Twilight Bridge: Immersion
On and on The darkness went on and on. With a little light to guide him, he walked on. He felt a presence and heard a soft whisper.
“There you are!" echoed a voice.
A girl s voice he couldn t recognize, yet felt somehow familiar.
“So much to do.. So little time.." she said. "But take your time.."
As the girl was approaching him, he started to feel chocked up, and began to panic.
He wanted to say something, but his lips were moving without audible voice coming out.
The mysterious girl put her hand on his face.
“There s power sleeps within you. Give it form... and it will give you strength... and only then, the light will shine where you are.."
As he heard these words, the darkness around him turned to absolute light, and the girl was engulfed by it.
“..But don t be afraid, and don t forget.. you hold the mightiest weapon of all.."
Everything went unbearably bright as he couldn t bear it anymore. He realized that he was lying on his bed. Was it all a dream? A bizarre dream for sure!
The young man with tanned skin and side-cut black hair who was sleeping naked by himself, opened his eyes abruptly before shutting them again as his face directly opposed the rays of the morning sun. He noticed that there was someone knocking the door, but he tried to ignore it. As he tried to go back to sleep, the knocking went louder and more demanding. So, he found no other choice but to get up and see who is this early morning visitor.
~Knock, knock, knock!
When he opened the door, the person on the other side started speaking fast.
“Jaden, oh god! You should get outta here!" said the visitor who happened to be a pale teenage girl with short black hair named Kathryn. “You were careless! You left a trail. Now he s onto you!" she shouted before realizing she was talking to a naked man.
Jaden, who was still trying to grasp the situation, stuttered for a moment and said “What are you talking about? Who s onto me?!"
"A Hunter Demon. He s here!" said Kathryn while trying to avoid the temptation of looking at Jaden.
A moment later, the two heard a shattering growl that shook the ground beneath their feet.
As they both looked up, a gigantic demon fell from the sky and onto the building in front of them. The demon dropped at the edge of town gazing at Jaden s abode which was a small trailer parked by the woods. As the ox-like headed demonic creature stretched his pricky hands that was holding a gun-like object with a huge hook attached to it. It fired it straight onto Jaden s trailer, and dragged on him.
Using acrobatic skills, Jaden covered Kathryn in his arms, and jumped into his flying home.
Within a nick of time, he slid into his ripped blue jeans along with his red hoodie as he was in mid-air with his trailer being dragged along. Jaden slipped through his crumbled household and landed outside on his feet, fully dressed.
"Missed." he smirked.
The Hunter Demon threw away his ranged weapon, and climbed the tallest building he found to start another attack.
“Kat! You better run as fast and as further you can!" he told her.
“Brother and the others will be here any minute! Don t do anything dangerous!" said Kat as she went.
Jaden smirked as the demon was growling at him.
From the back of his waist, Jaden snatched his signature knife, Rebellion. “Time for a little Rebellion!"
"Grrrr!" the Hunter Demon jumped off to smash Jaden beneath him as Jaden bounced towards him and scratched him lightly.
Kat went hiding in a small tunnel where the town alarm system can be turned on. She pushed the button the moment her eyes located it. A second later, a loud siren sound was heard all over the town.
Jaden and the demon were exchanging blows as they were jumping from rooftop to crossroad with the monster getting more ferocious every minute.
"Hey cow face!" Jaden shouted as he was panting. "Does sweat make ya angry?"
He then lean forward and jumped to attack him, "Get ready to get steamed!" The demon thrust his claws towards Jaden, but he swiftly blocked it, and turned to run over the monster arm.
"How d you like that, you scumbag?!" Jaden swung his knife right at the hunter s face making him collapse back. Then, he found an opportunity to deliver a finishing blow. But as he was about to do it, the Hunter Demon recovered and countered with a deadly bite.
As Jaden s arm was being pierced between the monster s teeth, a sword slash faster than wind, dashed through the demon s face.
"Brother!" yelled Kat happily.
Jaden fell safely with his right arm moderately injured.
"Keryto.." he said surprisingly.
Keryto Inferno and other demon hunters have arrived to kill the demon that was wreaking havoc in Fortuna.
"Get out of here!" one of the hunters told Kat. "It s too dangerous!"
"We got him surrounded!" another hunter shouted. "Get him, Keryto!"
He was floating in mid-air as though he was some sort of angel. Holding his long sword in both hands, Keryto performed a sacred move that sliced the hunter demon in half, and made him vanish.
5th day of the Sixth Month, Year 666 -Realm of Light.
