Chapter 3:

A Sentence of The Soul (Part 1)

A Longing Dream I'd Even Burn The World For

Anger wasn’t the right word for it—but you’d be excused for calling it as such. To Gaspard, it was less a feeling and more a lack of it. He’d thought it once to be a blind rage—his mind going white when his emotions reached an overwhelming peak, but it was not like he was ever furious enough for that...

So, what is it?

Questioning this, his muscles began to move by themselves. In a flash, Gaspard grabbed the man’s chest place and ripped it off the leather straps. The buckles on either shoulder snapped, dropping with a high-pitched clang. Before the prickly-haired man realized his situation, his exposed chest was slammed with the full strength of Gaspard’s fist. A loud crack echoed from the man’s sternum—then he collapsed.

Not even a grunt leaked from his mouth.

His lungs lacked the air for that.

Trying to catch his breath, his chest twitched sporadically. Blood leaked through his green tunic. He desperately held his chest, drenching his hand with blood as he did.

Gaspard kneeled wordlessly and clutched the collar of the man’s tunic. Lifting him centimeters off the pavement, Gaspard rapidly slammed him back down, crushing his collarbone.

Blood splattered upwards, staining Gaspard’s blank expression.

The mere aura his actions emanated froze nearby onlookers in their tracks. All but a single girl who, although couldn’t see, knew the scene unfolding before her by sound alone. Gushing sounds of blood and cracking bones were distinguishable, but the blank ferocity was unlike anything any of the adventures had ever experienced.

Gaspard repeatedly slammed the back of the man’s head onto the pavement. Each impact bellowing another excruciating crack.

Finally, he let go with a heavy thump.

Instead of backing away, Gaspard reached for the dagger dangling from the man’s belt. Pulling it from its scabbard revealed a blade chipped throughout the edge. It was obviously never taken care of, but it still served its job as Gaspard jammed it into the man’s shoulder, ripping through skin, muscle, and bone with relative ease before hitting the concrete with a clink!

Only then did the man let out a whimper. A sound so fragile it was hard to believe it came from a man like him.

Beside him, expressionless as before, Gaspard held out his palm. Murmuring a spell, green strips of light swirled around his arm, leading to the center of his palm. The concentrated rays spun with concentric rings of light before solidifying into a bright green star.

Placing his hand against the man’s chest, his body glowed green. The wounds, which would’ve proved fatal, began to close, rebuilding his bone, muscle, and skin—solidifying the blade inside his body.

Now healed, Gaspard kicked him on his side, effectively flipping the man on his stomach.

Finally able to speak, the man pleaded, tears streaking down his cheeks, “S-stop…Please st—!”

Gaspard stomped on the man’s back, cutting off his plea and splitting his forehead as he hit the ground.

He lifted the prickly-haired man by the back of his collar and dragged him towards Za’Lia. Once at her feet, Gaspard said, in a soft voice, “Apologize.”

“…Wh-What?” The man asked, struggling to process the off-putting tone of Gaspard’s words.

He let go of the collar before stomping the man back to the ground. “I said—apologize.” His steady tone and faint smile continued.

The man, practically on his hands and knees before Za’Lia, quickly nodded before blaring, “I-I’m—I’m sorry!” He slammed his bloody forehead to the ground.

Gaspard, who still had his foot on the man’s back, pressed down. “And what are you apologizing for?” he asked.

“U-Uh,” The man’s lip quivered. Swallowing hard, he answered, “F-For shoving your sla—”


Gaspard stomped once more. The handle of the dagger that was still stuck to the man’s shoulder snapped, leaving only the blade left inside. “Her name is Za’Lia.”

The man, whose sobs had become uncontrollable, hesitantly nodded. Tearing up more, he corrected himself, “For shoving Za’Lia.”

“Good. Now, what do you say to her?”

After a quick sharp breath, he said, “I-I’m sorry Za’Lia for shoving you…”

“That’s more like it,” Gaspard nodded and stomped him to the ground one last time, knocking him out in the process.

Like a curse had been lifted, a long breath exited his lips. Gaspard blinked a few times as he snapped back to his senses.

He glanced at the man lying limp on the ground.

Although he could remember what he did, it felt like he’d witnessed it through someone else’s eyes. However, that couldn't be the case, and the blood on his hands was proof of that.

Terrifying as it was to experience, he could only imagine how everyone else must’ve felt seeing him do the things he did.

Looking around, the three other men that’d come into town with the prickly-haired one stood with their mouths agape. They hesitantly walked towards Gaspard, motioning that they were only going to help up their (supposed) leader.

Gaspard nodded, making the men’s fear leave their faces as they quickly picked up their leader and left.

