by Barex Aster
“I’ve been taught at a young age… that there is only one guarantee in this world.”
The phenomena which shapes reality in accordance with one's very own knowledge and experiences as well as the assimilation of accepted beliefs.
That is Truth.
—Collected Journals of Nygus, the First Artrick
43rd of Rising Lotus, 2999 E5
A silent, fiery explosion reflected from the glistening coat of her golden, horror-struck eyes. Her jaw dropped slightly, a short shudder escaping her lips.
Giant cogs and gears rotated and ground against each other in muted motion, floating as a complex marvel of black silhouettes filling in the background of the empty, white void she stood in.
“And so the prophecy your forebearers foretold-” the massive gray-scaled dragon loomed over the woman on all fours, his sharp white eyes as empty as the void’s hue “-has finally revealed its hand.” His calm yet deep voice spoke through unmoving lips. “The end of the world.”
“Tch…” She squeezed her eyes shut. Her chin tilted down a little, the ponytail of her faded yellow hair shifting a bit around her neck. Bangs of hair that ran alongside her white cheeks now dangled in front of her face.
The dragon continued to watch her. “Your ancestors have sacrificed so much to assimilate this ability of foresight into the blood of your dynasty. And I’ve held my end of the bargain, allowing you and those before you to receive a divination of destruction should it occur within the next year…. This is the revelation your ancestors sought to be prepared for. Annihilation. Oblivion.”
A giant orb hovered still in the air several dozen yards behind him. A scintillating mist radiated outward from it, as if it were a star. Several black rings slowly rotated around it, swirling the mist gently.
“By witnessing the crisis through the Time Nexus, your ancestors believed they might acquire the footing they desired to hold back their extinction. Your extinction.” He lowered his head a bit, a low whirl running through the deafeningly silent air. “And so I ask you, the King who so happens to receive the vision, a simple question… What will you do?”
Kara remained how she stood, still looking down. Her hands clenched into fists at the sides of her black pants.
“All of their ambitions, sacrifices--their very will has fallen to you now. Your decisions from this day forth will reckon all they’ve sought to accomplish, all they’ve sought to save. Can you really hold the weight of this ordeal on your shoulders to the end? The dream of saving the world?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” she said sternly.
The dragon made no response.
Kara looked up at the dragon with a scowl, her eyes no longer revealing despair, but determination. “As you said, my family wished to see the coming crisis before it happened and stop it. This is the moment we’ve lived for since the contract was formed.” Her eyes squinted just slightly, becoming sharper and glistening. “With that and all you stated, said… what makes you think I have a say in what to do next? The coming choices from this day forth will be in the name of stopping this cataclysm.”
The dragon raised its head back up, the low whirl once again running through the air. “I see….”
Kara turned sideways to him, her black boots tapping against some seemingly invisible surface they stood on. Folding her arms, her maroon-colored button-up shirt, neatly fitted with her narrow frame, wrinkled in on itself a bit, especially the long sleeves. She then seemed to stare off into space, quickly running through her thoughts.
“Exactly what did you see, Kara Arselhyne?” the dragon asked.
She looked up at him, looking surprised by the question. She then looked forward again. “I’m fully aware that you can see the same revelations I see when given by the Time Nexus. There’s no reason for me to reiterate it.”
“I’ll ask you once more. What did you see?”
She looked to him again, this time with bewilderment. He merely watched her with the sharp, cold look that comes with a reptilian face, his head slightly turned to see her.
She turned to him completely. “A ball of fire exceeding the size of the planet tenfold. It collides with our world and engulfs it as if it were a mere flake of snow.”
“Then you fully comprehend what you are facing….”
She made no response, waiting for him to iterate.
“Would it really be possible for you to stop this, even with the aid of others? In the end, you will be committing your life to the task. Failure would result in the sacrifices of your dynasty to be in vain, and, from a technical perspective, it would be all your fault.”
Kara’s lips curled into a frown.
“Or you can be realistic. You can give up this nonsensical obligation to duty you have engraved in your heart, and understand that this threat is simply too great. Live your final days without the weight of the world on your shoulders and allow the fate your world has been destined to finally pass.”
Kara stood with her head tilted down. A shadow casted over her face and hid all but the thin line of her lips.
“Carry out the ambitions of those before you like a stringless puppet, or let go… and accept the reality of your limitations.”
Only a few seconds of silence followed. The dragon remained seemingly frozen, patiently anticipating an answer.
“I’ve been taught at a young age…” she soon said. She looked up at him. “That there is only one guarantee in this world.”
The dragon’s eyes squinted slightly.
