The White Flame
The distant land surrounded by the white flame. The length of the ocean gone in seconds. The land turned dry, sand, death, starvation. The sun burning through skin, bone, steel, rock, love, life. The far-out land where the water lives and the trees thrive, that is the place guarded by the white flame. An old folk tale, a man in all white, wielding the strongest sword known to man, a sword of white flames. The last and strongest of the legendary twenty Feun swords. And the man who wielded this sword was called Murami. The first Murami.
“Help help! Someone help!” screamed a bloodied man who rode from nowhere.
He rode from atop his white horse from a place no one knew, from a place no one cared about. The man rode through a small village. His withered sword in hand. He screamed and screamed as the people watched, as the people stood, not helping, just watching. They all hid in their homes, watching from afar, staring blankly. The man looked around with a worried face, his body ached, he closed his eyes in a flash of pain, he fell from his horse. His body flowed with red blood. He gripped his side. Stumbling, falling. He stood up from the sandy ground, his face covered in blood, his eyes glistened in the light. No one stood up to help this man, no one wished to help this man.
Luckily however, this day was both a curse and a blessing, for as the bloodied stranger stumbled across the sandy road to nowhere, he caught sight of a tall broad-shouldered man with a badge. This man was known as the sheriff of this small village. He was known as someone with integrity and honor, he was known to never let a man die, to never let a fellow friend bleed, and to never let someone rot away on the streets. This stranger was in the right place at the right time, for the sheriff saved him in his most dire straight. He even brought him to his humble abode.
Ten minutes passed as the sun set across the sky. The bloodied man now sat on the sheriffs couch, he sat bandaged up, breathing normally. He sat facing a fireplace, against three windows looking over the town. He sat with a smile on his face, a big happy smile, a smile of someone safe, of someone healthy. But that smile quickly faded as the bloody bandaged man looked to the many shelves lined across the brick walls of the living room. He saw picture frame after picture frame, person after person, kid after kid, smile after smile.
The sheriff walked in from the kitchen with a glass of water in hand. He sat down in a lonely wooden chair with a smile bigger than any the bloodied stranger had ever seen.
He asked, “what is your name sir?”
“Umm, the name is Gar, and what might the name of my savior be?” smirked Gar as he watched the sun set across the vast sandy dunes in the distance.
“I am the sheriff of this village, the name is Migh.”
Gar lowered his smirk and leaned forward to the edge of the couch, “well Migh, I have a great debt to repay you, but I can not repay you now. I must get going… I am deeply sorry but... You are not going to be able to change my mind today. If I stay then I will be putting myself in an even greater debt.”
“What do you mean debt?” Migh asked. “What worries you?”
“I am being followed by Murami. A group of them. They are after what I stole.”
Migh looked at Gar with confusion, “a group of Murami? I thought Murami traveled alone?”
Gar leaned back on the couch and crossed his damaged arms, “they were all once Murami, all once-great Murami, but they are after something dangerous. Destruction! They are creating a new wave. A wave of destruction.”
“But weren’t Murami kind? I don’t understand what you are saying?” asked the sheriff as he leaned back puzzled and dazed from Gar’s confusing oxymoron.
Gar continued his speech, “I don’t have time, the Murami are no longer our protectors, they are now our destroyers. They have stopped saving and started fighting. That is why I will be taking this world with me.”
“Wait wait slow down. What do you mean-”
“I have a question for you Migh, the sheriff?” asked Gar abruptly.
“Uh um, go ahead.”
“This town is filled with sketchy people, yet you are different. I want to know why you didn’t ask what I stole from these Murami? I want to know why you didn’t ask where I came from? I want to know why you didn’t ask how I got in this horrible bloody condition in the first place?”
“Well… Those are some good questions. But you see, this village is made up of once young criminals turned old, turned stale. And I do not ask questions about their past, I only ask about their present and or future. So I will ask you this question in return Gar, where do you plan to go? Where do you plan to take this world?”
Gar stared out the window. He clutched his injured hip and remembered his past.
“Huh, you have an odd way of thinking, you’re like a friend of mine… And that was also a good question. I’ll tell you that I plan to go where the water lives and the trees thrive. I plan to go where none have gone before. To a place of beauty and life. To the Grasslands.”
“Yeah, yeah, Grassland. Grasslands. You see…” Gar pulled a small piece of paper from his pocket and whispered, “this here is a map to the Grasslands.”
Gar quickly looked around the room. He looked for anyone spying in, for anyone peeking through the windows. He looked at the sun as it finally set across the glittering horizon. He watched as a red eyed man walked across the sandy streets.
