Chapter 1:

Chapter 1: Chance Encounters

Solis' Wish

“This isn’t your fault, Roy!”

The void hall reverberated a cry, baring semblance to a trapped animal pleading for hope, throughout Roy’s ears. It rang in his head over and over and over as a haunting melody. Looking down, he noticed a red trail cutting through the marbled tiles and leading up to his knees. His eyes followed up the stream until they reached its source, a familiar face donning a warm smile. In a gentle tone, they whispered, “Roy,” their lips moved softly.

Suddenly, the hallway was flooded with bright light, creating a flash of white.

The white faded.

Roy winced as he opened his eyes to a new scene. It was that of his brother Lukas, holding his shoulder. Lukas repeated himself once again and said, “Roy.”

Roy found his voice and let out a dry laugh as he exclaimed, “What’s with those soft eyes? Lukas, you don’t need to worry about me; it was just a strange thought. I really am fine.” Even though Lukas knew it might not make a difference, he still attempted to console his brother. As they finished their conversation, Lukas assured Roy, “You can always talk to me whenever you need to; I’m here to listen.” Roy nodded and smiled, but as Lukas walked away, the smile quickly faded from his face.

The pair walked down a street bustling with vendors, each offering an assortment of items. A wondrous aroma filled the air as the vendors yelled out their offerings. With every footstep Roy took, he was met with another fragrance, causing his stomach to growl. His eyes became fixated on an ambrosial bowl of noodles; alas, he redirected his gaze after hearing his father’s voice saying, “Why would you eat food prepared by someone other than your chef? I didn’t raise you to become a moron! What would you have done if someone had laced it with poison?” His father’s mental bombardment was interrupted when he heard something that piqued his interest.

“We’re offering exclusive deals on incomplete relics from the Core! Get them for as low as 25 Sols!”

'Only 25 Sols? '

After hearing that price, Roy bolted towards the voice.

Seeing this, Lukas shouted frantically, “Roy, what are you doing?! You know you can’t just run off without me! Your father warned you of that!” Lukas pursued him, but his efforts were in vain as Roy’s figure blended into the bustling streets.

These words were lost on Roy as he attempted to pinpoint the exact spot the voice was coming from. He ran until he eventually reached a stall sheltered within the walls of a back alley, where his eyes met those of a woman with an odd presence. The woman exudes a sense of familiarity; it felt like they were long-lost companions meeting again to tell stories about what led one another back here. Eyes that seemed to contain the entire cosmos within them entranced Roy.

The woman’s smile snapped him out of his daze. She spoke with confidence. “Can I assist you?”Roy stuttered, “I heard that you are selling relics?”

“Incomplete relics,” she corrected.

Roy gave a nod of agreement. He was about to ask his next question, however; he stopped himself as he noticed the woman reaching into a drawer. After pulling out a small wooden box, she poured its contents atop the white tablecloth. The dark metals contrasted within the glimmer of Roy’s eyes. His eyes traced from what appeared to be a steel chalice to the hilt of a sword; after he had looked around, two items stuck out to him specifically. One was a golden ring with a dark crimson-red center stripe. Etched into the ring was a language that Roy had not seen before.

'That is to be expected of an item from the Core,' Roy assured himself inwardly. The second was a set of cuff earrings; nothing stood out about their appearance besides their crimson hue and the bizarre etched pattern found on them.

'Even if these were never to activate, what would be the harm in having them as accessories? It is impossible to have too much jewelry. This is only rational! With the price only being 50 Sols for both relics, there’s practically zero risk for me!'

The corners of Roy’s lips began to rise.

The woman stood with a smile, watching Roy inspect the items. Once she noticed his gaze fixated on two specific relics, she nodded and spoke again, “I feel if we were to make an exchange, it is only natural we get the pleasantries out of the way beforehand. My name is Astrid, and as you can tell, I own this little hidden-away stall. How should I address you?”

“My name is Roy. Roy Reinhardt.”

'The Reinhardt family?' Astrid thought to herself.

“I’m sure you are curious about why these relics are sold cheaply, even for incomplete ones.” 'I was, but I didn’t want to mention it and miss out on this steal;' Roy chuckled inwardly.

“I am wondering if there is a catch,” Roy replied honestly.

“Oh, there is no catch; I can assure you of that. These items I have had in inventory for several months now have become a burden for me to travel with. I discovered that they were not being sold at the regular price. This offer is a result of me gradually reducing the cost until they are no longer in stock.”

It was an odd sensation, yet as Astrid spoke, Roy never once doubted what she was saying. “Ahh, that is a reasonable explanation of the price,” Roy acknowledged. He continued, “I have taken a liken to this ring and this set of earrings. Would you accept 40 Sols for them?”

Astrid sighed and, with a chuckle, replied, “I knew you would be the type to haggle an excellent deal; the lowest I can go is 45.”

“There was a point where 100 Sols were as low as you would go for these.” Roy quipped.

