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Pandora's Box

By Eleana_Lee

Romance / Adventure

Prologue - War of the Faeries

In the world of Fa’Diel, a world held together by the Mana Tree, were several towns and cities, with many dungeons.  Here in this world, many races live together, although not necessarily in peace.  Fairies, humans, Jumis, demons, cat people, beasts... they all exist together in the living world, while Shadoles kept the Underworld running under the command of Olbohn, a Wisdom.

Seven Wisdoms were originally appointed to look after Fa’Diel after the creation war, but Anuella the Artificer died, and the Wisdoms were down to six.  As their name suggest, they were creatures of wisdom.  Each had their own area of expertise, and each had their own area that they look after.

The smallest town in Fa’Diel was the town of Domina, a peaceful, green village with a church and an outskirts.  A bigger town then would be the cliff town Gato, where the Temple of Healing was situated, as well as a waterfall and a Cancun bird nest.  The Cancun bird was known to be the biggest bird with colorful tail.

Next up is the endless night town Lumina, where Dudbears, a race of dog-like bears with their own language, were aplenty.  Then there was Polpota, the harbor city with the hotel and seaside restaurant, as well as a cliff overlooking the sea.  The biggest public city yet would be Geo, where the Magic Academy was.  The last city, a hidden bejeweled city of the Jumis, was Etansel.  It was divided into floors corresponding to the Jumi’s rank, and only the Clarius was allowed to stay at the chamber at the top floor.

Jumis were similar to humans, but they have much longer lifespan.  As long as their cores, the gem orbs planted into their chest, were intact, they would live forever.  They were divided into two groups, Knights and Guardians. Knights fight while the Guardians shed tears to heal the Knights’ wounded core.  Their ranks were, from the lowest, Clods, half-Lucidia, Lucidia, and finally Clarius.  There would be only one pair at a time serving as Clarius, because they are the leader and pillar of the Jumis.  They shed tears for everyone who needed healing, not only their Knights.

Most Guardians were female, though Knights could be either male or female.  There was, however, one male Guardian.  One who held the fate of all Jumis in his hands.

And this is his story.

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

A group of young men with spherical gemstones embedded in their chest gathered at a desert, weapons gripped tightly in their hands, ready to attack.  The women and one man gathered behind them with worried and anxious expressions, clasping their hands tightly in anticipation.

“This is it, everyone!” a tall woman with long blond hair exclaimed as she held onto her diamond sword, raising it up.  “This is the final battle against the Faeries!  We will show them their place, and they will never bother us again!  We will show them that us Jumis are stronger than they think!”

The young men gave a battle cry, and walked to their own Guardians to have their cores—the gemstones—healed to perfection.

They were Jumis, a race of humans capable of healing perfectly from any flesh wounds or diseases, and even come back to life from death, as long as their core was intact and still had life force in it.  All of the Jumis could cry, but those whose tears had great healing properties, and most female Jumis, were appointed to be Guardians, those who cry for the core of their Knights—the Jumis who fight.

It was an unspoken law in the Jumi race that they could not cry for their own core.  Thus, they depended on each other to heal their cores and preserve life.

A tanned man walked towards a man about his height.  “Are you nervous?” he asked softly, placing a hand gently on the shoulder of the fairer-skinned man.

The blue-eyed man rolled his eyes and sighed in exasperation.  “Hattori, don’t patronize me,” he said as he shook his head.  “Shouldn’t it be you who’s nervous?  After all, I’m not the one going into war.”

“Don’t be silly, Shinichi,” Heiji said as he squeezed Shinichi’s shoulder.  “If I’m going into a war, aren’t you coming with me?  After all, you’re my Guardian.”

“I suppose so,” Shinichi mumbled, looking around as the other Knights talked with their Guardians about the upcoming final battle as well.  “It makes me feel like they’re all saying goodbye to their Guardians.  It makes me sick.”

“Don’t worry,” Heiji said as he grinned widely.  “I’m not going down that easily.  Plus, you won’t let me, will you?”

“Not if I can help it,” Shinichi said as he smiled slightly.  “Well, be ready then.  Don’t be caught with lowered guard.  The faeries are sneaky creatures.”

“I know,” Heiji said.  “How is Shinku doing?  Is she fine?”

“She’s doing fine in the city,” Shinichi answered.  “It seems that the situation in the city is as peaceful as ever, although there are far less people than during peaceful time.”

“It’s been a while since we left, hasn’t it?” Heiji commented.  “Do you wish to go back to her?”

“Why won’t I?” Shinichi asked back.  “Until she has found a Knight for herself, it is my duty to look after her.”

Heiji chuckled and patted Shinichi’s head.  “Good luck then, Guardian-cum-Knight.  I’m sure she’ll find a good Knight one day.  Or she should just stay in the city all her life.”

“I was surprised when you didn’t choose her, you know,” Shinichi remarked.  “I mean, compared to her, I’m quieter, colder, and more cynical.  She’s a good woman, and will probably make a great wife too.  Plus, she’s cuter.”

