Chapter 0:


An Adventurer's Romance

“I’m gonna go play, mama!” A small boy said as he dashed out of his house and onto the dirt path. This boy was nicknamed “Stubs” by some of the other kids in the village for his unfortunate height, though his real name was actually Flay.

As he ran down the dirt path, he came across some kids who were tossing around a ball of water created with water magic, as they tried to keep it from splashing on the ground.

“Hey! I wanna play too!” He called out to them with a wave of his hand, however his timing was bad and he startled one of the kids who was trying to catch the airborne ball of water, causing it to burst over him.

“Sorry Stubs, um… This is a three player game, yeah! There’s no more room for you. You'll have to play somewhere else.” One of the kids explained, as the other two paid no attention to him. Flay lowered his hand and walked away, glancing back to see a fourth kid had joined them. He stopped and turned back towards them, as he overheard one of the kids, who he recognized as a mean boy named Histen, say “Why can’t he take a hint? You need magic to play this game. Heh, if I didn’t have magic, I’d just kick myself out of the village. There's no use for someone who can't use magic.”

Deciding he heard enough, Flay ran as fast he could towards the forest at the edge of the village. The very same forest his father warned him not to enter. He didn’t care about that warning right now though, he just wanted to calm down and do what he liked to do best; identify the plants in the forest.

“Man… I really wish that Histen kid would stop going on about how I have no magic… What a jerk…” His parents, and even some of the villagers, had some affinity for magic, but he had none whatsoever. It was a bit of a sour topic for him, so he liked to try other hobbies to avoid thinking about it.

As he delved further into the forest, looking down at the base of the trees and naming the plants in his head, he noticed a strange blue light shimmering just outside of his view. As he turned in the direction of the light, the figure of a quadrupedal animal stood before him. It glowed a brilliant shade of light blue, and seemed to beckon for him to follow it further into the forest.

He was too awestruck by the beauty of the creature to open his mouth, but he followed anyway. As the two walked through the forest, the sound of a stream of water could be heard, and as the sound grew louder, the two approached something the boy had never seen before.

Sitting in the middle of a clearing in the forest was a weird looking shrine with a ray of light shining over it, where a statue of a woman with wings was placed, kneeling in front of a weird fruit he’d never seen before. The statue itself was clearly very old, and showed its age in the various bits that were damaged, but the fruit itself looked delicious if not suspicious.

Before the boy could turn and say something to the creature, it vanished into a puff of sparkles. He assumed it led him there to take the fruit, but the feeling that something bad would happen sat in the back of his mind. This must be why his father warned him not to explore the woods alone.

As he stood there for nearly a minute, he finally decided to take a chance and eat the fruit. What's the worst that could happen?

As he grabbed it, the shrine started to shake, before it crumbled away into fine dust and was blown by the wind, taking the ray of light with it. The boy shrugged and took a big bite into the fruit, immediately recoiling by the sheer sweetness of it. Before he could throw away the fruit, he felt dizzy, as he dropped the fruit and fell onto the forest floor. Before he lost all consciousness, he heard a faint voice in his head.

“Do you really think eating that foolish fruit will be enough to conquer the Great Evilord? Think again, boy… In time, I'll return, and there will be nothing you can do.” It was a harsh, foreboding voice, and the last thing he heard before fainting.

As Flay was coming to, the shaking of the bed alerted his mother, Glinst, whose head was resting at the foot of his mattress. She darted upwards and immediately hugged her son, feeling a great sense of relief. Before he could say anything, he heard his father clear his throat as he fully stepped into the room.

“Son, we’ve got a lot of talking to do.” His father, Grif, said. The disappointment was palpable, but he also felt relieved to see his son is awake.

When his mother finally moved away and stood next to his father, her smile was replaced with a disapproving frown, compounding the feeling of guilt inside him. He knew how the punishments usually pan out, but this time he was surprised when his father merely sat next to him on the bed, noticeably placing great weight on it.

“I want you to explain everything that happened before you fainted.” He asked quietly. The feeling of guilt was replaced by slight confusion. He furrowed his eyebrows, trying to remember what happened, but the first thing that came to mind was the voice he heard.

“I heard a scary voice after I took one bite into that pretty looking fruit. It called itself the ‘Great Evilord’, and it gave me nightmares that felt way too real.” He recalled, shuddering slightly. He felt his father’s hand rub his back, which calmed him enough to remember everything else.

As he was explaining the events, his parents expressed shock when he detailed the appearance of the glowing animal and the fruit. His mother clearly knew what that fruit was, and his father had some recollection of glowing animals, but that was something to bring up another time.

“And that’s when everything went black and I heard the voice.” Grif processed it quickly, but Glinst stumbled a little at the realization. As some are aware today, the Great Evilord was once a powerful presence, known across the land for his enslaving of the worldwide population. It wasn’t until a band of heroes arrived at his castle and vanquished him, thus relinquishing his grasp on the world as he seemingly vanished.

“Son, it’s about time we taught you about the story of the Hero’s Party.” He began. Flay shook his head and listened to the story, however a sense of dread started to loom over him the further into the story he heard. He started to become panicky, a swirl of emotions filling his head.

Immediately noticing this, Glinst rushed to the bed and pulled her son into a side hug to calm him down. She looked up at Grif with a worried expression, before he nodded his head.

“You must be hungry. Let’s go eat something for now.” Glinst said, urging the two to go to the kitchen with her. Flay’s worries mostly were temporarily replaced as he anticipated his mother’s great cooking. Though that uneasiness from earlier still lingered in the back of his mind, which he tried to push back.

As Flay thoroughly enjoyed the meal, his parents looked at him with worry for his future. For now though, they quietly ate as a family.

Per Astra