Chapter 2:

Crimson Skies (Part 2)

Last Tale: Return of the Guardian Knight


Waking up from a nightmare he did not remember, Leo opened his eyes to discover an open crimson sky with black clouds. Severe pain echoed within his body. He was hurt and in unbearable pain, resisting the urge to scream. The prominent one was at the back of his neck on his nape. The pain extended to his head, giving him a severe headache.Bookmark here

He felt unnaturally hot. It was as if he was roasting alive. His skin was dry and itchy; his back rested on something hot enough to grill his skin. Each movement he tried to make sent waves of pain that would have rendered any other person unconscious.Bookmark here

Gritting his teeth to bear through the pain, Leo sat up to take a look around. He was on a rooftop of a small apartment building beside a large complex. The eye-catching detail was that everything around him was aflame. The buildings seemed as of they had been on fire for months, years or decades. The glass had melted to red puddles of molten flux along mixed with metals like aluminium and copper. Similar puddles of lava and molten flux were scattered all over the place.Bookmark here

A sharp odour from the burnt metals and burning concrete filled the air that penetrated his lungs. His chest felt as if it would explode within moments; his body was no different. He was not sweating, his skin was dry and cracked, and his body was burning up.Bookmark here

“Ah, maybe this is how the salamander feels all the time,” Leo chuckled to himself.Bookmark here

Toughing out through the pain, Leo stood up. He could not help letting out a panting grunt as he stood up. Swaying and wobbling on his feet like an inebriated fool, Leo stepped forward and took a better look at his environment. Bookmark here

He had a nostalgic feeling of the place; only he could not remember the exact details. A little too late did he notice that he was only wearing a black lower riddled with holes and rags of what used to be his shirt, hanging from his waist, tucked in his lower. His body was covered in blade scars. The scars were old, far older than the extent of his memories.Bookmark here

Leo lowered his head to look at the scars covering his body. His hair fell over his shoulder like roughed up silk. He had long black hair reaching his abdomen. Leo’s entire torso, like his hands, was covered in scars; some deep, some shallow, some wide, and some narrow scars mapped and marked his body. That was the body of a man who spent a significant part of his life in battle and war.Bookmark here

He failed to recall his memories; to be precise, he could point to the memory but could not recollect it. Each time he tried to grasp it, the memory just disappeared.Bookmark here

Leo stepped forward to the edge of the roof and got greeted by a nightmare of a burning world. Everything that he could lay his eyes upon was on fire. The fires burned bright and strong without a fuel source. There was no wood, oil or anything of their kind which could be used by the flames as fuel to stay alive, yet there it was, burning strong and spreading throughout the land in every corner at every turn. Bookmark here

“Where am I,” asked Leo, taken aback.Bookmark here

It was then when he noticed a small shadow whizzing in a far off distance. The small shadow left Leo’s line of sight before he could get a glimpse of a general outline of the shadow. Leo could feel an unsettling fear set in his heart. He was afraid of something behind him. It was hiding behind him in the corner of his eyes, where he did not wish to look. He did not want to look at what was behind him but, instinctively, he was curious and wanted to know about the identity of the source of his fear.Bookmark here

Giving in to his curiosity, Leo turned around to see a big dark-red moon above the horizon. The moment he laid his eyes upon the moon, Leo’s body loosened up, and in a trance-like state, he stared at the dark-red moon. Leo had let go of all the tension in his body. The pain echoing inside his body had gone silent.Bookmark here

A warmth gradually welled up in his chest. He could feel a dull throbbing and pulsing pain in sync with his heartbeat. The warmth that welled up in his chest leaked and poured out. It flowed out as a warm liquid flowing down his chest, making its way through the ridges in the scars that covered his torso. The same warm liquid rose and gurgled in his mouth.Bookmark here

Leo looked down to assess the cause of the warm slimy feeling on his body and discovered a blade’s top peeking out of his chest. Blood poured out from the hole in his chest opened by the blade sticking out of his chest. The blade itself was pitch-black and clad in a misty shadow.Bookmark here

Leo’s pupils dilated in surprise. He involuntarily vomited the blood gurgling in his throat. The blood spilt over the tip of the blade in his chest and his body. The blood flowed like a river down the ridges on his body. Leo took notice of the pain of the wound in his chest only after noticing the existence of the injury.Bookmark here

There was an ominous presence behind him, breathing on his nape. Once again, giving in to his curiosity, he turned his head to the side to look behind him. Through the corner of his eyes, he saw a figure of a man clad in misty shadow, just like the blade peeking out of his chest. The figure clad in shadow stood behind Leo. It was gripping the handle of a katana that impaled Leo.Bookmark here

The last thing Leo noticed was the figure’s glowing green eyes that looked at him with indifference. Leo’s carcass collapsed on the floor. A large puddle of blood formed around him with the blood that poured out of his chest. The dark-red moon’s image reflected in Leo’s blood carpeted a large area with Leo’s body at its centre.Bookmark here

The shadow figure, in turn, had vanished into thin air before Leo’s corpse tumbled.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Leo got startled awake from a nightmare he could not remember. He was panting heavily, and the first thing he noticed after waking up was a crimson sky with black clouds.Bookmark here

He was in intense pain and had an even worse headache. He wanted to scream because of the pain, but his gut instinct warned him that it would not only make the pain worse but add more pain to the pot.Bookmark here

He was having a hard time breathing and was gasping for air. Silent tears rolled down the corner of his eyes to his ears as he tried to sit up.Bookmark here

He found himself sitting in the middle of a road at a four-way intersection. Everything around him was in ruins and set on flames.Bookmark here

Reflexively, he coughed. Seven pain shoot from his lungs to his head. His lungs were burning up from breathing in the fumes.Bookmark here

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Leo chuckled to himself, “Ah, maybe this is how the salamander feels all the time.”Bookmark here

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