Few hours later after the incident, Jaden was in the Grand Church that was in the middle of Fortuna; a town which set in a group of small islands. It s the only place he knows. A town that looked too peaceful with its lively cobblestone streets where people sometimes dance to some guitarist passing by, and its warm taverns, small rivers, lights of windows at night, and of course the church, that is the largest building in town, or maybe the entire planetoid. It was run by the famous Inferno house the one that Jaden belongs to. Yes, his name was Jaden Inferno, and he was summoned to the church because of his notorious actions in the previous days.
The members of House Inferno, including highest priest Sanctus were attending Jaden s questioning.
“Jaden my child, what had gotten into you?" said the priest.
"A couple of days from now, he went to the ruins in the restricted area by himself." Keryto said. "His notorious actions have lured the demon out of the ruins and into the town."
"Is this true, Jaden?" asked the priest.
Jaden exhaled out of boredom, "I was killing demons. Something I believe is our duty.."
"In an unknown dungeon!" exclaimed another large man named Agnes. "Isn t the entire island worthy of such effort?!"
"That unknown dungeon is where I came from." said Jaden "Besides,demons were lurking there for a while now. If I haven t been there, more of what you ve seen would ve happened."
"Such big words coming from the weakest hunter." smirked Agnes sarcastically.
"Well, at least I controlled the situation enough for the weakest!" replied Jaden "What have your fat ass been doing, again?!"
“Oh, you picked the wrong day.. you son of a.."
"Jaden, your manners!" Keryto yelled.
"Jaden," said Sanctus. "Your inexcusable actions don t put you in shame alone.You represent all the hunters, and your family as well. The Inferno swore to protect the land and it s people at all cost!"
"And yet, you ve done nothing." Jaden said " Demons are everywhere, people are always afraid. And what you have done was just protecting your little bubble, so you can play heroes and get to keep this massive place to cry to these hollow statues!"
"SILENCE!!" yelled Keryto.
"Oh, Bahamut, have mercy on his soul." Sanctus cried as Keryto grabbed Jaden by the wall.
Agnes brought out his sword. "I guess I ve found an excuse to use my new blade anyway.."
"I m a little surprised that you still know where to put your hands on this thing!" Jaden said sarcastically.
"Are you trying to embarrass me and our family, Jaden?!" asked Keryto in anger.
" Guess even House Inferno has a black sheep!" Agnes said sarcastically.
"House Inferno can eat my shit." replied Jaden.
Keryto stepped back as he tried to sort out his actions.
"Jaden, your attitude is a disgrace! No matter what you re trying to prove, it s only going to burden your case..You will never obtain anything by acting like an outrageous demon.." he said.
"I don t need your advice!" replied Jaden in anger; removing Keryto s hand off of him.
Keryto continued, "As hunters, we fight in unity, grow stronger together with discipline and hard work. We re a symbol of hope to this planetoid."
Jaden then realized that It was hopeless to try to reason with Keryto.
Sanctus then turned to face the huge statues of great deity Bahamut. "Jaden my boy, demons are a power that took half of the universe. It s bigger than our strenuous efforts. It s the entire realm that is under threat; not solely us. We can merely retain our ground, and pray.. that the light would protect us all."
Jaden then got up straight, preparing to leave. Keryto tried to hold him still, but he pushed him away.
"It s futile, Keryto." said Agnes. "This one would just end up like Ovan."
Just as he heard that, Jaden went on fire, and felt like stabbing Agnes multiple times, but decided to walk out of the church.
"Later days, good for nothing heroes.."
It was evening already, and Jaden was walking his way home through the town, thinking about how everyone thought of him being the weakest hunter.
I m sick of it!, he thought to himself. Holding hope that Keryto or the others may one day come to understanding me would be suicidal. The chances of me ending up killed by a demon is less than being killed by any of House Inferno! Those jerks would never let me promote to a higher ranked demon hunter.. And if I can t raise my rank, I d be in the rut for the rest of my life..
As he was deep in thought, a ball touched his foot. It appears there were kids playing near by.
"Hey, sir..!" one boy stepped forward. "Can you toss it back?"
"Uh, sure thing.." replied Jaden.
But as the kid was prepared to receive the ball, one of the kids mother hurried towards them. "Oh my, what have done?!" she scolded her son warily.
"Here!" Jaden tossed the ball to them anyway, and the boy caught it.
The mother glanced back at Jaden with scorn and disgust as she walked the kids away. "Didn t I tell you to never speak to strangers? Especially despicable ones! You embarrassed me in front of my friends.." she complained.
Yeah, this is what I am, he thought to himself. A despicable, a bastard, the bottom of the food chain, the weakest hunter! Maybe, I just never really belonged here..
