Chance - Reizal of the Vladimir
My hand-grip quickly escalated. I stared into those unemotional eyes of his that were so uncaring. Then my foot automatically stepped back. Even my heart made a heavy thump as if I was going to have a heart attack.
“What’s the meaning of this, Trevor?” I croaked. My fist was still clenching. It was none other than the one who knocked Jaden unconscious. “Why did you bring me here?”
“He’s the one supposed to explain things to you.” Ventus replied mechanically. But he seemed too oblivious as to what happened. I just looked at him with disgust and disdain as he looked back with curious eyes. “And he’s better at explaining than me.”
“He knocked Jaden out! He strangled his neck and almost killed him!” I roared, and with a flick of a finger, I summoned a blade from my own shadow. My muscles tightened, and I braced myself to attack the guy. Then I glared at him with a rage I couldn’t hold back. “I’m gonna kill you! You hurt my friend!”
“Take it easy, Chance. I meant no harm to your friend.” He simply stated in a matter-of-factly tone. Then I lunged at him but suddenly, my arms felt heavy, and I fell to the ground. I was suddenly robbed of the strength to carry myself. It was as if an invisible truck fell over me. “And I will not try to harm you either.”
“You met with him? I thought the plan was for me to approach Chance first. I find this insulting.” Ventus asked suddenly, cutting me off before I could say another word. He said it with a quick pace as if he was agitated. “You violated our protocols again. That wasn’t part of the plan.”
“Calm down, both of you.” The man replied. His voice was still then proceeded to sit down on one of the chairs. At first, I didn’t know it was a chair. But then it suddenly re-arranged itself to pose as one. “There are sudden changes in our plans. We need to move faster.”
“Are they on the move already?” Ventus asked. He seemed to be unfazed by the fact I was pinned down on the ground. I groaned and summoned all my strength. My shadows were extending away from my body and slowly turning into bladed weapons. But they were also frozen on the solid ground. “I thought that they will take some time.”
“The Teios Kyr will not wait. Once their leader knows how to revive Veronica, then we are going to have serious trouble. We can’t wait too long. They are already watching a certain protégé who can turn the tables around.” The man started to explain. Then he released me from his own magic. The weight suddenly left, and then I started feeling light. From being pinned down on the earth, I was suddenly floating in the air. Then he looked at me. “Chance, I will release you, and I will explain once you calm down. Can I trust you with that?”
“No!” I roared at him. He just looked at me silently. I tried to punch and kick in the air, but it was useless. “You’ll pay for what you did! There’s no way I could trust someone like you.”
“Chance, calm down.” Ventus tried this time. But I glared at him even more. I felt betrayed by luring me. He was supposed to be a trusted friend, and yet he brought me to another world only to be cornered by this person. “You will learn what is really happening if you give him an opportunity.”
“He threw that golden opportunity down the drain once he tried to grab my best friend’s neck!” I snarled at them both. “Trev! I thought you were my friend.”
“I am your friend, Chance. Is it not obvious that I am trying to help you? I saved your life!” Ventus replied. His voice pitched a notch higher than usual. Then he faced the man in black robes “And why did you even knocked Jaden out? That boy has nothing to do with our plans.”
“He was in the way. My time of meeting Chance was minimal. I was hunting down a certain demon that crossed over the Great Divide again. More can cross each day. The Knights of Imperio will not be able to hold them off if more of them will be able to cross over.” The man clarified. Then he released me from his magic, and his shadow extended into beneath me before turning to swords and daggers. “I don’t want the Council involved. Chance, please sit down. We have a lot to discuss.”
But I was stubborn. I gripped my blade tighter around my fingers, but I knew I was no match, especially if Ventus would be involved in the fight. He was too fast for my eyes to even follow. I had no choice but to comply with what he was saying. With one snap of a finger, his blades suddenly collapsed back into his shadows.
