A week later, the body of Faresoenn, now cleanly clothed in the traditional simple grey garments worn by the forester dead, was lifted to another pyre. Along with the grey garments, there was a little wreath made with vines woven by Avalel amongst other decorations to honor the death of Faresoenn. His coffin was made of the best wood available to the foresters, carved with the name of Faresoenn on its sides. There was no lid to cover the coffin, for it was to be burnt also at the pyre. As of the forester tradition, each person attending the funeral gently put gifts down, surrounding and decorating the coffin. There were natural and made gifts, delicate and crude, but the largest and most important was a replica of Faresoenn’s helmet when he was a guard for the king. Finally, the Wise One handed each person a small flask of oil, and they spread it on the dry twigs and branches on the pyre. A horn was sounded, and every person made a salute dedicated to fallen soldiers as Avalel, holding a flaming torch, set it down on the pyre.
The fire spread. Travelling, it lit up the trails of oil until it formed a ring around the coffin. Waves of heat engulfed the coffin, as tears fell from the Avalel and Faresoenn’s friends. One by one, the guests left the pyre, but Avalel stayed, watching his own father burn and deteriorate until all had turned to ash. Reflecting on his final words and occasionally choking back tears, he realized what he had just been revealed to. The four words echoed in his head: The heir of Achien. The Achien Empire, supposedly without a heir. How is this possible? Avalel thought. He had always thought he resembled more of the late Stasibel than Faresoenn, but never had he expected to have a father-son relationship with the so-called last King of Achien. What do you want me to do, dad? He thought, speaking to both fathers, adopted and blood-related. As he walked back, those same four words and questions stuck in his head, his mind filled with thoughts and speculation if this was revealed to the public. When he had gone back to his hut, he had made a choice. I will find out my true heritage.
It was midnight. The sky was barely illuminated, and only with stars. The watch on Avalel made a small beep. It’s time. Quickly putting on his cloak and hood, little Avalel slipped out of his hut and the forester settlement, and hurried to the nearest science lab he knew, which conveniently, Faresoenn had contacts with. He had just yesterday communicated with the scientist who was a friend of Faresoenn, or so he said, asking for a genetics test. The scientist agreed, but both decided it was far too risky to attempt a test in the daytime. So here Avalel was, arriving at the door of the East Achien Laboratory and Hospital.
Ushered by a guard who was standing by in the area, Avalel found himself travelling through corridors in a small pod, probably designed to have him transported in the quietest and fastest way possible. Finally, he reached a small room. Hesitantly, he creaked open the door, and found the scientist.
“Avalel, come in,” the scientist said rather monotonously, “The machinery are ready. Please come in.” As Avalel cautiously walked in, he wondered why the scientist has still not told him his name, and why it had took him so long to reach this room. Even as the scientist opened the door behind him, it was another long corridor, and although clean and brightly shone with lights, there were no windows. Even more surprising was that Avalel realized there were no windows since he came in. Huh, he thought. No windows. The Achien people sure have weird architectural designs.
They have finally reached the end of the corridor. In front lies another door. “Here, another scientist will take over,” the scientist said. He slowly opened the door, “I’ll close it for you.”
“Thanks,” Avalel smiled, but his mind feels there’s something wrong. Oh, no. It was too late. The door behind him slammed shut, and a clicking of a lock was sounded. Frightened by the sudden turn of events, Avalel turned to his surroundings. It was dark, but gradually, lights were turned on.
A voice blasted through the speakers. “Welcome, Avalel, to the East Achien Military Laboratory and Hospital,” It announced. “Here you are at Test Room 1, where we will test your abilities against our devices.” As soon as the speaker finished, a barrage of lasers suddenly bursted towards Avalel. Instinctively, he brought his left arm up to shield himself, and shield him it did. The watch had quickly transformed into an effective shield, blocking all the attacks, and then transformed into a sword. It was the Anapadeia, firmly held in Avalel’s grasp. Suddenly, he heard buzzes, and thousands of tiny drones suddenly swarmed in front of him, like bees defending their hive. The drones again fired a barrage of lasers at Avalel, but with luck and skill, he managed to either block or dodge all of them. He was tired from lack of sleep, however, and decided to charge to a wall. With the Anapadeia now shining red, he stabbed the blade in the wall, and there was a blinding flash and a thundering crack. The wall collapsed, releasing huge amounts of smoke, dust, and rubble. Releasing the Anapadeia from the wall, Avalel now dashed and swung the sword in crazy slashes, quickly decimating and separating the drones like swatting flies. When the smoke cleared, the wall showed a hole in its side, a passage to the outside. Hurrying, Avalel fled towards the exit, the Anapadeia now morphing into a shield to prevent any injury to him. The remaining drones now simply fired feeble shots that merely bounced off the Anapadeia.
Avalel thought he had escaped the compound, but what met him was another large room. Three hulking machines now towered over him, their shadows covering the light from the room.
“Oh, seriously?” Avalel sighed. The three machines shot their claws towards him, but they were simply outmatched by the powers of the Anapadeia. The Anapadeia split into many blades, and they rained down on the machines, puncturing their armor and forcefully deactivated them. Avalel once again stabbed the Anapadeia into a wall, and the same happened.
“Oh, man. Again? I just want to go back!” Already tired from the repeated thrusts and short duels, Avalel now raised the Anapadeia high, and thrust it down towards the ground firmly. The ground cracked and gave way to the immense power of the Anapadeia, and the walls shattered with the ensuing shockwave. Realizing the building was going to collapse, Avalel now sprinted to a random direction, the Anapadeia slicing any obstacle in front of him. The concrete of the ceiling above him now gave way, as it came crashing down on the little frame of Avalel. Too late to flee, he now raised the Anapadeia above his head, and it quickly morphed into a helmet, and just in time as the rubble rained down.
Avalel coughed. The destruction has caused dust to rise around him, and it obscured his sight. Regardless, he continued running, the Anapadeia offering a soft glow. When he has escaped the dust, he saw the distant outlines of the Tarevuen, and sprinted towards there. The night has proved what he needs to know. Achien wants to kill its heir. The so-called “tests” are in fact attempted assassinations and have only proven that Avalel is the heir. Behind him, a crater and rubble is what’s left of the East Achien Military Laboratory and Hospital.