Chapter 1, Part 1:
The mid-afternoon sun shone brightly as I nonchalantly strolled through the town gates. The sounds of children playing happily and adults laughing at their amusing little jokes wafted by slowly, peacefully. Everything was happy. Everyone was happy. The perfect day, in a perfect world. I knew better, scoffing at the unawareness of those who did not know; the people who, even now, wouldn't give a damn about what was coming if they knew. Then I remembered how I felt, all those years ago, before death had numbed my senses.
My weapons gently rocked with the breeze, the brown hilt of my sword gently nudging my hard leather belt. My brown pants blended with the dirt, as my black cloak blew with the breeze. My raven-colored hair gently blew along with the harmony of the rest of my equipment. I re-strapped my glove on, belted on as it was. It was coming. It would soon be here. My Soulbind, a circular pendant with unique powers, gently padded my chest. A feeling had overtaken me; the feeling of blissful, unending happiness that experience had taught me was merely an illusion.
I looked toward the source of the wind. Vengeance would soon be mine, for everyone I loved, and everyone I cared for. The wind blew again, harder this time, and with an entirely different feel. I felt the malevolence that this wind carried. So evil, it was, that if wind had color, this wind would be the color of freshly-drawn blood. A few more minutes, I thought, A few more, and vengeance for everything, will be mine.
Just as I was about to charge into the wind, a voice knocked me off-guard. "Hello there!"
I spun on my heels, looking at the villager, who wore a hat with pieces of straw sticking out. His blue overalls were muddy and brown, and he had a pistol in a holster along his belt. "How do you like our peaceful town?" he asked, smiling.
"It won't be
very peaceful if you distract me." I replied harshly, the man stepping back.
"Why you--! I oughta teach you a lesson!" he exclaimed, drawing his gun. What a pain, I thought as he aimed his pistol. I grabbed the barrel of the pistol in an instant, tossing it across the empty lot. Then, the malevolence increased, and I realized that the fear on his face was not geared towards me.
"Oh, cra--" I managed to say, as the sky burned red. The man started to scream, looking around. The sky burned, more and more red as time passed. I grabbed the hilt of my blade, realizing that I had lost track of where the wind was coming from, as it was now coming from everywhere. A flash of red consumed everything I could see; the screams of innocents all around the town ensuing. I fell to the ground, pain through my chest. The red turned black, and I found myself in a void. A familiar, blank, dark, void.
I dragged myself into what I assumed was an upright position, and looked around, seeing the familiar purple ripples that encircled the chasm of what was death. "I was so close...!" I said, looking down. I closed my eyes, and opened them to find the village destroyed. Pulling a sword out of my chest, I examined the blood that dripped off of the blade. The gash healed instantaneously, and I dropped the blade, looking around. Then I felt a burning sensation, familiar yet unloved. It grew, pain reverberating throughout my body. It burned my very soul, and I coughed blood. The world grew bigger, as I grew smaller. It was happening. I was reincarnating.
I tossed my clothes aside, now too small for them, and smashed down the weak door to the tailors, taking my time browsing through the limited selection. "Dammit..." I muttered, tossing aside a worthless rag that used to be pants, "sometimes, Immortality can be a real pain..." I stopped looking through the clothes, and stared at the necklace that was still around my neck. The mystical item, marked with the crest of the Immortal society, Those Who Cannot Die, kept my memories and magical power intact, however it left much to be desired. I now had to re-train myself, and gain my muscles and flexibility back, my ten-year-old body was useless at the moment.
I had finally found a tunic when I heard a small whimpering. Pulling on the dirt-brown tunic, I ran outside the tailors toward the source of the sound. To my surprise, I had found a survivor.
Chapter 1 Part 2
The village lay in ruin. The sole survivors of the dreaded event stared, each at what the other considered a miracle: another survivor.
The small boy wearing a dirt-brown tunic took a step forward. The cowering woman stared in awe and fear. The boy offered her a hand to help her up.
"You survived..." the boy muttered,as the woman grabbed his hand, and was pulled to her feet. The boy was still amazed at her survival.
"Who are you?" the woman asked, standing at twice the size of the young, fair-haired boy. He seemed so small, so defenseless...
"Call me Isaac," the boy said, turning his back to walk away. "You are very lucky that you are still alive."
The woman looked at the boy, still amazed at his courage. She followed him through broken buildings and passages, over shattered glass until they reached the ruined town square. The woman could not help but notice the black sky with ripples of purple.
"If I am lucky to have survived, how..." the woman started, and the boy stopped in his tracks, his head, fallen.
"I didn't survive." Isaac said, pointing to the carnage across the square, where he had been standing when he died. His body; large, muscular, with raven-colored hair, lay lifeless against the body of the villager.
"A...a ghost?" the woman whispered, walking over to the body, lifting it off of the villager. She tenderly closed the eyes of Isaac's old body.
