Chapter 4:

3: Edric the Savior?

Pyrophantasia


Part 1
The sun has just set in the sky as the night is beginning to take over, the temperature is beginning to drop.

It's been a few hours since Gilbert entered my room, hopefully he has calmed down now. Since that fiery encounter, I've had time to collect my thoughts about this world as well as what I'll have to prepare for for the next time Gilbert comes back. I can't use firebending since I've just gained these new abilities, and that'll take me months, probably years, to control and master. I can't fight my way out of here. I have no clue what the layout of the building looks like, and I could run into someone who could spell doom for me. I also can't leave this room without unlocking the door or breaking it down without anyone noticing, especially with guards patrolling outside. So reconnaissance or running away is pretty much out of the picture.

And what will happen if I do escape? I can't go back to my parents' place since that's the first place they'll look for me. I'll either have to live in the underground sewer network or escape Iyesgarth altogether and make a new life maybe in the next town over. Julian, the Fire Kingdom's number one fugitive on the run. And for what reason? I'm really in a pickle here. I can sit here all I want, but there will soon come a time when I'll have to make a move. Perhaps accepting the easy path forward is the best option here.

"Sigh."

I rest my hands under my head. I guess all I can do is come up with witty comebacks and pray that he gives up on me. I close my eyes and continue to sleep through the night.

[RUMBLE]

What was that, an explosion? Only seconds after I closed them, I opened my eyes to see what the commotion was all about. Seconds passed as nothing happened. Must have been my imagination. Perhaps a small, localized earthquake?

[RUMBLE]

Particles of dust rained from the walls and the ceiling. The whole room was shaking. Something weird is going on inside this building.

"Quick! This way! We have an intruder!"

[CLACK CLACK]

A couple of people run past my door down the corridor. It must have been the security in this building. I try peaking out of the small hole at the top of the door, but I'm too short. There's also a small gap underneath the door, but it's not big enough to peak through it.

[FWOOSH]

"GAAHHH!"

[RUMBLE]

Orange flames lit up the corridor in its light as the fighting continued to play out. I can faintly hear bricks crumbling and screams of pain in the distance, I believe that's the source of all this shaking. Whatever it is, it's coming closer to where I am. I stood as far as I can away from the door as precaution. I honed in my hearing to pick out what's happening, but things outside this room have become quiet again.

[KNOCK KNOCK]

[BANG]

Without any regard of letting myself back away from the door if I had been standing there in the first place, the door flew off from its hinges as it crashed into the side of the wall to my left. It broke into several pieces that are now all over the floor. I'm pretty sure that door was reinforced with metal plating on both sides! What strength was needed to smash the door into smithereens!? Standing under the door frame was a man wearing a dark brown hooded robe. It covered his head and the upper half of his body all the way down past his waist. He wore white trousers and black leather boots, and all that I can see of his face was his trimmed, black beard and mustache.

"Are you Julian?"

How does he know who I am? Just who is he exactly? I nodded yes in response.

"How do you kn-"

"Look, I'll explain everything to you once we're out of here. The guards will be on us at any moment now, so come with me if you want to break free."

The mysterious hooded man turned around and immediately walked out of the room and down the corridor. I scurried as I tried catching up to him. As I exited the room I was being held captive in, bodies were laying on the ground unconscious. There was a crater in the wall where I assume the rumbling came from - the force the guy hit the wall at must have knocked him out cold. We turned a sharp right at the end of the corridor where the unconscious bodies were, the hooded man suddenly stopped and stuck his hand out to stop me as well. More guards, and they sure look pissed.

"Julian. Stay back and take note of what I'm about to show you."

The hooded man whispered quietly as to not alert the guards. He walks out in line of their sight, they've only taken notice of his presence. The three guards that were in front of us prepared their fighting stances, one of them pulled out a small blade, the other two looked as if they were going to fight using their hands. The hooded man positioned himself into a sprinting position and exploded in speed down the hallway. There were impact craters from where his feet were, large cracks traveled outwards as tiny chunks of rock crumbled into the gaps. In a split second, he closed the distance between him and the three guards. The sudden acceleration shocked the guards as they probably weren't expecting that to happen, they began to attack as well. The first guard threw a punch that released a burst of fire straight towards the hooded man. He used his agility to dodge the incoming ball of fire by ducking down and getting underneath the guard's arm.

