Chapter 1:

First Encounter

Aether: Brigade




Setting: Texdan’s busy city centre.

Time: 4:00 pm

The hustle and bustle of the rush hour is a trademark of Texdan’s town square. This day was no different. The city centre is usually filled with workers of all trades and skills, but civilians were gathered here en masse today as well. The town square is flooded with fifteen year olds giddy with excitement for the selection process. As mandated in the nation of Adamatrium, all youths by the age of fifteen must decide the trade/employment that would serve as their careers for the rest of their lives. Among the crowd stood a young Taylian Tomoharu. Accompanied by his aunt Lexi, he glances around the tightly packed city centre in discomfort.

“Next!”

After standing in line for the past hour, the little anxiety that had initially taken hold of Taylian had now snowballed into full blown panic. One would think that perhaps the young boy was nervous about signing his life away to the farmers guild, or perhaps worried about something he forgot to do in preparation for such a grand occasion.

“Next!”

However, as the young boy continuously moved from behind his aunt to peer at a few muscular miners, drinking near the stands, it was evident that the selection signing was the least of his worries. The miners stood a short distance from the stand and it was quite easy to tell that they had gotten drunk after their morning to afternoon shift. After peeping at them, Taylian stood behind his aunt and placed his head down.

Aunt Lexi, taking notice of his distress squeezes his shoulder and leans in,

“It won’t take long. We’ll sign you up and be out of here in no time.”

“Next!”

Taylian’s eyes gleam with assurance, and he pulls his head back up. He is suddenly strengthened - not because of his aunt’s words - but because he was next in line, and he didn't want to draw attention to himself by wasting time. Content with his decision to follow his uncle and aunt’s career path by joining the farmers guild, Taylian steps forward, prepared to embrace this new chapter in his life.

As he steps forward, a massive howl bellows out from the very direction he had been trying to avoid since he got in line.

“WELL! If it isn’t the little BASTARD!”

Taylian’s eyes that had shone with hope for a brief moment darkened in fear and anxiety once more. That same anxiety that he believed had been resolved, had now come back in full force, much more fierce and blood churning than its initial appearance.

[“Not here… please not here…”]

In what seemed like a dream from the pit of hell, Taylian slowly looked backwards to see the four miners towering above him and his aunt.

“I can’t believe we didn’t notice you before! I thought the people of this city have made it clear, kid - we don’t want you here!”

Lexi, ever the protective caretaker - and having been through this repeatedly in the past - was quick to jump into action. She stretches her arms between the miners and her nephew, sneering at the miners, in hopes that they would retreat.

“Enough! Not today! Can’t we just have ONE day of peace without trouble from the likes of-”

As quickly as Lexi had begun her spiel, it quickly ended as the loudest miner of the bunch strikes her down with a backhanded slap. The miner’s friend instinctively grabs Lexi, and pins her hands down, before she has the chance to retaliate.

“What does this have to do with you, witch?”

Taylian looks to his aunt, and sees her wrestling as hard as she can to fight the man off. The rest of the men encircle around Taylian, each with devilish grins.

[“I know my life has always been like this…..”]

Taylian turns around, trying desperately to escape from the situation.

[“...and yet…for some reason…”]

*CLUTCH!*

[“...I’m never prepared…”]

“Trying to escape, are ya?! HA! Like father, like son!”

*PUNCH!*

Taylian falls to the ground, caught square in the face by a right hook to his jaw. Unfortunately, the attack only worsened from there.

[“It is not the cruelty of the world itself that I wish I could prepare for. The race of primals that wage war constantly against Adamatrium, reminds us everyday that our world will never be a peaceful one..”]

“Let me get in on that!”

“I got next!”

[“No…It's the cruelty of one human towards another…that I can’t ever seem to prepare myself for.”]

Lexi looks up, and notices that the man holding her captive was clearly the most inebriated. His hold on her was weak. She pauses to think. Out of options, Lexi drives her bodyweight backwards and uses her elbow to strike the man where the sun doesn’t shine. Losing his complete grip on her as he collapses to the ground, Lexi manages to escape.

“LET HIM GO!”

Gunning straight for the drunk man currently attacking Taylian, Lexi begins to claw and hit the man as hard as she can.

“Damn it, witch!”

The other two men grab hold of her and pin her down. As they look over to the fourth, they see him clutching his private area and rolling around in a drunken fit.

“Idiot!”

Lexi screams, “Let me go! We have done nothing wrong!”

Taylian, battered and broken, tries his best to crawl away and escape. His body can’t take much more.

*SLAM!*

“AAHHH!” Taylian screams in pain, as the leader of the drunk men slams his foot on Taylian’s ankle.

“You really are pathetic, boy.”

Taylian looks up to see the leader glaring down at him. Although he can’t tell how, or even when it happened, he notices that the demeanor of the leader had changed….for the worse…

Lexi, “Somebody help! Please! I beg you to stop them!”

The crowd had gathered around to observe, but done nothing to interfere. Lexi realizes that her pleas - as usual - were falling on deaf ears and begins to cry.

“Why…why does it always have to be like this?!” Lexi whispers

The leader grabs Taylian by his head, and holds him up like nothing more than a deflated rag doll. The leader’s build is raw. Powerful. Monstrous…perfect for a miner.

“What gave your father the right to have her? Everyone with eyes wanted to be with that woman… myself included!”

*PUNCH!*

Taylian coughs out blood. He writhes in severe pain as it felt like his insides had been scrambled.

“But no!”

*PUNCH*

“It just had to be…”

*PUNCH*

“Your wretched father…”

*PUNCH!*

“That got with her!” he roared.

Taylian coughs more blood. His tears cause his vision to blur. The leader finally lets Taylian go, and he drops to the ground.

