Chapter 4:

The Crimson World (Part 1)

Last Tale: Return of the Guardian Knight

Grinning with excitement, Leo prepared to intercept an attack from the bloodthirsty shadow figure before him. Getting bored of waiting, after mere two seconds, Leo shifted his weight forward to sprint towards the form. Right as the back foot left the ground, the figure dissipated and disappeared into black smoke.Bookmark here

Leo tried to fake his expression as one of surprise but instead revealed his heart on his face. He was disappointed at not being able to let loose.Bookmark here

As he leaned forward, sighing in disappointment, his back hair flowed down his shoulder, kissing his cheeks. The end of his hair reached his abdomen.Bookmark here

Genuinely surprised at the sight of long hair, Leo jumped up and frantically exclaimed, "I'm a girl?" His voice cracked as he yelled.Bookmark here

Leo patted his body to look for secondary female characteristics like the lack of Adam's apple, the presence of breasts, and the scarcity of body hair. He did not know why but the thought of being a woman was not something acceptable. To his relief, he did not have breasts, and a laryngeal prominence was present in his neck.Bookmark here

While tapping and patting his body, Leo observed the deep scars engraved in his body. There were many minor scars, but the prominent ones numbered three. The first one was on his chest, right before his heart. It had an irregular circle shape with a jagged perimeter. The other two were on his back, but their presence could be felt distinctively. The heat in the area helped make things more vivid. The two scars on his back were three inches wide and almost twenty inches long, in the shape of a cut made by a large blade. It seemed as if his flesh was carved out of his body.Bookmark here

A dark and painful repressed memory was trying to resurface within Leo. Leo was welcoming to the idea of having his memories back but not that one. He did not want to remember the memory from which his memories hid.Bookmark here

A pulsing pain swelled up in his chest as the memory tried to unfold. Clenching his chest, he dropped down to his knees and curled into a ball. He had done a fairly good job at hiding his pain, but this was different. Writhing in pain, Leo teared up as he murmured inaudibly, "No! No! No!"Bookmark here

The pain's intensity grew with each pulse till Leo fainted curled up on the rooftop.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Leo found himself standing in a small round cove with a width of a thousand meters and a large lake at the centre. The cove was sheltered by a canopy of a large mysterious tree at the centre of the lake.Bookmark here

The tree's trunk easily spanned over five meters in diameter, and its branches spread majestically high and wide, shading the entire cove. What made the tree unique was not its size but rather its leaves. Hastate leaves adorned the branches in rosette clusters. The hastate shape (triangular with basal lobe) with their stem vaguely resembled swords. The leaves were pigmented in shades of glowing blue and red; with one filling in as the body and the other as veins. Each leaf on the tree was unique with a personalized brilliance. No two were the same.Bookmark here

Leo felt a chill kiss his skin as he stared at the imposing giant before his eyes and whispered its name, "World Tree - Medros."Bookmark here

His conscience faded in and out as he sat at the edge of the lake, embracing something heavy and warm in his arms. Leo looked down and saw a woman with skin as fair as snow and bright sun-like golden hair. Her cheeks moistened with Leo's tears as he leaned over and cried with his consciousness fluttering.Bookmark here

With shaking and quivering arm, the woman wiped a tear-off Leo's cheek and then proceeded to cup his cheek. She forced a bright smile and pulled Leo's face close to hers. She gently kissed his lips. The kiss lasted for a couple of seconds, after which her body lost all tension and hung loose in Leo's arms.Bookmark here

Her smiling face had returned to its normal expression. She had a peaceful aura around her.Bookmark here

Aware of the fact that she had passed away, Leo cried loudly. His wails echoed in the cove under the glowing shade of the world tree Medros.Bookmark here

As he sat there crying, the floor around him slowly got stained in blood. His back had two large open wounds from which an absurd amount of blood escaped his body. He did not notice or care about the loss of blood or the opening in his back. The lake before him gradually got tainted as his blood seeped into the lake.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Leo woke up on the same rooftop curled like a bug with tear-filled eyes. He remembered the dream and the cove. Along with the dream, he had started remembering a few additional things. He finally remembered who he was; not the complete details, but he remembered the superficial introduction.Bookmark here

His heart still racing, Leo exercised deep breaths to regain his calm. The iridescent glow in his eyes shone brightly. His attempt to stand resulted in him tumbling and falling on the floor. He had no strength in his legs or core.Bookmark here

His mind was preoccupied with the dream he just had and the memories he was gradually recovering, to notice the lack of strength in his body. He mindlessly continued attempting to stand, faltering, falling, and repeating the cycle.Bookmark here

An agonizing headache inflicted his body as he started remembering more of who he was and the past related to him. The headache shared the torturous pain to the rest of his body as he continued to regain his old self.Bookmark here

Leo screamed at the top of his lungs. He screamed in pain hoping to drown it out. He unconsciously started crying as he screamed in pain. Keeling over, he grabbed his head and curled up in a ball once again. He continued to scream as his body adapted to the change that was about to come.Bookmark here

The glow in Leo's eyes extended outwards into his skin and body and visibly presented in the shape of veins emerging from his eyes. The veins headed to run down his cheek and up his forehead to mask his face. The multi-hued radiance spread to his long black hair. His long hair covered half his body and was an antithesis to the world around him.Bookmark here

Leo gleamed brightly in a dark crimson world. The luminous veins traversed down his cheek along his neck and then to his torso. Eventually, the veins covered his entire body; a larger number of veins concentrated over his heart.Bookmark here

Leo continued to scream the entire time. The more he got covered in the light, the stronger his screams became in every sense. His voice cracked and shattered the stone and concrete he lay on. The building around him started cracking and crumbling under their weight.Bookmark here

At some point, his screams transformed into roars.Bookmark here

Unable to bear the agonizing pain, Leo roared at the sky. The landscape and airspace around him trembled as he roared without restraint. A large crack erupted in the sky across the dark-red moon. The crack in the sky branched out until the entire sky cracked like stained glass. The sky shattered and rained down on the ground.Bookmark here

Within seconds, the sky fell in the form of a crystal. The land and buildings Leo stood on started collapsing into a dark void under the ground.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Leo descended with the sky and land, with his eyes closed and body glowing, as he rested after passing out from the pain. Bookmark here

Cours Twent
You can resume reading from this paragraph.