“My name is Reizal Volaniss, from the House of Vladimir. You can call me Rei for short. I am very sorry for what I had to do to your friend. That was uncalled for and a miscalculation for my part.” He apologized bluntly. But I remained silent and unmoving. I took my seat across him and observed him from a distance. “Now if you allow me, Chance Valentine, I would have to explain why you are suddenly dragged into the middle of this war. And I’ve read a bit of your human history, by the way. Very interesting how humans waged wars. It is quite similar to the ways of Fuhrstenvald.”
Again, I just stared at him. But Rei wasn’t really amused. Ventus just took a seat and sat near me. But I didn’t look at him. Honestly, I don’t know what to feel towards him after what happened.
“Going back, you are now an important piece in this. You can turn the tables against the enemy. And we will be able to hit them where it really hurts. Chance, you are a trump card, and you don’t even know it.” He stated. His eyes were gazing at mine, trying to check out if I was about to make another move. He knew I was going to raise forth Hell if I have to. “One of the reasons why you can use magic is because there is also another soul residing within you. But that was only to use the knowledge of that soul’s knowledge. Your highly intuitive mind allows you to access that. And only mages with a powerful potential can do such.”
Again, I just watched him while I listened. But he wasn’t fazed by my silent treatment of them. Ventus just sat nearby and observed how I was intaking the information fed upon me.
“The soul’s name is Israfil. That’s why I mentioned to you that name the very first time we met in that alley.” Rei continued on. The more I talked to him, the lesser he seemed to be a threat. His eyes were calm, but there was an absolute serenity inside of them. “It seems that you have used his ability that very day, am I right?”
“Yes.” I admitted. “But I didn’t use it as much as when I attacked you.”
“And that’s why it led the Teios Kyr to you. They have already sensed Israfil’s awakening.” He stated grimly. My fingers twitched when I heard him say it like it was classified information. “The man who attacked you was their temporary leader. Their true leader is still dead.”
“What do you mean by still dead?” I asked with a serious tone. He wouldn’t say something that specific if it wasn’t without purpose. And from the sound of it, it wasn’t right. “Should the dead remain as dead? If he’s dead, then why wouldn’t that guy take the position as their new leader.”
“It’s a she.” Ventus corrected me. It caused me to look at him. And I can’t help but be ashamed because I have misjudged them. “The one that we met is the faithful son of hers. He is willing to do whatever it takes to revive his mother. As of now, they are watching a certain Necromancer.”
“Well, in the realm of magic, there are certain taboos that they are willing to cross to get their goal. However, the Black Sorceress is a very influential mage, and she is knowledgeable in extending her own life.” Rei explained. There were a lot of other things that were also in my mind at that moment. For sure, they must have thought of what I have been thinking. “But there are also certain limitations so that they can’t abuse such magic. And that’s where you come into play.”
“What do you mean by that?” I asked. I frowned at them as I tried to think of possibilities that they pertain to. “How can I help? I am basically powerless. It will just be a hindrance if you put me in the way. Even if I would want an adventure like that, my life is at stake!”
“Chance, if you have information to turn things around and gain the upper hand, would you use it to your advantage?” Rei asked me. His stare was thoughtful and was piercing my gaze. Some things were at stake. “Do you think we will not just let opportunities pass by so easily? This is not just a game. We are at war, and people could die.”
“I would use it.” I replied. But I think I knew where he was getting at. The conversation was heading in that direction. And it was inevitable. “If there are advantages that I could use, then I will.”
“Exactly.” Rei quipped. “Do you see how you are in the middle of this.”
“Israfil knows something that you need.” I concluded. My throat felt dry. I was indeed in the middle of it. “And it will turn things around for everyone.”
“It’s good that you are catching up.” Rei replied. Then his stare suddenly became murderous. The killing intent was so strong that the hair on my neck suddenly stood up. “I would love to explain things further, but I would have to go back to your world. Another demon had crossed the Great Divide, and I will be needed there. Ventus over there can give you more information. Again, I am sorry about your friend. I stepped on the wrong foot. Israfil would have been as angry as you if I did something like that to Ventus. He is my little brother, and he is Ven’s best friend.”
But I remained silent towards his apology. It would take a while before I could forgive him completely. Then I remembered the demon that he mentioned. “Is the demon near our area?”
