Chapter 1:

The Foul-Mouthed and Furious Fifth Hero

The Ignoble Hero

Fair warning, due to how long it's been since I touched this chapter, the pacing of this chapter is a bit wonky. I had written so much already, and there really wasn't anything wrong with what I had, I just didn't like how slow I was being when it came to moving the story along. So I sort of jumped back in midway, which means certain things move quite fast now and I decided to forego the original intro I had for this novel in exchange for moving on to the part of the novel I really wanted to write. I'll give a bit more exposition on James' life on Earth at a later date, but, for now, enjoy witnessing his descent into ever deepening depravity.Bookmark here

x - PoyntFuryBookmark here

"Okay... why the fuck do I feel like my head's gonna split in two?"Bookmark here

A legitimate question, but perhaps not the most important one at this time. I could think of several others that this situation warranted, such as: "Where the fuck am I?" or "Why the fuck is it so god damn dark?"Bookmark here

(Oh... I see you're finally awake.)Bookmark here

For a single moment, I questioned why I had just spoken to myself. Then, I stopped being a fucking moron and realized that I hadn't spoken.Bookmark here

"Ummm... who and where are you?" I asked, slowly.Bookmark here

(Well, considering the fact that I'm you... I guess I'm wherever you ended up... where are we, by the way?)Bookmark here

Oh. So now I'm hearing some motherfucker who sounded like me inside of my head, and, even better, he's fucking useless... wonderful.Bookmark here

"What do you mean, you're me?" I asked.Bookmark here

(Well, I think I mean exactly what I said... did you not understand or something? Oh, and I'm not useless, by the way... jackass.)Bookmark here

"Of course I understood, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna just fucking believe you. I mean, you just kind of popped into my head out of nowhere and started talking to me."Bookmark here

I sighed, before realizing that while I could not see anything around me, I could most certainly feel that I was sitting on a rocky, uneven surface. My hands slowly fanned out around me, and as I reached behind, I felt them touch an equally uneven surface behind me.Bookmark here

"Well... If I had to take a guess, I'd say that I... or, we... are in a cave." I said, pondering how on earth I managed to find myself in a cave when I had just been-Bookmark here

(A cave... Gelvir has plenty of caves... but which one are we in?)Bookmark here

Again, the sound of my own voice radiated in my head, cutting across my thoughts like a parade crossing through a crowded road. I shook my head from side to side, trying to shake the voice awayBookmark here

WAIT.Bookmark here

"Did... did you just call this place... Gelvir?" I asked, slowly.Bookmark here

(Well, yeah, that's where we are, after all.)Bookmark here

I felt a muscle in my face twitch in frustration.Bookmark here

"Didn't you literally just tell me that you didn't know where we were?" I asked.Bookmark here

(No, I said that we were wherever you ended up. You didn't ask whether I knew where we were.)Bookmark here

This rather stupid reasoning made me quite frustrated, so I returned to my attempts to find out our exact location.Bookmark here

Strange... I'm a little bit too calm in this situation... I think I'd have every right to be panicking right about now, and yet here I am, worrying more about this voice in my head. Come to think of it, that should be concerning too.Bookmark here

I release my frustration with a sigh, then, trying to find my way around, I get to my feet and start forward, but only manage to take a few steps before my foot catches a rock and I tumble back down to the ground again, landing with a smack on my arms.Bookmark here

"Ah! Fuck! Why is there no goddamn [Light]?"Bookmark here

The last word came out sounding odd to me, but before I even had a second to think of a reason, a blinding flash of green light filled the cave, dazzling my eyes and robbing me of sight for a few moments. When at last it finally felt safe to open them, I was greeted with a low, green glow that emanated from my chest. Its light filled the small cavern to the point that all corners of the area were visible.Bookmark here

(Nice! How'd your first bit of magic taste, buddy?)Bookmark here

"Magic? What the fuck do you mean, MAGIC?"Bookmark here

I looked down and saw a thin golden chain hanging from my neck, the end tucked under the collar of my black t-shirt. Before I had pulled it out, I had already realized what was on it. Two linked golden wedding bands were hanging loosely from the chain, emitting the soft white glow that was now filling the cavern.Bookmark here

