Prologue: The Fated Duel of Origins
In the spacious center of the shrine, the emerald haired princess Sarah lay unconscious. The heir to the kingdom of Cornelia held captive by the traitorous knight Garland. Upon attacking the castle and taking the princess hostage, the knight retreated to the derelict shrine of Chaos. Indeed the interior of the old structure had descended into chaos with the clash of steel on steel echoing off the walls.
"The King's lapdogs." The knight Garland scoffed at the four mysterious youths who had come to confront him.
Garland was a hulking mass of armor, the sort of man beneath the thick steel plating unknown to all. A thick cape of ominous velvet shade flowed with his every powerful movement as he raised his enormous broad sword to the group.
Among the party that had arrived to save the princess stood two warriors, one clad in bright red armor, his light brown hair neatly combed back into slight spikes. The warrior by his side, another young man known as a red mage with charming features. His long silvery hair flowed over his shoulders. He wore a long red cape over a matching red tunic, pants, and feathered hat with brown boots. Behind them stood the second line of defense to face the knight consisting of a young boy of a black mage clad in a blue robes, his face shrouded in the thick shadows of his steepled hat. Only the light reflecting off of his golden eyes was visible through the dark. A gentle looking young girl with light brown hair dressed in white priestess-like robes stood by his side as a white mage and the final opponent to the knight.
Garland stood on the staircase leading towards the princess who resided on a much higher level above the four with his. Ready, villain clutched his blade with a tight grip. The weapon suddenly produced a loud click and the mysterious sword collapsed and folded in on itself. It shifted into a more axe-like design, alarming the four when Garland suddenly leaped forward.
"Do you have any idea who you are messing with!? You really think you can cross blades with me? Very well…."
The four youths scattered. Each leaping in different directions to evade Garland's crushing axe swing. The weapon collided with the floor producing enough force that sent cracks and fractures throughout the walls and ground upon impact. The surrounding area around the Chaos Shrine began to shake with tremors prompting clouds of birds to take to the skies in panic.
"I Garland!" He continued when the red mage hurried in to strike with their blades clashing. "WILL KNOCK YOU ALL DOWN!"
The swordsman was roughly shoved away by the overpowering knight as Garland turned to begin an exchange of blows with the second warrior flanking him. The air filled with the rhythmic strikes of their meeting blades while the white and black mages hung back. They watched their comrades do battle with the villain. The warrior in red armor proved a step too slow as Garland drove a horizontal slash through an opening in his offensive. The young warrior let out a gasp as he took the blow to the chest. His armor cracked taking a few ribs with it. The impact of the blow launched him into the wall of the shrine with tremendous force.
Garland immediately went up in a cloud of fire when he was struck by a spell from the black mage who didn't wish to give the knight a moment's rest. This gave the girl a chance to hurry to the downed warrior's aid. With his red cape flowing elegantly in the wind, the second swordsman of their group rushed in to strike the dazed traitor. The knight raised his sword, stopping the incoming attack in time before shoving the Red mage aside with another hard kick. The swordsman recovered, ready to rush at the knight once again when he was halted by Garland's next action. The handle of his mighty blade disconnected into a chain, revealing the sword even functioned as a flail along with being a blade and axe. He held up his sword to guard as Garland took his first swing. Trying to block the colossal force of his blow only succeeded in launching the red mage off of his feet. Garland turned his sites back to the young black mage sending another blast his way. The villain simply leaped up letting the fire harmlessly barrel through the space below him as he defied gravity and hung suspended in the air over the blaze. He began to swing the blade around wildly by the chain.
"You miserable insect." Garland taunted, large waves of water magically materializing in the air from his blade, flowing into a fat swirling ring around the dark knight.
"You wish to challenge me in a contest of magic? KNOW YOUR LIMITS!!!"
Shouting, he threw the sword by the chain at the blue robed boy. The blade took on a life of its own, slithering like a snake as it sped towards the youth. The young mage leaped aside, narrowly escaping being skewered on the racing sword yet he was helplessly devoured by the raging mass of water following with and around it. He was dragged along at the mercy of the violent currents and punched into the wall of the shrine by the crushing forces. Water was sent erupting in all directions across the hall from the collision, the sword snaking its way back to its master swiftly.
Garland landed back on the ground suddenly noticing the first warrior he had taken down beginning to rise while bathed in the healing rays produced by the female mage of their party. Garland attempted to advance on the vulnerable pair when he was forced to clash with a surprise attack from the striking red mage. He growled, realizing every wasted moment aided in the restoration of his enemy. Garland reached for a section of his blade that could be gripped. The red caped swordsman's eyes flashed with alarm when Garland split his large blade into two smaller broad swords and swiped at him. The young man leaped away from the counter attack. The traitorous knight didn't waste effort on pursuing the swordsman. Instead he twirled the blades summoning an enchanted blazing wildfire to engulf them.
His efforts were still on taking out the enemy's white mage as he swiped both swords, launching a volley of fireballs. The fireballs curved through the air gunning for the healer and warrior. The girl looked up, gasping at the incoming onslaught when a sheet of red cloth erupted up before her. Their ally, the sword wielding red mage, already seeing Garland's intentions, dashed to their side and jumped in the way to shield them from the attack with his own body. The weary black mage watched his three comrades go up in fire as the attack hit. The boy was still gravely injured after taking Garland's "Tsunami" attack head on. While the traitorous knight's attention remained on his other three adversaries he was brought to his knees by the surprise lightning bolt conjured from the weakened boy.
