From Glitchtale Wiki
This section contains official prequel stories by Devour, one of Glitchtale's co-writers.
"I'm not saying it's suspicious, Milo. I'm saying it's interesting." Seyv Dypal lounged back in his chair, watching the candles dance as they gave the room light. They were sitting together in the Grey Phantom's base of operations. "Jessee said he was working on this project of his for months, so... Why didn't any of us know about it until now?"
"Well, I knew." Milo's voice swelled with pride. Sae, who sat next to him, giggled like he had said something funny. "He only kept this a secret to protect us. Now that we're here, now that we can do our part, he's telling us everything."
"Okay... but what is it?"
The door to their room creaked open. Milo was instantly on his feet, standing at attention. Seyv sat up straight. Sae's hands started fidgeting together on her lap.
"Excellent. You're all here already," said the leader of the Grey Phantoms. Jessee wore a small smile as he hung up his robe and removed an enclosed tablet from its pocket. It was adorned with gold inscriptions along the edges.
He strode over to the table where the others sat and placed it there for all to see. "You can sit down, Milo."
Milo's eyes were wide and star-struck when Jessee addressed him directly. "Oh! Y-yes, of course sir." He sat down so hard that his chair shook the ground.
"That tablet of yours has the King's own insignia." Seyv mused, studying it. "What's inside? And how did you get this?"
"Not legitimately." Jessee said silkily. "For our purposes, however, it's legitimate enough." He picked the tablet back up and gently spun apart a small gold mechanism in the middle. A sheet of paper slid out from the bottom and into the light for all to see. "Sae, would you like to read this for everyone to hear?"
"Ah! M-me?" Sae had been staring down into her hands at her lap. "Yes, I can do that..." She held the paper in front of her delicately, opening her eyes wide to not make any mistakes. Sae's reading was slow and careful. "On behalf of your Royal Majesty… you have been cordially invited to attend… a grand masquerade ball. Join us to celebrate... a new era of peace and prosperity for all people." Seyv snorted in derision at that. Milo frowned, waiting patiently to hear more. "I, Baron Torge, royal appointee and safekeeper of the Kingdom's Rudalite reserve, look forward to being graced by your presence." Sae narrowed her eyes at the last passage in the bottom. They quickly flew wide with surprise and delight. "...Mister and Misses Milo and Sae Stenske? Jessee! We're royalty now!"
"Excuse me?" Seyv reached out his hand for the paper and began reading it himself. Milo appeared to be strangely embarrassed.
"It was logical to give you both this mission," said Jessee. "We'll be attending this event with false names. I trust Milo without question. I trust Sae and her ability to get us out safely, should anything go wrong. Seyv will stay somewhere nearby and act as backup if things should become very messy."
Seyv grunted in affirmation. "And what about you?"
"I will come along with Milo and Sae as a personal guest, to be your speaker and keep you safe from any… overly-curious individuals." His eyes twinkled as he smiled. "Royalty is the realm of politics. Charisma is sometimes more valuable than magical strength."
"A masquerade party, huh?" From a corner of darkness, uninterested until now, Gall stood up into the candlelight and slowly sauntered to the table. He stuck a small dagger into the table, inches away from the Baron's invitation that Seyv had dropped. "What a perfect opportunity. So many royal dogs in one place, all drunk on their wine. Not suspecting a thing."
"Gall…" Milo growled in warning.
"That's what you want, isn't it, dear leader?" Gall spoke his words without respect. "While you and your lackeys do your work… just let me do mine. In secret. No one would suspect anything was wrong until I was gone, and they found the bodies dozens of royalty cut into ribbons."
"That. Is not. Our intentions." Jessee said coldly. "Gall, I will repeat myself as many times as it takes. The road to the future we want will not be painted in blood. You will not be coming with us."
For a moment that seemed to stretch on forever, Gall stared back into Jessee's glare without emotion. Then, shrugging, he plucked his knife from the table and returned to the place he sat before.
Seyv raised an eyebrow at Gall in the shadows, arms crossed. Milo looked furious. Sae was staring down into her lap again.
Jessee broke the silence. "What we want is very simple. Baron Torge was recently gifted a beautiful, very expensive gesture of good faith by the King. A soul heart made out of pure Rudalite. He's going to have it on display for all to see." He smiled again, and it was contagious. "We're going to take it. The King will lose his faith in the Baron for allowing it to be stolen, and the Baron will think the King took it back because he didn't truly trust him."
"A heart of pure Rudalite! The value of that thing must be… beyond numbers." Milo's eyes were wide. "That's a genius plan, sir. I'll do the best I can to help you."
"It sounds tough..! How are we going to take something with so many people there watching?" asked Sae.