(Ah! Mom and Dad's rings are one of your Catalysts.)Bookmark here

"The fuck is a Catalyst?" I asked blankly.Bookmark here

(It's an item that you can use as a siphon for magical energy. I bet their rings are Catalysts because of the emotional attachment. You know, speaking of emotions, do me a favor and dig up that little mound of dirt in the corner over there.)Bookmark here

Looking over in the far corner of the cavern there was indeed a mound of dirt, just a few inches high. Curious, I moved over to it and knelt down, brushing the loose earth away with my hands, revealing a marble sized orb that burned a bright orange.Bookmark here

"Okay... what the hell is this thing?" I asked.Bookmark here

*BANG*Bookmark here

A heavy blast knocked me straight off of my feet, sending me careening into the cavern wall. I landed on the ground in a heap, my body aching as though I were covered in deep bruises. I could also feel something embedded in my flesh, just beside my heart. I ran a finger over it and discovered that the orange orb had lodged itself into my skin, where it glowed a bright, pulsing in time with my own pounding heartbeat.Bookmark here

(Sorry about that, I figured you might be a bit hesitant to pick it up if I told you it would stick to you.) The voice laughed.Bookmark here

"Of course I'd be hesitant! Who the fuck wouldn't be..."Bookmark here

I trailed off, losing my voice as I saw the figure standing still before me.Bookmark here

It was me.Bookmark here

Okay, not quite.Bookmark here

He was the same height, wearing the same clothes, had the same face and eyes, but there was no way he could be me, because I'm me.Bookmark here

He grinned down at me with my own smirk, my grey eyes alight with his joy, offering me a hand which I used to pull myself back onto my feet.Bookmark here

"Okay... you look like me... but who exactly are you?" I asked.Bookmark here

"Well... I guess it'd be best to call me a part of you, rather than you as a whole. I'm a manifestation of a bit of your soul and emotions, mostly fear and anger. Oh, I was just fucking with you when I said I didn't know where we were, by the way." The other spoke slowly, as though he weren't comfortable speaking through a mouth.Bookmark here

"Wait. You're my fear and anger?" I said.Bookmark here

"Kind of... you see, when you were born, Dad took a tiny bit of you and put it into that orb, and eventually it became me. Of course, when you're just a baby, it's a bit difficult to differentiate between the bits of the whirlwind of confusion, so you never even noticed I was gone."Bookmark here

I stared at him for a moment, then turned and looked around. This was just a regular cave, but I hadn't been anywhere near a cave when I had...Bookmark here

"Ok... why don't we start from the beginning? I'm a bit confused and I think you might be a little more aware of what's going on here than I am." I said. "And... what should I call you? I can't go around calling you "Other Me" or people will think I'm insane." I laughed.Bookmark here

"Hmm... that's a good question... let's see... why don't you just call me... Joy? It's an ironic name, you see, I figure you'd be into that." He said.Bookmark here

I stared at him blankly for a moment.Bookmark here

"Joy... huh... that's actually kind of interesting. Sure, we'll stick with Joy, for now. So... with that out of the way... how exactly did I end up here?" I asked.Bookmark here

Joy sat down on the uneven stone beneath him and rested his chin on his hand. It was odd just how alike the two of us were, although every time that thought crossed my mind I forced myself to remember that he was at least a part of me, so it honestly shouldn't be that surprising.Bookmark here

"Well... to start with, why don't we talk about Heroes." He said, tracing five small figures on the ground with his finger. "Five of them, specifically. Four girls, one boy. Guess which one you are?" He said with a grin.Bookmark here

"Heroes... kinda cliche, but alright." I said.Bookmark here

"Well... yeah... anyway, there are five of them, like I said. Each one is born to a Noble Heroic Mother." He continued.Bookmark here

"Wait, what? My mother was a Noble?" I asked.Bookmark here

"Yep... I should probably also tell you that your actual name is James Drake Greymoor, not James Drake Carter." He said.Bookmark here

"Greymoor... I think I've heard her use that name before... huh... doesn't really matter to me what my last name is at the moment... but I guess Greymoor probably has a bit more sway in this world, right?" I said, smiling in spite of the odd circumstances.Bookmark here

"Sure does, but we keep getting sidetracked. Back to the Noble Mothers... in the nation that Mom's from, Algina, the Noble families would be brought to a large gathering in which the five families who would produce Heroes would be revealed, and almost immediately after that, the other Noble families would try and arrange marriages with them. At the time when it was announced that Mom would be the mother of a Hero, she was already the Matriarch of the Greymoor family, and she didn't want any of the nonsense from the other families because-"Bookmark here