[BANG]

He followed his dodge by landing a blow to the face. The impact caused the guard to crash into the wall with blood squirting out of his nose, incapacitating him.

[SHICK SHICK]

As soon as the first guard impacted the wall, the second guard with the knife began stabbing at the hooded man. He strafed side to side as he dodged the knife seamlessly. Without any time to spare, as the guard was at full extension of his arm, he performs a roundhouse kick and hits the side of the guard's head with his heel, knocking him out cold. The third guard was standing a further behind the two guards. He, too, was a firebender. In an attempt to stop the hooded man, the guard threw blades of fire like a knife slicing through the air, though it did little in stopping the guy. As the blades of fire flew towards him, he ran up the wall and contorted his body by performing multiple spins and flips in the air before landing back on his feet like a gymnast. He spectacularly dodged the fire like it was nothing.

[TCH!]

In a bid of desperation, the guard engaged the man in hand-to-hand combat. The hooded man deflected every punch, strike, and kick that came his way, he even pulled a couple of light jabs in between the blocks to annoy the guard even more. At this point, he's just toying with the guard. He deflected one of the guard's strikes with enough force causing him to flail off balance. In quick succession, the hooded man's fist was wrapped in an orange aura-like glow as he swung his arm around.

[BANG]

A bright flash and an explosion bellowed out, despite the guard putting his arms up together to block the force of impact, the explosion sent him flying down the corridor. Was that orange glow coming from the guy's hand firebending?

[CRASH]

The guard impacted the wall at the end of the corridor, knocking him out. In the span of around 30 seconds or so, this mysterious man knocked out three guards effortlessly in the small confines of this narrow corridor. I'm just stood there looking at the guy in awe. Just who is he exactly, and why is he helping me break out of this building?

[CLACK CLACK]

We hear the sounds of distant footsteps coming towards us. More guards are coming, and it sounds like a whole lot of them as well. The hooded man turned towards the wall and prepared himself. Using the same ability that he used against the third guard he came up against, he used his glowing fist to punch a large hole through the wall that lead to the outside of the building.

From here, we can see that we're currently a few stories above ground, given that we're almost as high up as the rooftops on the surrounding buildings next to the church. There's a large gap between the church and the surround buildings, perhaps giving the church enough room given its significance within the Kingdom? If the sides of the church are this tall, then the spire that sticks out from the central part of the building must be 30, maybe 40 stories tall, making it one of the largest structures in the capital besides the royal castle and the walls themselves. But what does this man intend to do seeing how high up we are? Jump out and land on the floor, or perhaps jump a hundred meters and land on top of the rooftops? That's crazy! I ask him.

"What now? More guards are gonna show up any minute now!"

"Seeing how I made this hole in the wall, we'll jump out and make our escape from the central district."

Of course he suggests that! Humans can barely jump from the second story of a building without sustaining an injury, but jumping from five stories up onto the brick path below is guaranteed to break anyone's legs in half. How am I supposed to survive that fall?

"Woah!"

He lifts me into his arms and heads directly opposite to where the hole is. Don't tell me...

He began to accelerate as he ran towards the wall. As he planted his foot into the ground in his final step, the floor began to crumple and give way. He's using the same ability as what he used on his hand to increase the force exerted from his feet. This caused the two of us to fly across from the church onto the rooftop of the building facing opposite towards the church. Looking behind us, fragments of rock and concrete scattered from the force of impact of the jump.

We sailed over the rooftop and slid down the other side of the building that was in front of us. I'm free! At least, for now. The hooded man continue to sprint away from the church, jumping from rooftop to rooftop with me in his arms. We headed straight for the outer walls north-west of the capital.


Part 2
It's been a few minutes since we've escaped from the church. After sneaking over the inner wall into the outer district, we've put enough distance from the inner walls to obscure ourselves and hide until things have calmed down. Seeing how I just broke out of the church's custody, and given their power and influence, I think it's safe to say that we're one of the city's most wanted individuals. The hooded man placed me down on my feet. I thanked him.

