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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2197673
by Sky
Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Fantasy · #2197673
MY WIP is a multi-POV futuristic fantasy novel rife with magic, action, and mystery.
CHAPTER ONE

The Secret


         Sky activated his curse and the universe forgot he ever existed. It was the sixth time this evening, for the man he tailed was on high alert. The man looked over his shoulder scanning the busy walkway. When his eyes met Sky’s, they glanced over quickly showing no hint of recognition.

         The mystery man was of the Forgotten, a faction whose bane almost matched Sky’s, the only he could find in the universe. He’d risked his life and traveled to this planet solely to investigate them. If anyone held a clue on how to break his curse, it’d be they.

         Earlier today, Sky had approached the man assuming the persona of a mageguard which nearly got him killed.

         Note to self, Sky had thought, the Forgotten don’t get along with mageguards.

         Afterward, Sky got spat at when he introduced himself as a federal agent, rudely dismissed when he presented himself as a journalist, and completely ignored when he claimed to be a relative.

         Correction: the Forgotten don’t get along with anybody.

         Sky’s curiosity peaked as they approached the edges of the city of Aureadam. He could see the Golden Walls now, and beyond them was the realm of the Stygian Tyrant, the monster devouring the planet. Its stench overflowed into the city, an acrid smell like burnt manure.

         Bum-bum-bum! My heart is pounding like crazy! Sky sang to himself. He marched under the gaze of the lazy moons above, wondering at the Forgotten man’s destination and the contents of his bag.

         The Forgotten man entered a restaurant and Sky followed. A shabby old place, gloomy with a distinct smell of barbecue and garlic. Only a handful of patrons were seated on either side of the confined hall dining silently. One wall held a three dimensional projection showcasing a rotating series of wanted posters. A second hologram displayed the infamous and useless ‘How to survive the Stygian Tyrant’ documentary, while the third played a loud game of Mudball.

         Sky chose the table behind his target and set his backpack on a chair beside his keeping it in arm’s reach. In his azure thobe, and the kufi smothering his brown fuzzy hair, Sky was inconspicuous. Just another patron hungry for a hot meal. Only his pale skin and freckles separated him from the locals, but with Pareen’s previous status as a tourist attraction, Sky was simply another unlucky visitor who was stuck on this dying planet.

         His heart pounding furiously, Sky wiped the sweat off his forehead. It wasn’t worry, nor fear, but excitement. If this man was truly related to the Royal Forgotten, then Sky might learn something about his curse. And if I was lucky enough, how to break it.

         After a few minutes of patient waiting, a young woman in a long embroidered black dress approached Sky’s target. She was sable-haired, olive-skinned, and handsome, just like her date. Sky’s heart raced as she sat; he was about to unravel tonight’s mystery at last.

         From his spot, Sky heard the couple’s faint chattering and whispered laughter. He listened intently as they discussed their day in dull details and talked about uninteresting topics like food, movies, and the weather. Minutes passed and neither spoke anything of value. No mention of the Mass-Amnesia curse, no talking about the Royal Forgotten, and no word regarding the Keeper of Secrets or his artifact. Despite his conviction, Sky grew impatient.

         Eventually, the man opened his suspicious bag and offered a wrapped present to his companion. Her eyes twinkled as she opened it, then grew confused when she saw what’s inside. Sky perked up trying to steal a glimpse without drawing attention. Slowly, the lady extracted a small fishbowl with a lone submerged emerald flower with thin long petals from the box and placed it on the table.

         What the…

         Having noticed her puzzlement, her companion chuckled, then he reached inside the bowl and picked up the flower levitating the entirety of the water around it as though it was a ball of jelly.

         The woman gasped.

         Sky recognized the plant. It wasn’t a flower at all, but a river anemone with weak magic capabilities called ‘Lover’s Embrace’. The water did not drop or lose its shape as the man lifted it out of the bowl. Rather it remained surrounding the anemone in the shape of a sphere. The man placed the bloom on the table and the couple laughed delightedly.

         “What the hell is wrong with you?” Sky yelled, punching the table. “You wasted my entire day for this?!”

         All eyes in the restaurant turned to Sky. Waitresses paused between tables, an old man spilled his drink, and a couple stared with their forks half lifted to their hanging jaws.