"No. Just a new body." Isaac muttered, looking at the black, circular pendant around his neck. "It is a few steps beyond human comprehension, but I am an Immortal warrior." he paused, leaning against a building. "I can never, ever, truly and officially be dead."
The woman looked at the boy, examining his bronze-colored eyes, which spoke of eons of age. His body betrayed this, however. She had deemed the boy had gone mad.
"Child, you don't have to pretend," the woman muttered, "you can cry. I know what it is like to lose your family..."
The boy looked up at the woman, raising an eyebrow. "What are you talking about?" he asked, letting his pendant drop to his chest.
"You don't have to pretend that you are immortal..." the woman said, her eyes tearing up. "I-I'll take care of you...!"
Isaac's mouth dropped. "Excuse me? Pretending!" he looked the woman in the eyes wit ferocity. "I assure you, woman, that I am NOT pretending!"
The woman slapped Isaac, "You will not speak to the woman who is going to take care of you in such a manner!" she hissed, Isaac recoiling from the startling gesture.
"Listen to me. I am much older than I look!" Isaac said, raising his voice. "Thousands of years, I have been hunting the thing that destroyed this village, the 'Red Flash' Disease!" he gestured around the square, hinting at the carnage that even now, sprawled all around them.
The woman merely stared at the kid. Once again noting his eyes, but appalled by their contrast to his childish body.
"Hundreds of warriors and beasts, going at lightspeed! I have been killed many times by their hand!" Isaac kept exclaiming, until he was out of breath.
"You really have gone mad..." the woman muttered.
"Mad? I am well beyond that." Isaac stated, regaining his posture. "When you cannot truthfully die, you go past mad." Folding his arms, he began walking away from the woman.
"Why do you keep insisting on the impossible?" the woman asked, looking at the boy with empathy.
"Because," Isaac stated, his anger returning, "what you claim is impossible is, indeed, completely possible. And it happens more than you think." Isaac started walking in a new direction. The woman followed, and eventually, the town gates came into view.
"Please, at least let me take care of you..." the woman said slowly, through timed breaths.
"Fine!" the boy shouted, punching the arch of the gate, and watched it fall to the gound, taking the rest of the dilapidated structure with it. "What is your name?" he asked, breathing so hard his shoulder moved to rhythm.
"Rose." the woman stated, a smile overtaking her face. She would do her best to take care of this child. No matter what. The boy was surprised that she managed to ignore the fact that he had broken a large stone arch with his bare fist alone, even though he enhanced the impact with magic.Isaac led Rose outside the broken gates, the carnage spreading even beyond the village gates. Trees were still smoldering, axes and blades left deep inside the charred, black bark, which only barely remained intact on the trunk.
Rose winced at the sight of everything that she had known in its dilapidated, wrecked state. The sky granted no light, a miasma of evil blocking most senses. The sun and moon were covered with pure malevolence. Her light whimpering was the only sound in the dead, rotting forest.
Isaac looked around the clearing, destroyed and ghastly. He slowly thought about what Rose had said. He scoffed. His real family was the first victims of the “Red Flash” Disease. The memories of that day were burned into his soul. Watching his family’s corpses, without a clue why he had survived.
That was when he met Cornelius, the man who had taught him all about his powers, all about the “Red Flash” Disease, how to stop it, and the one who gave him the Soulbind. Around his sixteenth life, he and Cornelius, and each their own adventures.
That was over seven hundred years ago, in the year 530. Since then, he had secluded himself from others, he was the only flower that would not wilt, and refused the pain of loss by being with others that would.
The overall journey through the forest was quiet and peaceful, albeit unsettling and oppressing. Isaac and Rose had finally made their way outside the destruction. The lights of another town sparkled in the distance. At least the “Red Flash” hadn’t spread this far, Isaac admitted to himself in his mind. The “Red Flash” only struck once a decade.
Isaac and Rose walked toward the town gates, which were shut and locked tightly. Isaac walked over to a side of the wall, sitting down against it. Isaac looked at Rose, expecting her to be as comfortable as he is on the ground. After laying on the ground, Rose woke about an hour later, complaining of pain.
“Oh come on,” Isaac said, disappointed, “I thought you were supposed to be taking care of me. Not the other way around.” At Isaac’s snide comment, Rose shut her mouth. She had never been a mother before, but she knew that she needed to take care of him. She needed to show strength.
The sun broke over the horizon. Isaac stood to look over at the gates, which made creaking noises. Isaac stood to walk toward the gate, cold and unfeeling toward the half-awake woman who started to walk after him.