......................................................................................................................................................................Across the street from Roy on a balcony.

“Captain, are you certain he’s our target?” A masked woman questioned.

“He fits the description we were given—a male in his 20s with golden blonde hair that covers his left eye, and from the looks, he has the most notable feature, a scar that descends from his top lip to his chin. I’m certain this is our guy.” The masked man replied solemnly.

They watched as Roy continued to negotiate the price of the relics. They could notice the vendor’s frustration despite the distance. After a few minutes passed, they saw Roy jump up in celebration as he yelled, “42 Sols for two relics. Hell yeah!”

“Captain, how long are we going to wait here before we make a move on the boy?”

“Let’s wait till he gets to a more isolated point. We must be cautious, as he usually has his guard, Lukas Von, close by his side; we need to take every possible precaution to avoid a confrontation with a Royal Shield that is a Class A Celestial Armaments user.”

Upon uttering those words, the two individuals wearing masks exchanged glances. Despite their attempts to conceal it, the overwhelming sense of fear they shared was palpable.They noticed that their target had begun moving toward the main street. The street lights slowly began to flicker on as the sun descended. The masked pair followed closely from the rooftops, analyzing the scene and searching for an optimal time to initiate their plan. They trailed him for several minutes until they noticed Roy turned into a secluded alleyway, realizing that now would be their time to strike. They descended upon Roy from the damp rooftops in the blink of an eye. The masked man landed about a meter behind Roy, with the masked woman landing directly parallel to the two.

Roy’s survival instincts kicked in as he made a dash for the main street to avoid the forthcoming assault from his attackers. Roy felt as if splinters made of ice were piercing the back of his throat. His panting progressed, building up the crescendo of his heart tightening. Roy had made it nearly three meters before the masked assailants reached him. The masked man grabbed Roy by his shoulder, pulling Roy towards his chest. Roy had tried to move, but it was as if his legs were sealed into place; no movement he attempted worked.

A wrenching scream bellowed out from his core. His voice quivered as his desperation tore through his throat. One thought circulated: Lukas, his guardian, his savior. He pleaded desperately, his voice echoing off the alley walls until he grew hoarse and the sound became muddled.

A figure’s silhouette is cast into Roy’s eyes; they swelled as he pieced together a patchwork of a smile.

“We need to meet up wi--“

Before finishing his sentence, Lukas appeared beside the masked man—Lukas’ fist connected with the man’s stomach, sending tremors throughout the masked man’s core. Had the man not twisted with the force of the blow, the impact would have been significantly amplified. However, as a consequence, he lost his balance and could not evade the subsequent attack. The man’s grip on Roy was released as he put all his resources into defense. Lukas gripped the man’s shoulders and buried his knee within the man’s lower stomach. The man began coughing up white bile as it lifted him several feet off the ground. As the woman tried to grab a deck of cards from her waist to help her captain, he seemed disoriented and muttered, “The target,” causing her eyes to shift to the boy crawling toward the wall beneath her. She glanced back up at her captain and, in an instant, saw that Lukas had teleported to the left of him as he prepped for a kick with his right leg. The captain contorted his body in the air and avoided it. Without hesitation, the girl swiftly reached for her deck of cards, shuffled it with ease, and drew the top card- the ace of spades.

She thought, “It’s a relief that luck is still on my side.” Her hand began to produce steam as the card dissipated; in its stead, an insignia portraying the ace of spades appeared on her palm. The captain, who had just landed on his palms, twisted his body and tried to kick Lukas’ head to create separation. Lukas caught the captain’s calf and swiftly reacted to the kick, utilizing the momentum to upheave the masked figure off the ground and forcefully slam them into a nearby wall. The captain winced momentarily but quickly regained composure and rolled away to create some distance. The captain had decided to up the ante after believing he had a better understanding of what Lukas was capable of; the man suddenly charged toward Lukas as he quickly fished out a bronze revolver and a silver-finished dagger from underneath his trench coat, holding them firmly in both hands. The atmosphere became stiff as everyone turned toward the masked man, and like a swift slice, two bullets pierced through the tension. After reaching their max velocity, they diverged paths and spiraled toward Lukas’ arms. Seeing the muzzle smoke, Lukas reacted in time and jumped forward, causing the bullets to hasten past. Lukas then appeared before the masked man, and right as he reached for the captain’s throat, a thought entered his mind.

'I never heard the bullets crash into the wa-.'

As he was finishing his thought, the ring of metal clashing was heard as the bullets dented Lukas’ armor, pushing him into the man’s grip. As Lukas attempted to raise his arms to push off, he was taken aback when his arms did not move to his call; they remained frozen in place. Lukas noticed a slight raise in the mask, frustration boiled inside as he was confident the man wore a hidden grin. After releasing his grip, the man turned and set a 5-minute timer on his watch while running towards Roy, who was now subdued, and the masked woman. He gave the nod and said, “Do it now, Odette,” after receiving the confirmation, the insignia on Odette’s arm radiated a faint white hue. Smoke began dissipating from her arm, engulfing the alley and nearby streets. The captain swiftly thrust Roy onto his shoulder; he and Odette sprinted toward the rendezvous point.