Gar whispered again, “I want you to have it. I want you to gather as many people as you can, strong fighters. I need you to travel to this Mountain. Go through the Empty Sea and-”
Someone knocked at the door. Migh quickly turned and grabbed his sword as Gar in a sudden fit of anxiety stood up and held him down by his shoulders.
Gar said in a desperate scared tone, “don’t go. I will leave instead. They are here for me, and… Thank you for the food and medicine but I have a friend waiting. I must be going.”
“Don’t talk like that! You are my guest. And it’s probably just my son, he’s always out at this hour, he just scares me sometimes, always knocking so loud…”
Migh handed his sword to Gar and stepped out of the living room and into the candle lit hallway. He walked past the countless pictures of his family, the countless drawings and countless nicknacks, one after another, one after another. They were endless, piece after piece, smile after smile. And Migh smiled at all of them, everytime he passed by, everytime he looked at his family, every time he saw their smiling faces he would smile back. Then he reached the door. (part 1)
Gar sat back down and shook his head in defeat, “Migh you fool, your own son wouldn’t knock on his own door. Your own son would just walk in, he wouldn’t knock. He wouldn’t… Migh, that is not your son.”
Migh grasped the doorknob. A slice echoed silently. The door cut in two. Migh cut in two. His body cut in two. His eyes cut in two. His eyes lost to the sight of a face. A face with red glowing eyes of blood. The light in the sky slowly turned to darkness. The red eyed stranger walked through the hallway, past all the countless picture frames, past the countless smiles, past the endless memories.
“Gar, I know you’re here. The villagers told me so. They told me in their last dying breath!” boomed the red-eyed Murami as he stomped through the house without a care in the world.
Eventually he reached and entered the living room. He looked at the empty couch. He looked under the couch. It was empty. He looked in the darkness. The darkness was empty. The living room was empty.
“Stop running Gar! You know what happens when you run?! I even told the villagers what happens when you run. I told them that they would die! And they did, and so will the next villagers, and the next, and soon there will be no one to run to, you will die along with your dreams. Come out and-”
Gar turned from a doorway, he appeared with a burning piece of paper in his left hand and Migh’s sword in the other.
“You fool, you really burned the map! Hahaha! You think we wanted that map. You think we wanted to keep it, no no no! We wanted to get rid of that map! And you think that we will leave you alone if you burn it! Hahaha! Your ideals are more dangerous than any tiny map. Your life is more dangerous than any tiny map.”
Gar dropped the shriveled ash. The smoke gathered on the ceiling. The sky matching the black darkness.
Gar stepped forward with a vengeful intent, “it doesn’t even matter anymore. The map, the pain, the people. They will always be up here, always with me. So fight me!”
The red-eyed Murami swung his sword. Gar tried to block, but the sword chipped and snapped. Gar lost his head and lost his dream in a matter of seconds. The red-eyed Murami quickly turned around and walked out of the house. He stared at the dark sky and burned the house to the ground. The whole village burned to the ground. The flames burned so bright it touched the heavens. The screams of the damned, the screams of the innocent. The smoke rose into the sky creating a cloud where clouds were not. Slowly as the night grew darker a single individual walked across the vast empty desert to this vast empty small burnt village. This man went by the name of Hoefen Tij. And Hoefen traveled alone with a sword bright blue in length and white dragons across the blade. His sword shined bright against the burning village, against the raging heavens, against the dreams he stood for, and the friends he cared for. He stood atop the ashy grey darkness of Migh’s destroyed home, he stood his flowing cloak in the orange breeze, with the ashes in his hair. He kneeled in front of Gar’s crisp ashy body. He wiped away the smolder and rummaged through the rubble. He picked up a metal cylinder and unscrewed the dusty cap. He pulled out a single map.
“Gar you fool, you stupid, foolish, fool! I don’t know what you did, but the map is safe and you are dead. And I will honor your death and bring about your dream. I will find them-”
“Who are you?” questioned the red-eyed Murami as he stood in the darkness behind Hoefen.
Hoefen stayed still leaning forward over Gars ashy brunt body, “I am just a scavenger, I am only searching for-”
“A map?! You searching for a map?! Huh? Well, you’re too late, scavenger, that map was burned in the fire.”
The red-eyed Murami pulled his silver sword from his sheath and pointed it at Hoefen’s neck.
“I am only searching for money! I need money… You see I am in debt, I lost my…”
Hoefen turned around and stood up. He showed his ashy burned clothes and rugged scrappy appearance.
“I am poor, my family is poor! I need money, sir!” Hoefen fell to his knees, “please can you spare some money, sir! Please can you-”
“Hmmm, Mr. Scavenger, now you see you put me in a predicament, should I kill you or should I let you live? Would the life of a poor man be more miserable than the life of a dead man? Can you answer that, Mr. Scavenger?” “Please leave me alive, please, I have a family and we are starving and we need-”
“I guess leaving you alive would bring you more pain... So I shall let you stay, but before I go I will tell you this, the Shorebringers will take this land and burn it to the ground. Tell your family, and your friends family and everyone you know to get=t ready for our wrath. Tell them the mercy I gave you and the mercy I will give them if they join us. Tell them that The Watchers will bow before us.”