Jaden continued pushing through the walkways of the city as a thousand thoughts were drilling inside his head. All that his heart knew was deprivation and loneliness. Despite holding their last name, the Infernos never treated him as one of them. He was born, or rather found an orphan. House Inferno discovered him when he was an infant. Sleeping inside a mysterious red crystal in the depth of a very dangerous dungeon; known now as the Restricted Area. Jaden had always dwelled near that place, thinking that there would be something for him in the dark. Something that would ease his lacking soul. But his low rank was what had always pulled him back. As long as no higher ranked hunter had decided to arrange a Raid, that dungeon would remain off limits. But finally, that was about to change.
Once his footsteps reached a small bridge above a narrow river that went through the town, Jaden stood still and watched the sunset as it triggered an old memory from when he was a kid. When he was with Ovan, his mentor; his only friend.
"What a beautiful sunset today!" said Ovan who was older than Jaden at that time.
"What do you mean?! It s a regular sunset! Seems just as usual." replied Jaden.
"Well, if you keep looking at it, it s actually pretty red today. Do you know why?!" Ovan asked. " Cause of all the colors in existence, red is the one that travels the farthest!"
Jaden was looking at Ovan s face as it turned serious for a second. His silver hair was dancing with the sweet breeze.
"I wanna be able to be like it... Go where no other color ever could.." said Ovan.
"But, you re not a color, Ovan.." said Jaden in a quiet voice.
Ovan then snapped and laughed lightly. “Gotcha!"
"The heck is wrong with ya?!" Jaden said.
"You really bought that?!"
"You re the one who brought that attitude, weirdo!"
"Now, you re calling me a weirdo?!" Ovan laughed.
Ovan was an Inferno, and Jaden s guardian, but he disappeared twelve years ago on an expedition as he was always a solo hunter. Jaden was the only person who appreciated his vision, while everyone else seemed to believe that his actions are what caused his demise.
Jaden then reached his home that was completely wrecked and trashed into the ground. Devastated, he sat on the grass on the hill looking at the starry sky stretched out above him.
Is this world really this small?, he wondered. And yet, it makes me feel all lost and alone, and useless.. What is it that I need? A family? A place where I feel like I belong? Is it cause I miss Ovan? Or is it something else entirely?
As he released a sigh, he felt someone approaching. When he turned his head to face it, it was Kat holding a plate of what it appeared to be a potato mash.
"Hey, I brought dinner!" she said as she sat next to Jaden.
"You didn t really have to.." replied Jaden, but took the plate and started eating.
Kathryn looked at him for few seconds before she said "How about you come back to live with me and Uncle Morrison in the tavern?"
"I don t think so.." replied Jaden through his full mouth.
"Come on, it ll be just like the old times!" said Kat as she noticed Jaden has turned away.
"It s because of him?... Jaden, it s been twelve years!" she tried to convince him. "You re 23 now, with a crazy haircut!"
Jaden finally smiled a little, "You know, for a 15 year old, you kinda rocked today."
"What ya mean KINDA?" she said. "If it weren t for me, you d be mashed by now."
"Uh, well.... I owe you one.." he replied as he handed the plate back to her.
"Oh, I also fixed your knife." Kat threw Rebellion back to Jaden.
"Sweet!" he said as he was examining it. "Put it on my tab."
"Don t thank me! It was Morrison." she replied as she got off to leave.
Wind was blowing lightly, making plants and trees dance back and forth. Kat looked Jaden in the eye. "You re really going tomorrow?"
"Yeah, those ruins are where I was found.." replied Jaden.
"Keryto said you were found inside a giant red crystal."
"Since that day, these ruins were outta reach.." finished Jaden.
Before she leave, Kathryn looked at Jaden one last time. "Come back safe, okay?"
"Yeah.." he sighed.
After she had left, Jaden laid down beneath the stars with thoughts running in his mind.
I m not sure if I ll come back safe, Kat. I m not sure of anything at all. Who I am, what I am, or what am I even doing at all?!, he hung his hand against the night sky as it clenched into a fist.
They found me inside a crystal. They called me Jaden. That s my name, or is it?, he thought. And they made me a demon hunter. It s not like I get to choose! And if I was able to, how s that gonna make a difference?! Everyone here keeps putting things on people just like that. This is Fortuna of Red Grave... a town born out from the people believing in their god. But what sort of god is this?
Jaden then turned to the side, covering his ears with his elbows. I don t believe in their god, he thought. But I m a hypocrite. Most nights I pray. A track running in the background. I pray for a way out. Away from another uncertainty, from another monster, from another cage. I pray for help...