Meanwhile within the cloud of fire and smoke, the fallen red caped warrior lay on top of the young girl. Through the searing burns the concern for her safety still shined through the pain as their gazes met. The white mage fortunately remained unharmed, swiftly returning to her duty of healing the injured duo at her side. Garland, his body smoking from being electrocuted, snarled as he rushed at the lightning spell's caster. The young magician limped, struggling to evade the coming attacker. He leaped forward, his sword held at the ready. Sparks began to flare up around the blade forming into a raging inferno over the sword.
The white mage, looking passed the two injured by her side, spotted the fourth member of their party in peril. She quickly held out a hand towards Garland choosing to cast a spell. The knight felt a sensation within his body take hold of him. His eyes began losing focus on his target. To Garland, what was one weakened shambling black mage, suddenly became two blurred figures moving in unison. Try as he might he couldn't refocus his vision before swinging the fiery blade down, hoping to finish off the youth once and for all.
The mage managed to dive away to safety with the precision of Garland's aim completely off. The sword smashed into the hard floor unleashing a powerful explosion. Garland growled, enraged as the spell faded and his sight restored.
Down on all fours, the black mage raised a hand and launched a fire blast in retaliation. While he watched the incoming bolt of fire, Garland held out his sword. The handle rapidly extended, shifting the weapon from a sword to a lance. With a swipe of the polearm, the winds whirled into a raging miniature tornado before the knight. The mage's fire ball collided with the swirling wind shielding the enemy warrior, melding and forming into a cyclone of fire. The winds came apart, leaving Garland standing in the center of clouds of fire dancing in the breeze.
With the mage down, giving in to injury and exhaustion, Garland turned his sights back to the white mage and warriors. Only the girl stood in place of where all three should have been. Her hands were down by her waist with one cupping the other by the wrist. She stared coldly at the knight. There was a stern conviction in her eyes. The knight frantically began turning. He searched the shrine now.
Where have the two worms gone and hidden themselves!? Garland thought, growing tense with each passing moment.
When his attention turned upward, it was then he spotted the two above. Now fully healed by the young girl's efforts. They held their swords high. Garland attempted to bring his sword into a defensive position but proved too slow. Falling through the smoke and drifting embers that still lingered in the air, the warrior brought his sword down on Garland's chest while the red mage struck at the fiend's back. They both pierced his armor. Their blades tore into the villain's flesh. Giving in to the critical blows Garland howled, taking a weakened swipe at the two who easily leaped away. A final fire blast from the weary black mage sent Garland crashing into the stairs of the shrine. The knight struggled, unable to rise again.
I can't….defeated!? N-NONSENSE! He continued to mentally insist to himself as he fought to maintain hold of his sword.
After forcing himself back up, he staggered towards his four opponents, drops of blood landing on the floor at his feet. A loud bang erupted throughout the shrine as his sword came crashing to the floor. The fading knight failed to realize that his grip had weakened. The four watched as he fell to his knees.
I c-cannot…..I must not fall h-here t-to these….the…..
The space around the knight began to twist and warp suddenly. Garland vanished into a rift in space before everything returned to normal leaving no trace of the kidnapper behind in the shrine. The four exchanged puzzled glances but after a moment's silence they knew their foe was gone. With the tension in the air lifting, the victorious group hurried up the steps to rescue Princess Sarah at last and return home.
Garland found himself transported to a wasteland where he continued to stagger. A trail of blood droplets formed behind him.
"Endless solitude…" The weakened knight mumbled, his words barely audible as he felt his strength continue to fade.
He continued to follow the plan. Being slain and carried two-thousand years into the past where he would be reborn as the godly beast Chaos. Capturing the princess, plotting to overthrow her kingdom of Cornelia, the entire plan of which she would have served as the bargaining chip played really no purpose. To Garland it was just a ploy to beckon the four warriors of light to come and defeat him. From there his then dying self would be plucked from his world by the god Chaos, who resides in the far past. It is there he becomes the beast himself and would reach out to snatch his own future self to bring back all over again. A continuing cycle that goes on into infinity.
"A cog in the forever churning cycle of time. I grow tired of it all." Garland admitted aloud, "Two-thousand years into the past. Right now I'll soon succumb to these wounds. Who is it that carries me the rest of the way? Perhaps I'll never know."
As Garland continued to limp he paused briefly, clutching his sword for support. His vision blurred and faded as he struggled to remain conscious when he spotted an unusual sight. Three individuals were in his path. The knight noted an older man in robes with platinum colored long flowing hair. Next was a beautiful blond haired woman laying close by. Dressed in a white gown she rested by his side, motionless. She didn't even seem to breathe as far as Garland could determine.
The third member of their company drew the knight's attention the most. He stared at the enormous winged monster that lay curled up into a ball beside the pair. The creature seemed shaken and troubled as it mumbled to itself. Before Garland could understand the abnormality of the newcomers on his usually lonely path, he gave into his wounds collapsing to his knees and passing out. Laying still, darkness began to take hold over his vision. The last images he glimpsed were of the man taking notice of him and approaching before all faded to black.