Chapter 4:

Wild encounter

The Symphonia of Erde (DISCONTINUED) (ARCHIVED)

"I'msorryI'msorryI'msorryI'msorryI'msorryI'msorry," Isaac Nikola apologized non-stop as he bowed to the four individuals seated in front of him.Bookmark here

After destroying the vicinity of the front door and sending Ryleigh flying, the Storm Revenant immediately lost his serious persona that masqueraded his true character.Bookmark here

"I should've come in politely. I swear it was just an act to garner attention. Please don't tell anyone about what I did just now especially to my mother. She'll murder me for sure!"Bookmark here

The four were simply baffled by his action. Apparently, this short buffoon is none other than the legendary Storm Revenant himself. Seeing his pathetic plea for forgiveness will surely convince anyone otherwise.Bookmark here

"Yeah well, just give us a minute," Jakob replied, signaling everyone else to gather near him, "How the hell is that shorty the Storm Revenant and what do you think he's here for?"Bookmark here

"Well, the rumour did state that the revenant is dwarfed compared ter others but oi admit, yer man is a bit.....disappointin'."Bookmark here

"We shud go ask 'im ourselves on 'is purpose of visit though."Bookmark here

The four of them turned back towards Isaac Nikola who waited anxiously for their response.Bookmark here

"Well sprog, we accept yer apology-."Bookmark here

"No we didn't," Jakob interrupted, having his shoulder punched by Marie.Bookmark here

"But me lads said dat yer wanted ter meet wi' us tonight. Any call for dat?"Bookmark here

The question reminded Isaac about the purpose of his visit. Without wasting a second, he presented a duffel bag that he had bought along and pulled out some papers and notes from it. The four observed curiously as Isaac began arranging the pieces of paper on the table. Most of the papers had drawn portraits of random people, some being circled heavily, some being crossed out and others had the symbol '???' written on it. However, one drawing caught Marie's eye.Bookmark here

"Hold on, isn't that the same symbol we saw from that kid this morning?"Bookmark here

It was a portrait of a youth, but his left eyeball was black and had an upward crescent mark instead of a pupil.Bookmark here

"Yep, his name is William Shadford. He is the reason I've come here tonight," Isaac replied seriously, "there's been a lot drama going on in Smillia recently, and you could thank this guy for all of that."Bookmark here

With that, Isaac Nikola began explaining what had happened and the connection between the series of unfortunate events with the marked-eye individual. He spent hours explaining the scenario to them who all listened to him keenly.Bookmark here

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So, it all began two springs ago, back when I was the only magic-powered freak to roam Smillia. At that time there's a man who lived on the western hills, quite far from the river. It was a quiet place which suited a quiet man who goes by the name William Shadford. Bookmark here

During that time, everybody knew William as a loner who doesn't like to be bothered, as in, he REALLY did not like to be bothered. People would avoid having their children play near his house. Its kind of weird but you could feel some sort of malicious aura coming from him whenever walking past him. Bookmark here

If your shoulders accidentally brushed against him he'll certainly give you a deadly stare, one that would make kids cry, dogs run and grown-ups immediately leave the area. But despite all of that, there's nothing wrong or suspicious that came out of that man. That is until that night...Bookmark here

I was hanging around on the sky, sitting on the clouds to enjoy a good night's view of the moon. It had been a habit of mine to do so when I had nothing to do. It was quite enjoyable as the wind blew the cloud I was on all across Smillia, giving me a good view of the beautiful town I grew up in. Some time later, the cloud slowly passed the western hill and went above William's house. That's when I heard it.Bookmark here

Boy if it was not for my limited knowledge on my language vocabulary I could've used a hundred different words to describe the terrible voice coming out from his house that night. But simply put, it was HORRIFYING.Bookmark here

I heard it, his neighbours heard it, everyone within probably several hundred meters heard it. Point is EVERYBODY heard it.Bookmark here

It was a scream, a shriek, a cry for help. It was clearly not William doing the call as it sounded like it came from a little girl. The voice called out for her parents, for God, for anyone that could help. The call itself was filled with agony. Those who heard it could fill her pain. It lasted only several seconds but I swear it felt like forever.Bookmark here

And once the call's over, a bright red glow shone from the windows of the house. I'm pretty sure William's neighbours had sent someone to call the town guards at this point but screw that, I crashed into his house through the ceiling without a second thought.Bookmark here