Guess I can add those three to the list of people afraid of me, Gaspard thought.

With that in mind, he turned to the girl still laying on the ground—Za’Lia. It wasn’t the first time she’d seen him blank out and go on a violet rampage, but he still worried she’d start fearing him.

He didn’t know what he’d do if that happened—

—Although, deep down, he had an idea what the answer to that was...

The face of a woman he hadn’t thought of in years flashed through his mind. His memory of that moment was blurry, but the emotion that grappled his chest nearly knocked him off his feet. The image, as painful as it was, faded as quickly as it came. Disappearing back into the deepest parts of his mind.

He took a deep breath.

Helping Za’Lia up, he whispered, “Sorry about that.”

Za’Lia quickly shook her head. She looked down for a moment before mumbling a single phrase, “Thank you.” A thin smile formed on her face.

As usual, she spoke in short sentences, but it wasn’t hard to gauge what she meant.

People like that guy who shoved her weren’t rare in the slightest. If anything, people like Gaspard were the exception. Za’Lia could protect herself, yes, but that didn’t change the fundamental issue of feeling like the whole world was against her.

Gaspard let out a smile of his own and a chuckle slipped out his mouth. With a sigh at his (What he hoped were) baseless worries, he ruffled the small girl’s hair.

While the commotion had gone down, the baker had seemingly used that opportunity to run back into his store. Gaspard still hadn’t paid him, but he didn’t think bursting in there right now, or at any point throughout the day, was the smartest idea. He’d just have to pay him at another time for the bread.

He clicked his tongue.

Even if most of the town saw him as a hero, he was conscious of the fact he was one incident away from being treated like the opposite. He already caught flack because he had taken in Za’Lia, so plenty of people were looking for a reason to paint him in a different light.

As long as they lived in the country of Siggdridd, there wouldn’t be a place where she would be accepted, but he hoped that this town would let it slide even if just for the fact she was helping protect it. Obviously, it wouldn’t be as easy as that, and Gaspard wasn’t helping by causing a scene like this one.

Thankfully most people were busy with repairs. He hoped that would distract enough people from his lash-out.

As he stared at the front door to the shop, a warm sensation on his hand snapped him back to reality.

Za’Lia lightly squeezed his hand.

Even without words, Gaspard could tell she was trying to cheer him up.

“Right, we should get going,” he eventually said.

She nodded once, and with that, they headed back to their cart.

“Well, if it isn’t the main man himself,” A loud voice boomed as soon as Gaspard entered the shop. The man behind the counter put down his meat cleaver and turned to face the front. Even at first glance, he was obviously young. His hair was black and cut short. A mustache was starting to grow on his face, while his beard was nothing more than stubble.

The shop was small, and the decoration was simple. Nothing stood out much except for the door behind the counter. Behind that heavy-looking door was where all the meat was stored.

Tapping the counter, the man said, “What brings you ‘round here—oh, and the little lady is here too?”

As they made it to the counter, Za’Lia peeked her head over the wooden surface. Even at the age of nine, she was much smaller than most kids her age, so she had to be on the tip of her toes to look over.

“Wait up, I’ll get you something,” the man said before going to the backroom. He came out with a small dish in hand, and he placed it on the counter. On it was a thin slab of meat, crispy brown, and dressed in spices. “I’m trying something new out. Tell me what you think. You have some too Gaspard.”

The piece of meat was sliced in two, one for each of them. Za’Lia quickly took the piece of meat and stuffed it in her mouth. Gaspard followed after.

“Hm, this is pretty good, Ryan. I see that you followed my recommendation,” Gaspard smiled.

The butcher, Ryan, beamed a smile back as he put both hands on his waist, “Of course! I’ve been looking over those notes you wrote for me every day. You really have a knack for cooking, you know?”

“It’s all stuff I learned from others so I can’t take all the credit,” he laughed.

“You’re way too humble,” Ryan shook his head, before turning to the girl still chewing on the meat. “So, what about it Lia? How’s it taste?”

After a few seconds of suspense, Za’Lia finally swallowed. She pensively pointed her head to the sky. “Tough…but tasty,” she said in a soft voice.

Ryan let out a sigh, “Better reception than last time—but still not good enough. Guess I’ll have to keep practicing.” He tapped the counter with his fingers.

Za’Lia, stretching as far as she could, reassuringly pat his hand, making him break out in a smile.

Ryan was one of the few people who Gaspard considered trustworthy. He was the reason they were able to have food on their table the first year Gaspard took in the girls, before Za’Lia began hunting, that is. At the time, his father was running the butchery so he couldn’t just hand them free food, but he did give it to them at a substantial discount behind his old man’s back.

