Chapter 1: Humble Beginnings
Just looking at the Empire soldiers enraged Aegeus. He couldn’t stand their arrogant tone. He couldn’t stand what they did to his house, his livelihood. But most of all, he couldn’t stand the empire robbing him of his precious sister.
Intense feelings of anger roused up in him as he clenched his fists and his face contorted in rage. He could stand it no longer. As the two soldiers slowly walked forward towards him, he too slowly and gently placed Andromeda on the wooden ground that was once sturdy and solid, but now creaked and groaned under the weight of the four people above it.
Clenching his teeth together, he roared as he lobbed a concentrated punch towards the abdomen of the stubbier soldier.
Contact was made. At the same time, he rotated his body sideways with the momentum from his punch, using his elbow to jab into the ribs of the lanky soldier.
The stubby soldier’s body fell limp as he flew backwards into the left-most corner of the house, while the lanky soldier barely moved a few inches as most of the shock was absorbed by his now splintered ribs.
These were by no means complicated techniques, especially if they lived in a world where monsters of fantasy and magic resided in. Leviathans, Minotaurs, monsters of the like, such punches stood no chance against these great beasts. Instead, they were punches that were propelled by the intense wrath of Aegeus and an improvisation on the self-defence taught by his uncle.
Picking up the sword dropped by the lanky soldier, Aegeus drew it towards the lanky’s face. That egotistical smirk on his face was long erased and replaced by terror and shock.
As quickly as the sword has entered, it had also left the body of the soldier. There was no hint of hesitation in that short movement. His screams of pain pierced the atmosphere, overwhelming the faint crackling of fire in the background. Crimson red liquid flowed like a fountain as it seeped through the incision in his chest and unto the floor below, pooling around the soldier.
Seeing his comrade in such a sorry state, the stubby soldier blinked sweat from his eyes. Fear and panic gripped his heart.
He casted his eyes wretchedly, looking for anything that could stop the madman from advancing any closer towards him. Through his peripheral vision, he noticed a burning cinder. Its ambers almost extinguished, but the fire inside it burnt with tenacity, unaccepting of its dying fate.
He stretched his flabby body, reaching out for the burning cinder. It was a desperate move as the soldier knew that tossing the burning cinder would leave more than a scar on his hand. But he pushed on anyway, valuing his life over the well-being of his hand. Looking at the scene of desperation in front of him, Aegeus made a disgusting smile.
Is this the sweet feeling of revenge? No…No… There needs to be more bloodshed.. Not after what they’ve done.
Overcoming the tremendous pain in his abdomen, the stubby soldier finally got hold of the cinder and hurled it towards Aegeus. Of course, it had missed, flying past the sooted face of Aegeus. Fatigue and injuries clearly did not help with the soldier’s aim.
However, whether by sheer luck or planning, it had hit a corner of the house. What started as a small ember swiftly dispersed itself and erupted into a scintillating fire, setting the house ablaze once more.
Those bastards must have oiled the houses before they burned them.
“Hahahah… You’ll die along with me!”
The soldier laughed in satisfaction. Sounds of more footsteps marching from outside gradually grew louder.
Soldiers probably noticed the sudden blaze and must’ve rushed to see what’s going on. Good… I guess it’s more for me to kill. I don’t mind if I die here. As long as I’m able to avenge Andromeda’s death, all will be worth it in the end.
The house crumbled and fell, unable to take the heated flames. Pillars, supports and the like tumbled as the fire started to make its claim on the house.
Aegeus did not look in the least bit fazed. He gave his surroundings one last look, to familiarize himself with the place that he would soon perish at. But the body of his sister Andromeda momentarily snapped him out of his craze, wrestling back control over his body from his emotions.
“Promise me you won’t stay out too late, okay?”
These words resounded in his mind. He could not die here. No. Not after everything that he and Andromeda had went through. If he died here, would he truly get his revenge on the empire? This surely wouldn’t be what Andromeda had wanted him to do, would it?
Tears once again flowed freely from his eyes. He didn’t have much time left as before long, the house too will crumble to ashes. He needed to make his decision now.
He vacillated his head between the door and his sister, unable to come to terms with the conflicting emotions in his heart. However, he strengthened his resolve and took a mental step into the unknown, placing his remaining strength into his weary legs and bolted out of the house as far as he could, making a beeline for the forest. As he ran, he tilted his head back, taking one last look at the place he once called home and watching the peaceful rest of his sister amidst the burning rubble, before finally disappearing behind a burning wooden beam.
He ran. He ran as fast as his legs could take him. Behind him, commands echoed down the devastated streets.
“Avenge your comrades!”
And yet, Aegeus couldn’t care less. He brought his right shoulder close to him as he wiped his tears, unsure of what was to become of him after this terrible night.
Entering the moonlit forest, it was a stark contrast to the glowing carnage of the town of Varich. Within the forest laid thick sturdy pillars of wood. Attached to these were thin, wavy sticks that curved and bent like snakes, twisting into seemingly random shapes.