Strangely enough, the house was fine, not that there's much inside it save for some furniture but point is there's nothing wrong going on in there. No blood, no body, no soul, but most importantly, no little girl and a guy named William Shadford. Bookmark here

My guts clearly told me something's not right so I decided to do the next logical thing: I dove straight to the floor, hoping to find something. Apparently, that planned work.Bookmark here

I found myself inside a secret chamber. No idea how to get there in the first place considering I literally just clawed my way into it. Anyways, I found an underground chamber, a dungeon of some sort. First thing I noticed was the blood on the floor. There were tons of them! But it did not flood the place though. More like the floor was painted messily with it both fresh and dry.Bookmark here

With that in mind, I chose to proceed on. The place stinks, like a lot! It reeks of rotten flesh and bodily excretion but minus the blood on the floor, I did not see anything resembling a dead body in there. Not even a skeleton. Bookmark here

I became more and more anxious as I made my way forward to the darker corners of the linear chamber. I've always knew something was up with William Shadford, but having him owning this one hell of a section of his house certainly did not came up in my mind about him. Bookmark here

After a while, I ended up finding myself on a dead end. It was pitch black in there so I decided to use my powers to create some light. Big mistake.Bookmark here

Right there in front of me, a little girl no older than 10, shackled to the wall half-naked-Bookmark here

-and the other-half gone.Bookmark here

Her guts were dangling from the upper part of her body. Blood dripped and landed on a pile of butchered lower body parts. Her face... I'm sorry but I don't think I would like to recall that but point is, she's really dead. Bookmark here

And from her dead body was when I noticed it. The mark; the upward crescent with three lines running through it, drawn on her forehead and all over the walls surrounding me. I observe in complete disgust the marks painted in crimson red everywhere my sight landed. After making a complete rotation however, a new figure appeared standing right beside the poor shackled dead girl.Bookmark here

Without a doubt it was William Shadford. His clothes drenched in blood, eyes as black as hell and his pupils gone, replaced with the mark instead, much like the picture I've shown you.Bookmark here

We stared at each other for a while when noises of someone approaching us suddenly interrupted the atmosphere. That made me turned for like a fraction of a second but when I looked back to my front, William was gone. I quickly left the scene as the town guards arrived, their turn to be shocked by the grotesque scenery.Bookmark here

Since that day, news of William Shadford's secret dungeon spread like wildfire across Smillia. He himself was nowhere to be seen but I guess the guards must have made a more thorough search inside the dungeon because apparently, they found dead bodies; dozens of them, and all of them were identifiable members of the town. And from there on, the hunt for William Shadford was on, as well as his hunt against us.Bookmark here

Everybody was on the lookout for William Shadford not realizing that they themselves were in very much danger as the killer from the guards. Every week, someone was murdered. It didn't mattered who the victim was. Men, women, children, someone had to be killed each week. And all of them died in a similar manner as if William did not bother to hide the fact that it was him who did it. Bookmark here

At this point I was dead worried about my poor mother's safety. I had a close encounter with that piece of shit and the last thing I want is for him to lay his hands on my mother. So, I actively participated in the hunt, but I did it sneakily without the authorities noticing, hoping that William did not go after my mother should he find out that I was hot on his trail. But then again, not many people knew who I was underneath this skeletal body so that got me going for me.Bookmark here

Anyways, several month later, somehow I managed to stumble upon William Shadford for the second time. Was it luck or fate? I have no idea how I found him but point is, he was exactly the same as I first met him. Black eyes, crimson mark and whole lot of bloodlust going through his mind.Bookmark here

We fought, I guess. He had this weird powers going on for him, hovering around, shooting red magical beams, summoning ghostly minions and so on and so on. I managed to overpower him though, in every aspect possible. He was beaten to a pulp but not to death. I wanted to bring him to the authorities and let the town's justice system handle the rest but while I was dragging him, he managed to slip away and ran through the dark alleyways of downtown. Bookmark here

I had no problem chasing people thanks to my lightning speed but I swear to God the downtown alleyway was much of a maze as a freaking labyrinth. I kept losing sight of him even when I flew above the clouds, the roofs of buildings and houses blocked the view below. Bookmark here