While fishing, and fish in general, was the town’s main source of food due to the town being next to the ocean, every other type of meat was handled here, at one of the farthest points of the town. Fish was cheaper, but the amount that he’d need to feed the three of them would’ve added up to money that Gaspard simply didn’t have. Instead, Ryan’s deals were cheaper than what the fish would’ve been, which was ludicrous every way you saw it.

After his father retired, Ryan took over the family business and Gaspard thanked his generosity by selling him discounted boars whenever he could.

“Lia’s a harsh critic about these things,” Gaspard ruffled her hair, “as the fairer of us, I give you a six out of ten.”

Ryan’s eyes lit up for a moment before the score sunk in. Once it did, his shoulders slumped. “I don’t think that makes me feel better…”

Gaspard laughed as Za’Lia silently giggled next to him.

After their playful jabs, they finally got to the matter at hand.

“You got some boars out there?!”

“Yep. At a low price too,” Gaspard nodded.

Even Za’Lia gave a few enthusiastic nods.

“Well, aren’t you a lifesaver,” Ryan quickly took off the apron that hung from his neck, tossed it on the counter, and jumped over it with ease.

As they brought the boars to the back, Ryan explained that the merchant that came every month had upped the prices of boars and other goods they couldn’t get anywhere else. Supposedly, as the merchant said, the prices came from his higher-ups, so he couldn’t do anything about that.

“A whole lot of bullshit, that’s what that is!” Ryan yelled. “That guy knows damn well that I wasn’t going to buy that explanation! He just knows that he’s our only source for boars, that’s why he increased the prices. No matter what, he knows I’ll have to buy them,” he finished in a murmur.

They’d finished bringing everything in, and Ryan had paid them what was practically nothing compared to what he’d supposedly paid the merchant.

“Are you really sure that you’re willing to sell these boars for that cheap?” Ryan asked. “I’m willing to pay you two—no, three times more.”

“It’s fine, really,” Gaspard reassured him for what was probably the fifth time. “You did the same for us when we were in a rough time. Now it’s our turn to return the favor.”

Za’Lia next to him nodded.

With a chuckle, Ryan shrugged his shoulders. “Well, in that case, may Goddess Arra bless you for your kindness,” he bowed.

“The same to you.”

With the transaction out of the way, Ryan’s smile began to slip. With a deep sigh, he said, “By the way…” Tapping his foot, he gave a slight pause before continuing. “The people from yesterday—they were from The Rings of Eternity, right?”

The image of the waves of sloppily armored people came rushing back. With that question alone, Gaspard knew where this was going. Biting his lip, Gaspard simply answered, “Yeah.”

A dark cloud almost visibly formed over Ryan. He rhythmically tapped at the counter. “I see. You think they might be coming back…at any point?”

“They could,” Gaspard answered honestly. “But there’s no real way of knowing for sure.”

Ryan nodded. Slapping the counter once, he forced a smile, “Maybe I’ll do some training of my own…just in case, you know?”

“Definitely. It never hurts to be prepared,” Gaspard agreed.

While he and the girls had some history with The Rings of Eternity, there were plenty of others across the country who had similar stories.

Ryan was one of those people.

He’d shared his story with Gaspard about a year after they met. The reason why they were in this town at all was because they lost everything in the village they originally came from. There they had their own small family shop where they lived happily. They were a pillar of the village. A cornerstone to the everyday lives of the people. Only to lose it all in one faithful night…

“Don’t go around doing anything reckless either,” Gaspard added.

Flinching, Ryan smiled, “Of course not. I have people in this town that need me!” He bumped his chest confidently. “Plus…I know mom wouldn’t have wanted me to be blind-sighted like that…” He finished in practically a whisper.

As they exited the shop, Gaspard stared at the sky. The strong brightness was slowly dwindling, but there was plenty of light left for the day. He took in a deep breath, letting the slight scent of the sea waft into his nostrils.

Stretching, he said, “It’s been a long day.”

“Mh-hm,” Za’Lia let out.

The town was still lively with not only repairs but with people living their day-to-day life. A few people shot glances at them while others stared hard at Za’Lia.

He’d never asked her before, but he was certain she could feel those glares on her skin. Maybe it was good she couldn’t see their faces, but it could also be that Za’Lia’s imagination made it worse than they truly were.

Gaspard didn’t blame the townspeople for their bias. They’d been thought to feel a certain way towards the Terranyx since they were young, so it was only natural they acted the way they did. He wanted to hopefully change that, but he still hadn’t figured out how.


“Elie is probably missing us right about now,” Gaspard suddenly said. “How about we get going?”

Za’Lia, turning to him, nodded.

…there might be a way…