Chapter 1:

1. Teleportation

Lost souls: Road to Godhood

The roar came in waves, tearing leaves from their branches and shaking the ground beneath as all creatures fled from their homes in the forest. The dragon's cry pierced through the mountains, trampling its way down towards the nearby villages that were situated far away from the scene.

A group of five boys simultaneously flinched in fright after being struck by the sound of ear-splitting waves; they were utterly shocked by what they just heard, to the point where they did not even dare to look at the source of the echoing sound.

The bone-chilling screams of innocent villagers filled the air— their despairing wails were reminiscent of what they imagined souls sounded like in the depths of hell. In addition to the chilling sounds of ear-piercing screams, there were also burning hot airwaves that hit the siblings; the heat of the airwaves was so hot that it forced the helpless boys to fall to the ground.

The younger siblings tightly hugged their older brothers in fright. In a fit of desperation, the youngsters were even clawing into their older counterparts arms as deep as possible, as though getting closer to their older brothers would offer them safety

It took a few moments for the oldest brother of the whole group, called Luz, to shakily stand up. It was a courageous move on his part, as expected of the oldest child, but it was also something he regretted doing because a brief peek of his surroundings was more than enough for him to lose any hopes he had of living through this hellish moment, as he saw the horrors of what awaited their family members.

Far away, one could see a fierce, gigantic black dragon standing tall in front of the village, setting everything ablaze before roaring again. Its soul-curdling bellows were, without fail, always followed by the mournful cries of the tormented villagers.

One villager after another was set alight like a row of candle-dominos as they tried to flee from the inevitable horrific end that awaited them all. Unfortunately, their struggles were futile as black smoke rose over the village in a suffocating chokehold that made breathing through their tears and ashy soot all the more harder.

On that fateful day, a band of mercenaries planned to lay siege to the dragon, who had denned near the woods. The mercenaries planned to take down the dragon since any large creature near any human civilization posed a security risk to the empire. However, instead of moving the people out, as per procedure to ensure the overall safety of the people, the overconfident local official rushed over recklessly with his own band of mercenaries there to slay the dragon before others for something as fickle as fame and materialistic wealth.

As Luz saw what happened to everyone, he fell to his knees in a shaking, trembling mess, like someone who'd long lost faith and hope in this desolate world. The nightmarish scenery shocked him so much that he couldn't utter any sound; it felt like his throat had a knot inside, tying his vocals in a mess. Tears streamed down his fearful face like a pair of never-ending rivers. He was so afraid that he couldn't control the twitchy movements on his face.

"That…That cannot be," Luz stuttered when the knot in his throat finally unraveled. He wasn't willing to accept the reality of their situation before moving shakingly to the village like a puppet.

"No!" Gab, one of his brothers, yelled loudly in desperation before he and Raph grabbed Luz's arms to stop his march towards the village. Luz struggled, as he wanted to continue his dead-man walk to the burning village.

As the two tried stopping their older brother from committing suicide, the sky grew darker, like an ominous warning. In a trance, the brothers watched as ash fell from the heavens like thick rain: accompanying the ashy rain was a thick carbon fog that had dyed the clouds black. The sight compelled the group of boys to look up in unison. But that wasn't all, since every creature was frightened by what was happening and tried to flee. Thus the gates of hell had opened. The ground tremored, laying down foundations of death and suffering as even the purest of souls were forbidden from fleeing.

What the boys had seen, stunned them speechlessly. In summary, it was like the scene they were witnessing, was hell on earth. This is because all the creatures were frightened by what was happening and so, they tried to flee the scene, though that resulted in failure. Fires caught onto tall trees, ash fell like a gray snowstorm and blood filled the air. With every corpse, creature, or human that fell, the smell of blood grew thicker and thicker.

Under the brothers' feet, they felt the ground tremble. It was like the world understood the agony its habitants were in, though it was helpless to do anything. This all lay down the foundation of death and suffering— even the purest of souls were forbidden from fleeing. By now, destruction and chaos were everywhere. Anywhere you looked, if you did not see something burning, then you would see something dying.

As the agonizing screams of the villagers slowly grew quieter, the cries of monsters grew louder by the second. Herds of animals formed, and any animal slower than the rest got stumped to death. It did not take long to realize that the herded animals were running in Luz's direction.

But none of the siblings moved as they still couldn't accept their new reality.

Raph looked toward his older brother Luz in hopes of finding a light in the darkness. Unfortunately, the only thing he saw was a broken man who lost all hopes. His own face was stained black with sooty ash and wet tear tracks, there was only a hint of his skin peeking through the gushing rivers streaming down his cheeks. He remained still, not daring to say another word as his eyes were glued to the horrors around them.

Raph choked and it took him quite a bit of strength to whisper in a hoarse voice: "It's already too late, brother. We need to leave now. Lead us…please," as he grabbed Luz's arm.

But the latter remained silent, for his weeping eyes were still fixed on what had been their thriving home a few minutes ago. Anger and hatred filled his heart as he shifted his eyes from the burning houses to the dragon.

Gritting his teeth, he rasped in a rough voice, not minding the tears that silently slid down his ashy cheeks: "You better wait. You took everything from me today… One day… One day… I'll come back and take my revenge for all the misery you caused today."

His breath grew more sporadic with each word he uttered, while his hatred and rage grew more and more. His simmering rage gradually grew to the size of a mountain. His crying visage turned even more ugly as he continued furiously: "Not only will I kill you, but I'll also be killing anyone dear to you, so… just wait and see."

Gab, the second oldest of all the siblings, grabbed his ax before patting the shoulder of the oldest one. Unlike Luz, he was the black sheep of the group who wasn't on the best terms with the other villagers. But thinking about his parents, his heart began to ache, and even he cried a second sea into existence when he thought of them.

"We…We'll be leaving now," Luz uttered as he grabbed the hand of one of his siblings called Michael, squeezing it tightly.

His younger twins Az and Michael, who looked as if they were 12 years old, stood up in worry.

Seeing his second oldest brother cry, the young Az slowly hugged Gab before asking curiously and worried: "Why are you crying? And what happened to mum and dad?

"I'm fine," he replied as he wiped his tears away before continuing with steely determination: "First, we gotta get to a safe place before worrying about their situation. As for our parents,… they're probably going to be alright."

It took him a lot of effort saying the last part and as he lied to his younger brother, Gab gently grabbed Az's hand with a bitter smile. A desolate feeling settled in Gab's heart when Az gently squeezed the other's hand for reassurance and safety.

The group ran deeper into the woods, hoping the foliage of the trees would provide them cover from the dragon's sight. As the group made their way deeper into the forest, herds of animals overtook them. They regularly had to change their paths to avoid getting trampled to death by the rampant animals.

On their way deeper into the forest, their path grew steeper, and Az took a slight peak at the village from afar. Seeing how everything had burned to the ground, with only the ashes on the ground and burned carcasses as evidence of there ever being a village in the first place, Az could feel another round of tears come to the surface and, true to his feelings, his vision gradually blurred from the water drops that fell down his cheeks. When he whipped his head around to look away from his burnt home, he pointed at Luz and shouted angrily: "You… You lied to me."