"Because she was already with Dad at that point... I think I actually overheard them talking about this before." I said. "To be fair, though, I think I was about six, so it's not exactly fresh in my mind."Bookmark here

"Right! Well, the problem was that Dad wasn't a Noble. He was 100% commoner, and the other Nobles weren't exactly fond of the idea of a commoner fathering a Hero. The King got involved, and paired Mom with another Noble man. Well, you know Mom, she wasn't at all thrilled with that, so she and Dad decided to, essentially, tell the King that he could get fucked. They ran off to another nation while hiding their identities, then she got pregnant and gave birth to us. When that happened they realized that it probably wouldn't be safe for you to stay in another nation OR in Algina, so, after talking about it, they decided to try their luck in another, more, well, more peaceful world."Bookmark here

It felt like my head was spinning, yet I knew that he was telling the truth.Bookmark here

"I... again, can we start from the beginning? I still feel like I'm missing some key information here." I asked, slowly.Bookmark here

Joy smiled, then took a seat on the stone floor. It was odd, seeing my own face so perfectly mirrored in the ghostly green glow, yet I felt no sense of caution around him. It really was as comfortable as having a conversation in my own head.Bookmark here

"Okay, where do you want me to start?" He asked.Bookmark here

"Well, where are we, specifically? You called it Gelvir, right? Tell me more about it."Bookmark here

"Alright, let's do this quickly, since I'm sure you don't want to spend your life in a cave learning what little I know. So, like I said, this is Gelvir. It's really different from the world you lived in." He began in earnest, before stopping. His face was screwed up in concentration, then, he continued.Bookmark here

"Sorry about that, I'm not used to accessing your memories. I'm trying to see what your life was like so I can explain about this place better. Alright, I think I got it. Gelvir is a lot like... uh... Medieval Earth. There are a number of kingdoms, large and small. The real big difference here is the fact that this world has magic, so it's not all that technologically advanced. Well, it doesn't need to be, because magic covers a lot of necessities. Anyway, we're currently about 15 miles from the capital city of Algina, known as Merid. Mom and Dad escaped from there to another nation, but I'm not sure of its name. Honestly, that's really all I know. When Dad split me off from you, he left me with just enough information to help you find your way when you got here." He explained.Bookmark here

I pondered this last sentence for a moment, before another question reared its head.Bookmark here

"Why exactly would they want me to come back if it wasn't safe for me to grow up here?" I asked.Bookmark here

"Okay, well, like I said, I didn't get a lot of information other than what Dad gave me, but I did get some of his magic when he created me. So, Dad was a Soul Mage, which meant he could use his magic to affect his soul or the souls of others, which is of course how he split me off from you. Because I got some of his magic, I was able to use his spells to kind of, get a look at the world outside of this place, you see? So, while I haven't been able to get a really specific hold on the goings on of the world, I have learned one undeniable fact: Algina is getting ruined in a war with another nation. That nation has all 5 of their Heroes, and Algina, of course, only has 4 without you. They send a scout out here every week to check the entrance of the cave to make sure you haven't arrived back yet."Bookmark here

"Woah, woah, woah! Why would they know where I'd be coming back at? Also, answer the question: Why would Mom and Dad want me to come back here?" I said, cutting across him.Bookmark here

"Sorry, sorry, I got caught up explaining. Alright, honestly, I think that Mom and Dad knew how things would go for Algina with only 4 Heroes, so they decided that you'd be better off coming back here after you got a bit older. As a Hero you have just as much, if not more than the desirability of a king."Bookmark here

"WAIT A GOD DAMN MINUTE!" The sound of my own realization echoed through the cavern.Bookmark here

"Are you telling me, are you... are you telling me that my Mother and Father, the flesh and blood that make me who I am. The two people who created me and raised me and loved me more than anything... lured me back to this place... so I could get laid?" I asked.Bookmark here

"Well... honestly... yeah. I think that's the long and short of it. Look, Mom and Dad loved this nation, even if it drove them away. But they had to really stop and consider what kind of life you'd be leading over on Earth, compared to the one that's gonna get all but handed to you here. I guess they decided they'd rather you have a life of luxury, you know? They probably also want you to be here to help Algina out, alongside enjoying your elevated status." Joy said.Bookmark here