"Don't worry about that right now. That's why I'm coming with you." Jessee stood up. He looked playful, extending his hands to both Milo and Sae. "Right now, I would like you to both come with me."
"Oh! W-what for, Jessee..?" The girl asked.
"We need to get you and Milo some proper attire." He smiled. "You're going to be playing the part of married royalty after all."
"Haha! We really are, aren't we?" Sae clasped her hands together and smiled wide, leaning into Milo's shoulder playfully. Her shyness seemed to evaporate around him. "That means I get to make fun of you for wearing those frilly robes!"
"Yeah…" Milo was suddenly red in the face. He was still looking at Jessee obediently. "Seeing you all in regal clothing will be… interesting..."
Although the sun had set hours ago, The Baron's estate was lit up by countless magic lights in the color of every trait. Each one powered by its own Arnicite crystal. These lights guided dozens of very wealthy, very powerful people up the stairs to the grand entrance. Here there were two doors taller than some castles swung wide open, welcoming the Kingdom's highest nobility.
Dressed in his perfectly-tailored suit and wearing his mask, the leader of the Grey Phantoms waited at the bottom of the steps.
"Sae. You look simply charming." Jessee grinned as she arrived in her brand new dress. It was turquoise and blue like the colors of her dual trait, decorated with lapis lazulis that sparkled in the magic lights. A skilled hair-stylist had even worked their magic. She looked like she belonged here.
"Ahhh..! I-it's not that special. Really..." Sae pushed her index fingers together, fidgeting a little. No mask could hide this part of her. She looked away and saw Milo coming up to join them, looking entirely uncomfortable in his expensive disguise. Her expression changed to smiling. "Milo! There you are!"
"Milo. Our little sister has grown up. Doesn't she look enchanting?"
"Jessee…" Milo's eyes went wide, looking at them. His cheeks flushed with red. "You look great... both of you."
"So do you!" Sae beamed. "I bet we never thought the Grey Phantoms would take us to a place like this." She easily reached out and grabbed Milo's arm, standing together like a couple would. Milo's face was sheepishly fixed to the ground.
"This is an important mission, Sae..."
"It is! And Team Patience is ready for it."
"Team Patience? What on Earth are you talking about?"
"It's not even Patience magic. We're both dual-traited."
"We both use Patience magic." Sae insisted stubbornly.
"That's not right, silly girl. Mixing them turns it into something different. You wouldn't mix flour and eggs together and call it—"
Jessee watched the two of them bicker together with a smile. Any doubts he might have had were leaving his mind.
These two were perfect for this mission.
The ballroom was divided into two distinct areas. The larger of the two, which took up most of the space, was a wide open and beautifully decorated antechamber. On the ground and on the upstairs level, people talked together and dined on food and wine that was handed out by servants wandering the grounds.
Baron Torge was known for his kindness and generosity, and for that reason some of his servants were even Traitless.
The second area was tucked away, accessible by a much smaller doorway, which opened into another spacious hall where music played and people danced together with elegance that matched their noble status.
It was there, guarded by men who stood so still that they might have been statues, that the Rudalite Heart sat for all to see.
"It's right there." Milo hissed. "Yet it's impossibly out of reach. Such elite witnesses would bring the entire Kingdom's strength upon us, even if we escaped."
"An opportunity will present itself, Milo." Jessee said knowingly. "I have full confidence that you and Sae will recognize it when it appears."
"If you're really sure..." Sae murmured. "What do you want us to do until that happens?"
"What do you mean?" Jessee looked to the both of them, his eyes twinkling. "It's a grand celebration. Go and celebrate. Enjoy the food and drinks. Immerse yourself in the affluence and splendor."
"Well…" Milo didn't want to relax. He wanted to make sure he didn't fail Jessee. But if there was really nothing he could do right now… "I'm going to go to the ballroom and take a closer look at the Heart."
"I'll get us something to eat!" Sae's eyes were longingly following the snacks being carried around. "Ah..! Jessee, w-what are you going to do?"
"I suppose I'll just stay in arm's reach. I'd rather not have them ask too many—" Jessee's mouth snapped shut. Somewhere on the second level of the grand hall, his eyes caught a flash of brilliant green, and a flowing robe that could only belong to a Wizard. He slowly smiled. "On second thought… I may have to take a small mission of my own."
"Umm. Do you want me to help you?" Milo asked.
"Thank you, but your job is far more important than mine." He said. "This is best for my own particular set of skills."
Jessee left the other Phantoms and comfortably strode through the ranks of people. He knew exactly how to walk to dissuade others from coming to greet him, though he never appeared unfriendly. He climbed the stairs and politely took a glass of wine from a passing servant. It was only a short way to go before he found himself in the same room as Mila Rutrow herself. A Wizard whose status on the Council put her on par or above the King himself.