It wasn't until a terrible scream was heard when our chase finally came to a conclusion. I went to the place where I heard the scream was coming from and lo and behold! I got mentally scarred for the second time. Bookmark here

Another dead man, his shocked expression still remained, but not his face. The skins of his face was literally ripped off and so was his heart. I stared at the poor fellow for some time, realizing the impact of my failure and regretted not finishing off William right there and then. The killings stopped since that day and the authorities declared William Shadford dead soon after.Bookmark here

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"But not long after, something went wrong in Smillia-" Isaac paused, sipping a cup of tea- "up to this day, there had always been cases of our town being terrorized by people with magical powers."Bookmark here

"And each time I beat one up I always end up seeing a symbol; one that I recognize too well, tattooed somewhere on their body."Bookmark here

"Let me guess, it was the upward crescent," Jakob interrupted.Bookmark here

"Bingo! That mark kept showing up every time some magical hooligans decided to cause trouble, and I strongly believed HE was the one responsible for all of it."Bookmark here

"I'm telling you folks, William Shadford is still alive somewhere out there, and I will not rest until I put and end to his terror!" Isaac smacked the table after finishing his zealous speech. "Which is why I've come to you folks tonight. I need your help in searching him."Bookmark here

"And what makes you think we're capable of helping you in the first place?" Jakob asked.Bookmark here

"I knew you would ask me that question," Isaac replied, "You see, I could tell a lot about a person just by looking at them. You and white-haired lady here are bounty hunters, and short on money, am I right?"Bookmark here

They both nodded.Bookmark here

"Mister Behemoth owns this stagecoach and wanted it fixed asap, while Mister Knight is thirsting for adventure, perhaps to fill something in his- journal?"Bookmark here

The other two were surprised upon hearing the statement and nodded as well.Bookmark here

"Hence, I conclude that all of you could benefit a lot by helping me finding this guy. So, what do you say, will you give this poor fella a helping hand?"Bookmark here

The four of them looked at one another, exchanging opinions through a series of silent eyebrow raising and facial expressions. Finally, they've come to a consensus and nodded to each other.Bookmark here

"Alright kid, we'll help you out," Marie announced.Bookmark here

"Wait, I thought we agreed to deny his plea?"Bookmark here

Everyone glared at Jakob, who apparently didn't get the memo during their silent discussion. Because of that, he reluctantly agreed to help seek the wanted killer.Bookmark here

"But on one condition," Jakob spoke, "Our-, pardon me, MY services are by no means free."Bookmark here

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"Hear ye! Hear ye!" A man called out whilst ringing a cowbell.Bookmark here

The day went on as usual for the folks of Smillia who were busy with their daily tasks. Fishermen went fishing, merchants waiting patiently for customers, kids running around with their friends while some were helping out their family.Bookmark here

Although relatively loud by the sounds of moving carts and chatting folks, the town was calm as ever, a long haul compared to the hustle and bustle of other big towns of Europia. That is the nature of Smillia, a little fishing town residing beside an endless river.Bookmark here

"Hear ye! Hear ye!" the man called out once more.Bookmark here

There he stood, at the middle of the central market, on top of an empty crate trying to get the attention of passing folks by using his loud voice and his cowbell. Sure enough, his actions managed to attract quite a significant amount of people to gather near him.Bookmark here

"Tomorrow at the town square, the Dario brothers are proud to present, the very first circus show at Smillia: NOTTE DEL CIRCO!!"Bookmark here

The crowd were surprised by the announcement as never before had Smillia witness a circus coming to their town. Immediately people began talking, in excitement and curiosity. Children began asking questions to their equally baffled parents and some started to demand more details from the announcer himself.Bookmark here

"There will be performances from many talented folks young and old! There will be foods, fairs, games, music, and animals to entertain the entire family throughout the night!"Bookmark here

"So come over to the town square right after sunset tomorrow for a night you will never forget!" the man announced one last time before stepping down, leaving the area.Bookmark here

The crowd grew excited after that, wondering what the circus will have to offer. But amidst the group of people lie an individual who was the most grateful of what had happened.Bookmark here

"I guess I should give the town square a visit," he spoke to himself.Bookmark here

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"That dang shorty, telling us to meet him here at noon," Jakob complained, looking at his pocket watch, "It's been five minutes past noon and not a single sight of him!"Bookmark here

