, but there’s no response. “Mom!”
I saw myself getting overwhelmed with my own emotions. I burst into tears and I kept screaming, while kneeling by my mom’s side, shaking her body powerfully, “No!”
King Yoshio was about to approach me, but then I unconsciously emitted fire from all over my body, which eventually enveloped me like a fire tornado. It grew bigger and stronger as it burned everything in its path. Chief Hakurei stood still in her spot and got caught in the fire, turning into ashes in seconds. She probably let the fire hit her as her own punishment. She surely had enough time and she was fast enough to get away from here before the fire could reach her.
Casting a shield with his magic, King Yoshio protected himself from my fire and approached me. In the middle of the fire, I already passed out on the ground. He lifted me and brought me out of the burning house.
Once we got out, King Yoshio created another necklace with his magic and put it around my neck, replacing the old one which was cracking because of the berserk earlier. The fire attracted the neighbors and the king quickly decided to disguise as Chief Hakurei. Only now I understood why he took that decision and told a lie to everyone.
If the king was dead, I would be the only one left in the world who had the power of the fairy king. The council wouldn’t kill me because they needed me as their king to replace my father. That’s why he faked his death and took Chief Hakurei’s identity. It’s devastating to know that my father and I couldn’t exist at the same time without everyone trying to kill me.
My father had also told Minister Zabatsu to make up a story to tell me if the time came when I asked him. Which also explained why their stories didn't match up. They had been in a rush to hide everything from everyone. They hadn't had the leisure to discuss.
I was snapped back to the present by Akamori and Erena who were now kneeling next to me and patting my shoulders to cheer me up. They must have put the pieces together once they'd got here and found the king resting lifelessly on my lap. The fire wall was down; it must have been Ioka's doing. The fighting had stopped at where I was.
Ryumine was frozen to his spot not too far from me. He must have gone into shock as well after knowing the truth about Chief Hakurei's identity. The one he'd killed was actually the one he'd respected the most—the king himself. The reason he'd started the war was to retaliate against the humans who had killed their king. But after he found out that the king had been alive before he'd killed him himself, he looked like he'd lost his purpose in life.
I could relate to him. I was also feeling like I’d lost my purpose. I had no idea what I should do from now on. The memories he’d passed down to me had answered all the questions and completed the missing pieces I had in my mind, but it only made me feel empty.
I had always found Chief Hakurei suspicious from the way she’d acted with all the secrecy. And the way she’d taught me how to use my power perfectly was weird as well. How could a vampire possibly know how a fairy king used his power that well? And even after knowing the truth behind all that, it only filled me with regret. Why had I been so harsh at my own father who was sacrificing himself for me to live mine?
“The chairwoman was actually the king,” Akamori said aloud after a few minutes of silence, stating the obvious, snapping us all from our trance.
“We noticed,” Erena replied snappily, as if scolding her for the unnecessary statement.
I lifted my head, looking away from my father to face Ryumine, who was kneeling on the ground and blankly staring at the king’s body. “Ryumine. You already got your answer. Stop the war. Withdraw your soldiers. The fight is now pointless.”
“I killed the king,” Ryumine said irrelevantly, his eyes void of emotions.
This was no use. Ryumine was losing his will to do anything. I had to do something to stop the fight. I had to bring him back to his senses. While we were idling here, many people were being killed. We couldn’t just do nothing. Now that the trust was out in the open and there was absolutely no reason for them to fight each other, we shouldn’t let this go on and waste more lives than we already did.
I could feel my father’s power surging inside of me. His last magic spell had put something in me other than his memories. I suddenly knew what to do and how to use my power. Not only his power and memories, but I also somehow inherited his knowledge to an extent.
After gently laying my father's body on the ground, I soared up into the sky, overlooking everyone who was fighting beneath me. And then I began projecting my power, filled with my thoughts, to reach everyone. A golden glow emerged from inside of me and it spread out, widening its range until it shined upon them all. It worked, as all of them promptly stopped what they were doing to look up and see where the light came from.