Even better, she was standing with a second Wizard with blue hair who Jessee recognized as Kody Fallenfire. Two Wizards of the council.
For his goal of changing this world to be fair and just towards all people, including the Traitless, he may never have an opportunity like this again.
Jessee waited patiently until the two Wizards were alone with each other before he stepped forward to say hello. He comfortably drew close and said, "Your masks do little to hide your names. It's an honor to be here with you today, Kody and Mila."
"Hello! You're too nice." Mila smiled wide. "I wish I could say the same for you! I don't think we've ever met, but you're here to celebrate the success of the King's peace talks. I know you're good at heart."
Kody spoke next. Jessee noted that he didn't speak like a noble at all. "Pffffft. I'm just here for the food and drinks. I'd respect ya if you're around for that." He ate another one of his snacks and talked with puffy cheeks. "They're so good!"
"Yes, the peace talks." Jessee smiled innocently. "I'm happy to be part of a Kingdom which strives to improve the lives of its people. And I'm pleased that the Baron allows Traitless servants to be here among the royalty." Very subtly, his words had barbs at their edges. "I assume the lives improved by these peace talks are supposed to include the Traitless?"
Mila smiled again, but it was a pained one. Kody scratched the back of his head. "Eh, we got them to take a step in the right direction. It's a real complicated situation, you know." He looked longingly at his snacks. "I'm with you on this one, believe me. But... I don't like politics even when I'm working…"
"We should feel blessed, Kody." Mila said to her friend. "It's only because we're living in peace that these issues have room to be brought up at all."
"Ahhhh, I guess you're right. Hey, why don't you refill your drink? And get me one too. I'll need it!" Kody managed to laugh again. "Let's get on the same page with this stuff."
"Excuse me..? Pardon me!" Servants passed Sae left and right with their delicious snacks and drinks, but she was too shy. It felt wrong to just reach out and take it off their plates like they weren't even people. She felt hopeless. "Can I have one of those please? Hello..! Pardon me!"
Just when all seemed lost... a Traitless servant, tall for a girl, noticed Sae's efforts and stopped next to her. "For you, my lady." She smiled. "Please, take as many as you wish."
"For me..?" Sae was overwhelmed by gratitude. She took one gently and, making sure it was okay first, took a bite.
It might have been the best thing she had ever eaten. She wanted to hug that girl for giving this to her. "Oh, it's so good! You're wonderful! Thank you..!"
"Ah… miss?" The girl looked confused by Sae's kindness to her.
"You noticed me when no one else cared…" Sae blubbered like a baby, still chewing. "I don't care what anyone says. You're better than any Traited servant in the world..!"
Sae hadn't been thinking, but now she could imagine how many times this girl had been looked down upon or even insulted for being Traitless. Hearing praise from her had brought tears to the servant girl's eyes.
"Ah… I'm sorry for my appearance. I'm afraid I can't wipe my tears. My hands aren't allowed to leave this plate until it's empty." She said, still smiling. "Thank you, kind lady."
"How long does it take to get some snacks...? It can't be that hard." Milo pretended to check his fingernails, but every so often he would steal a glance over to the Rudalite Heart, searching the pedestal for hidden mechanisms and gauging the strength of the guards around it.
He was completely oblivious to the group of young women who had gathered to watch him from a safe distance.
"Who is that guy? He's so handsome…"
"Do you think he's single? I want to ask him to dance."
"You're so brave! I would just freeze up like a little girl if I tried to talk to him!"
Raising an eyebrow, Milo looked back and noticed a bundle of blue hair trying to politely push through from beneath the crowds of people.
"I'm back! Mission accomplished… for team Patience!" Sae smiled wide and dramatically showed him her loot. In her arms were far too many snacks for either of them to eat.
"This team Patience stuff again..." Milo sighed. "I'm glad you made it back, but... why did you take so many?"
"The servant girl couldn't use her hands unless I took them all."
"I… what?" Milo raised his eyebrow again, confused. "Never mind, just give them to me, I'll get rid of them so we don't draw so much attention."
Sae sheepishly handed them over. She looked around and noticed all the women admiring Milo from afar. They now wore frowns of jealousy ever since she had arrived. "I think you have plenty of attention already." She giggled and grabbed her friend's arm again.
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"Hehehe, you really haven't noticed?" She laughed.
"Sae…" He muttered. He dumped most of their snacks into a waste basket. "You're being so goofy. Have you been drinking wine?"