February 18,1250-My Day of Regret
Of that day, the day I met Rose, I remember much. Her beautiful, brunette hair, her hazel eyes. It almost made me realize that unlike me, mortals don’t last forever. The gates opened, and I led Rose through the sprawling, sun-baked town. The people there all seemed as though they were from the desert or travel there often. Their heads were veiled by sweat-soaked white cloth. The skin that was still visible was contrasting tanned brown against the whites of their eyes. Their turbans were reflected the brilliant light of the burning sun.
The massive crowds were overwhelming, people everywhere doing most everything. The noises of the crowds blurred into a mulled roar, each different conversation indecipherable from the others. I felt small, and yet, knew my story, my life, was so much more important than theirs. My goal was more important. Rose tagged behind me, to my annoyance, and to my internal happiness that I lied to myself wasn’t there. I shouldered my way through two more tall, white-garbed people, Rose squeezing in-between them.
Today was the last day I would see these faces. I resolved that I would leave her behind. I couldn’t have her with me anyway; my work was too dangerous. We made our way throughout the town, ducking and weaving through crowds, and finally made our way to what I assumed was the church. The windows boarded shut, the doors dilapidated, and the small murmur of people on the inside. At three stories, the gothic architecture was almost surreal.
If nowhere else, I could leave her at the church. That is what I thought at the time. Little did I know, this small decision, in a small town, over such a small matter, would change my life eternally.
The people sat in rows, the man in front reciting a sermon about God. The men on the right sat attentive, their bibles out and reading intently. The people on the left were drunken, and acting as though they were there for something else. The church itself was in a truly decrepit state. The stained glass lay shattered across the whole room, the statues of important deities lay in disrepair. Not many people cared about religion in this town, Isaac thought. The large path in between the benches the people sat was covered with a shabby dull red carpet, torn and ripped in a way that one step you were on the carpet, the next was on the dull, brown floor.
Rose shuddered behind him, looking at all the shady people. Isaac had experience with drunken men, having been one himself. Two men looked at Isaac, followed by Rose, and stood in their way.
“What business have you here?” the one on the left, wearing a turban that covered his face on purpose. His hand on the hilt of his blade, he looked at Rose with scornful black eyes. Isaac motioned for them to move, but they didn’t. “I repeat, what do you want?” Isaac looked up to the man, scanning every aspect of the man. He had several wounds through training, particularly around his wrists and knees. This was obvious from his slightly limp stance, as well as the way he held his sword. All weaknesses he could exploit if need be.
“I need a place to stay,” Isaac stated dully, not paying much attention to the other guard, as he had no weapon drawn. Footsteps could be heard behind Isaac, the whole church had evacuated. Isaac raised an eyebrow. The halls no longer echoed with the minister’s voice. Isaac wasn’t that terrifying, was he?
The guard drew his blade, Isaac in response stood ready to disarm. Over a thousand years of training in combat, Isaac’s only disadvantage was his height and strength of body. The guard had many more disadvantages. He swung his blade from the right, his wrist was angled oddly, giving Isaac his chance.
Ducking under the blade, Isaac grabbed the guard’s wrist. He twisted it clockwise, then counter-clockwise, and repeated the process, harder each time, until the guard let go screaming in pain. Grabbing the sword, Isaac spun around the guard, trapping the guard’s good leg and stunning him. Isaac then used the momentum he had created and slammed the blunt side of the blade into the back of the guard’s weak knee, forcing him to his knees. Isaac then grabbed him by the back of the neck, lifting the poor, pain-weakened guard up, and threw him into the ground face first. The guard rolled in pain, his belly facing up again. Putting the blade to the guard’s throat, the man looked wide-eyed at Isaac, his face covered in rivulets of blood, his left eye steadily watering. The guard would pose no more danger, so Isaac backed away from the agonized man.
Isaac looked toward the other guard now, who had his blade out as well. Examining the guard, he noticed that this guard had nowhere near as many weaknesses as the one he had just incapacitated. But the man still had wounds from the past.
This guard had been whipped in the past, his posture showed that. Maybe a traumatic injury as a child caused the weakness in his ankle. Isaac, however, focused on disarming the man. He had no desire to kill. Not yet. His analysis was complete when the man attacked. His elbow wasn’t locked with the blade, his attack range shortened. Isaac ducked and weaved through the flurry of incorrect chances. Isaac was appalled at how badly the man fought. He almost wasn’t worth defeating. After ducking under a left horizontal slash, Isaac grabbed the elbow, twisting the elbow left. Hard. He kept going, until he heard a crack, and the guard dropped his weapon.
Isaac used the guard’s weight, tossing him across into a row of seats. Isaac had forgotten about Rose until now, looking at her face. It was filled with terror, as she gazed behind Isaac. Wait, behind me? Isaac thought, looking down and seeing a large shadow. A large mass landed on Isaac, holding him down by the throat.