“Thank you, thank you!” screamed Hoefen as he begged and begged.
Slowly the red-eyed Murami disappeared into the night. Hoefen stood up and walked in the other direction through the night. He walked for another five minutes, he walked with the old map in hand, across the dunes of the darkness. He walked before a bright line of light struck through the darkness. A silver sword flew through the air, flung like a boomerang, spinning like a dreidel. Hoefen quickly ducked letting the sword fly past him at full speed. He then pulled out his own sword and pointed it at the glowing red eyes in the distance.
“I knew you weren’t no normal man Mr. Scavenger. That sword gave it away. No scavenger would keep a sword that beautiful for no reason, you must be skilled in some art of combat. And being skilled makes you not poor, makes you not weak, and those who are not weak are strong, and those who are strong are Murami, you are a Murami, a swordsman.”
Hoefen stood strong with his shining sword in the darkness, “you are right and wrong. I actually once a scavenger, then I became a Wanderer, then I was a Reaper, and finally I was a Murami.”
“So you were once a Murami, but then what are you now?” asked the red-eyed Murami as his eyes shined through the glim glow of the night.
“I am just a traveling peacekeeper.”
“Hmph, peace you say, then peace you shall get!”
The red-eyed Murami stepped forward before a quiet flicker spread across the dry dark sand. Rain fell over the two swordsmen as they faced each other in the glowing night.
“Rain?!” exclaimed the red-eyed Murami in a worried panic.
Hoefen held out his hand and caught the raining ash. He looked at the red-eyed Murami and saw his bewildered face.
He laughed in the darkness, “it seems to be raining, ha, just my luck! I guess I’m just lucky today.”
The red-eyed Murami stepped away, scared from the phenomenon before him.
He tried his earnest to wipe away the rain from his skin, but it kept sticking and sticking, “but, but, it hasn’t rained in a hundred years! Was this…! Was this you doing scavenger?! Was this you’re doing- Don’t tell me-”
“Yes, and you were right about my sword Red Murami. This sword is special and beautiful. One of the most special swords known to mankind, the only one of its kind. It can even control the-”
“The weather!” The red-eyed Murami freaked against the ashy sky, he quickly picked up his sword and embarrassingly waved it in front of him like a child, “but, but how can it rain! There is no rain! You are… You are going to die! The Shorebringers are going to kill you! I will kill you!” “Tough luck, you see I can control the smoke rising from the ash you created. I can control it and focus it into a cloud of raining ash. Then I use my-”
“A sword of Feun, you are… You are one lucky man Mr. Scavenger. You are real lucky! If you didn’t have that sword you would be dead. The deadist, so dead! And those swords! They should be gone, should be locked away.”
Hoefen held his sword out into the sky. He raised it high. He focused his breath and closed his eyes. A large spark shot from the tip of the blade and into the sky. It disappeared in an instant creating a loud shrieking snap.
The red-eyed Murami fell to his back, “you will die! And we will take your sword too!”
The red-eyed Murami quickly jumped to his feet and ran into the darkness. The ashy rain kept falling over the dry sand. Hoefen fell to his knees holding his sword close.
“Ha, I really am lucky. That guy could have killed me at any moment… Gar, he could have called my bluff and done me in. Yikes, I am literally shaking, oh no! Oh no no no! My legs have given way, I haven’t used my sword in a while. I guess I really did luck out. He was as dumb as a brick. Come on, like everyone knows that it hasn’t rained in over a hundred years. Everyone knows that ash clouds can’t produce lightning. But he was right about my sword, he does have a good eye, but not a good mind. Not a good mind. Not a… I should use my sword more, I get so tired just from one bolt… My… I can’t stop talking Gar! I’m going to fall asleep Gar… My old friend Gar… I will truly… Miss you…”
In a distant world stands a land far from heaven or hell. A haven where ancient monsters and creatures wish to live. This land is called Grassland, the last place where God’s beauty stands, where the world doesn’t change, doesn’t burn, doesn’t die. A land of infinite beauty, infinite treasures, resources, love, life, adventure. Only those who are truly honest and truly kind may enter the Grasslands, those who truly wish for the greater good of all things may gain the right of passage. Only those who can’t see past the wall of white flames may enter, only those who can look in themselves and out to the world around them. Only the truly true may enter. And humans… Humans will never reach the Grasslands, for they are not meant to be in the Grasslands.