“No.” He answered back. A column of darkness appeared in the middle of the room. And a person in black robes emerged from the darkness. The person was wearing a hood and was facing against me. I had no idea if it was a man or a woman. “It should be around in Africa, so it’s nowhere near you. Nothing to worry.”
The two of them entered the dark portal, and it collapsed on the floor. There was not a single trace of them. Not even the presence of Rei killing intent.
“What now” I asked Ventus. He seemed to be worried about how I took it. “I am not angry at you. Don’t worry about it. I was just overwhelmed that I had to confront that guy. I just couldn’t bring myself to trust him yet.”
“You don’t have to.” He admitted. Then he motioned me to follow him. I had no choice but to go along. I wouldn’t be able to get out of Altimeraea if I didn’t. “We just need to help you awaken Israfil’s soul so we can get that important piece of information.”
“And how are we going to do that? Please don’t tell me that I will be a human experiment. You all have this powerful magic, and I will just end up being a guinea pig.” I whined. Breaking the ice was hard. There was still tension between Ventus and I. Throwing off some goofy joke seemed to be a great idea. “At least try to go beyond my dumb expectations.”
“Thankfully, we don’t have to do something like that.” But Ventus grinned at the thought. “As of now, Israfil’s soul is fractured. And the fact you can tap into his magical knowledge means that there is significant progress.”
“May I ask what happened to him? If that’s okay with you.” I think it was a perfect moment to squeeze some answers from him. It was a delicate territory to linger in. “I mean, Israfil was your best friend. Am I right?”
“Yeah, he is. And you remind me of him a lot. For starters, you kind of look like each other. You have that caring side and that authoritative style. There were a lot of times that Israfil and I clashed when it comes to our perspective.” Ventus started. He looked away from me as he wandered into his own memory lane. It just made me wonder if he and Israfil were close, similar to Jaden and me. “To be honest with you, we have been looking for Israfil’s fractured soul for almost a year now. It was not an easy task because your world is far larger than ours. There were also a lot of mages who have gone in hiding in your world.”
“But the lands I saw outside, they were so huge!” I exclaimed. Whenever I would try to bring that image into my head, all I would feel was awe. There was no way to put those in the middle of cities. “I can’t imagine our world being bigger than ours.”
“To begin with, we have a sparse population compared to the billions of people living in your world. Mages are not very particular in settling down and making a family of their own. Also, they find more comfort in living with your world because of the culture.” Ventus explained. He looked so animated as he speaks the information I asked of him. “Since there are other dimensions parallel to ours, they are busy trying to discover what those other dimensions have in store for them. They are an inquisitive bunch because they want to keep improving in their art. That’s why settling down and having a family would be a huge setback to that quest.”
“I see. So that’s how it is. Anyway, I still don’t know what happened to Israfil.” I reminded him. His eyes darted back to me. And I knew that my curiosity was really getting the best of me at that very moment. Those blue eyes of his sparkled like the lightning magic he was using. “Sorry, but I would really like to know.”
“More than a year ago, the Black Sorceress waged war against the Council of Mir’ Quies, think of it as an international council that represents many countries. Just to let you know, the land we are in is called the Republic of Zidania, and it is ruled by a selected council that represents the six major Houses.” Ventus started giving out more details one after the other. If I was clueless about what was happening, I could instantly be taken advantage of. And that would have meant the defeat of my purpose. “Israfil and Rei’s father was one of the council members who represented the House of Vladimir and took it his personal quest to take down Black Sorceress. She used to be part of the same House as them that’s why he was more than willing to do it.”
Both of us went back to the towers high terraces. I can’t help but look up to the skies filled with a dazzling view. It took me an effort to keep listening to Ven’s explanation because the sight above was more than enough to distract me.
“Since Israfil and I were currently apprentices for the Knights of Imperio, we were also involved in the fight against her army. For some reason, other mages followed the belief system she was making. And their force grew strong in just a couple of years. It wasn’t an easy fight.” He continued on. But I was intent on how he would be able to say regarding what really happened to Israfil. “We were able to corner the Black Sorceress, but she had an escape plan. One of her officers were able to lure us momentarily before she was able to escape to the Great Divide.”