“You little bastard!” he exclaimed, his face covered by steel. “You will pay!” Isaac sighed. He had hoped not to use magic anytime soon. He lifted the man off of him, his hand glowing with the blue magical energy that emanated from his soul. The man’s eyes grew. Isaac tossed the man into one of the boarded-up windows, which splintered and cracked under his immense weight. The cries of people ensued, the people never suspecting a little boy to defeat trained guards.
Isaac walked over to Rose, who he expected to run in fear. To his surprise, she didn’t. She gulped, and started walking towards Isaac. This woman was getting on Isaac’s nerves. She should have run. Run at her first chance; run when they had first met. But she didn’t. Isaac toyed the thought of killing her, and being done with it, but decided against. What had she truly done to him? She posed no threat. However, Isaac needed to get away. Get away before he had become attached.
Run, dammit! Isaac found himself thinking. Come on, you have to! If you don’t, you will only cause us both pain. He was desperate to scream it, but something stopped him. Something he feared. The pain of loss. He needed to get away, and fast.
This church had been a failure of a place to drop her off, so he left the building. The crowds of people now centered around the heavily injured body of the third guard. Rose made motions to go see him, and Isaac hoped she would, but she stuck with him. The buildings of the next slum he had found were even worse than the church. Isaac looked around at the shady people, each one drinking or looking at Rose, save for a home full of courtesans, who all eyed Isaac fondly. Isaac considered leaving Rose with them, but decided against it. She shouldn’t sell her body on the streets like those rats. Darn it! Why do I even care? Isaac thought, punching himself. It wasn’t for a few minutes that Isaac realized that he had lost his shadow.
Isaac spun and backtracked. This definitely was not the place to lose her. As much as Isaac hated himself for caring, he did. Looking around, he saw many people. But no Rose. Isaac realized he had made a mistake, leading Rose through here. There were rapists, slavers, courtesans, anything and everything to taint a soul.
Courtesans then surrounded Isaac, all more than likely hoping for Isaac to give in to his desire. Little did they know, Isaac had long since grown past this desire. They would not cease surrounding him, however.
“Hey there, kid…wanna come back to my place?”, “I could show you a great time, kid!”, “Lets spend some alone time, just you…and me.” Were among the things the courtesans said, still trying to get Isaac to give in. More annoying than anything, in Isaac’s opinion. He shoved through the courtesans, looking for Rose. Men stood, others watched. Three men drew daggers, walking towards Isaac.
“C’mon, kid…wanna piece of me…?” he muttered, his pupils different sizes. The other men merely followed him. Isaac sighed.
“Get out of my way.” Isaac said in a commanding voice. All three men pounced, Isaac easily stepping out of the way. Isaac analyzed all three, taking mental notes of how dumb they were to get drunk before a fight. The leader came after Isaac, trying to punch him with his left hand. Isaac grabbed the fist, pulling the man closer. He grabbed the knife, stabbing the man from his waistline and pulling the knife to his arm on the same side, careful not to damage any major organs, but incapacitating the man nonetheless.
Gripping the bloodied knife, Isaac looked at the others, whose faces showed the fear from their soul. Dropping their weapons, they ran. Isaac cleaned the knife on the man on the ground, and grabbed its sheath.
Isaac belted the sheath on to his tunic, inserting the small weapon. A knife was better than nothing, he thought. Isaac looked around for Rose again. If she wasn’t here now, then she either ran or was never here. It would be so much easier if it was the former…but I can’t take that chance…merda…
Isaac walked back through the city, looking around for Rose. He was getting nowhere, and it was beginning to frustrate him. He had made it to town square, filled with people from everywhere, traders, travelers, locals. No Rose, however. He walked to the fountain in the center of the square, the place deserted save for one man. A man Isaac recognized. The man was wearing a hood, and cloaked in a manner that none could see his face. Odd, Isaac thought. He was usually such a cheerful guy.
“Cornelius!” Isaac exclaimed, walking up to the man. His eyes widened in surprise to Isaac’s presence. He stood, his brown cloak swaying with every movement.
“Isaac! Long time no see!” the man exclaimed, removing his hood. “What are you doing in the outskirts of Rimini?” he asked, his face bright and optimistic as it always was.
“I could ask the same of you. And why the hood?” Isaac asked, the elation already over. Cornelius sat against the fountain again, looking at Isaac.
“Well, you see…” he said, looking behind Isaac. “I got in a bit of a hairy situation, and need to hide.” He put his hood back on, folding his hands and leaning forward so none could see his face.
“Who were you caught cheating on this time?” Isaac said, sitting by Cornelius.
“Well, er…” Cornelius started, “…I married the figlia da il sindaco, the daughter of the mayor…” Isaac slapped his own face. “…and he wants grandchildren…”
“I thought you learned this lesson. Che dolore! What a pain!” Isaac sighed. Cornelius looked around the square, shaking nervously.