Their bickering was cut short as the music stopped, and a huge, friendly voice boomed over the sound of the chatter. It was Baron Torge, a tall mountain of a man, standing in the center of the dance floor. "Ladies and wonderful gentlemen! We will be playing one last song before we empty this room for the night. Please join us for one more dance before making your way back to the grand halls." He called out. "And in this moment of celebration, let us give our thanks to the King for his gift of the Rudalite Heart. To signify our dream to make these lands safer and more prosperous for all!"
Milo rolled his eyes while the rest of the room politely applauded. Sae tugged his arm, giving him an encouraging look. "He sounds nice. Maybe Jessee could talk to him one day."
"As if that could ever happen."
"Ahh…" She sighed. "If it were so easy, the world wouldn't need us, would they?" Shaking away her sad thoughts, Sae raised an eyebrow at Milo playfully. "Hey… husband?"
He raised a much less playful eyebrow back at her.
"What? Why? I don't like dancing."
"Everyone else is! They'll ask questions if we're supposed to be married but we won't even dance together." She thought about all the girls watching him.
"Who is they?"
Blowing air out her nose, Sae took his arm and started dragging him towards the dance floor.
"W-whoa. What are you doing? Hey, wait!"
"Shhhhhhh, husband." She looked mischievous now. "We are going to dance."
"...Actually, lemmie tell you a secret. It's not a real secret since all my friends know this, but…" Kody shrugged. "Hey, want another one of these?"
Jessee accepted Kody's gift of food politely. He ate without caring for its taste. "Thank you. You were saying?"
"Both of my parents were Traitless, you know. I know how bad stuff is for them, 'cuz I was born and I grew up inside of it. It freaking sucks!" Kody continued. "And my magic? Pah, I'd be the same Kody I am today without it. Magic doesn't define who you are. Only you can do that."
"Then I must ask, Kody. You know that these people are oppressed, perhaps even more so than I do. You and Mila are both in a position of political power." Jessee mused. "So why… does nothing change for the Traitless?"
Kody gave a pained smile. Mila spoke up to fill his silence. "Surely, you can imagine what would happen if we went to the King tomorrow and demanded… I don't know. 'From now on, every profession must be changed so that a Traitless man or woman can do their job as well as a Traited can. What would happen to our world?"
Jessee took another bite, waiting.
"...Because that's the problem we face. Even the weakest of Traited can use Arnicite tools to do their jobs better through magic. They can build things better. They can heal the sick better. They can enforce the law better. Every aspect of society is the same. If we... handicapped them… so they were only as capable as the Traitless were…"
"I understand what you're trying to say." Jessee said. "We would grow slower because our construction slowed. Our wealth and prosperity would fade. People would die in their hospital beds without the help of healing magic. Crime would run rampant because many of our criminals use magic of their own. Is that correct?"
Mila nodded sadly. "That only scratches the surface of our reality. Laws cannot change that one side cannot use the magic which built our society."
"Yes. Then it seems to me that the solution isn't so simple." Jessee said. "Perhaps we should be using all our wealth, magic and resources to invent new, non-magical tools that help the Traitless keep up. Through science and technology."
"I agree, my friend. But that takes the effort of everybody." Kody said in a rare moment of seriousness. "It takes money and time, and we can't force people to do that. That would make us tyrants ourselves. That's not what the Law is for."
"...So the good people of this Kingdom are willing to forsake the Traitless and leave them to rot, so they can enjoy a world built around their magic."
"Ah, man." Kody mumbled. "Maybe now ya see why it's taking us so long to help them out. We're doing what we can, but..."
"I'm beginning to understand a lot of things." Jessee's voice was cold. He was disappointed in how little progress was being made here.
Before he could say more, their conversation was cut short by a commotion on the ground floor. It seemed that everyone was leaving the ballroom. With the increased traffic to the antechamber, a Traitless servant had accidentally tripped and spilled wine all over a man's expensive robes.
She was tall for a girl. Her hands never left the plate even as the man berated and pushed her. Even from up here, his voice was loud enough to turn heads. Everyone watched. No one stepped forward.
Frowning hard, Jessee looked over to see how Kody and Mila were reacting to this. He felt hope for a moment, as Kody looked furious. He was on his feet, gripping the railing of the upper balcony as if he wanted to leap all the way down and stop this.
But Mila's hand was on his shoulder. She was shaking her head sadly. Kody looked back at his friend and slowly, reluctantly sat back down.
This was the reality of the Wizard Council, wasn't it? They wanted to help the Traitless. They were just unwilling to do what it took to change things quickly. None would step forward to protect the Traitless from the world's injustice.
Of course they wouldn't.
Kody took a deep breath to steady himself. "Gah... Here's an example, my friend... We can't do anything to help that poor girl right now. But after this is over we will find this man and make sure he gets the punishment he—" Kody stopped. He realized Jessee was gone. "H-hey, where'd he go?"