I sighed, leaning back against the cave wall, and closed my eyes. The green glow emanating from my chest left a haze against my eyelids, seeping into the myriad images flashing through my head.Bookmark here

"Okay, but... I'm pretty sure I'm just a normal dude. I've never been really strong or fast, I've only ever been a bit better than everyone else." I said.Bookmark here

"Ah! Yeah, that's because the place you were raised in didn't have any mana, so your body could make use of all of its real abilities. Humans can make tiny amounts of mana, so your body could let you tap in to a really minuscule amount of your full potential. If you wanna see just how strong you are, you gotta look at your stats!" Joy exclaimed.Bookmark here

"My stats? Is this real life, or a fucking video game?" I asked, feeling a bit of my previous temper returning.Bookmark here

"Sorry, poor choice of words, but there isn't really a phrase that you'd understand quickly. Essentially, stats are a magically calculated scale of how strong you are. For instance, there are 4 different stats. Strength, Agility, Charisma, and Endurance. Most people end up training for years to get to 20 in one stat. Being able to reach 40 or 50 is something that people can only get if they have a real genius level affinity for it and train for decades. Go ahead and guess what your stats are!" Joy said, obviously pleased with the answer.Bookmark here

"I... I don't know... my head is a little to clouded to think of answers to obscure questions, at the moment." I said.Bookmark here

"Well, there's a way for you to find out! Just hold out your right arm with your forearm up and say [Status]."Bookmark here

Bemused, I did as he said, pointing my forearm upward so that my pale skin was made visible in the green light, before saying aloud:Bookmark here

"[Status]."Bookmark here

I felt a gentle warmth fill my arm, then watched in surprise as black letters and numbers began to pop into place along my flesh. I read them aloud as they came into focus.Bookmark here


HUMAN/HEROBookmark here

AGE: 21Bookmark here

"Wait, come look at this, you said 20 was normal, right?" I called out.Bookmark here

Joy darted over to me, looking down upon my arm with interest. His mouth fell open as he read the numbers on my arm.Bookmark here

STRENGTH: 3092Bookmark here

AGILITY: 3205Bookmark here

CHARISMA: 4228Bookmark here

ENDURANCE: 3836Bookmark here

WILLPOWER: 4109Bookmark here

"I... I'm not sure they're supposed to be that high. Though, in a way, I'm not surprised. You see, when you grow here in Gelvir, you get a boost to your growth from the mana in the world. You, though, you probably increased your stats a lot in the other world without even a drop of mana from outside of your body. I bet when you arrived back here, your stats all shot up because of the amount of mana that just got dumped on you all at once. Man, that's nuts! The memories from Dad only have Heroes at about 200 in a single stat, but you! You're an absolute GOD! You remember when I said that Heroes were desirable. My man, you are gonna be literally running from women." Joy seemed almost unbearably giddy, but I just leaned back further and sighed.Bookmark here

"So, what is 3000 strength like? Give me a scale that makes the... you know what? That won't help, since you've only heard of strength at 200. So were some feats of strength at 200?" I asked.Bookmark here

"Well, the big thing that Hero was known for was cutting cleanly through steel with his hands, so I'm imagining you could probably punch a hole straight up through the cave without issue. But don't, there's something else you need to learn how to do, come with me."Bookmark here

Without even waiting for my reply, Joy yanked me up from the cave wall and pulled me through a small hole in the rock on the opposite side of the room. With the green light radiating from my chest guiding him, he pulled me through a long, hallway-like stretch of rock and earth. I felt the air around us begin to change, forcing it to become viscous and... radiant? The thickened air pulsed with an eerie tingle, making the hairs on my arm stand up.Bookmark here

"Feel that? That's a holy creature, a Fallen Angel, more specifically, it's right through this hole. Before we go in, you need to know about Mom and her magic. Mom was a Dark Mage, and a damn good one. Dark Mages are the only people who can kill holy creatures, which is why Mom and Dad had you come back here." Joy said, turning to look towards me with my own face.Bookmark here

"You see, Mom was the only Dark Mage in the kingdom, which meant that she'd be able to bring down the Angel and take us into here, where they would leave me behind and take you to somewhere safer. As far as I can tell, there hasn't been any real attempt to pass the Angel and enter the room you arrived in. To me, that could only mean that no other Dark Mages have appeared in Algina, which is great for you." Bookmark here

