The Awakening: Part I.Fandom:
Wake up. Your destiny's calling.Rating:
I name this "Part I" as if I'm actually going to write Part II, pfft. I have vague plans for it but the urge to do this story diminished around the time I hit Baelfael's part, maybe because I got derailed polishing out his backstory when doing the first draft. But I generally like what I have here, so I decided to throw it up. Besides, I miss Edenverse.“Awaken, my knight.”
The words strike hard like a mallet on a gong, resounding in your skull. The shockwaves smother your heartbeat and your consciousness for a few long seconds before — just as suddenly — you wake up, standing.
Yet...how is it possible to wake up to a dream?
Maybe this is a hallucination of sorts, instead. After all, you’re still vaguely aware of a different world, your world, happening around you. Yet it is that world that feels more unreal to you, all imagined noises and sensations and memories. It further fades into grey, smoky static as you take in your surroundings.
You step forward into a circular atrium of dark marble inlaid with curlicues of gold and silver. Far above, supported by alabaster pillars, is an open-air dome revealing a starry night sky streaked with nebulas. The room glows as though moonlight were shining upon it, despite its dark colors and the fact that there is no moon hanging overhead, nor any other visible source of illumination other than starlight.
Around the atrium are seven doors, each in a different shimmering color. One of them is right behind you, and you have the impression that this is the door you came through, somehow. You assume that this must be the case for the other six people in the room with you, most — if not all — of whom seem wholly unfamiliar to you. But you cannot speak to them, or rather: you feel no desire to speak.
Not until you listen to the words of the goddess.
She stands in the center of the atrium, barefoot and majestic. The goddess is a dark-skinned woman with long white hair sectioned into seven pieces, five of which fall along her back and the remaining two resting in front of her shoulders. Her midnight blue eyes seem as vast and incomprehensible as the night sky above; in fact you end up wondering if she even has eyes at all, or if her eyes are simply hollows in her skull through which you can see all of the cosmos. Her white, floor-length dress gleams in the moonlight that shouldn’t be there. Upon her head is a diadem of silver with a blood red stone in the center. The bangles encircling her arms, wrists, and ankles glitter with power.
Slowly, the goddess paces the room, meeting the gaze of all she has gathered (and she was the one who gathered you here, you have no doubt about that). When she meets yours, there is an odd feeling that she is not looking at you, specifically, despite the intensity of her stare.
Once she finishes, she strides back to the center. She turns her palms outwards and intones:
“It is time for you to remember your purpose.”
The glyphs of gold and silver inlaid into the floor around her feet, along with her own metallic accoutrements, flash brightly, accompanied by the sound of bells.
A multicolored wave of energy ripples through the floor in concentric rings. Each ring that reaches your feet fills you with memories that you both do and do not recognize as your own. Panic rises as the memories do; surely you cannot be expected to hold all of this, to comprehend and accept this fate. You are only mortal, after all, with mortal limits.
But still the memories rush in, heedless of your silly fears.
And as the last bit trickles into place, the scream of a dying god roars though the entire atrium.
It takes a full minute before you realize the sound is coming from your own throat.
Zoniha and Regulus are the lucky ones, in more ways than one.
For one, Mihaele’s words reach them while they sleep. That’s not a luxury granted to many knights, not that either of them fully realize that so soon after their awakening (both literally and figuratively). More crucially, it takes only one mere look from the other to confirm that what they’d heard — what they’d seen
— had not been a mere nocturnal flight of imagination, thereby skipping some of the steps needed to transform leaden skepticism into golden belief.
While they accept the reality fairly quickly, though, they don’t necessarily know what to do with such a revelation. They suppose (to themselves, for sharing their innermost thoughts is much more difficult than simply sharing a bed) that such a history might explain their potential attraction to one another, the feeling of familiarity (trust
) that they engendered in each other almost from the start. It certainly explains the strange phenomena that sometimes happens in their presence: shadows coming alive as Regulus walks the night, or Zoniha seeming to disappear where she basks in the sun.
But it doesn’t explain why a lieutenant loyal to the Obsidian Phoenix suddenly won’t take any calls, or why their condo’s heating bills are higher than usual, or why they can’t seem to keep their houseplants reasonably healthy. Regulus, as pragmatic and worldly as he is, decides to occupy himself with the affairs of the Phoenix and his own personal training instead of reaching out for additional information. As far as he’s concerned, the goddess can wait in line behind his other obligations until she clarifies why, exactly, she’s bothered to awaken her knights again. And so it’s Zoniha who ascends back to the Aethyric Atrium one day to see if she can wheedle a few more answers from Mihaele.
Upon stepping through her own door, however, she sees no staircase spiraling up from the center of the floor. It seems as though Mihaele is not taking visitors at the moment.
Zoniha is undeterred. There is another thing she can do here.***
On the opposite side of Thantos...
A sound like someone knocking on glass jolts Behemos out of almost-slumber in a creaky hospital bed. Loaded with painkillers as he is, he thinks for a moment that someone is at the door to his room, but then he remembers that his room doesn’t actually have a door.
Still, he’s in no mood to be bothered. Mihaele had awakened him as he’d been engaged in a casual motorcycle race in Jae Bin Lai with some friends and the result had been several scrapes, a smattering of bruises, a slightly sprained wrist, and a broken ankle. While he’s endured worse pain (it’s a miracle he hadn’t broken his collarbone again
), it’s still annoying and he’d rather just sleep it off.