"You ruined my suit! Do you have any idea how much this costs? More than you'll ever make, that's for sure!" The drunk nobleman yelled at the Traitless servant beneath him. "I was going to meet some very important people. Now I can't because I look like a fool! You ruined everything!" A slap rang out as the man hit her across the cheek. "What was the Baron thinking, using Traitless servants? Brainless. Worthless. All of you..." He hit her again. This time the servant girl fell to her knees, still holding tight to her plate as her tears ran freely.
"Please, sir. I'm sorry…"
"Sorry? You're not sorry yet." He raised his hand to hit her again. "You can be sure I'll go to the Baron and make sure that he knows what sort of clumsy oaf he's…"
He felt a hand grip tight around his arm, stopping him from bringing it down on the girl a third time.
"Who dares..?" He slowly turned around.
Jessee's eyes stared back at into him. His glare was of pure ice. "The only thing you're telling the Baron is that you're worthless scum." He hissed. "Rotten to the core of your soul."
"Get your hands off of me." He tried to shake his arm free, but barely succeeded in making Jessee move at all. "Know your place! Don't you know who I am?"
Jessee punched him straight in the face. The nobleman toppled over backwards, sprawling back and holding onto his nose. He shouted out incoherently.
Fury burned like a living thing inside of Jessee. His eyes glowed bright yellow as his magic came alive. Hardly aware of what he was doing, the man lifted up dozens and dozens of wine glasses all around him with the power of his Trait.
For one brief, horrible moment, he wanted to send them all hurtling into that disgusting man's face and heart like so much glass shrapnel. This man was a tumor that society would be better off without.
Then the wave of rage passed. It left Jessee feeling ugly and tired and spent. He instead dumped every glass of wine he held over the man's suit.
"Ladies and gentlemen." He turned to the crowd watching him. "I apologize for my outburst. I will leave you with this horrible man's company." Placing the now-empty glasses of wine back down, he turned and allowed himself to be escorted out of the estate by the Baron's guards.
His rage may have passed, but after seeing how the Wizard Council themselves could not rise to defend the Traitless...
The rage had taken some of his hope, too.
"H-hey… I think this is the opportunity Jessee wanted us to look out for." Sae murmured. The anxiety of what just happened had her clutching Milo's arm tight.
"You're right. Let's use this distraction while it lasts. Can you get us back to the Rudalite Heart?"
"There's still guards in front of the doors, Milo…"
"Come, now…" Milo smiled. "When have doors ever been a problem for you? No one's looking. Can you get us through?"
"Ahhh... You mean you want me to teleport us back there? With all these people around..?" She shivered, terrified that the success of this mission now rested on her.
"I believe in you. Do it for Team Patience, Sae."
"Team... Oh! You finally said it!" She suddenly shined like the sun. Sae was feeling a little more brave now. "I think I can do it. I'll try. Only because it's you."
"Then there's no time to waste."
The ballroom was no longer bright and full of life and magic. The dancing and festives were over. Now, the only lights were the torches on the wall and the moonlight which streamed in through the windows.
Here, the Rudalite Heart sat on its podium surrounded by guards. Alone.
At least until a flash of bright blue light appeared in the center of the room. Sae and Milo, both wearing grey hoods to disguise their hair, materialized from nothing. They looked, and saw the guards waiting for them, and Milo sighed quietly to himself. He was used to this, after all. "Are you going to start screaming about how we got here, or can we skip to the part where I kick all your butts?"
"It's the Grey Phantoms!" They drew their weapons and started shouting at him in an unintelligible mess of confusion and loud orders to surrender. One guard left the group and began running to sound the alarm.
Milo smiled, looked down at the nervous Sae and said, "This will only take me a bit."
Then two purple knives of Perseverance magic flew out from his wrist, trailed by a thin string of Patience. One wrapped around the fleeing guard's leg like a bola. The other embedded itself into the stone of the roof. Then Milo yanked hard and he was flying through the room.
With the escaping guard tripped over, Milo let go and landed square on his back with both feet. The guard let out a pained huff of air and stopped moving. He stood up and looked back at his opponents.
"Everyone, get him!" Milo threw out two more knives and disappeared from his spot, as magic missiles whizzed by where he used to be. He swung from the roof in a wide circle, taunting and throwing out one roped knife after another into the ground, dodging every attack his pursuers uselessly threw at him.
By the time Milo was done, he had expertly surrounded them all in a circular web of strings while leaving them distracted with his acrobatic circus act.
The Grey Phantom landed neatly on the ground next to Sae, willed his knives to disappear into the air, and yanked on his magic strings with his last remaining knife. The web he had created instantly tightened into a circle and contracted around them, slamming them together and leaving them trapped. Tangled and unable to move on the floor.
