“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”
A mysterious figure enters a dark room, closing the door behind. Faint mumbles are heard coming from outside this small room. A hood covers the figure’s face. Taking a seat in front of a device, they sit in silence for a moment, right hand stroking their chin.
After a short moment, their hand lowers.
“The world has changed. What was once a number of polluted concrete jungles, are now nothing but rubble and decay, destroyed by the very source of their power.
“Live as a child, within the shadow of a megacity, wasn’t easy. You could just feel how polluted the world was, in part thanks to a fuel known as PHOENIX. Entire cities were erected for the sole purpose of this new fuel. No one knows if it was discovered or created, but it is under the control of one company, SPARK Corporation and with it, they control the planet.
“PHOENIX is given the name due to its colour when burnt, and its ability to burn so long.
For the poor in this world, it’s no longer used as a way to live.
It’s the only way to survive.”
The figure searches for more words to say as a small light, slowly blinks on and the device continues to rattle.
They breathe deeply, staring into the red blinking light.
“I’m getting off track here. So much has happened, I’ll start from the beginning.”
A young blonde haired boy awakens gently.
Although Varin Vargon didn’t open his eyes, he knew he was in bed. He could feel the soft duvet under his hands before rubbing his head further into the comfy pillow.
He was happy to be awake, nightmares have plagued him for years, at least he thinks they have. Nightmares of his father and brother at the train station, being yelled at, an explosion destroying the station and the appearance, or was it a reappearance, of a shadowy figure. He couldn’t quite think straight being half asleep. He snuggled more into his warm bed.
From outside his window, he heard the gentle and almost calming chirp of birds, as the faint smell of cooking bacon wandered into his room.
‘Father’s cooking,’ he thought.
He faded back off into a dream. This dream was a reoccurring dream for Varin, sadly a dream that he knew would never come true, but enjoyed it all nonetheless.
A dream of his Mom; Hinal Vargon.
She was beautiful, an angel in his eyes. Wavy brunette hair, brown eyes, the kindest person on the planet. He often thought of his mother, thinking of what she would be like had he met her. The dream always started with the Vargon family having a picnic on a sunny summer’s day in their local park, a few doors down from their small run-down home among the outskirts of the megacity of Karves. The sky was blue and clear, the grass green and free of litter, a gentle breeze filled the air.
Varin is 7 years old, with short but spiky blonde hair, the clothes are faded, worn, easily hand me downs from his older brother. Well loved his mother might say. He ran towards his mother, who welcomed him with a smile and an enormous embrace, as she hugged him, he smiled and smelled her perfume, she smelled like strawberries. It was warm, caring. He was safe.
His older brother, Drogun, joined the embrace, but it wasn’t the Drogun that Varin knew. To Varin, this was almost a completely different person.
His hair was brown, not dyed purple, he wore colourful clothes and appeared happy, smiling. This was almost too alien to Varin, where was all the black, and his sour annoyed face.
Varin blinked and the sky seemed to change in an instant, the skies turned red and cloudy as a thunderstorm erupted. The ground beneath Varin’s feet began to shake as the grass seemed to wither and die. In the distance, towards the center of the city, it was like something big had exploded, a massive roar swept across the park breaking and uprooting trees, throwing cars down the street. Shadows in the back, people, began to run for their lives, except the Vargon family.
‘Varin! - ’ yelled Hinal ‘ - Come here to me!’
One arm already around Drogun, protecting him, the other out to Varin.
Varin raised his as he began to run towards her.
In a blinding light, his Father stood in front of of Hinal and Drogun.
‘Honey, can you get him? E... ’ another explosion cut her off.
The world seemed to blink with a blinding light and Father was gone, another and Hinal and Drogun were gone. The flashes continued as the world around Varin fell to silence, except for footsteps. He turned to see where they were coming from. In the distance a Shadowy Figure was walking towards him with every flash of light he got closer. And closer. Until he suddenly stopped with a hand pointing towards Varin.
‘Varin! The Phoenix will rise… WAKE UP!’
It shook him awake, his eyes remained closed, that safe feeling of being at home again washed over him. He didn’t want to open his eyes, he only wanted more sleep.
He could hear the clanging of metal from outside. Almost like someone was fighting.
His eyes slowly opened as the gentle sunlight danced across his face. Half awake, he sat up with a yawn and a stretch, not feeling the sleeves of his two sizes too big pyjamas slide down his arms. More awake now, he found that he was not at home, but rather in a tent.
It was huge, much bigger than the one man tent he had shared with his Father, him and Drogun on various camping nights in the back garden.