“Hey now, are you suffering from an inferiority complex?” Heiji asked with a raised eyebrow.  “Don’t compare youself to her that way.  And you both have the same face anyway, how can she be cuter than you?”

“Well...”

“To arms, Knights!” Chris, the leader of the Jumi and wielder of the diamond sword, shouted as she stood on a big boulder.  “The faeries are nearby!”

“You better get ready, Heiji,” Shinichi said grimly, and Heiji knew he was serious.  Shinichi rarely called anyone by their first name, so when he did, he was being dead serious or very, very worried.

“Don’t worry about me,” Heiji said as reassuringly as he could.  “Although, could you promise me not to do anything rash, Shinichi?  I won’t be able to face Shinku if something happens to you.”

“I’ll try,” Shinichi said.  “Good luck, Hattori.  Come back alive.”

“I’ll try.”

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

“The knights have returned!”

Shinku’s ear perked up at the exclamation and she quickly left the magic tome she was reading in favor of finding her brother and his Knight, their childhood friend.

Truthfully, she was envious of her brother when Heiji picked him as his Guardian.  After all, the one who wished to see the world more than anyone else was her, not her brother.  However, she had come to accept the fact that Shinichi had something she didn’t that attracted people to want to be his Knight.

It was such an irony that Shinichi had practiced with his sword day and night to become a Knight, yet everyone acknowledged him as a great Guardian.

Shinku chuckled to herself as she exited her house and noted that everyone had done the same.  The road was packed with family who were left in the city who wished to check on the knights and see if they were alright.

“Heiji!” Shinku called when she saw the boy’s unruly hair and waved at him.  However, she was taken aback by his depressed and upset look.

“Heiji,” she called again as she walked towards Heiji who was carrying Shinichi in his arms.  “What happened to my brother?”

Heiji smiled wryly.  “I thought twins were supposed to have some telephatic ability to know if something had happened to the other,” he commented.

“Well, not every twin needs it,” Shinku said in indignation.  “So, care to tell me what happened?”

“He nearly died,” Heiji said, and his voice suddenly broke.  “Goodness, Shinku, he nearly died!  I—“

“Calm down,” Shinku said as she held onto Heiji’s arm comfortingly.  “Let’s go to my house first.  We’ll talk there.”

Heiji nodded mutely and followed the boyish girl to their house while staring at Shinichi’s sleeping face.  He really did look like a girl, and Shinku like a man.  He smiled sadly and shook his head.

Once they reached the Kudou siblings’ house, they entered Shinichi’s room and put him on the bed, covering him with a blanket up to his chin.

“Alright,” Shinku mumbled as she sat by her brother, watching him.  “What happened?  Did his core get injured?”

“Yeah,” Heiji said weakly.  “I was... no, a lot of us got our cores damaged.  The other Guardians were watching from the back, but he... he rushed towards me the second my core was scratched.  He nearly had his core broken by one of the faeries.”

“But he’s alright now, isn’t he?” Shinku asked as she peeked at Shinichi’s sapphire core.  “Did you cry for him?”

“I did,” Heiji said.  “I know it’s a very rare occurence for a Knight to cry, but I was scared senseless.  I was so afraid he was going to die.”

“I understand,” Shinku said softly as she squeezed Heiji’s shoulder.  “Don’t blame yourself, Heiji.  He did it because he cared for you.  If you take the blame, it’s the same as disrespecting his sacrifice, isn’t it?  I think I’ve understood why he is such a great Guardian.”

“I’m sure,” Heiji said slowly.  “However, I am no more a Knight.  I’m just a regular Jumi.”

“Why?” Shinku asked curiously.

“There are things I wish not to relive,” Heiji said resolutely.  “Also, I feel like there is something strange going on in our clan.  I can’t be sure yet, but it’s there.”

“You do realize that if you are to stop being his Knight, he has to go through the ritual all over again to find another Knight, right?” Shinku asked as she frowned.  “I don’t want him turning into stone again.”

“Then let him be a knightless Guardian, and stay here all his life,” Heiji replied.  “It’s too dangerous out there. Knowing him, he’d probably get himself nearly killed a lot of times.”

“He can’t do that,” Shinku said softly.  “Heiji, he has to get out of this city.”

“Why?”

“Because Chris has set her eyes on him,” Shinku explained.  “He is to be the next Clarius.  I don’t want him to.”

Heiji’s eyes widened in surprise.  “When did this happen?”

“Recently,” Shinku admitted.  “There was a note sent to us explaining Chris’ wish in promoting him to be the next Clarius.  She said that he’d be able to support a greater race with his tears.”

“Then we should pack up and leave,” Heiji suggested.

“I will stay here,” Shinku said firmly.  “I’ll take his place as the next Clarius, but you have to take him far away from here, Heiji.  Don’t let Chris get her hand on him, or he’ll be the next Clarius after I die.”

“Don’t say that,” Heiji chided as he frowned.  “We’re not going to let you die.”

“Then go,” Shinku repeated.  “Go far, far away from here.”

Heiji stared at her reluctantly, but she stared back at him hard.  Finally, he relented and nodded.

That night, two cloaked figures snuck out of Etansel, the doomed bejeweled city of the Jumis.

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