"How did you like that?" Milo asked Sae. She simply stared at him with stars in her eyes, looking like he was the coolest person she had ever seen.
In times like these, Milo couldn't help but feel a little smug.
It felt even better to ignore the guard's shouts as they walked over to the Rudalite Heart. Sae reached out with careful hands and plucked it off the pedestal. She gasped a little at the strange sensation of its touch.
"Wow… I can feel it making the magic in my body disappear." Sae murmured. "I thought Rudalite was the opposite of Arnicite, but this is even worse. I don't think I can teleport while I'm holding this, Milo..."
"That's okay." He said. "Jessee said he prepared another exit for us. Do you remember where to go?" Sae nodded, worried, and he ruffled her hair with his hand. "Then don't worry. We'll be back in no time."
Jessee sat alone in the basement of the Grey Phantom's base of operations. To his right was an enormous sledgehammer and an anvil. To his left was a furnace, which held a large bowl of molten Arnicite. The fire was the only light in this dark place.
The door opened and closed. Milo and Sae, both of them bright-eyed and celebrating, stepped in and came up to Jessee with smiles. "We did it!" Sae cheered. "Team Patience wins again!"
"You're back. I trust no one followed you?" Jessee asked coldly.
"Ahh…" Her smile faded a bit at the sound of his voice. "Y-yeah. I couldn't teleport us away because of how Rudalite blocks my magic. But..! After we got it, we sneaked away through the servant's halls and we got out through there. Just like you told us to! " She produced the Rudalite Heart for Jessee to see. Even pitch black, it glinted beautifully in the dancing flames.
"Good work. Both of you." Jessee took the heart and inspected it for a moment.
Then, placing it on top of the anvil, he picked up his sledgehammer and hit it as hard as he could.
"S-sir!" Milo was aghast. "What are you doing with the Heart?"
BANG! A second swing cracked it open into six separate pieces. "This Heart was a symbol of peace and prosperity." Jessee hissed. "Not among all people, like those lying fools tried to say. Only for the Traited do they care enough to change for the better."
BANG! Another hit shattered one of the Rudalite's crystalline pieces into countless shards. Jessee picked up another chunk and placed it on the anvil. "The Council. The King. They're all powerless against the disdain people feel for the Traitless. Our world isn't made to protect the weak. It's to protect the majority from the weak."
The next piece shattered, and so did the rest after three more swings. Slowly and methodically, Jessee gathered the shards of broken Rudalite and dumped the batch into the molten Arnicite beside him.
"W-what are you doing, Jessee?" Sae asked, worried for him.
"I'm simply adapting to what I have learned." He said. "The Wizards and the King himself cannot change the world peacefully. Not if the path is too difficult."
The leader of the Grey Phantom's eyes glowed with yellow light. Piece by piece, he used his magic to pick the shards of now-molten Rudalite out of the bowl. He couldn't raise the magic-rejecting material himself; Instead, each bullet had a core of Arnicite within their Rudalite shells. Only a small nub of Arnicite stuck through from the center and allowed his magic to carry them.
"If the most powerful people in the world can't make the world a better place through peace, then we must be ready to use violence when necessary." Jessee said at last. "This Heart, which was truly a symbol of how the Traitless had been forgotten, will become my weapon to save them. God help any Wizard who thinks they can stand in my way."
Milo had never seen Jessee like this before. He walked up and delicately placed a hand on his leader's shoulder. He flinched at the touch. "Whatever you want, Jessee… w-we believe in you. If that's really what it takes to make the world a better place.. we'll fight too, if we have to..."
Sae didn't say anything; she looked worried, and unsure what to do. Jessee just knew that she wanted to do the right thing. That was good enough for him.
Jessee's eyes still glowed in the firelight. "Then get some rest. You have done well today." He said. "But our road is just beginning."
One of Devour's stories, this time adapted to a comic, made by Pencilnote. Check more of their work on their server:
The Knight Captains
A compilation of several stories introducing the Knight Captains of the continent.
Lyn and Julius
Julius stood with his arms crossed on a crest of a hill that overlooked the capital city of Justeco. Every few months, the King and Queen of here and Pacienco would meet together and discuss their relationship to ensure a war like the one they narrowly avoided in the past might never happen again.
They were always tense, even now. Queen Ellie was never more than formally cold to King Ozrich, despite his efforts to show only understanding in return. As always, the Wizard Council was asked to oversee the meeting as a neutral third party. As Justeco's military leader, he was obligated to sit and watch, too.
Tiring as they were, they were much better than the alternative. War. It was what he trained for every day of his life, yet hoped every night he would never live to see it again. Not unrest, not rebel groups or their skirmishes, but real and ugly war. Where armies of thousands died in the fields and towns were razed and innocents starved. It had changed who he was forever to experience it firsthand.