         The Forgotten man turned to Sky wearing a deepening frown.

         “Let me understand something,” Sky said, rubbing his forehead. “Is your selection of the shadiest restaurant in the city a byproduct of your curse or is it simply a matter of your terrible taste?” He spread his arms in exasperation. “You got me excited over nothing!”

         The man stood up. “Have you been following me?”

         “Regrettably so!” Sky said. “Tell me, do you know the Royal Forgotten or not?”

         Several gasps pierced the silence in the restaurant, aghast and terrified. A couple fled the diner.

         “Who are you?” the man said, reaching behind his back.

         “This is pointless. Just… forget it.” Sky gripped his backpack, and with a thought, he activated his curse. A small golden bell materialized out of thin air at the edge of Sky’s vision. It rang once.

         Like a miniature supernova, a thin wave of Fantasia exploded from Sky. The patrons resumed their meals, the waitresses their work, and the couple behind him their boring conversation.

         Sky sat down all forgotten.

         Dammit! Dammit! DAMMIT! Sky slammed the table with both fists. Reluctantly, his shoulders slumped with shame.

         Relax. Sky told himself holding his head with both hands. Take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. That’s it. It is not worth it. I knew it won’t be easy so why should I get angry? I’ll find another lead. There must be some clue for me on this planet. There must be.

         The couple behind Sky laughed.

         How much longer must I live like this? Sky’s nails bit into his head. I need to know if their curse is the same as mine. I need to remember what happened to me. I’m sick of this damned curse triggering whenever it wants and ruining my life over and over.

         I need an answer; can my curse be broken?


         Sky stood and reached for his backpack, then froze when he noticed a man blocking the exit. The man was clean-shaven and wore denim pants, a bright shirt covered in colorful designs of flames, and a wide-brimmed hat. It was the gun in his hand, a revolver with red shining embers on either side that gave Sky pause.

         Sky’s breath caught. He’d thought that guns were outlawed on Pareen.

         “Hey, you!” a waitress in a red and white apron shouted at the newcomer. “No Smoking here!”

         Sky hadn’t noticed the cigarette in the newcomer’s mouth. A faint red flame dancing atop the gun’s muzzle was an inch away from its tip. When prompted, the newcomer extinguished his cigarette and holstered his gun. Sky sighed.

         “Apologies,” the newcomer said. “The bathroom is over there, right?” He walked ahead not waiting for an answer. Strangely, the Forgotten man followed.

         Interesting!

         Sky grinned. His heart racing, he hurried to the bathroom and stealthily opened the door.

         Something’s finally about to happen!

         The door exploded in a storm of fire and splintered wood. The shockwave lifted Sky off his feet and threw him onto an occupied table. His back screamed with pain and his lungs struggled for a breath that wouldn’t- couldn’t come. He tried to stand, but his head spun and swirled and his vision grew hazy as if he was looking through thick fog. Muffled screams and distant footsteps mixed with the ringing in his ears. A smell of burnt wood and scorched flesh invaded his nose.

         {Another stream of fire launched from the bathroom, this time direct and straight. Hearing returned to Sky gradually: something crashed, some glass shattered, and people screamed. Sky struggled to his feet, his hand slipped and he fell head first into a pile of something sticky and hot. Groaning, he looked up and was face to face with the muzzle of the revolver.

         It took him a long millisecond to recognize that the rubies adorning the sides of the revolver were Salamander scales. This was no normal gun. It’s a Pyro grimoire.

         Shit!

         Like a military-grade flamethrower, a long red stream of flame launched from the revolver heading for Sky. Terrified, he jumped behind a turned-over table and screamed helplessly as everything around him was set ablaze.

         Sky’s teeth clattered, his head drew a blank as the hissing fire overtook the ringing in his ears. He looked around and found no way out and no way to fight back. The heat was too intense, the table behind him crackled and threatened to crumble. Within seconds, Sky will be roasted alive.

         Not by fire!

         Sky summoned his bell and rang it once.

         The fire stopped; the Firedancer had forgotten about him. Sky struggled to calm his raging heart fearing it might reveal him. Footsteps sounded behind. Peeking nervously, Sky found the Firedancer searching the restaurant.

         He’s not leaving? Why is he not leaving?