“Well, we had been happily married until he decided to want a grandchild…” Cornelius muttered. “Normally I’d be happy to oblige, unfortunately after reincarnation, I no longer have what is needed for that…” He sighed. “That, or, I am just a really unlucky bastard.”
“Listen, Cornelius,” Isaac said, “I have a problem of my own, one that a mezzano such as yourself can help with.”
“Just because I love them doesn’t mean I manage who they sleep with.” Cornelius said. Isaac sat cross-armed, looking at Cornelius, who finally started laughing. “Fine. What do you need?”
“If I needed to know the location of a specific woman, where would I find her?” Isaac asked, Rose still plaguing his mind. Cornelius groaned.
“Well, it all depends. Recent or…” Cornelius started, looking up.
“Yes, recent. Her name is Rose, and…” Isaac started, Cornelius raised his hand.
“Rose? Only one Rose in this town. She is recent, too. A ruckus started over her and a few slavers a few hours ago. She was screaming...my god! Sono stato così stupido! I have been so stupid! She was screaming for you!” he stood, motioning for Isaac to follow. “Come, follow me!” He called, beginning to run. Isaac stood and followed, angered at himself for even asking. His goal was to dump her, and yet here he was trying to get her back? Why? The question stuck in his head.
The town gates began to close under the setting sun, Isaac and Cornelius already well beyond. Cornelius had been following a trail that looked as though it was from a horse-drawn carriage. The major town of Rimini could be seen in the distance, the smell of the sea filling Isaac’s nostrils. He preferred the smell of Venetian waters to the sea, but in the end it wasn’t his choice.
A horse-drawn carriage flew by, a blur against the rest of the forest. Isaac stopped for a moment, but decided to continue. Cornelius and Isaac arrived at Rimini, where there was a gathered crowd. Cornelius was backing away.
“Now, now…I am not cheating on you, dear…” Cornelius stammered, staring at a blonde-haired, brown-eyed, light-skinned, fabulously garbed woman. “…j-just give me a chance. You have to understand, I don’t want children!”
“Come now, how can you not want a child?” the woman demanded, stepping up to Cornelius. “The process isn’t hard…” she gingerly touched Cornelius’ chin, smiling.
“B-but…” Cornelius muttered, “…I don’t want a child! I…I can’t!” Isaac grinned at Cornelius’ act. Over two thousand years of practice, Isaac supposed.
“What do you mean, you can’t? Come, talk with me.” She ordered, her men grabbing Cornelius by each arm and carrying him off. Isaac stayed hidden. This was Cornelius’ problem, not his. He quickly made his way into Rimini, staying good distance behind Cornelius and his wife.
The gothic architecture of Rimini didn’t startle Isaac. In fact, it hadn’t been too long since he had been on the Eastern coast of Italy. One or two hundred years, give or take a few decades, he mused. He took a side street, separating his path from Cornelius’, and eventually made his way to the main streets. He was looking for slavers.
March 2, 1250-A Glimpse of What Was to Come
The next few weeks of looking for Rose were quite uneventful. I learned much about the city of Rimini, currently under the power of the Malatesta family. I had interrogated many slave traders, tortured some, killed others. My entire time there, I hadn’t seen Cornelius once. I assumed that would take on another form the next time I saw him; after all, his wife would probably have him executed. Not that it would really do anything, Cornelius would merely bounce right back.
In my time without her, I realized how valuable she could have been. Everything I was missing out on. Now that I realized that I still felt the pain of loss. I had tried so long to numb myself to it: I avoided relationships with people, rejected many kindnesses, even fled their hospitalities, but that pain found me. Found me where I hid from it most. Found me in time.
The search was that much harder without Cornelius there. Why did I have to get attached? Why don’t I walk away now? These questions filled my head as I desperately ransacked two houses, looking for any clues about her. It was sometime around then I decided to look toward the higher powers, to acquire the assistance of the Malatesta family.
I stood at the gates to the mansion, the gothic style of the building oppressing my very being. The stone arches and gargoyles set around the large stained-glass windows repelled visitors, their stony gaze inviting death and suffering to any who passed, or stared too long into their grey-blue weatherworn eyes. The only one among them scarier was me—my inner darkness. The hatred of all those wars I had fought so long ago. On the battlefield, as I am sure you have realized by now from my tale, I was Death. Indestructible. I was the unstoppable Roman soldier, the one of which many tales have been told.
I had been called the God of Death, the Grim Reaper, the Disease upon mankind. I slaughtered many an enemy, their faces of fear fill my vision to this day. And I knew, that war would never cease to plague me. My war on the “Red Flash”, the wars of Rome, even the war to save Earth. That, however, is a story for another time.
Isaac looked the two bodyguards in their eyes, hoping to avoid conflict so early. If need be, he would kill everything here, nothing would, and certainly nothing could, stop him. The guards naturally blocked his way.