"Geez, you sure emphasize being on time a lot," Marie commented while stuffing herself with a boneless fried fish she just bought.Bookmark here

They were waiting for Isaac Nikola near the main docks of Smillia where many boats came to load and unload their yield. The two were sitting on one of the many benches provided while overseeing fishermen rowing their boats and throwing their nets.Bookmark here

"Six minutes has passed!"Bookmark here

"For god's sake Jakob, you're too strict on timing!" Marie lashed out. She had been a victim of Jakob's overly punctual behaviour for some time and had find it quite irresistible at some point.Bookmark here

"I don't care! Being punctual is very important. Think about it, there's a lot we could do for the past six minutes instead of sitting here idiotically."Bookmark here

"Like what? Eating? I told you to buy some snacks on the way here but you didn't listen," Marie replied, offering him a fried fish. "Here, have some."Bookmark here

Jakob sighed and took the snack from her hands. He didn't have a proper breakfast this morning due to God knows what which might somewhat contribute to his grumpy mood that day. Just as he was about to take a bite, a cat suddenly jumped in and snatched the food from his hands.Bookmark here

"Oi, what the hell?" Jakob looked at the cat who happily carried the fish with its mouth. Marie simply laughed at her friend's misfortune.Bookmark here

"Don't just cackle there, tell it to give me back my fish," Jakob ordered angrily.Bookmark here

"Alright alright, no need to be so angry."Bookmark here

Marie approached the cat slowly and brought herself to her knees, "There there. I mean you no harm, but my friend is hungry right now and it will be nice if you could return that fish to him."Bookmark here

The cat backed away and hissed. Marie slowly approached it once more trying to gain its trust.Bookmark here

"No need to be afraid kitty-"she opened her arms-"See, I'm not dangerous. I won't do anythi-"Bookmark here

The cat leaped towards Marie with such a powerful force that she went crashing through the glass window of a shop behind her. Jakob was caught off guard by it and quickly rushed towards his friends aid. Jakob's jaw dropped when he saw Marie wrestling the cat in struggle, and it seems the small cat had the upper hand.Bookmark here

"Don't just stand there Jakob help me!"Bookmark here

He was about to enter the shop when the sight of a raccoon caught his eyes, running towards him from his side. The raccoon jumped, and Jakob punched its nose instinctively, knocking it out cold. Strangely, Jakob's fist ached as if he just punched a huge animal instead of a mere raccoon. At the same time, Marie managed to push the cat away from her before trying to make peace with it once more.Bookmark here

"There's something wrong with this cat Jakob."Bookmark here

"Yeah, it looked quite fat for a stray," Jakob replied sarcastically.Bookmark here

"No what I mean is the cat's speaking in, another language?"Bookmark here

Jakob was about to question her statement when a small lizard bit his leg, and dragged him into the river.Bookmark here

"JAKOB!!" Bookmark here

Marie panicked and tried to aid her friend but the cat immediately jumped at her once more. Bookmark here

The cat barraged her with a fury of slashing claws but she dodged it swiftly. However, it managed to claw her leg once and much to her surprise, the attack left a deep wound that opened her flesh. A pool of blood began pouring out from her leg and if she had not moved an inch back just now, the strike might have reached her bones as well.Bookmark here

Marie winced in pain, holding her leg as she quickly bandaged it. It was clear that communicating with the cat was futile, and she must put it down as soon as possible. The cat charged towards her once more but this time she is ready.Bookmark here

With one swift motion, she released a powerful back kick, hitting the cat's nose knocking it out instantly.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, Jakob was being death rolled by a six inch lizard inside the cold river. Marie, who just remembered about her friend's trouble, rushed towards the river and was shocked by such a bizarre sight.Bookmark here

"Hey guys, sorry I'm late. I was about to leave the house half an hour ago but I forgot to buy groceries and my mother is mad and our food supply is running lo- "Bookmark here

"What the hell is going on here!?"Bookmark here

Isaac was more than surprised to see Jakob being screwed over by such a small lizard.Bookmark here

"No time to explain. Use your powers to save him!" Marie ordered.Bookmark here

"Alright, stay back." Isaac rolled up his sleeves, "Or you'll might get wet."Bookmark here