But the knocking only becomes more insistent, now accompanied by a muffled feminine voice. Behemos doesn’t recognize it specifically, but as he had recognized one of the two women in the Atrium that fateful day, he thinks he can safely guess who it is. And he thinks that the safest response would be to answer her.
The regal tones of Schwarzelle
Sala, Consort of the Obsidian Phoenix, echo in his head when he opens his door, and the two trade reactions and speculations for a bit. Between himself, Zoniha, and Regulus, it seems even clearer that this — the visions, the voice, the powers, the memories — is a thing that is really happening, something that is beyond anything any of them could have reasonably expected in their lives. Behemos had been ready to write the whole thing off as a hallucination until Zoniha had contacted him. Now there’s not much point in denying what’s happening unless he really wants to make life even harder for himself.
With Mihaele still refusing to bestow more of her wisdom on them, Behemos and Zoniha decide to take matters into their own hands. While there had been no indication of exactly what she wanted them for this time, they’re guessing (based on their past memories) that big trouble is brewing somewhere. For that, it would be best to start forging some sort of rapport between themselves and the other knights, none of whom are known to either Zoniha or Behemos. They decide to take two each at random to talk to. It’s a bit of a pain, to be sure, but it would be more of a pain to have to do this while in the middle of some crucial confrontation.
As Zoniha wanders off, Behemos briefly debates trying to get some sleep before playing the messenger to two other poor addled saps. Then he concludes that it’s going to take him forever to fall back asleep anyway, so he might as well kill some time before then.
He enters the Atrium fully this time, and glances around. To his left is the red door, wreathed in flames; to his right is the green door that issues a faint breeze. Ahead, he sees Zoniha opening a gray door sparkling with lightning.
Behemos goes left.***
Baelfael is strangely calm for someone who’s just been diagnosed as having suffered a psychotic episode.
worried him, initially. But in light of the fact that he’s managed to manifest the fire powers that he supposedly hallucinated having, he’s fairly certain that what psychological evaluations have labeled “delusions” are, in fact, empirical reality.
Currently, the young man is mulling over how to structure a potential project proposal around this development as he stares at a tiny flame dancing on his fingertip. His handlers have relieved him of his normal work duties for the time being, on the assumption that he must have been overstressed from preparing for his debut as a Paragon Child, a product of the highly experimental Paragon Project, at the Errincor National Conference of the Sciences. But he hadn’t been stressed at all. On the contrary: every day of work in the lab is a joy for Baelfael, whether he’s doing research, conducting experiments, or assisting his handlers. Even the moments leading up to his grand introduction to some of his world’s greatest scientists had been quite devoid of nerves. Baelfael had mostly been excited to show off the culmination of years of work and training for the greater glory of those who had overseen his life from the start. Besides that, his handlers had coached him well for this particular moment, helping out with presentation, organization, rebuttals, and so he had been confident he could handle any situation at the conference.
Any situation, that is, except suddenly losing consciousness in the middle of his lecture and waking up knowing that he was the reincarnation of a demigod.
He’ll leave his past life memories out of the project for the time being, Baelfael decides. They’ll be trickier to convincingly demonstrate than his fire powers. He keeps his fiery displays small in scale at the moment, but he knows he’s capable of so much more — and he’d like to have a safe space in which to experiment and record observations for them. It wouldn’t do to accidentally burn down the compound, after all.
The flame hovering above his fingertip suddenly winks out of existence as a sharp noise rattles Baelfael’s mind. Eyebrows furrowing slightly, he opens the door to the Atrium.
The voice in his head introduces itself as Behemos Nox, from Cerbera, Odollam on Thantos. Baelfael’s only passingly familiar with the planet, but if the rough manner of this voice is any indication, its reputation as a haven of lawlessness seems to be well-deserved. Nevertheless, Baelfael politely returns the introduction, giving his own name and location and briefly explaining his status as a Paragon Child (which earns a derisive and disbelieving snort from Behemos, much to Baelfael’s confusion).
Behemos goes on to explain that he and another knight are contacting the remaining knights in order to at least touch base with them before Mihaele sends them on the mission she needs them for. Baelfael can’t find any fault with such a course of action, and in fact had been planning to try that out for himself. He very rarely gets to venture into the world outside the compound that houses those involved — either as subject, scientist, or some other sort of staff — in the Paragon Project. He’d like to speak a little more with common folk.
Yet when he ends with conversation with Behemos, Baelfael is back to thinking about how to bring his personal pyrokinesis project closer to actuality. The timing is convenient, really, since the next step for him after his debut stage is to embark on a unique, innovative project of his own, instead of simply assisting his handlers with their own specialties. Though when he thinks closer on it, his handlers didn’t seem as satisfied with his performance at the conference as he was...but never mind. Baelfael understands that they’re questioning their thoroughness in splicing together the ideal genetic code for him. As long as he could put together a solid proposal for the research of his newfound pyrokinetic abilities, though, they’d see it was no flaw in him but instead, perhaps, a serendipitous side effect. Baelfael knows from his memories that the knights reincarnated into all sorts of species and personalities, but perhaps there was simply something about him specifically that drew the soul of the Crimson Flame this time around?
His handlers should be proud, really. They’ve created a Paragon Child so perfect that he’s literally divine.