“What business have you amongst the Malatesta?” the one on the left asked, his face covered completely with the steel mask. His burly frame made him a seemingly overwhelming opponent, but the weight also slowed him down. He also had slight weakness in his knees, if attacked correctly he would be incapable of standing back up.
“I am here to seek the guidance of the good Malatesta da Verruchio.” Isaac stated calmly, silently placing his hand on the hilt of his knife, the weapon to grant him entry should things get ugly. The man turned and entered the large building, the other guard watching him closely.
“What is it that you wish guidance on?” the man asked, showing signs of sympathy. Isaac studied him closely. A burly frame, just like the other, but this man seemed more fit as a farmer than a guard.
“The matters are private, thank you. What are you doing as a guard? You seem more like a—”
“Farmer? Yeah, I get that quite a bit.” He answered. “My father before me trained me to fight, fight off what was plaguing our ranch. One day when I returned home from gathering supplies, everything was destroyed.”
“Destroyed?” Isaac questioned, suspecting the “Red Flash” Disease.
“Yes. The sky was black, with ripples of purple. My family…” he said, slowly, “…my family lay slaughtered. The house burned to the ground, as well as all the cattle being mutilated and dead.”
“The ‘Red Flash’.” Isaac commented. “A plague upon the Earth. Certainly you are lucky not to have been caught by it.” The guard leaned against the gate. “My family died gruesome deaths as well. The house collapsed on us. My sister’s demolished face, my father’s bloody body…those never left my mind.”
The guard dismissed any thoughts of what Isaac had said. The other had exited the building, motioning for Isaac to follow. The guard by the gate held his tears, clearly Isaac had touched an old wound. This made him feel at the very least slightly better: he wasn’t the only one suffering at the hands of the Disease.
The vibrant red carpets sprawled out through the building, though the only bright color in the hall. The dark grey bricks and dull burning torches dampened the mood of the room drastically, sending Isaac’s brief happiness down a pit of despair. The guard clearly was no longer affected by the malicious darkness of the corridor, though Isaac detected a slight shiver go through the guard’s spine. The silence matched the hall, which went on seemingly without end.
The guard’s baldric had a broadsword attached, keeping it better than glued to his back, but was easily drawn if needed. His brown hair shown slightly from his reflective metallic helm, the sounds of his heavy footprints echoed throughout the hallway.
Finally, a door appeared, metal engravings and runes shone all over the door, the symbol of the Malatesta family crest, destroyed upon the face of the door. The guard opened it, a vast, bowl-like room spanned before him. The floor had a steady downwards incline, a hill sloped inwards. Isaac slid to the center of the room, looking around at the chains that hung from the ceiling.
Isaac sighed, looking at the darkened walls. He hadn’t found the Malatesta house. He should have suspected as much. Cracking his neck, Isaac looked at the chairs that stood before him now. Three shadowed figures sat in them.
“Child!” the man in the center shouted, standing, “What do you seek?” Isaac folded his arms, looking at the figure, whose features no longer existed due to the darkness in the room.
“I seek slave traders.” Isaac said. “Specific ones. Ones carrying a young woman named Rose.”
The man stepped out from the shadows. “I am Lord Cyrus. Hello, Isaac.” Isaac raised an eyebrow. “Shocked? She has told me much about you. About your power, your skill, your mission, even that which I find the best.” He smirked devilishly. “What I want the most, and what I will force from you. Your Immortality.”
Isaac started laughing hysterically. “Honestly? You must be joking.” The mood of the room returned to Isaac quickly. “Now, where is Rose? I wish to leave.”
Lord Cyrus snickered. “I don’t believe you get it. You aren’t leaving. And if you resist, we will kill Rose.” Isaac smirked.
“Go ahead. Saves me the trouble.”
“Truly? Then why do you put so much effort into finding her?”
“Simple. I want to know whether or not I have to kill her.” Isaac stated, knowing that deep inside this wasn’t the truth. He wanted her, and at the same time, knew she would die without him. He had to resist.
“If that is true,” Lord Cyrus mentioned, grabbing the figure to his left, “then you won’t mind her death right now.” There she stood; Rose. Her eyes were shut as if unconscious, her mouth gagged and her hands tied behind her back.
“Go right on ahead.” Isaac said, mentally shielding his eyes.
“Actually, I have a better idea. I shall marry her.” He said, throwing her back into the chair.
“Good luck with keeping me here for that.” Isaac muttered. “Now, if you’ll excuse me…”
“You really care for her, don’t you? Otherwise you would stay. Stay and witness what would agonize a normal man.” Cyrus called.
“You are right. I care the world for her.” Isaac said, leaving. “Bye now.”