[“I guess…I’ll just never be ready…”]

“The son of a greedy man that tricked us all, and a disgraceful woman who couldn't keep her oath. That is who you are!”

The leader walks over to pick up an ax he had previously dropped before. He had already finished his work for the day before stopping by the square to grab a drink with his friends. He grabs his ax and heads back towards Taylian.

“If I were you, I would consider this a favor. Since I technically can’t ‘kill you’, I ought to at least rid the world of your future descendants!” he bursts out in laughter

“Please…stop…I beg of you…please!” Taylian manages to say while crying.

[“Somebody, anybody..I’m just..never ready”]

The leader points his axe towards Taylian’s genitalia as he laughs maniacally. He raises the axe with the intent to castrate Taylian. As he is about to land the ax, his movement suddenly stops midair.

Lexi gasps.

The leader, surprised by the stopped axe, turns to his left and sees a young man standing beside him, holding his wrist. Suddenly, the young man twists his wrist, causing him to scream in pain.

“Ahhhh!!!”

He bends one knee to the floor, trying to hold his twisted left wrist with his right hand. “You….little…shit!”

Suddenly, the young boy’s voice appears in the mind of the instigator as clear as day:

“If a sprain isn’t enough for you, then I’ll gladly heighten it as much as you wish.”

The leader freezes in fear, as he looks up to the boy’s pale face. The corners of the boy’s mouth had not moved once. Yet, he had clearly heard his voice.

“Who-”

Before the leader can finish his question, the pale boy immediately applies more pressure to his wrist, causing the leader to scream further in pain.

“So then…how much higher should I go?”

The leader begins to sweat, and though irritated, refrains from moving out of fear.

He ponders to himself: [“With those golden earrings… and this immense presence… he must be from Floritian…possibly a commander…If I push my luck…this could end very badly for me…”]

The young boy finally speaks out loud, loud enough for all the spectators to hear. “I understand that this is the slums of Texdan, but why is such behavior permitted?”

He then looks towards the other three drunk men - two of which were holding Lexi, the other still clutching his crotch. “And you three, why would you join in such brutish acts, knowing you will only get arrested?”

The two men holding Lexi, not yet realizing what their leader now knew about the boy, further challenged the kid.

“Huh?? Is this pipsqueak really tryna lecture us??? Hasn’t anyone taught you to respect your elders, kid?!”

The two men simultaneously let go of Lexi and begin to approach the boy, still spurred on by the alcohol in their veins.

“I guess we’re gonna have to teach you not to get involved in grown folks busine-”

Their slightly sloppy, but focused drunken movement, is then immediately cut short as a flash of light wizzes by both of their lines of vision. As their eyes begin to focus, they then see a tiny spirit glaring at them, resembling that of a hummingbird mixed with a rhinoceros-like nose.

The crowd begins to react in admiration and fear.

“Choose your next actions very carefully.”

As a figure emerges from the crowd, they all look to see the Health Faery, Niko, accompanied with a massive spirit resembling that of a white falcon, blessed with massive wings that drape all over her shoulders and back. Reactions spurred from the crowd.

“It’s the faery, Niko!”

“She’s stunning!”

Niko’s arrival also causes panic, as some of the crowd start to move away from the scene so that they won't be tagged as accomplices. The two drunk men that were about to attack the young boy retreat in fear. As the young boy sees Niko emerge from the crowd, he sighs, and then removes the axe from the leader’s hand. The leader screams and wets himself as he watches the boy move the axe towards his head. However, the boy merely strikes him on the forehead with the wooden end, simply knocking him out.

“And where do you think you two are going?”

The two drunk men freeze, stunned by the sudden voices in their heads. They look around to see who had just spoken to them, but don’t see anyone looking at them.

“I swear man, I’m never drinking again!”

Militia soldiers then arrive at the scene and place handcuffs on the four drunks, including with the one that was still rolling around in pain. As soon as they cuff him, and force his hands off his private area, he then realizes that the pain had actually been gone for a while.

Niko walks up to the young boy and places her hand on his cheek.

“Atlas, are you alright?”

The young boy - Atlas - ignores Niko’s question and stares at Taylian. Lexi had already run over to him, and now held him in her arms. She checks to see if Taylian’s wounds were severe.

“What was their problem with him?” Atlas mutters

Niko, noticing Atlas’ distraction, looks back at Taylian and Lexi. Lexi looks up and locks eyes with Niko. Niko grimaces and breaks the stare by turning back to Atlas.

“It’s no concern of ours. You should learn to stay away from things like this…..also…..stay away from that boy.” Niko whispers to Atlas. She then turns to the remaining crowd. “The show is over! Or would the rest of you like to be arrested?”

The crowd quickly disperses, and the people return to what had preoccupied them before the drunken show.

Niko turns back to Atlas, “Let’s go. We’re done here.”

Atlas turns and starts to walk in the direction that he and Niko came from.

“Wait!” coughs Taylian. It was a small word, barely audible, but it was enough to make Atlas stop in his tracks.

[“I’m never ready for the cruelty displayed by others. To be locked up in a cage…. without being told my crime…”]

Taylian looks up to Atlas as he struggles to keep one bruised eye open.

[“...but this time…”]

Taylian smiles. “Thanks.”

[“...it’s….different…”]

Atlas stares at the young boy in his sorry state.

After a while he says, “I saw it, you know. I saw you crawling to escape from the men earlier.”

Atlas turns around and begins to walk away again.

“You’d be better off…using that energy to defend yourself…and maybe others.”

Atlas looks back towards Lexi for a second, and then walks away.

Taylian with no strength left, finally succumbs to his wounds and faints in Lexi’s arms.

Benz
icon-reaction-1

Aether: Brigade


Benz
Author: