Age of Ember
Chapter 0.5 Continues
The Night of Fun
1 year later…
It was 7 in the morning and Sabrina and Ziggy were sound asleep. Sabrina opened her eyes to the sound of faint giggles. Still laying in bed, her senses slowly honed in to the source of the giggles that gradually became louder. It certainly wasn’t a noise coming from her head as the sound echoed from the hallway. These kids were sure energetic. After letting out a loud yawn, she nudged at Ziggy’s shoulder but it wasn’t until after nudging him several times did he wake up. He was quite the heavy sleeper.
"Ziggy, wake up,” Sabrina whispered, also ceasing from shaking him. “I hear laughing from one of the kids’ rooms.”
“J-ust fi- moore min-es,” Ziggy struggled to formulate a coherent sentence.
"I SAID WAKE UP! CHECK ON THEM!"
Struggling to open his eyes and collect his thoughts, Ziggy tried to speak the best he could:
"A...l ri....ht al.. rig.....t I'm up I'll go ...heck on them"
Ziggy was just not a morning person. Crawling out of bed, he made his way down the hall toward every room. First he checked on Sarah's room first on the right side to find her still asleep. Smiling to the sight of his sleeping child he looked over to the door further down to the left. He could hear the childish laughter from the room he looked toward.
“Those kids have a lot of energy.” He yawned while dragging his feet.
Opening the door, Ziggy was surprised by what he saw. Not knowing whether to panic or be a little excited, he called Sabrina out in a loud whisper:
"Babe, come here! You’re gonna wanna see this!"
Sabrina immediately hopped out of bed, scurrying down the hallway. She stood beside Ziggy to see what he had called her out for. Both of them looked into the room, shocked by the sight of what they were witnessing. They saw Odrian falling through a series of multiple portals and black holes that were scattered throughout the room. He was having the time of his life falling from left portal to right portal, from one to another with so many twist and turns.
“Babe, there’s no way,” Ziggy wasn’t sure whether to be terrified or excited by the prospects of his son’s newfound power.
“Forux in children don’t awaken until about 5 years old.” Sabrina’s eyes were still glued on Odrian who was haplessly thrown through portals.
"Aw, man. I've never thought I had to deal with this."
Ziggy placed his hand on his forehead and began to laugh. Perhaps he was indeed overwhelmed by the unexpected development. Sabrina stared at him intensely while trying to hold back her own laughter. They weren’t sure whether these were actually portals or black holes. Sabrina regained her focus again.
"Alright, stop laughing and grab him already."
"Oh yeah, sure I got this... This should be fun."
“Fun? Ziggy not right now. I’ll be back in a little.”
Sabrina walked away with a smile on her face. Ziggy took a few steps back wondering how he was going to get Odrian. Giving up on finding the best method possible he dashed forward into the closest portal starting an endless game of portal. He missed catching Odrian every time. It had been 10 minutes since Sabrina had left and she returned Landon and Sarah in her arms to find her husband having the time of his life. It didn’t seem that he was even trying to catch Odrian any longer. Angered by her husband’s carefree attitude, she walked all the way into the room gently set down Sarah and Landon. Without much processing of Odrian’s fall pattern, she grabbed Odrian out of the air, causing all the portals to vanish in an instant. Ziggy was in mid-flight as he came from the portal from the ceiling and even with his feet breaking his fall he slammed against the wall. With Odrian safely in her arms, Sabrina laughed along with the rest of the children.
"That's what you get! You should've just grabbed him! What if he was in danger?"
"It looked like so fun! I couldn't resist. Plus, you know if things got bad I would've saved him in a heartbeat!"
She let out an exasperating sigh.
"It's like I have 4 kids to raise.”
“Hey babe, we should do this more often.”
"What? Come on! Let’s get ready. We could probably get their Forux appraised. You can get Odrian ready, seeming how you two had so much fun together already."
Sabrina handed her Odrian into Ziggy’s arms. Odrian was still lively as he giggled to the sight of his father. Ziggy was thinking how Odrian wasn’t biologically his child, but the kinship was evident. Ziggy smiled back.
"It looks like it's us against the world today, huh, son" Odrian reached towards Ziggy’s face. Only if parents could have favorites. You’re adorable but Sarah has got you beat.” Odrian continues to try and reach his face. Ziggy decided to give him his finger, only to get bit.
"Ok, you can be the cutest one today. You win."
2 hours pass, they were ready to set out. Standing by the large window facing their front yard, Ziggy looked at his wife and then returned his gaze outside.
"Do you know what the forest looks like today"
The forest that surrounds their home switches weekly sometimes, spawning new areas and sections from other forests or realms. Sometimes it may just relocate all the trees, plants and lakes. Sabrina grabbed his attention, by moving into his peripheral vision, with her eyes meeting his:
"I haven't been out yet… Besides the week just started and we did wake up at the same time... And our location never changes so it shouldn't matter too much. Are you ready to head out cause I am?"
Ziggy picked up Odrian and Landon, placing one in each arm while Sabrina picked up Sarah. They both began to move in lightning speed from tree to tree, until they arrived at the city's edge. They landed on the ground level
"Let's continue," Sabrina hopped from the ground to the rooftops since it would be easier to travel. "And this time don’t land so rough! I won't be paying for roof repairs again."
"I know," Ziggy recalled with a tinge of disappointment. Ziggy said in a much lower, disgruntled tone:
"You're not the one carrying two.”
"Did you just say something smart?"
"What? Me? No?"
Arriving close to the center of the city between a school and shop lied the Forux Appraisal Association (F.A.A). Standing a few stories tall, it had a rotating top that emitted a purple magical energy. Forux, also know as Kogane, is a piece of god given to the universe, which gives most of those but not all within its powers which is separate from magic. All beings have access to magic but it isn’t to say magic is easy to learn. Not all can obtain a Forux but if you have a Forux, it's a part of you and is different from person to person. Based on your race there are abilities such as blast, beams, and etc. a truly confusing system of endless possibilities which are all based on background and other factors. Everyone uses their abilities differently but not one can truly be stronger than the other except those with a Kogane.
Sabrina and Ziggy through the automatic doors, crossing the marble and metal tiled floors. They observed the elegant design of the marble pillars on each side of the room; holograms circled around them displaying the date and time and other relevant information to the association. After absorbing the grandeur of the entrance, they approached the front desk.
"We'd like to get our 3 kids appraised," Ziggy requested.
"Which one would you like to do first?" The attendant asked with her rabbit ears aimed high in her F.A.A standard-issue green and black uniform and all-black mini skirt to match.
"Let us do Landon first," Sabrina suggested.
The associate took out a colorful gem from under her desk.
"Place his hand on top of this and wait a couple of seconds." The employee said invitingly as she began to look at her computer screen. "Landon's is done and his Forux is called Overpower, and his power pool is based on race that is… unknown."
Not seeing any description for overpower, she called her boss. A few minutes later, a half-ogre, half demon man emerged towering over them at 7 feet high. The 3 horns that adorned his head seemed absolutely menacing as his gaze was downcast at them. He was build like a sturdy tank but the all-black tuxedo fit him quite well. And much like his powerful build his voice was equally as strong voice:
“It’s been quite a long time. 3 kids? You must've been putting in work these past few years."
"Hey, my wife is right here," Ziggy was noticeably worried that his old acquaintance would say that in front of his wife. Even after so many years, his friend was still very much the same. Sabrina exchanged a dirty glance at Ziggy that shook him to his core.
"Ah, well, my apologies. Now, follow me. We have to go to the second floor.”
They arrived on the second floor and step out the elevator. A few feet ahead of them was a 15 ft tall crystal, surrounded by much more advanced machinery and metal encased in a durable glass that had a crystalized sheen to its appearance. All these components were connected to a single computer with multiple monitors.
"We use this to find out more about complex powers." Kroxx walked over to the computer. As he accessed the computer, a set of metal stairs appeared leading toward the massive crystal. Where it lead was a pad that was attached it.
"Have him touch the crystal pad at the top of those stairs.”
Sabrina looked over at Ziggy, expecting him to go with Landon in arms. He carefully made his way up feeling the overpowering presence of the crystal. All his life, he never understood what the true power of these crystals were. He had only heard stories of the giant crystals existing. Looking at Landon who seemed just as struck in awe as Ziggy, he began to guide his hand toward the crystal. Once Landon’s hands rested upon the pad, the entire room lit up into an assortment of colors before finally settling on one. One of the monitors began displaying information in regards to Landon’s powers. Although the power pool based on race was still unknown, the overpower now had a description. Everyone, except Ziggy and Landon who were still at the top of the stairs, came to read what the information was.
“So, what does it say?” Ziggy was curious.
“Let’s see here,” Kroxx read it to himself before finally announcing the results. “He will always be one step stronger and one step faster than his opponent, within reason. His strength and speed can't become greater than a target who is a few classes in power apart. There are a couple of unknown abilities. Well…”
Kroxx opened his eyes a little wider, looking at Ziggy who was equally as bewildered. Somehow Sabrina couldn’t quite grasp the precedence of the power that Landon had.
“It would seem that this child may pose a bit of a problem for you down the road.” The manager regained his composure and cleared his throat. “Have the next one touch the crystal."
Sabrina walked toward the stairs to exchange Landon and Odrian with Ziggy. Ziggy felt that whatever Odrian had would outclass his brother somehow. Perhaps the summoning of portals was enough to convince him of this. Ziggy understood, as a warrior it wasn’t just about raw power but tactics. As he held Odrian’s hand on top of the crystal, the whole room turned pitch black and then purple. The monitors began displaying their results:
Power pool from race unknown
Forux Dark Plasma manipulation, spatial manipulation primarily black, white holes, and portals but not limited too.
Deeper Description showed an ability called Untrapped (cannot be trapped).