He dazedly looked around the room, from the corner of his eye, something moving caught his attention, he turned to face it and found, a young man now returning his stare. Half asleep as he was, he could tell the man was easily in his late teens, and oddly looked a familiar with, blue eyes and, blonde hair. He even carried the Vargon family necklace around his neck. Surprised and fully awake now, he quickly realised he was staring at a mirror. What was reflected back at him terrified him, no longer was he the youthful seven-year-old Varin Vargon, he had grown to be a man… but had no idea what his true age is.
How was he so old? Where was he? Where was his family? His mind reeled. He felt himself begin to slip into a bottomless pit of panic. He tried to focus on his breathing, something he was taught… but where? He searched for a distraction, for answers, for anything. Another clang from outside, then voices?
‘Could they tell me?’
He quickly rose. The bed now beneath his feet was nothing more than hay.
Full shot of the mirror, he saw he was wearing a light blue t-shirt, overly large black trousers, held up by a black belt with a gold buckle, and on his wrists two light brown leather wristbands. His hair was different to what he’d normally have, it’s no longer shaggy and spiked up, this new style was similar to a mohawk but only at the front, with the fringe coming down near his left eye as the rest of it blended together further along his head.
‘Why can’t I remember how I got here?’
Grunts and more clanging came from outside, he rushes towards the tent’s fabric door, grabbing it almost pulling the fabric door away from the rest of the tent.
Pushing it out of the way, another memory pops into his head, a memory of training somewhere, a dark grey building, with twenty or so other men and women, led by an instructor. Remembering some of this training, he bends his legs, to lighten his footsteps. He exits and slowly moves to the end of the tent.
The tent was placed in a clearing in the woods, alongside a fast moving river. Not too far from the tent was a small campfire with a large pot cooking what smelt like fish. Just north of the tent, where the clanging was coming from, two people were heavily panting, preparing to strike at one another again, as they stood in a heavily trampled area. Varin peeked from behind the tent, to look around the area and watch the two people as they spoke.
‘Come on brother, you can do better!’ said the older of the two.
She stood defiantly in place, holding her weapon of choice, as it shone brightly in the sunlight, a double edge bladed long staff with a red ribbon tied in the centre. Her hair was a dark muddy red.
The older of the two, the red-haired woman wore a dark navy t-shirt with a collar so long that it covered her mouth. Around her forehead, she wore an orange bandana. They began to strafe around one another, Varin got a clearer look, she strangely wore a belt tied over the top of her shirt just below her waist, holding her shirt in place as well as her brown faded trousers. Varin could see she wore fabric wristbands, black like her boots.
They strafed each other once again, the red-haired woman, now with his back to Varin, had a brown leather weapon holster that would clip her weapon in place. She wore this using an older piece of leather across her chest as the strap.
The two siblings lunged at each other, both blocking each other’s attacks, now the youngest of the two spoke and was in Varin’s clear view.
‘Don’t worry I’ll... ARGH!’
Before he finished, he lunged at his older sister to try and catch her off guard.
Upon seeing the younger of the two, Varin realised the new clothing he now wears had once belonged to them both.
The man had long blonde hair, almost matching the dull yellow of his long-sleeved top, which was slightly longer than his arms, the sleeves covered most of his hands but Varin could see that he too was wearing a wristband like the woman, these were a dingy red colour.
Like the oldest of the two, he too wore a bandana but a dark blue tied loosely around his neck as well as a similar belt, the trousers once again were like those Varin was wearing but was a light grey accompanied with dark brown boots.
Light reflected off his weapons, Varin assumed these were similar to butterfly swords except slightly wider in width. He held two of these, one in each hand, each with a red ribbon tied to the bottom.
The clanging from their weapons was heard once more as the youngest lunged towards the oldest, the oldest managed to reflect the attack back and was about to unleash a counterattack as her opponent regained his stance.
The cases which he uses to carry the swords across his back were tied by rope across his chest. One case for each sword, so each hand could pull out a weapon at the hint of any nearby danger.
The oldest blinked for a second but from the corner of her eye, she caught a quick glimpse of Varin, who was somewhat awe-stricken by the way their fight and speed. Something, almost like an instinct told him to watch these two, to study them, as he may need to fight them to escape.
The woman lowered her weapon.
‘Brother look, the stranger is awake’
‘Oh no. I’m not falling for that… again’ said the youngest with a cocky tone in his voice
The youngest once again tried to attack but the oldest just sidestepped him and said with a serious tone in her voice,
‘Yal, please I am not deceiving you this time. Look!’ as she pointed towards Varin
The youngest brother, Yal, turned to see what his sister was talking about. Expecting to see nothing, he quickly saw Varin, attempting to hide once being noticed.