"How is that great for me? Don't we have to get past the Angel if we want to leave this place?" I asked.Bookmark here

"Like I said, Mom was a Dark Mage, and there's no way she would have made this the place you would come back to if you couldn't beat the Angel yourself, wouldn't you think? To me, the fact that she put your return point here, rather than somewhere safer, means that you probably inherited her magic, or at least she and Dad believe that you have."Bookmark here

"Even if I did inherit her magic, wouldn't I have to be really good at using it to make it past the Angel?" I asked.Bookmark here

"Well, you might think that initially, but, you see, Holy creatures suffer from a huge drawback. They're pretty much invincible if you try to use normal weapons or magic, but if even a tiny bit of Dark Magic hits them, they basically just fall apart. You'll just have to use a basic Dark spell to beat it."Bookmark here

"Will, it really be that easy? I don't even know any spells, let alone Dark ones." I said.Bookmark here

"You can use your [Spellbook]! Just hold out your hand and call for it. Man, we really have to get you familiar with how things work in Gelvir!"Bookmark here

"Let's worry about that after we've left this cave. [Spellbook]."
Bookmark here

Sure enough a large black book popped into my hand from nowhere. I flipped it open to see its contents.Bookmark here

[Light]Bookmark here

[Dark Ray]Bookmark here

[Dark Wave]Bookmark here

[Shadow Wall]Bookmark here

[Evil Rune]Bookmark here

[Nightmare]Bookmark here

"Okay, so I do have some Dark spells, and I just use them by calling on them? That's pretty simple..." I murmured to myself.Bookmark here

"Alright! You ready to see the Angel?" Joy asked.Bookmark here

"Uh, I just have to hit it with a spell, right? What if I miss?" I asked, feeling a strange nervousness creeping up my skin.Bookmark here

"Hahaha! You're kidding me, right!? You have 3000 endurance, that Angel could hit you for years and never put a scratch on you. I told you! You. Are. A. God. That's what stats like those mean. There isn't a thing in this world that can hurt you... hey... I bet that Mom and Dad thought that something like this might happen in a world without magic... maybe they realized that you'd be way stronger than everyone else..."Bookmark here

Leaving Joy to his considerations, I moved forward through the tunnel a bit more. As I neared its end, a low, sobbing moan that chilled my bones with icy dread. I felt the same cold that had overtaken me the day that I was told my parents had been found dead on their trip. I felt the same emptiness that I had let consume me for two years after they were gone. They were always doing stupid things like jumping out of planes, or swimming with sharks, or disappearing for weeks on end to visit remote areas after I graduated... did they want to die? Were they just looking for an excuse to leave?Bookmark here

"Don't be stupid. Mom and Dad loved you. Take a breath, the Angel's miasma can wreck your emotional state if you aren't prepared for it." Joy had returned to me, eyeing me with caution as he looked at my face.Bookmark here

I sucked in the stale air, shuddering as the cold entrenched itself in my lungs. As I exhaled, a feeling unlike the dread from moments ago made itself known.Bookmark here

Joy looked at me, his face twisted into a leer that matched my own.Bookmark here

"You're angry! As you should be, since that sack of shit monster made you feel like that! Good, that means our rejoining is going well, first the fear, now the hatred and anger that you've lacked for so long has returned to you. You're gonna have an easier time with anger at your disposal. Come on, it's time to bring down the Angel and get the fuck out of here!"Bookmark here

I pushed past him and through the exit a few feet away, coming out into a large, circular chamber, surrounded on all sides but one with a line of deep water. In the center, atop a slightly raised mound of stone and earth, sat the Angel.Bookmark here

It certainly didn't look "Holy" to me. Its face was rotten and decayed, half of its teeth visible through a missing chunk of flesh on its chin. Its wings, if you could call them that, looked like long, emaciated arms, attached together with thin, opaque membranes of skin. I felt sick to my stomach, looking at this twisted creature, yet I was oddly calm. It's influence on me had made me question the love of my parents, and that was unforgivable.
Bookmark here

Its head turned towards me, its mouth agape in the middle of another howl of misery, only this time, the sound held no power over me. I heard it for what it was, a foul abomination, tempting me to feel despair.Bookmark here

But I wouldn't. No, I couldn't, for at that very moment, I felt myself glowing, incandescent with pure rage. It was so odd, unlike any feeling I'd ever had before, yet at the same time, it made me feel-Bookmark here