"You two certainly have a lot of problems on your hands.” Kroxx looked at both of them. “But because I know we used to quest together I've got something in mind that’ll definitely help you. Let's just finish this last child first. Have the last child place her hand on the crystal please."
Ziggy held Sarah toward the crystal pad and within seconds the room was filled with a rainbow flash. The monitor displayed her power description:
Power pool from race Xerbian/Human
Forux Holographic manipulation, illusionary manipulation and other complimenting powers.
"It’s not too bad with this one but your house will never get boring.” Kroxx seemed a bit relieved after reading the results. He continued typing on the screen which summoned a few items from a compartment under the computer. “But to help out you out a little I'll give you 2 bracelets. For Odrian, which are metal bracelets with inscriptions from an unknown language that will limit their powers. But they will give them access to untapped potential as they become better able to handle them.”
“Uh, they kind of look like shackles, don’t you think?” Ziggy wittingly noted much to his wife’s disapproval.
“These bracelets will grow with them so no need to worry about new ones. Water can phase through them as well so their skin won't be dirty or not able to get clean they also will allow in light so their skin won't be discolored.”
“And how about Sarah?” Sabrina followed up, whilst listening intently.
“As for Sarah, I will get some contacts made for you and Ziggy to help with raising her and see through her illusions and holograms. You’ll have to get new ones every years however. The contacts will arrive at your home in 1 month.”
"How much does getting these custom made cost?" Sabrina asked, concerned primarily for the cost. Her response was met with laughter, which annoyed her slightly.
“The cost?” Kroxx finally calmed himself down. “It’s already paid for in Ziggy saving my life back in the day. So, I no longer owe you Ziggy! If anything, I'll help them in the future."
“Well, thank you for your help.”
Kroxx handed over the bracelets. Sabrina and Ziggy began walking away with the kids in arms. Kroxx watched as they left toward the elevator while reminiscing on the past. They were wrapping their head around how hard raising their children will really be. It will be a really interesting next few years for them. Sabrina looked at Ziggy with a stern face and said:
"I'm not having any more period."
They both nodded in agreement. Before the elevator doors could shut, Kroxx stopped it from closing. Ziggy and Sabrina looked at him at once.
“Actually Ziggy, there’s something I need to talk to you about.” Kroxx insisted in a more serious tone than before.
“Uh, sure,” Ziggy glanced over at Sabrina. He kept Odrian with him and left Landon with her. “Babe, this won’t take too long.”
“Alright, I’ll be waiting.” Sabrina understood. Ziggy stepped out watching the doors close. Once the doors closed, he turned toward the towering Kroxx. They walked toward the large crystal that had lit up the dim room.
“Ziggy Tate,” Kroxx smiled as he sat against the table. “Never imagined that you’d settle down. You’re a family man now.”
“The times have changed.” Ziggy agreed. Odrian laughed a little during their conversation. Kroxx looked upon him with skepticism.
“It’s safe to assume that Landon and Odrian aren’t yours.”
Ziggy wasn’t sure how to respond to his assumption. He was right. He wasn’t sure who’s kids he was taking care of but he saw them as their own.
“You don’t have to answer that. It isn’t often we get kids that come around with powers like that, let alone at that age. You have to be careful from now on.”
“Yeah, I know. It’s been interesting ever since becoming a father. I still think even now, I’m not quite cut out for it.”
“You kidding me? The kids seem to love you. Considering how we used to work together, seeing this side of you is quite interesting.”
“You got any kids?”
“Me? Pfft. That’s not on my radar any time soon. Between me running the Association and still being out in the field, there’s not much of a place for that. Maybe, someday but for now, I think I’ll keep my word when I say I’ll be watching over your family.”
“Don’t mention it. The times are changing. We need to be ready for anything. With abilities like theirs just imagine what they could do.”
“One day at a time now.”
“Right, sorry. I suppose balancing between a father and a warrior is essential. Even then, you have a bigger role than I ever will. And it’s to guide those children to be the best possible versions of themselves. It’s a cruel world out there.”
“Yeah, I remember. It wasn’t easy for us to be where we’re at today.”
“Especially for an Orc/Demon hybrid.”
“Hey, Ziggy, you got a lot of women back in the day. I never thought you’d be married. “You were every girls dream back then.”
“We’re passed those times, Kroxx. Do I miss those times? A little. But ever since I settled down, I don’t regret it. And wouldn’t change it for anything”
“I’m glad for that.” Kroxx smiled. He looked at Odrian once more before he continued. “Well, I don’t want to hold you up any longer. It was nice to see you again. We should meet up some time again.”
“Yeah, we should.”
Ziggy reached out his hand for a handshake. Kroxx was a much different person than he was in the past. As they departed Ziggy watched as the doors closed, Kroxx stayed in place in the dimly lit room. Odrian had fallen asleep at some point during the conversation. Ziggy felt strange after their interaction, it was certainly a different time. It wasn’t like how it was before. Ziggy sighed:
“Aw, man, being alive for so long might really be catching up to me."