‘Oh, so he is awake’
Varin realised hiding was no use. The youngest began to run towards Varin, as he got closer, to Varin noticed that the youngest brother has a scar almost vertically down his left eye shaped almost like an S.
Adrenaline began to build up as Varin’s muscles became tense, he was prepared for something, he didn’t know what exactly, but his body knew as his left hand patted his outer left thigh looking for something.
The youngest approached quickly and with a smile.
‘Morning sleepyhead, what’s your name?’ asked Yal
Varin remained quiet.
The oldest ran over, she too had a scar but it was instead over the opposite eye, the right eye, in a shape of an S. The oldest then spoke with a welcoming, pleasant tone.
‘Morning, I’m Talon, and this is my twin brother, Yal. What is your name?’
‘Nice to meet you Var-in, I’m Yal.’
‘How are you feeling?’ asked a concerned Talon
‘Ya, going swimming with clothes on is no joke’
Talon then saw the confused look on Varin’s face
‘We found you! Four days ago, Yal and I were fishing further up the stream near the Crossroads of Attina….’
Four days ago, at the Crossroads of Attina - where the four streams each end in a waterfall that meet the river.
Two adventurers with strong fishing rods in hand, carrying a small metallic box by its handle to place their captured food, walked along the river although being careful to not be too close.
Yal looked into the river to see their reason, a number of fish which will later be their food chased by one huge fiend known as a Golossus. Getting any closer now might make the creature lunge for them. They knew what to do if it were to attack but still, they thought it was always best to avoid needless confrontation, especially one that will no doubt lure the more dangerous fiends of the forest.
‘We’ll set up here’ said Talon
Some time passed, as the bright sun was finally beginning to descend, they had collected a number of small fish for food although not as much as they would have liked. At least there was no trouble from the Golossus.
‘Seems to be a lot more Golossus here than near our old camp’ said Yal
‘I think you’re right, although you know we can’t stay in one place for too long because...’
‘Ya. I remember, …him.’
Suddenly a booming sound interrupted them.
‘Thunder? But it’s a clear day’ said Talon looking towards the sky
‘Brother, the fish… they’re leaving’
As they looked into the river, they saw the fish lead by a Golossus swimming away almost as if something bigger had arrived in the water.
‘Yal, look! - ’ Talon pointed towards four waterfalls, ‘ - There’s someone in the water’
Yal began to run alongside the river to get closer to this person floating down the river. Talon was soon following him.
‘And that’s when Yal plunged headfirst in after you, we then brought you back to our camp’
‘You were breathing fine, just drifting unconsciously along with the current in some old clothing tattered clothing, ya.’
‘And so we thought you may just need rest. - ‘
‘Ya, so we gave you a bed and some of our clothing’ said Yal
‘ - We didn’t realise you’d be out for this long’ continued Talon.
‘The river? But I... - ’ Varin paused for a second ‘ - but I was in... Karves. No Shenma? And then...’
Varin was cut off by Yal ‘What? You’re from Shenma!?’
‘...I… I don’t know, I don’t remember’
The twins then looked at each other, they flashed looks of worry to each other, they’ve heard of this before and have come across it many times. They try to forget about it, for now, it’s still too early to tell if it is indeed symptoms as they shake it out of their minds.
‘What’s the problem?’ asked Varin
‘Shenma City is a fortress.’ replied Talon.
‘And no way near the river. You must of banged your head, ya?’ said Yal
‘I don’t think so... but I’m sure I came from Shenma City’
‘If true, you must be brave, it’s a dangerous place to live, let alone be anywhere near.’ replied Talon
‘What do you mean?’ asked Varin
Yal then gave a little laugh and asked while tapping on Varin’s head
‘You must of really knock your head hard?’
Varin rubs his head
‘Shenma is the last megacity, there aren’t many people living there now because of PHOENIX.’ stated Talon
‘Why’s that so bad? A lot of cities use PHOENIX?’
Yal looked back to Talon and then back to Varin.
‘Okay pal, here’s a quick history lesson. PHOENIX is unstable and well because of its energy power, many megacities used PHOENIX from SPARK and well about forty years later the PHOENIX blew up along with those cities.’
‘Many believe that it is because of PHOENIX, that the world is as it is today -’ said Talon ‘- Fiends, Magika, poisonings and the mistrust of electricity.’
‘Forty years ago? But PHOENIX is a new substance… or was? Argh, my head hurts.’
‘Maybe you want to sit down, ya?’
‘When did this all happen?’ asked Varin
‘Most of that happened three hundred years ago.’
‘Three hundred years ago?’