“And that is the failure that comes with giving up.” She then turned and her boots gave a dull clack with every step she took from the dragon. “I will stop this cataclysm, Omega.”
“Hmph,” the dragon lightly laughed. But it quickly manifested into a chuckle and gradually into a hearty laugh.
Boom! His forward left foot smashed into the invisible ground. Kara froze where she stood.
“Do you really think it’s that simple? That you can accomplish any feat with the mere ideology of will?” He watched the back of her head for a second longer before continuing. “As the God of Time and Eternity, I have seen the end. And since time itself was birthed, I’ve come to witness that destiny’s hand cannot be stayed. The only string you can hope to pull is how you will go about shaping its ideal future. And so I’ll ask once more, child: how will you go about your final days of existence?”
“Tch, what are you trying to get out of me?” Kara turned back to him, brows furrowed and fists clenched. “You think you can deter me, dragon?”
Omega scowled, lowering his chin.
“I care little what you’ve seen of our future. All that time watching the world play exactly as you’ve seen… it has only allowed the phenomena of absolutes to blind you of what I see. And that is an undecided future. Like I’ve said before, the coming days will be in the name of stopping this crisis.”
“So even in the face of the inevitable, you still choose to face destiny and attempt to change your fate? Even when I can tell you here and now that no matter how much you struggle, what you’ve seen for yourself will never alter in the slightest?” The corner of his mouth twisted up in a scaly smirk. “Perhaps this isn’t some sense of duty after all—but pride. Pride from a child who has yet to experience true failure.”
Kara turned and marched off. “You have my answer. This crisis will be stopped. Even if by my own hands.”
Omega quietly watched her for a few seconds…. He looked up at the blank sky. “Blinded by absolutes… a phenomena. I’ve watched the struggle of countless men and women and watched as all of their dreams tumbled still. And even as I tell her the future is already written--as a god no less--she still marches on. Such willful ignorance….” He looked back at the golden orb. “Again, you prove that not even I can change the future.”
Light bloomed from the large, arched windows as faint rays touched the red and black marble floor. The red hues of the floor trailed from the giant double doors to the stairs and up, resembling a red carpet. Statues of men and women in armor faced inward and lined both sides of the trail of red marble. Each struck a different pose, their valiant stances accentuated by the rays of light from the windows at their backs. Despite their different shapes and armors, they each held the same weapon in their hands. A hefty broadsword with a winged guard.
Up the stairs opposite to the double doors sat a black-framed and red-cushioned throne. A statue of a woman in flowing robes and armor on both sides stood frozen in a graceful pose. They both reached out to each other with closed eyes and a soft grin, mirroring each other in every way. Golden light from the colored windows behind the throne shimmered upon the dozens of blades and shields that decorated the back of the dark-colored throne.
Kara appeared crouched on her left knee several meters from the stairs and facing the throne. She stood and took a quick glance around before making her way to the stairs. “Ganyu,” she called.
The pointy nose of a middle-aged man appeared from behind the throne. His partially bald head shimmered the golden glow from the windows as he walked out. “I trust your glimpse in the Time Nexus was uneventful, My King?” He stood at the left side of the throne, his hands behind his back.
Kara made her way up the stairs with haste. “Send a conference call to the Council immediately.”
Ganyu watched her for a moment, his brown eyes studying the frown on her face for a moment. He then held up his left forearm to chest level. “Right away,” he said, typing upon a small holo-screen that appeared upon his said forearm.
She dropped into her throne with an exhale and slouched, arms resting on the arms of the seat. Her eyes only watched the ceiling for a short moment before closing.
Ganyu watched her through the corner of his eyes, his hands once again behind his back.
“Hmph,” she lightly laughed. It then grew into a faint chuckle.
Ganyu’s brows rose slightly as his head turned to her. “Is everything alright?”
Kara watched the ceiling again. “I suppose it was quite a shock at first. How could I expect something like that after five hundred years of nothing.” She grinned. “I should be panicking, but for some reason, I can’t help but feel… excited.”
“I’m afraid I’ve no clue what you’re talking about.”
Seven blue projections blinked into reality around the front of her throne. Men and women in clothing similar to Ganyu’s and ages ranging at least a decade past their younthful Monarch. They each appeared with a slight bow, their right fist held over their heart.
Kara’s grin faded into a thin line. “Wasted no time, I see.” Her eyes glistened the blue color of the holograms.
“Your Majesty,” the man in the middle said, “it’s a pleasure to be in your presence.” They all stood straight. “It’s not like you to call upon the Council after the divination.”
The woman in the group added, “So we figured this to be of dire importance.”
“Indeed,” Kara said with a smirk, “the fate of the world has finally revealed itself.”