         To his right, Sky noticed the Forgotten man hiding behind an overturned and burning stack of chairs. He was injured. His face had half melted and his left arm was nearly gone. A pool of blood spread beneath him as he tied his belt above his severed elbow. Eyes raging with pain, the man crawled away while the diner burned around him.

         The man needed urgent medical aid. Even if he miraculously slipped by the Firedancer he would soon die of blood loss.

         But the Firedancer is between us and the exit. And I have nothing to fight back with.

         Sky searched around for anything he can use as a weapon. His eyes fell on the small emerald anemone a mere four feet from him. It was on the ground, still ensphered in its watery coffer which looked much bigger than before. Sky had charged his Fantasia this morning; he could use the anemone. After checking his surroundings, Sky crawled toward the flower and picked it up. The water was warm, and with its added weight the anemone was heavier than what Sky anticipated.

         Unlike before, the water dripped down. The anemone was countering the heat by amplifying the water.

         A part of the roof burned down behind Sky startling him. As black smoke grew thicker, Sky lost vision of the injured man. When the Firedancer passed beside him, Sky ducked and stifled a cough. There was no time to cower; he needed to act.

         Sky held the anemone firmly and channeled his Fantasia into it. His fingers tingled slightly and sank into the tentacles of the anemone. Slowly, the anemone merged with the flesh of his hand becoming one. The flower rejected the union immediately, creating a weak stream in an attempt to push Sky’s hand away.

         Calm down. You will be alright.

         Sky channeled his Aqua Fantasia through the anemone and the amplification of water sped up. When the new water cooled the anemone, it ceased resisting and accepted its fate whispering a mild moan that only Sky heard.

         That’s right, we’re a team now. Sky searched for the Firedancer. Let’s see what you can do.

         The Firedancer was nowhere around. Perhaps after all, Sky didn’t have to fight. If he ran to the exit now, grabbed the injured man and left, it would all be over. But first, he has to snatch his backpack real quick and…

         Sky’s heart sank. No, no, no!

         How could he forget his backpack? He had not been touching it when he activated his curse. Everything he had in life was in there. All his memories, his grimoires, and even his damn stupid diary. Everything was now lost as the curse erased every evidence of his existence from the universe.

         Sky nearly screamed. He had to amass so much courage to start that stupid diary, convincing himself that he would break the damn curse soon. He fooled himself to do it and now he was paying the price.

         That’s what you get for being hopeful. You deserve it. You bloody deserve it and you know it!

         Broken-hearted, Sky searched for his backpack hoping against hope to find it. And it was there, toppled on the ground, at the other side of the restaurant. It was slightly altered, with different stickers, designs and patterns all around it but it was definitely his. The curse hadn’t outright deleted it. It had simply modified it and its contents and delegated its ownership to someone else.

         Wonder what’s in there.

         Something clacked behind. Sky turned and his eyes met the Firedancer’s, and they were both surprised. Somehow, with the loss of his diary, even Sky forgot about the Firedancer.

         When the Firedancer raised his gun, Sky panicked and unleashed his Fantasia. Like a dam crumbling, Fantasia overflew through the anemone, and so did water. Within a second, a giant aquatic globe engulfed Sky. The Firedancer shot nonstop, fire sizzling against Sky’s impromptu shield sending clouds of vapor into the air.

         Shit! Shit!

         Sky spun in his self-made prison unable to tell up from down. He channeled more Fantasia, increasing the volume of the water around him in a useless attempt at countering the heat. Yet, Sky was not worried about being boiled alive; he was running out of breath.

         Sky had two options: die burning or die drowning.

         Think! Damn you, think!

         Sky tried to remember what he knew about the Lover’s Embrace. It grows in colonies on riverbeds. Useless. They breed asexually. How can this help me?! It creates weak alternating currents that imprison, weaken then pull small fish to eat. Almost. Older anemone can create larger fishing waters and trap bigger fish.

         That’s it!

         Sky abandoned all sensibilities and endlessly channeled his Fantasia through the river anemone causing the globe of water to instantly grow tenfold and swallow the Firedancer.

         The fire stopped at last and the water became cooler. Yet Sky was in a much worse situation than before. His head throbbed violently and he felt nauseous and fatigued. To make matters worse, the world spun around him as if his head was in a blender. Not because of the constant endless spinning, but due to the hyponatremia induced by the contamination of Aqua Fantasia.

