Pandora's Box

Chapter Three - Gem Thief Kid's Plight

A tall, young man walked into a huge chamber with a blue gem in his grasp. He was dressed in all white from head to toe—his shirt, suit, pants, even cape, shoes, and the top hat resting on top of his head. His expression was grim as he walked over to the only bed in the room, and raised the gem up.

“Here,” he said curtly as he extended his hand and let the short, slouched, deformed man on the bed take the gem and inspect it. Once he made sure it was indeed a Jumi core, he grinned in satisfaction and ate it whole.

“Good job, Phantom Thief Kid,” the man said as he cackled. “That was the 995th gem you collected. Five more, and I will give you what you want.”

“Do you really need a thousand?” Kid asked as he frowned, clenching his gloved fists. “I’ve killed countless innocent Jumis just because of this!”

The slouched man stared pointedly at Kid, then smirked. “Only five more, and your girlfriend will be saved. Are you sure you want to back out now?” he asked, his tone mocking. “What is five compared to the nine hundred you’ve killed?”

“I...” Kid mumbled softly, trying to remember just why he was doing this. The first murder he had done willingly for revenge, but the next ones had been increasingly harder and harder to commit. He found his resolve slipping each time he pulled the core out of a Jumi’s chest, and he had to constantly remind himself why he had to do it.

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

“The leader has announced war!” a man shouted in the town center of Etansel, where a crowd was gathered. “All young and able knights are to report for duty by tomorrow morning at the latest!”

“..., you don’t have to. You’re still too young,” a woman said kindly as he patted a young boy’s head. “You should keep practicing and help the adults protect the people here. Maybe then you could come with us to the next war.”

“With the Topaz Knight and the Sapphire Guardian gone, we’re lacking a formidable force on our side and are at a disadvantage,” the man at the center continued. “However, we have just got a new Clarius. We have a great force on our side as well. We will surely win this war!”

“Why are we fighting? Is he an enemy?” the young boy asked as he tugged at the woman’s hand. “Did he attack us? Why are we seeking troubles with other?”

“That’s politics, ...,” the woman said kindly, her smile patronizing. “You don’t understand it yet, but someday you will. For now, you should just trust in our leader.”

“Isn’t our leader supposed to be the Clarius?” the young boy insisted as he frowned. “We don’t even know why we’re fighting! Why are we laying our lives down?”

“One day you’ll see, ...,” the woman said, patting the boy’s head again. “One day, you will find a reason to fight, that you will do absolutely anything to see it to the end. Trust me.”

“I want her,” the boy said. “I want to be the Clarius’ Knight.”

“Then fight for your dream.”

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

“Rejoice! We have emerged victorious over the enemy!” a Knight announced as he held his sword up high in pride. “We will no longer live under the constant threat of getting our cores taken by the humans or the Deathbringer!”

The young boy raced out to the town center to see what the commotion was all about, and quickly located the kind woman who had taken care of him for years.

“We won?” the boy asked, hopeful and disbelieving. “How many casualties?”

“Close to none,” the woman said. “The Clarius has done great. I still can’t believe we Guardians lost our ability to cry ever since the War of the Faeries. What is our purpose then?”

“How is she? The Clarius,” the boy asked again, looking around. He noticed that everyone was rejoicing, talking merrily among themselves about how glad they were that the war had finally come to an end with their side victorious.

“I... I don’t know,” the woman said. “The Clarius has shed too many tears. I heard she is nearly blind, but we can do nothing. No one can shed a teardrop crystal for her. Unless the Sapphire Guardian returns, she might not be saved.”

“Why? Is the Sapphire Guardian still able to cry? Who is she?” the boy asked curiously.

“He is the twin brother of the Clarius,” the woman said. “The twins still have the ability to cry, and that was why she was elected to be the Clarius.”

“Where has he gone?” the boy inquired. “Why did he leave his sister all alone in this city for an inevitable destruction like this?”

“Don’t judge anyone, ...,” the woman reminded. “I am sure he has a reason for what he did. What you can do now, is just hope that everything will turn out for the better, not the worse.”

Two days from that day, the news that the Clarius had died were spread all over Etansel.

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

A young man was walking past a huge tree that almost looked like the Mana Tree when he noticed a small house settled between the roots. Curious as to who would live all by themselves out here, isolated from other towns by endless forests and dungeons, he walked up to it and knocked, but no one answered.

Thinking it was a deserted house, he tried the knob only to find it open. Peeking inside, he noted that the interior was mostly clean, with a light layer of dust coating the furniture; probably from a couple of days of not using anything.

He stepped inside and looked around. It was a mostly neat and clean house, although a bit small. The kitchen and the dining room was there instead of the living room, and to the side was a small library of some sort. Upstairs was a bedroom, and at the top was an attic.

He paused when he was about to go back down when an ornately decorated box caught his eye. It was golden in color, adorned with many jewels, and there was a lock on it—nothing that he couldn’t pick, at least. His curiosity got the best of him, and he finally picked the lock to see what was inside.

To say he was surprised when he suddenly got transported into a room instead would be an understatement. What was more surprising was the fact that the woman he thought had died was there, lying on the bed as she stared blankly at the ceiling. Her eyes were a dull shade of blue, and her core was darkening.

The woman’s ears perked up when she heard the click of a lock opening and she quickly sat up on her bed, calling out the Sapphire Guardian and the Topaz Knight’s name. When she got no reply, she stood up and navigated her way towards the entrance.

The man was quicker, however, and he quickly exited the room, locking it again. He stared at the box in disbelief, countless thoughts racing in his head, trying to be the first to be processed by his brain.

Why was she here if she had been claimed to be dead? Why was she left alone while the two went off to who knows where? Why was she locked away in a box and hidden in a house far from civilization?

With all of those unanswered questions in mind, he set off on a wandering journey in hopes of finding the answer, and hopefully a cure for her condition as well.

It was during this trip that he came across the slouched, deformed man who claimed to be the Jewel Master. He offered him a way out of his predicament, and he took it without thinking it through.

“If you want her to be saved, get me a thousand Jumi cores,” the Jewel Master had told him. “When I have consumed a thousand, I will have enough power to save your beloved.”

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

“Very well, I will get the last five cores for you,” Kid said in agreement at last. His expression was still grim, but his tone was filled with determination. “I will save her no matter the cost.”

The Jewel Master felt a grin tugging at his lips. “Good. Now go and collect them for me.”

Kid pulled his hat down to cover his eyes and turned around to leave. “You don’t have to tell me.”

“Who’s your next target?” the Jewel Master asked.

Kid paused for a while. “The Emerald Guardian in Geo.”

“Very well.”


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