“Very well then. Men!” Cyrus called, “Show the Immortal his quarters for the rest of his existence.” A group of four guards came out of the shadows, fully armed. Isaac scoffed, drawing his dagger. Gripping the hilt, he glanced at each of his foes, almost copies of the guards outside. The disadvantages here were, of course, the bowl style of the room, everything was pulled to the center. Also, Isaac now had no escape, the bowl had sunk below the door, walls filled with mechanical devices the kind of which Isaac had never seen before now surrounded him.
The walls, however, granted him a weapon. An angle that hadn’t existed previously. All Isaac needed was to get near the wall, and a whole world of skills would be his for that one strike. Even killing all four of them at once with naught but a dagger.
The sound of gears filled the room, the guards circling. Like hawks around their prey. Isaac slowly made his way towards the walls, their circle closing in. Tension hung on every breath, the only thing that truly made Isaac comfortable was the air, fresh and ready for blood to fill it. The visions of those ancient battlefields filled his mind; the Romans. His brothers, his family, what he needed to escape from the most.
A guard pounced, using his weight in an attempt to take Isaac down, which he easily avoided. Another guard took him from the left, forcing him skyward, spinning. He landed on his side, his dagger landing blade-first into the ground three feet away from him. Another guard stomped on Isaac, keeping him down by leaning all his weight onto the small child. Pain reverberated throughout Isaac’s body, visions of Rome flooding his eyes. Visions of the dead, the screams of agony, the ride for glory.
Isaac channeled his Astral Energy into his arms, pushing his way up against the guard, who looked wide-eyed at the child, who stood abruptly, sending him flying. Cyrus stared from his seat atop the sunken bowl battlefield, his eyes widened with awe. Such power must be his!
Drawing their blades, Isaac somersaulted, grabbing the dagger out of the ground, snapping part of the blade off. “Merda!” Isaac exclaimed, the guards all charging in to knock him out. Isaac ducked under one guard’s legs, spinning and somersaulting backwards, getting all of his targets in front of him. He backed toward the wall, the guards all steadily following him. The one he had knocked over had now stood once more, his humiliated face covered by steel. The sound of gears filled his ears, they all charged, Isaac spun and began to run up the wall, letting his momentum carry him against the pull of gravity.
Leaping off the wall, Isaac now had his chance. All four could now die in one torturous combo. Isaac landed on one guard’s shoulders, a pop telling him that the man’s spine had now been dislocated. Isaac placed his foot on the guard’s face, launching into another guard, who had spun with shock in his face. Isaac slammed the dagger through the man’s heart, another piece of the blade shattering within. Landing, he stabbed the guard to his left’s shin, bringing him down making it easy for Isaac to grab a hold of the guard’s shoulder. Landing on his back, he leaped off, the last guard watching in horror as his death descended upon him.
Isaac had stabbed the man’s throat, blood spurting out in a glorious dark red. Rome still flooded his mind, particularly the war with Alban. The screams of men and the deaths of many—surprisingly, it seemed to no longer faze him. Bloodshed’s effect dulls after centuries of war.
“So, Immortal, you seem to be an adept fighter.” Cyrus said, smiling grandly. “But I must ask, how long can you endure this torment?”
“That depends,” Isaac said, tossing aside his shattered knife, “how many men do you have?” Cyrus merely smiled.
“Not enough, apparently.” Cyrus said, looking down. “But I wasn’t asking about them.” Isaac raised an eyebrow.
“What?” Isaac asked, kneeling to grab a sword. “I don’t get—” The sound of buzzing filled the arena. Gates opened around him, hundreds of insects swarmed out.
“Against man, you seem to be a god. But what about insects?” He called, a net screen now covering the top of the pit. Isaac looked around, the buzzing blocking all other sound. He swung his blade at the insects, soon realizing the futility of attacking. The insects landed on him, and began feasting. Isaac dropped his blade, holding his arms out, and fell backwards. The biting, the buzzing, the biting, the buzzing…
Everything went black, Isaac found himself floating again. But something had changed this time. Something else was there. Something sinister. Visions filled his mind. People dressed in green and brown, with large black metal machines, firing small metal pellets and making loud noises. Explosions sounded in the distance, dismembered body parts remained scattered around the battlefield. The dirt reflected the sun in a dull golden-brown, the dust tinting the sky and air as well.
Two people had lay still, both panting. One had been missing his leg, the other’s face had been covered by the bloody gore of the battlefield. By the time Isaac looked around to wonder where he was, the vision was over. The world had returned to darkness, leaving Isaac to wonder what had happened.
The burning sensation had overtaken him, his blonde hair turning brown. His eyes shut tight, his body morphed, his shoulders changing shape as well as his hair growing a small bit. He shrank as well, losing the weeks of life his body had before reincarnation. The world flashed, purple, red, and black. The colors constantly shifted, covering Isaac completely, before he realized he was back in life.