Stop fighting, I said in my thoughts. I didn't know how, but I was sure they could hear me in their minds. This fight was only started because of a huge misunderstanding ten years ago, where the savages thought SCD killed their king. Now that the misunderstanding was cleared, there's no reason to continue fighting and add the number of the casualties. We shall return to the other world where we belong and never come back to Zerin. The war between humans and savages shall end here. For now and forever.
Ryumine finally came back to his senses and rode his pegasus to float in midair next to me. He yelled as loud as he could, "Outlanders, bow to your king!"
Most Outlanders had sharp hearing, so they could hear Ryumine's words just fine. They immediately threw their weapons to the ground and kneeled. I hadn't expected I would be announced as the king here, but anything was fine as long as it stopped the war. My father had wanted me to inherit the throne and he had transferred everything he had to me. I should at least do that to honor him.
I flew back to where my father was and lifted his body up as I led the way to the nearest portal. All the Outlanders got to their feet and obediently followed my steps. However, I suddenly heard voices through my earpiece. I realized I was still wearing it in my ears since before joining the war.
"Are you leaving Zerin forever?" Aberu asked. He must be somewhere within the range of my thought projection.
I answered, suddenly feeling sad at the thought of having to leave my best friends with no means to contact them, "Honestly, I don't know. But I think I will stay in the Outland for the time being. You heard Ryumine earlier. I'm now their king."
Nohana asked pleadingly, "Won't you come to visit us at all?"
"I just announced that we won't come back to Zerin. I don't think it's right for me to visit. For now at least. Who knows if things change for the better in the future."
"Is this goodbye then, Teruya?" Aberu asked dejectedly.
"Yes, I'm afraid it is. I'm sorry for involving you guys in this madness. I hope we will meet again someday. You two are the best people I've ever met. I'm so lucky to have you guys as friends. Goodbye, Aberu, Nohana."
"Goodbye, Teruya. We'll miss you." Nohana was already sobbing. I couldn't help but tear up from listening to her crying.
"Until we meet again, Teruya. I believe we will. There's always a way. Goodbye for now." Aberu also bade farewell to me.
I looked down to see my father's peaceful face. This was all exhausting emotionally. I wanted to hide myself in a room and take a break from everyone. But I couldn't for now. A king wouldn't show his weakness in front of his subjects. I must remain strong in their eyes.
Ioka floated next to me, riding on her water bubble. As if reading my mind, she said, "My offer still stands. Come to my hut. You need time to properly grieve your loss."
I nodded gratefully at her and she went ahead of me, going through the portal. I saw Akamori and Erena walking beneath me, so I landed on the ground to walk side by side with them.
"So, we're now officially your advisor and personal guard. Your Majesty." Akamori bowed to me playfully. I knew she was trying to lift my mood and I was thankful for that.
I chuckled. "Ew. Don't call me that. I'm still me."
Erena sighed, joining Akamori in teasing me, "My job is going to be a lot harder now. With such a weak king to protect."
"Hey!" I protested.
We all laughed at the jokes. After the stressful last few days, it was really refreshing that we could finally let loose and laugh out loud like this. We desperately needed a break from all the conflicts between humans and savages.
Akamori asked, "What are you going to do now? As your advisor, I'd like to know what our plan is."
"Well, if possible, I'd like to close the portal. Banning everyone from entering Zerin." It would at least prevent any conflict from occurring again for the meantime until we figured something out.
"Easy. We can talk to the witches. It's sad, though, not being able to fool around here. And then?" Akamori prompted.
"Make Ryumine as the chairman of the council and ask Ioka to be a member. And then we can start to think about how to make peace with humans, so that we would be able to open the portals again."
"I'm not sure Ioka would want to have anything to do with the palace, but okay, we could try asking her."
"I want to learn how to use my power. So I will need a sparring partner."
Erena volunteered, "I could do that. Don't whine if you never win."
I stopped right before going through the portal and took one last look at Zerin before leaving for good. "Do you think it's possible to make a world where humans and savages live together in peace?"
Putting a hand on my shoulder, Erena reassured, "It's difficult, but we'll try. Like Aberu said, there's always a way."
“Yeah, we’re just getting started!” Akamori exclaimed excitedly.
The three of us walked together into the portal and out of Zerin, leaving all the friends and the good memories we’d made behind, hoping for better days in the future.