With that, he jumped up high towards the air as lightning bolt struck him mid-air, transforming him into the Storm Revenant. He immediately dove towards Jakob and the lizard without hesitation.Bookmark here

"Wait don-" Jakob spoke before being body-slammed by a 150cm skeleton.Bookmark here

He, Isaac and the lizard disappeared into the depths of the water for quite some time, worrying poor Marie who could only stare at the river. Finally, the Storm Revenant emerged from the river while carrying Jakob in his back. Marie felt relieved and help pulled them both back to land.Bookmark here

"Oh man, good thing I came just in time. You could've died," Isaac remarked.Bookmark here

"Pretty sure I did just now-" Jakob coughed some water out-"but thanks anyway."Bookmark here

Seeing her friend's bleeding leg, Marie quickly bandaged it.Bookmark here

"I think you two should return home."Bookmark here

"Nah, no need to worry about it. Me and Jakob are used to this kind of damage."Bookmark here

"Yeah, instead we should investigate what just happened because there's no way I got screwed up badly by a small lizard," Jakob suggested.Bookmark here

Out of nowhere, a red light started to glow at the unconscious body of the cat and the raccoon. The glow ended and much to the three's surprise, the animals had changed their form. The cat was now a tiger, the raccoon became a bear, and not long after a knocked out crocodile emerged from the river. The three stared at the animals in confusion when an answer suddenly hit Marie's head.Bookmark here

"I got it! The animals we fought just now are not in their true forms. This is what they are originally. No wonder that cat was speaking in a different language as it was a tiger all along!"Bookmark here

Isaac looked at her confused before being told by Jakob that she could speak to animals.Bookmark here

"Well, if that's the case then something must have been transforming these animals before," Isaac remarked, "Although, we have no idea where do they come from in the first place."Bookmark here

"Yeah about that," Jakob signaled the two to come over as he saw a poster at a nearby wall, "I think I found the answer for that."Bookmark here

The poster is about 'Notte del Circo', a night circus that was to be held at the town square for a few weeks. There is a picture of performers, clowns and animals; some of which is a bear, a tiger and a crocodile.Bookmark here

"Oh how convenient," Isaac spoke all of the sudden, "I promised my mother to bring her there and apparently, that's where the trouble might've started."Bookmark here

"You know, you're quite a mama's boy," Jakob commented.Bookmark here

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Meanwhile at the town square, circus folks were busy setting up the place. The huge open area of the square was more than enough to fit a few dozen tents that are used to house the performers, workers as well as being turned into fair stalls for visitors to enjoy. There are a couple of cages housing various huge animals such as lions, tigers, crocodiles, bears, elephants, horses, ostriches, monkeys and more. All of it taken from many parts of the world, both within and outside of Europia.Bookmark here

At the center of it all lies the large main tent; The Big Top. Three storeys tall, a hundred meters wide, The Big Top has more than enough space to display the circus's wonderful acts that will surely put its audiences in awe. Additionally, a smaller tent was attached to it which acts as the office for the owner of the circus itself; the Dario brothers.Bookmark here

"So, you are asking us a request, to allow the practice of your business within our area yes?" a voice was heard coming from the office.Bookmark here

"Yep."Bookmark here

"Despite the fact that a majority of the town square is still vacant, thus allowing you to place your business anywhere without bothering us."Bookmark here

"I believe so."Bookmark here

"Then why do you insist on putting your business within our area?"Bookmark here

"A lot of people will visit your place, so I hope I could share the crowd as well," the person answered straightforward.Bookmark here

Philip Dario looked at his client blankly, baffled by his answer. He was about to give a response when he felt a familiar hand touching his shoulders.Bookmark here

"I think it's fine if we let him do his work here. After all, its not like a little sanitarium's going to ruin our business right?" Philip's brother; Benson Dario, suggested.Bookmark here

He sighed upon listening his brother's opinion, "Alright fine, but it will come with a cost."Bookmark here

"I am willing to pay," his client replied.Bookmark here

"50 gold per night. Not a penny more, not a penny less."Bookmark here

The client was shocked by the high price and attempted to bargain. Alas, it did not work.Bookmark here

"I'm sorry for disturbing your schedule," Claude spoke, getting up from the seemingly small chair.Bookmark here

With that, the behemoth doctor left the scene. Benson Dario could only shake his head, disappointed by his brother's greed.

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