         Sky’s right hand spasmed and he sensed the anemone dying.

         Hang with me!

         Sky sent his Fantasia into the anemone attempting to rejuvenate it. The torn petals mended, its broken column rebounded straight. A soft groan reverberated in Sky’s mind. He was enervated, his stamina drained. But he could still fight on. He had to.

         Sky tried to locate the Firedancer in his globe, but the scores of tables and chairs caught in the sudden expansion made detecting anything specific impossible.

         Fire erupted within the water. The Firedancer was trying to propel himself out.

         Aimlessly, Sky generated currents throughout the giant sphere slamming together everything within. A headache battled against Sky’s burning lungs for his attention and his mind grew darker.

         I can’t go on. I’ve reached my limit.

         But I can’t let go!

         Why not? What’s the point? I did what I can. I’m just prolonging my suffering.

         This is my loss.


         Overwhelmed, Sky collapsed on the ground and gasped for air. The water splashed and hissed on the fires around him releasing a cloud of steam. Sky vomited his dinner, then groaned in pain examining his bright red arms. To his right was the Firedancer.

         Sky jumped to his feet fast, his head blacked out and he stumbled down on his behind. He was about to crawl away when he noticed that the Firedancer was lying unconscious. A bright-red scar covered his forehead and shards of wood and glass bit into his arms and legs.

         Sky didn’t remember a stab of Necro Fantasia, and then he was sure the man was alive when his chest rose slowly but surely. Coughing, Sky grew aware of the burning diner again. He knew he couldn’t leave the bastard behind. His conscience wouldn’t allow it even if no one realized he was ever here.

         Sky searched for the Forgotten man and found him facedown near the exit. He rushed over.

         The man was dead. His arm was still bleeding and his right hand clenched onto something. Sky opened it and found a small crumbled hand-written message.

         ‘It’s funny how I can’t remember my name but I can’t forget how much I love you. Happy anniversary!”

         Sky sat motionless staring at the letter as the fire swallowed the building.

         The man died, and his hopes, plans, and dreams had died with him. Yet, oddly, Sky knew that he was not completely gone. Someone knew and loved him and now that someone will remember and mourn him.

         Seconds passed and the jealousy Sky felt against the dead man was superseded by guilt.

         If Sky had been faster at dispatching the Firedancer, then he might have saved this man and no one would be hurt for this loss.
But that was still possible.

         The man was gone, and only an inanimate corpse remained in this world. Meaning that Sky’s curse can affect it. All that Sky has to do is to activate his curse while holding onto the dead man and all memories of him will be expunged from the universe.

         And then what? That girl must have adored him, but now she wouldn’t even recognize his face. She would not cry over her lost lover and there would be no funeral or tears spilled for him. And many years from now, no one will remember him and smile at his memory, and all his life would be meaningless.

         One day, Sky would become this man and he will not be missed, nor would anyone shed any tears for him. And they will erect an empty tombstone on his grave. And he would have lived his life with no family, no friends, no home, no career, no identity, no property, and no meaning.

         And that frightened him.

         Sky shook his head. He wouldn’t wish such a fate on anyone. He wanted to be missed and to live eternal in someone else’s memories. All the memories, sweet and bitter. And by this, he would cheat death, and by this, he would have truly lived.

         Sirens sounded nearby. Sky coughed again, the fire raged, the heat exacerbated, and the building was about to collapse. Sky was tired, exhausted, but he couldn’t await help. He had to decide now.

**********

         The giant globe of water stopped outside the restaurant then collapsed. Water splashed everywhere. Struggling for breath, Sky dropped the two men on the ground beside him. People rushed from every direction. Shouts, orders, questions, and screams mingled incomprehensibly.

         The girl in the black dress embraced her dead lover. Tears rolled down her cheeks, her quiet sobs quickly escalated to heart-rending wails.

         Swallowing a lump in his throat, Sky approached the girl. “He wanted you to have this.”

         Sky laid the shriveled used-up anemone and the crumbled card next to the corpse and turned away. He threw the bag that was no longer his over his shoulder and walked past the crowds.

         The bell rang.


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