After that encounter, emotions climbed up Odette’s throat; however, one had ascended above the rest, anxiety. The only reason they escaped was pure luck. They would have been helpless if their opponent had not loosened his guard in that split second. Odette found herself caught in a vicious cycle of these recurring thoughts. She wanted reassurance and asked, “Are you sure the smoke will be good enough?”

After sensing the dread in Odette’s voice, the masked man lifted his mask ever slightly to reveal a kind smile before simply saying, “We’re safe.”

Roy’s heart was shattered; that phrase latched on and tore out whatever hope he had left. Scenarios ran through his mind, each reaching the same grueling conclusion; a hole centered on his forehead, blood pouring outward with the crimson ebbing downward. It reaches his once vibrant eyes, now void of excitement, sporting a dim red.

Roy was pulled back into reality when he heard Odette say, “We made it!”

As he looked up, he noticed they had entered a wheat field. The plants brushed against his face, obscuring his vision. However, he could make out a distant light. Its vibrancy intensified as they neared. Once they entered a clearing, he could finally see the source- a silver airship detailed by red following the grooves of its welding. It loomed over them, blocking the view of the grey planet above. The thrusters were pointed toward the stars, getting ready for takeoff. The source of light was the loading dock, and numerous figures could be seen at the bottom of the ramp.

Roy’s captors removed their masks, parroting the other; they said, “It’s good to see you guys.”

“I see we have some new cargo,” a red-haired boy snickered.

“Allen, which target is this?” inquired a tall woman.

Allen sat Roy on the ground before replying, “The Reinhardt boy.”

A few group members celebrated, including the red-haired boy. He said, “I told you the captain could pull it off!” The boy intentionally bumped shoulders with a black-haired girl, teasing her.After stepping away, the girl let out a sigh and reluctantly said, “Alright, Kieran, you win.” She retrieved two silver coins from her pocket and handed them to Kieran.

“Alright, we need to leave before the Royal Shields catch up,” Allen said, gesturing for the crew to board. The boy and girl grabbed Roy’s arms and began carrying him aboard the ship; their strength took Roy aback. He knew resisting would be pointless, so he cooperated with them and was taken to a holding cell without any resistance. Upon entering his cell, he was met with a pleasant surprise. The room was equipped with a large bed, a fully functional bathroom, and even a TV for his entertainment. He would have enjoyed staying in this room if the circumstances were different.

“Enjoy your stay,” Kieran giggled.

The girl informed Roy that reaching their base would take a few days. She tried empathizing with him, suggesting he make himself comfortable during the long trip. However, Roy couldn’t stop fixating on the word “base.” Shivers traveled down his spine when the realization set in; his fate would be determined there.


“Come on, get out of bed. It’s your big day!” Kieran said eagerly, tapping the bars; beside him was the black-haired girl. Roy had learned that her name was Auger.

“Can you please stop yelling?” Auger complained. It appeared that she was exhausted from working with Kieran.

“But today is the day he gets to meet the boss!” Kieran quipped.

Auger rolled her eyes and sarcastically commented, “I’m sure Roy must be overjoyed.”Roy paid no attention to their conversation and walked towards the cell door. He stopped and extended his arms through the slit in the door. Seeing this, Auger placed the cuffs onto his wrists, securing them together. They walked through the ship’s corridors and arrived outside with the other crew members.

“We shouldn’t keep the Boss waiting any longer,” Allen urged everyone to move quickly. The group agreed and increased their efforts to climb the mountain towards the castle at its peak, hauling Roy in tow. Eventually, they arrive at the peak, standing before looming white gates. The doors creaked open, and Roy’s eyes were met with gold as a high-sitting throne adorned with raven feathers came into view. Commanding the throne was a woman who exuded strength; she appeared larger than she was. Her voice boomed as she said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” her gaze penetrated Roy’s core, and she continued, “Did you know a bounty was placed on you?”

She leaned forward, resting her head on her fist, and said, “What could you have possibly done to cause a 10,000 Sol bounty to be placed on your head?”

“I... I don’t know,” Roy lied.

Sensing traces of deceit in Roy’s voice, the woman took the conversation in a different direction; she explained, “Luckily for you, we were the ones to find you. You see, Roy, we are in constant need of either more bodies or more funding.”

Roy’s heart flickered as he realized where the conversation was going; hope was slightly restored in his heart. He knew joining would give him ample time to discover an opportunity to escape. He became determined, and with his newfound confidence, Roy looked at her and said, “I’ll join.”

She grinned before saying, “Welcome to the Raven Cloaks.” 

Solis' Wish