(Indescribably powerful, right? Like any notion that you could lose a fight or be beaten by anyone seems completely foreign to you right now. Good, you need that feeling to access the Dark Magic. Feel it coursing through you, filling your muscles and brain with boiling blood. Let it have a moment of control, then the Dark Magic will show itself.)Bookmark here

"You got it!" I shouted, both intending to respond to Joy, and to alert the Angel, who jerked itself to its feet, its, no, her face looking hungry and surprised.Bookmark here

She stood to her full height, nearly nine feet, showing me the full breadth of her of her oddly shaped form. Her wings shook wildly in the air as she lumbered towards me, picking up speed the entire way.Bookmark here

"Come on!" I roared, trying to coerce the Dark that I apparently had hidden inside of me.Bookmark here

In that moment, the anger that had filled me so completely seemed to fade away, replaced with an intense determination. I felt something oozing against my skin, and glanced down for a a fraction of a second to see that a black, sludge-like mass had spilled from the rings on my chest. It shot up my right arm, coalescing onto my hand like a thick, black, wet glove. Without a moment to think I stretched my hand out toward the Angel and shouted:Bookmark here

"[Dark Wave]!"Bookmark here

The black mass on my hand exploded outward towards the Angel, like a thick net of black ink. I felt almost sure it would hit, but the Angel's wings spread open and lifted it straight into the air, right over the spell. Undaunted, I pointed my finger at it, expecting that it'd be harder for the thing to dodge in mid air.Bookmark here

"[Dark Ray]!"Bookmark here

The black ink shot from my hand in a long, thin line, straight towards the beast. But, even though it seemed impossible to miss, the Angel twisted itself in mid air, shifting its hulking form so that the beam passed just beside it.Bookmark here

It closed the distance between us in nearly a second, striking out with its sharp fingers and slashing at my chest. I heard the sounds of ripping cloth before I realized what was happening. For a split second, I was sure that the filthy claws would slice straight through my flesh, but they didn't. They bounced perfectly off of me, like my skin was perfectly elastic. I watched with a mixture of shock and mirth as the Angel bounced right off, flailing backwards from the force of my supposedly perfect defense.Bookmark here

"Real slippery, aren't you? Okay then, let's try that!"Bookmark here

I crouched low, watching as the Angel righted itself. With another low, disgusting moan, it launched itself at me again. This time, I didn't bother trying to intercept it. Instead, I allowed it to close the gap, letting it get within five feet of me before-Bookmark here

"[Shadow Wall]!"Bookmark here

The darkness around my hand surge up and outward, engulfing the space in front of me with an impenetrable blackness. I heard the Angel crash into the wall, with no time to stop herself. The low howl instantly morphed into a shriek of miserable pain. I forced the shadows to disappear, leaving the Angel in plain view, laid out in pain on the stone.Bookmark here

(What'd I tell you! Just hitting that [Shadow Wall] turned her into this pathetic thing! Time to finish her.)Bookmark here

I stepped towards the Angel, planting my foot on its rotten chest and pointing my finger at its face, staring down at its squirming form. For a brief moment, I felt pity for it. Here it was, living in this dank cave, waiting for its next meal. Then I realized that I was supposed to be the next meal, and the pity drained from me.Bookmark here

"[Dark Ray]."Bookmark here

The beam of shadow burst forth from my finger, shooting straight into the Angel's face. Its motion stopped at once, leaving my foot pressed down upon its lifeless corpse.Bookmark here

I panted, slightly overwhelmed by what I had just done. "I can already tell this world is gonna be a bit more intense than Earth."Bookmark here

"I don't doubt it." Joy spoke, appearing at my side once more. "I can see that back on Earth, you could get along in life with a myriad of skills. You can here, too, but you can bet your ass that for a guy like you being super strong is gonna go a long way to... uh... getting you what you want. Wow, you really do take after Mom, don't you? Is that what really gets you going?" He asked.Bookmark here

"What? Are you looking through my memories?" I asked.Bookmark here

"Of course I am, I want to know what kind of person you were without me! Man, you might not have killed people like Mom or Dad, but you're still pretty twisted in your own way, eh?"Bookmark here

I smiled, finding the question more jovial than interrogative.Bookmark here

"I suppose I am. Do you think I'll be able to have my brand of "fun" in this place, too?" I asked.Bookmark here