Minimal natural light pierced through the thick canopies of these colossal trees, dully illuminating the treacherous, overgrown path on the ground below.
Although Aegeus has lived here for most of his life, these familiar forests were not so ‘familiar’ for him. Particularly at night, when it was said that various creatures such as minotaurs or centaurs increased their activity. Even in the day, most people of the town of Varich would do their best to avoid the forests. As such, Aegeus mostly observed the surrounding greenery of the Varich from the dome-shaped windows of his home, and only ventured in to the outskirts of the forests if necessary.
Aegeus has never thought that he’d one day be venturing into the depths of the forests willingly. After all, no one in their right mind would do so. And yet, here he was, running for his life.
Thinking he had finally lost them, he sat down with his back leaning against the rough surface of a nearby tree, taking a breather in the middle of the sea of trees around him. Deep breaths and heavy panting interlaced together as Aegeus tried his very best to calm himself from the roller coaster of emotions he experienced.
“There he is! Get him!”
Orders boomed behind him. Aegeus was momentarily in a daze before looking in the direction of the voice and quickly getting up, preparing to make a break for it again.
Unfortunately, he was too slow. A group of four red and white clad soldiers wielding short swords had encircled him.
Aegeus had no choice but to ready the sword he looted earlier in an attempt to fight his way out of this predicament. Sweat trickled down his forehead as he gripped his sword tightly. His tanned and tired hands now squeezed white and twitched slightly as he readied himself into a fighting stance.
Without warning, he lunged forward and cleaved his sword into the shoulder of the soldier on the left. Using his unoccupied left hand, he supported his right hand as he simultaneously kneed and pulled the sword out of the shoulder and using the resultant momentum to cleave off the head off the next soldier. Crude but effective as two bodies fell down to their knees simultaneously. One screeching while the other lifeless. At the same time, blood splashed across the right side of his face.
Seeing the downing of their two comrades, the remaining two gave a quick nod to each other and pressed forth synchronously, attacking in tandem and euphony with each other.
Ping! Clang! Shink!
A fierce exchange of blades reverberated through the air. However, Aegeus was at a disadvantage in the two versus one engagement. Exhaustion and inexperience took its toll on Aegeus as he fought against trained, fresh enemies. In a moment’s flurry, a mistimed parry had lost him his sword as it flew out of his hands and slotted itself into the ground a metre away. Meanwhile, a thrust from the other soldier had found itself impaled in the side of Aegeus.
With a blank look on his face, he slowly backed off, gripping the cut in his belly, while the two soldiers pushed on with a proud grin on their faces. In the inky darkness of the forest, Aegeus tripped on the uneven ground and fell backwards.
Sensing that this was his end, he squeezed his eyes shut as his final thoughts passed through his mind, preparing himself for the worst.
I guess this is the end. Looks like I’ll be seeing you much sooner than expected my dearest little sister. If only I chose to die back in the fire of our home. At least I’d be with you in my closing moments of life…
He waited for and anticipated the sudden surge of pain that came with dying. However, it never came. Instead, a sudden cry from his front caused him to open his eyes. What greeted him was a handsome, chiseled face with short blonde hair that slightly swayed in the wind. He had an incredibly toned body, and muscles larger than the watermelons his neighbours were growing. Owing to the lack of a proper top, all of these prominent features were brazenly put on display.
What is he? I don’t remember angels being that muscular.
With a deep and scruffy tone, the ‘angel’ asked.
“Are you alright? If you wanna live, we need to go now. Come on, get up. Quick, before the rest get here.”
Sounds of torches burning and even more footsteps were barely audible in the background, faintly growing louder. Hearing his urging, Aegeus struggled to pick himself up from the ground as pain and enervation assaulted his body. But with the aid of the blonde haired man’s extended hand, Aegeus managed to get up whilst gripping the open wound near his gut.
“Has the advance party found the rebels yet? What’s taking them so long?”
“That’s our cue to go. Try and keep up, aye?”
As he said that, the blonde haired man gripped onto Aegeus’ wrist and tugged him forwards, deeper into the maze of trees. Meanwhile, Aegeus tried his best to keep up, hobbling behind him as he held his stomach tightly, leaving behind a trail on crimson droplets.
Trotting through the forest, the duo dodged and weaved through the unpredictable undergrowth, occasionally turning back to check if the soldiers were still hot on their heels.
However, this did not last long as pain and exhaustion once again assaulted Aegeus’ injured body, causing him to trip and fall face first into the hard ground before him.
Noticing Aegeus’ predicament, the blonde man turned behind and said in a distressed tone.
“Oi! You okay? We still need to get moving. We aren’t safe yet. Hello, are you hearing me?…”
His words were drowned out in Aegeus’ mind as his consciousness slowly faded into black…
Written by: Emelia-Tan
Edited by: Schwarz13, Rogueclon946 and Mega14343
Proofread by: Yakult