But now he knew that war was not something to be glorified, but instead a desperate last measure used only when all other options failed.
He would do his part so that he would never see his friends lose their joy or innocence like he had. He could imagine the smiling faces of his closest friends, and hoped that they would grow old in a world of peace.
As unlikely as that was.
In the distance, he heard joyous laughter. He smiled and closed his eyes.
Then he opened one, and raised an eyebrow. It seemed to be coming closer...?
Then a bright streak of yellow lightning flashed by him, so fast that it was a blur. The lightning seemed to be laughing happily as it dashed around the man, spiraling a few times, before it rose to the air with a loud YAHOOOO!
Then the bolt came down and hit the ground with a splat. Lyn had misjudged his landing and was now splayed across the ground like a starfish. Julius blinked.
Then the boy bounced up from the ground like nothing had happened. He had a bright smile on his face. His gold-streaked hair was wild from blowing in the wind, though it rarely wasn't. "Julius! I knew I'd find you here! Hey!"
Julius gave a much softer smile. He was somehow used to this. "Aren't you supposed to be in Integreco, Lyn?"
"What's going on in Integreco? Pffffff! Snoozefest. I heard all my best buds would be over here!" His hands were in excited fists, held under his chin. Lyn was looking up at him. Julius realized he was waiting to be greeted back. He sighed, but his smile grew a bit bigger.
He reached out a large hand and ruffled Lyn's hair. "I'm glad you came. It's good to see you again."
Lyn giggled, pleased to hear it. Then he was already bouncing back and looking around. "Wait a second, where's the Wizard Council? Where's Kody?"
"Oh..?" Julius knew exactly why he wanted to see the Integrity Wizard. "They're on their way up. They'll be here at any--"
"IT'S YOU!" From the trees a bit further down, Julius turned and saw Kody pointing an accusatory finger at Lyn. "My nemesis…"
"Oh, look! If it isn't the second fastest man in the world!" Lyn shot back. He put his thumb to his nose and waggled his fingers. Kody stuck out his tongue.
They glared at each other, and then they both broke into wide grins. A few moments later, the rest of the Council appeared from the trees as well. Kody left them behind and launched himself into the air so he could land next to the two of them. He tried to save some shred of formality by saluting to Julius, but then he was right back to being a kid, doing a secret handshake with Lyn it was a sacred ritual. They dove into chattering to each other, both excited by the other's arrival and fiercely competitive.
Julius saw Lady Rin arrive next. She saw the two boys bouncing off the floor together, stopped in her tracks, and then smoothly turned around and started walking the other way.
"That's it! You're gonna eat your socks." Kody jabbed a finger at Lyn's sarcastic grin. "You and me. Right now. First one to touch all four corners of the castle walls and make it back wins."
"Haha! I've been waiting for this all day! Let's do it!" What looked like the tip of a huge spear appeared in Lyn's hand with a flash of yellow light. He planted his feet and the weapon began to glow, brighter and brighter until arcs of magic began to leak and strike all around him like bolts of lightning. Next to him, Kody took three steps straight up into the air and began to layer bigger and bigger gravity platforms underneath each other.
"Julius...!" Lyn called out. The military leader was also, somehow, used to this.
"Of course. Three, two, one--"
"LETS GOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooo" Lyn's jubilant whoop faded into the distance as they both blasted off, faster than anything the older man had seen. The wind whipped at his hair like he was briefly next to a tornado. Twin streaks of blue and yellow raced across the sky towards the city.
Lyn won, as usual.
Kody loudly demanded a rematch, as usual.
Hours passed. The sun was almost set and Julius had enjoyed a long and pleasant chat with the rest of the Council, but eventually it was time to leave. He excused himself from the others and went to find Lyn. Without much trouble, he found him fast asleep in the grass, his energy finally spent. When he picked the boy up into his arms to take him inside, Lyn murmured something and didn't wake.
It was precious. But it made him feel something else that was hard for him to describe.
Julius had talked with Lyn about this before. If the time ever came, the boy believed in his duty. His sense of justice. He didn't become who he was today without knowing what it meant to be the leader of Integreco's military.
But no one knew what war was like until they saw it for themselves. The chance of him living his whole life without seeing it was slim. He knew that if the time ever came to face reality, well...
It was selfish, in a way, but he didn't want Lyn to change. Not for anything.
He would cherish the good times while they were still around, and keep them close to his heart.
Julius smiled to himself and held his sleeping friend a little closer.
Serpent of Amikeko
In all her years of serving Kauzku, Navae rarely forgot the day when Mila, only a teenager at the time, stormed into her room as angry as she had ever seen her. Navae had been discussing matters with the King, then, so she'd left it to him to be the one to talk to her. Kauzku could try his best, but Mila was too young to understand.