"I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if you could. But if you want to find out, we need to get out of this cave. You have to be as tired of being here as I am." He laughed.Bookmark here

"Alright, where's the entrance?" I asked.Bookmark here

"Not sure, maybe it caved in? Agh, who cares? Blow a fucking hole through the wall. You've got 3000 strength, it shouldn't be a challenge."Bookmark here

I considered that for a moment, then shrugged. Why not? I walked through the water at the edge of the cavern, realizing that it wasn't as deep as I originally believed. Standing at the cave wall, a cocked my fist back, ready to smash through the stone. Twenty minutes ago, I would have never considered hitting solid stone with my fist, for fear of injury, but now, I didn't feel the need to be so cautious anymore.Bookmark here

"Actually, hold on! Before you punch it, you might wanna hold back a bit. This cave is at the base of a mountain. As strong as you are, it's not gonna save you if you suffocate under a mountain of rubble." Joy said.Bookmark here

"Glad you said something beforehand." I laughed.Bookmark here

I thought about how I would hold myself back. I couldn't remember a moment in my life where I ever needed my full strength, so the idea of having a massive amount of strength in any situation was a little weird.Bookmark here

"Maybe just... a casual punch?"Bookmark here

I hit the stone with a quick jab, feeling the resistance of the stone against my knuckles. The sound of cracking stone filled the cave, echoing against the walls like a gunshot. A large crater, easily six inches deep, was left where my fist had hit the wall. I pulled back again, letting a bit more of my strength out for the next hit.Bookmark here

"Maybe that was a bit too soft?"Bookmark here

The second time my fist struck stone, my blow was far more measured and deliberate. The sound that resulted was low and rang out only a few times before it stopped, escaping through the hole in the stone I had just made. Light filtered in from the open hole, filling half of the cave with pale shine, and leaving the rest in shadow.Bookmark here

"Nice! Now, let's get out of this cave and decide on our next move." Joy said.Bookmark here

We stepped through the hole and out into a thick forest, filled with lush, green trees.Bookmark here

"Wait... what season is it?" I asked.Bookmark here

"Uhhh... summer, I think. Why?"Bookmark here

"It was winter when I went up to the mountain to bury the rings. That was the only time I had off from university... I guess I shouldn't be too shocked to find that an entirely different world has seasons at a different time from Earth. I guess I'm glad that my jacket didn't come with me, though, looking at my clothes, it might have been better if it had."Bookmark here

"I guess you could try calling for it, kind of like your spellbook? The only reason I can think of as to why it wouldn't be here is if it was somehow magical, which means you should be able to summon it like other items that are tied to your magic. But, where did you get it? I don't think that a jacket from Earth would have any magical properties."Bookmark here

"Uhhh, Mom gave it to me... back when she and Dad were hoping I'd start taking up the family pastime. I didn't wear it all the time, because it's a black leather jacket and it always made me feel a little... odd." I explained.Bookmark here

"I see... you know, I'm surprised that you got used to being from here so quickly, I imagined that you'd panic or something, or call me a liar." Joy said.Bookmark here

"Well, I'm here, and I'm pretty sure I'm not hallucinating. Realistically, freaking out about things I don't understand seems like a waste of energy to me now. How do I get my jacket? Do I just call it like... [Jacket]?"Bookmark here

A black leather jacket appeared around my arm, hanging there as if it had been there since I arrived.Bookmark here

"Huh, I'll bet that's leather from here, and not Earth, which might be why it's acting like a magic item. So, now that you've got your jacket, what's the plan?" Joy asked.Bookmark here

I slipped into my jacket, feeling the warm cloth on the inside envelop my skin, before zipping it up half way, leaving most of the claw marks in my shirt concealed.Bookmark here

"Well, I think it'd be a good idea to meet this "King", personally." I said.Bookmark here

"Huh... not a bad idea, I guess there are plenty worse things we could spend our time doing. Plus, there's plenty of women in Algina, so you'll be able to have a bit of fun. I know how to get there, Dad's been there plenty."Bookmark here

I laughed, turning to the cave behind us. I felt oddly liberated in that moment. Was it just the feeling of being so powerful, or was it being here, where I was born and, realistically, belonged? I didn't know, and, frankly, I didn't care.Bookmark here

"Sounds good, lead the way."Bookmark here

The Forest of Algina

The Ignoble Hero

Poynt Fury
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