Chapter 0:

Leo's Dream

Path of Blood

Leo, if it were to save the world, would you sacrifice not only yourself, but everything and everyone dear to you?

During that dreadful night, a night of despair and anguish, a cold and cruel night, the night when the Tenth War began, Leo had a dream.

In that dream, he was with his only friend in the world, Drago. He had known Drago for the longest time, ever since he was a kid in Desolate Valley, all those years ago. He couldn't remember anything before that. His very first memory was waking up in a large abandoned mine in the middle of the valley, and the first thing he saw when he woke up was a small boy crying in front of the dead body of his mother, who had starved to death.
That boy was Drago.

Leo was flying with Drago over a barren, destroyed world with the occasional ruin, the only sight that suggested a past civilization, passing by. Drago, taking in the air of a world with nobody except them in it, asked Leo a question.

"Is this where we end up?"

"Yes, but we probably won't be alive to see it."

"So this happens after we die?"

Leo laughed. "That's what I said, idiot."

"That's a scary thought."

"It is pretty dark, isn't it?"

Leo suddenly heard the sound of sobbing next to him. Drago was crying.

"Drago, you okay?"

"Why does it have to end like this?"

"It doesn't have to."

Drago's eyes brightened as he looked at Leo.

"So this doesn't need to happen?"

"Not if I can stop it."

"You can?"

Leo closed his eyes as he took this in. Could he? The answer was-
Light shining through his eyelids. A light brighter than anything he had seen before. A light so bright he could see his family's bones through their bodies.
The deafening explosion of a Destruction Spell invaded Leo's ears, rupturing his eardrums.

Leo and his family; his adoptive mother, father and brother were sleeping in a shack in the Black Bog, the district of the Abolished, a population of impoverished classes. They were surrounded by several other shacks, all containing people who couldn't afford to live in the states or people who were banished from a kingdom. They were roughly 1 interspace away from the site of the spell.

(1 Interspace = 100 Kilometers/62.1 Miles)

Leo's hearing slowly faded as the blood flew out of his ears. For a moment he was numb. He couldn't feel the shockwave lift the roof of his house off and blow him away towards the polluted river marking the border of the Bog. Then the pain came. As his clothes burnt off, his skin suddenly felt like it was lit on fire. The pain was immense, but it slowly transitioned to a feeling of numbed-out heat across his body. It was white hot. So hot it couldn't be explained.

For the first time since he fell asleep, he opened his eyes. What he saw would be etched into his brain forever.
Disfigured people on fire. A half-dead mother looking for her baby. The head of a cow whose horns were lodged into a man's chest. Someone without any legs praying. Bodies. Hundreds and hundreds of bodies. 3 of them were probably his family's. Some of them could be Drago's. All of this was silhouetted against a giant mushroom cloud, reaching past the clouds. The literal representation of death and suffering.
He closed his eyes, wishing sleep would come.

This was the start of the Tenth War, which was waged for 7 years. Leo was 9 when it started. It was a war waged against the Abolished, in an effort to eradicate their population so the nearby kingdoms could expand. The Abolished quickly retaliated, using stolen and illegal weapons acquired from smugglers in the surrounding kingdoms and states, drawing out the war. Ultimately, a temporary peace treaty was signed and conflict was made dormant.
The war resulted in killing 80% of the Abolished's population, leaving barely a scratch on the higher classes.

Post-war, several institutions for the Abolished began to open up in what was left of the Bog. Hospitals, Housing, Orphanages. In one of the orphanages was where Leo and Drago, who survived the spell, found themselves living as orphans of the war.

And that is where their journeys begin.

Before the Selection, 1 year after the Tenth War

Leo was sitting in the garden outside Rosary Orphanage when Drago came running over to him. He took a second to catch his breath, huffing and puffing, before he spoke.

"Leo, what's the Selection? It's our turn in an hour."

"What? You don't know something that important?"

Drago shook his head.

Leo sighed. Ugh, why do I have to explain everything to him...
"The Selection is something everyone needs to go through at 17 years old. It's what decides what their magic power will be."

"Magic power? Like Sister Rose's healing?"

"Yeah, or like the Destruction Spell."

Drago processed this information before speaking. "So you could get something that helps people or something that destroys them?"

"You can use a destructive spell to help people in a way. Or vice versa."

"I hope I get something good."

"Me too."

Just then, they heard Sister Rose's voice call out to them.

"Leo! Drago! It's time for your Selections!"

"Coming!" Said Drago, as he prepared to hurry towards her. He looked at Leo, who was still sitting.

"Come on, Leo, what are you waiting for?"