"Thanks for rescuing me. Might I ask who you are?"

The hooded man pulls down his hood to reveal his face. He has black hair and a nicely-trimmed beard. And with a bit of a chiseled face, he's quite handsome if you ask me.

"My name is Edric. And you're Julian, right? I might be able to provide you with some help. Come, and tell me what happened to you."

Edric signaled for me to follow him. And so I explained the details of all that happened these past few days, from the awakening of my newfound abilities to Gilbert's attempt at recruiting me. I obviously left out the small detail about being transported from another world, as who knows what could happen to me if they found out I'm someone with outside knowledge. We walked down a few streets.

"I get the picture of what's happening, and I have the perfect solution for you."

"Perfect solution? What do you mean by that exactly?"

Edric and I came to a stop. We're stood outside a rather tall building near the northern part of the outer wall - there's no sign out by the front, and the windows are opaque. It's a rather plain-looking building compared to everything else in the city.

"Join us. Become a member of the Bloodstone Crew."

"Ehhhh!? You mean one of the twelve squadrons under the King's rule, THAT Bloodstone Crew?"

Edric smirked.

"Did I omit the fact I'm the captain of said squadron?"

"Why didn't you tell me this earlier!?"

"Because if you yelled out my name, then those guards we fought would have instantly recognized me and I would get into massive trouble with the royal palace."

Well, that kinda makes sense. But for real, am I really being invited to join one of the royal squadrons? Being a part of the squadrons means having access to parts of the kingdom and sufficient wealth that so many people can only dream of. But I've only just gained these new firebending abilities, what use will I be in case something bad happens?

[DING-A-LING]

Edric opened the door and we both walked in. Is the Bloodstone Crew headquarters really a bar? The room is long and narrow with red brick walls and brown wooden flooring, seats and chairs are lined along the right-hand side of the room, and the counter and stools run across the left-hand side of the room. There's also a door at the end that leads to elsewhere in the building.

"Welcome back, Captain."

The person who welcomed Edric was the man standing behind the counter at the bar with a glass and wipe in hand. It was a man who looked to be in his mid-50's. He has grey hair, a long mustache, and is wearing a black tuxedo.

"Julian, this is Marcello. He's one of the members of the Bloodstone Crew, he also serves as a bartender, which is quite handy if you ask me hahaha."

Out of curiosity, I asked him.

"I thought you guys worked to protect the city, why run a bar near the outer wall?"

"You'll recognize the importance of this establishment soon enough."

I wonder what he means by that. Are all the headquarters of royal squadrons like this? Standing in the middle of the room, Edric turned around to face me.

"Julian, there's a good reason for why I've brought you here. Throughout the past few years as a squad captain, I've assembled a squadron of unique and specialized individuals with one clear goal in mind - and that's to rein in the power and influence of the church and bring them to justice for what they've done to this kingdom for centuries. My duty as a squad captain is to protect the citizens of this kingdom, and I believe going up against the church's tyranny is a fulfillment of my duty - that is my goal as squad captain. The reason I'm inviting you to join the Bloodstone Crew is that I'm hoping you'd share the same sentiment as we all do, and after analyzing your chi, I can sense that you can become a skilled fighter and firebender, given the proper training needed. Work with me to bring a wave of change to this Kingdom."

That's quite a lot to take in. Does he really see that much potential in me? How does he envision the future that doesn't include the church at the top of the ladder? Why, out of all people, is he so against the church?

"Do I really have what it takes to become a firebender?"

"There's only one way to find out, right?"

I guess I have no other alternative solutions than to just accept Edric's offer and become a member of the royal squadrons. But I guess it has its perks.

"Sigh, I guess I'll accept your offer then."

"Great! Marcello, prepare some drinks for all the others! We'll drink in celebration for the addition of our newest member."

"Hoho, right away, Captain."

"Wait a second! I can't drink, I'm underage!"

Edric bellowed out in laughter. I guess given the situation, now is a time where I can relax give how hectic it's been these past few days. Edric mentioned "the others", who else are a part of the Bloodstone Crew?Bookmark here

Pyrophantasia


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