When Navae fights, the wounds she strikes never heal. Never! Any fight with her is a fight to the death. This isn't what Kindness is! Why is she allowed to represent who we are?
Kindness is fragile, Mila, Navae would have told her. Her father didn't, and his careful excuses only served to make the young princess more upset. She would have told her how compassion and mercy would be taken advantage of by an enemy who wanted her dead. Evil does not bend. Mila's kind heart would be used to kill her. In every other aspect of life, yes, she should be loving and kind. But if the enemy wished to hurt her despite the love she tried to show them, she should not reward them with mercy. Forgiveness is only an invitation to be hurt again, because now you have taught them there's no consequences for their actions.
Fear is the only thing evil men respect, and that allows us to be kind to them, because then they will never force us to be cruel.
A few years later, Mila burst through the doors once again, even more angry than she had been before. Kauzku had finally told the truth about her. Navae, you're the queen of the black market! Why did you never tell me? Why is the military leader of Amikeko, the kingdom of Kindness, the same lady who rules the criminal underworld? You're not just a killer! You're evil!
That time, there was nothing Navae could have said to make her understand. She just closed her eyes and let the words fall around her.
Maybe one day, when she was older, Mila would learn that even evil could be used to do good.
As the black market's queen, she had spies in corners that no royal guard could touch. Every illegal trade done in whispers, every hooded slave dragged to work, every freshly dead body left in the streets, Navae knew everything. Because it all happened after they had asked for her permission, and she had allowed it.
Maybe that was evil. It certainly felt like it at times, knowing those victims would have lived if she'd said no, but it also gave Navae the power to deny that permission when it was needed. She could protect those who were doing good from ever being targeted.
By extension, those doing evil were open season. If someone stepped out of Navae's hard line, every thief, extortionist and assassin would know they could target them without hindrance from the law. The potential allies and business partners of those scum shrank away, not wanting to become targets themselves. The corrupt fed on the corrupt, making their presence in Amikeko ever smaller.
It wasn't perfect. Not by far. All too often, Navae had to allow things she wasn't okay with. Although all murders had to be approved by her, there was a grey area where people who were a bit of both good and bad weren't bright enough to be saved. Not without pushing her powers past their breaking point. She had to look their assailants in the eye and tell them it was okay to prey on these regular people.
And sometimes... she would tell these criminals they were forbidden from hurting someone, and they would go and do it anyway.
That was why she was here, alone, striding purposefully through the night. Through a part of the city controlled by one of the largest and most notorious gangs in Amikeko.
Their leader, Zorro Onyx, had asked her permission to ransack the home of a wealthy family who used their money to help veterans who'd been crippled by war. Despite Navae's furious order not to, Zorro had moved forward with his plan anyway. The family's home had been burned to the ground, the people inside had been killed in the chaos, and their money had been taken away.
Now Navae was coming for him. She'd made sure that he knew that perfectly well.
The two dozen armed men waiting for her told her just how much Zorro had done to try and protect himself from her judgement. As if that could save him. She spread her arms in front of her and two vipers of death coiled around her arms, snapping viciously as if they were alive. Her bright purple hair glowed in the night, and she watched the naked fear that struck their hearts.
It wasn't just the fear of death, although she would kill them without hesitation if they tried to stop her. It was fear of who she was and what she represented. It was something much bigger than just one person. To them, she was a malevolent force of nature.
She stepped towards the soldiers Zorro had paid to protect him, each one of them clutching their weapons until their knuckles turned white. She stopped for just a moment, turning her head to look them in the eyes. No one returned her gaze.
Then she stepped forward again, and they bowed their heads and parted like the sea, letting her pass freely to the door where Zorro was hiding inside. No one dared to look up at her as she passed them by.
How am I supposed to trust you? Navae could remember Mila's words as she kicked through the locked door. When I become queen, how can I tell my people I want to protect them when my closest advisor is someone like YOU? How am I supposed to tell them the evil things you allow to happen? The things you do with your own hands?
Navae approached the final door, where she could hear Zorro shouting for mercy from the other side. Her fist reared back, ready to smash through as if it were only so much paper. She thought about Mila's words as she did the evil thing that needed to be done.
Because of her evil, people like Zorro knew what would happen if they tried to defy her. She didn't use that to try and wash the sin from her blood-soaked hands. She knew what she was, as surely as she knew fire was hot and the sky was blue.
But she knew Amikeko was the safest place to be in the whole continent, too. It was the terrible things she did and the fear she commanded as the queen of the black market that granted them that safety. It was her burden to bear.
Navae did evil, but in her heart, she hoped that she was still good.