“Rei mentioned that Great Divide a couple of times before.” I cut him off from his narration. “But where is it exactly? Based on how he used it, that place was to keep demons out.”
“The Great Divide is an incomplete dimension that connects all the others. I guess you can think of it as a central train station that can take you to a whole lot of other places.” He stated. Then he motioned his hand in the air, and his finger started glowing. Ventus whispered a command I didn’t hear and made a circle in the air, which created an image from inside it. It was some sort of window, and we could see the other side. “You can try checking it out.”
All I saw was an endless void like the night sky. An impression pressed within my mind, and I knew it was what we were talking about. There was some sort of force that was pulling me towards it. And that part was scary. Ventus must have noticed my stare and closed the portal.
“Powerful mages from hundreds of years ago who discovered this put a set of strong seals to keep some of the dimensions from being accessed. One of them is called Tartaros, which was a dimension filled with demonic forces.” He said it with a certain level of rigor. It was as if to warn me of dark possibilities. “Israfil and his father, Aleus, and others went after her there where a battle took place. They were not able to defeat her, but as a last-ditch effort, they were able to seal her in another realm. It was too late because Veronica had mortally wounded them.”
“And that killed Israfil.” I continued it for him. But Ventus just looked at me, and I knew I wasn’t right with my guess. “Don’t look at me like that.”
“Yes and no. All of their bodies were disintegrated due to what the Black Sorceress used. Aleus died in the process because he prioritized Israfil’s soul first. It traveled to your world and found you. That’s what we know so far.” Then he looked at me. And it was a bit more intense. That was the moment I knew that he missed Israfil badly. “Most likely because you were the first compatible host that he can find. And it took some time before his fragment soul slowly integrates on its own. Israfil held on and kept fighting even if he’s partially dead.”
At that moment, I got close to him and hugged him tightly. Ventus was too formal with me because I wasn’t really his best friend. But I am sure he’s the best person who would do anything for Israfil. Then I whispered to him, “I am sure your best friend would be thankful to have you in his life.”
Ventus hugged back. And I felt his hands gripped my shoulders tightly. I let him hug me for almost a minute. Then I pulled myself back and saw that he was already crying. Something within me jumped, and a warm feeling washed over me. A tear escaped my eye, and I knew that another someone from within me was trying to communicate.
“Chance, thank you.” He smiled. “Seriously, I can’t thank you enough for doing that. I’ve waited too long, hoping that we could bring him back. Now it reignited the hope that I almost let go of. And it really helped that you and Israfil looked like each other.”
“So, how do we revive Israfil?” I asked him. But then Ventus looked at me sadly. The concern in his eyes grew more assertive. “I’m sure Rei already had a plan in mind. He seemed to be that kind of person.”
“We still need to create a proper vessel for Israfil where his soul could reside in. Otherwise, this would all be useless. But Rei already had prepared for that and was already researching on recreating a human body.” Ventus retorted. His eyes narrowed like he was thinking more resonant than usual. “My part in the plan was to befriend you and help you awaken Israfil’s soul or at least speed up the healing progress.”
“And how do we do that?” I inquired.
“In theory, Israfil’s awakening speeds up as you access more of his memories and his knowledge. That means the more you used magic and tap deeper into his mind, then it will integrate faster.” Ventus explained. “That’s why Rei chose me for this job because I was his closest friend. To put it simply, the first step is I need to help you learn how to use the dark-element magic.”
One of my brows raised in question. Then my eyes narrowed in disbelief. His plan sounded too good to be true. “Interesting. I help you out, and I get stronger in return. In short, I can protect my friends if I need to.”
“Yeah.” He agreed. Then shifted to a serious face. “But I don’t think you would really agree for starters. Because first things first, you need to do something.”
“And that would be?” I asked.
Ventus almost got stiff. “You need to open yourself to the darkness.”