Isaac opened his eyes, his limbs immobile. He was strapped to a wooden board, more than likely a Rack. Looking around, he saw a small room, more than likely a cell. Isaac laid his head back, relaxing himself. Great, he thought, looking to the shadowed and invisible ceiling. The images of what he had seen still were burned into his mind. Not of trauma, but rather, of intrigue. He wondered what was happening, and how their warfare was different than his own. How not only life would change but who he would be by then.
A noise could be heard at the end of the hallway. Isaac moved his head, looking to see Cyrus. Isaac smirked, looking at him.
“So, you won. What now?” Isaac asked, smirking. He could stand pain, and didn’t mind death, so what could torture do to him?
“Now, we figure out how you Reincarnate.” Cyrus said, walking over to a corner of the room. Isaac sighed.
“How we Reincarnate? Simple. I am Immortal.” Cyrus stopped, looking at Isaac.
“Yes but, what made you Immortal?” He poked Isaac’s forehead. “That brain of yours must contain such vast amounts of knowledge. Of power.”
“I don’t know how I came to be. I was adopted almost two thousand years ago by nice people. They were killed.” Isaac explained. “The only one I know who would know that is nowhere near here.”
“Oh? More Immortals?” Cyrus said, grabbing a knife, “That sounds intriguing. But tell me more about you.”
“Not much to say.” Isaac said with a monotonous voice.
“You must be kidding me, almost two thousand years and no story to tell.” Cyrus said, walking around Isaac. “No story at all? Dormant all these years?” He grabbed a handle, and began turning it, pressure increasing on Isaac’s limbs. He was being pulled apart.
“Torture will grant you nothing.” Isaac said, ignoring the increasing pressure, which quickly became pain. The pain increased, a normal man would have been screaming. He had felt worse.
“We shall see, shan’t we?” Cyrus said, motioning for something. “Allow me to introduce you to Lady Rosa, my fiancée.”
“So now you attempt to attack my heart?” Isaac asked, laughing. “I already told you. I have no feelings for her.”
“Oh, dear. It is just as I had told her.” Cyrus said. “Oh well. We shall both live forever, free to rule the world.”
“The world, huh? Pretty big wish.” Isaac remarked, looking upwards, bored.
“So, you will give us your Immortality, and we shall leave you hear to die.” Cyrus said, putting the knife to Isaac’s throat.
“How, exactly, do you plan on doing that?” Isaac asked, raising an eyebrow.
“We shall find out, won’t we, O Ancient One?” Cyrus said, and everything went black.
June 8, 1250-The Note
Over those few months, the pain I felt was near unceasing. My only relief lay with the knowledge that within a hundred years, he would be unsuccessful and I would be free. Each new day, he brought new and frightening devices in, each constituting a new and even worse pain. Time had passed, and I had even started to forget what the sun looked like. It didn’t matter; time was all that stood before me.
The day soon came, however. The day I escaped. And it came from a person I never would have expected; one I had always pushed away. However, after that day I never saw that person. All I have left is the Note left behind, still blood-spattered.
“Wake up!” Isaac heard, pain circulating through his latest body. Bright red hair now accompanied his bronze eyes, his body that of a severely beaten ten-year-old. Scars around his shoulders, bruises anywhere you looked, but he still stood from his hard, wooden bed as if it was nothing.
“Who are you?” Isaac called, dazed and slightly confused. After a few moments of silence, he realized the cell door was opened, his wrists unshackled. He walked toward the door, looking down each end of the hallway. The pain throbbed within his shoulder. He considered killing himself to relieve the pain, but decided against, as that would take too much time.
Isaac leaned against the cool dungeon wall, feeling the stone. Which way should he go now? He couldn’t tell. The voice was gone, but something dwelled within him. The malevolence he had felt before now dwelled deep within his heart. Possibly because of all his Reincarnations. Maybe Cornelius would know, but he had to leave.
He began running down the left hall, hoping for the light of the sun. A large door came in front of him, light coming out, piercing the darkness that had taken hold of his soul. He looked inside, seeing the bowl-room. The smell of blood still wafted in the room. He slid to the center, looking around. The arena-like trap was disarmed, for now it seemed. Isaac began climbing the wall, to the throne-like chair of Cyrus’. Reaching the ledge, Isaac clambered over, looking at the three seats.
Isaac spotted a door behind the chairs, black with red arches. Opening it, he saw what looked like a small study. Two book cases lined the walls, one singular chair in the center of the room. On it, a piece of paper, with a bloodied knife covered by a single rose upon it. He picked up the rose, looking over it carefully. “I wonder…” Isaac muttered, grabbing the knife. He looked at the note, covered with blood. “…who was killed here and why?”
The door slammed behind him, and he spun in reaction. The candle on the table was the only lighting. He took the candle, walking towards the door. “Who is there?” he called, his echo the only response. Isaac kicked the door, his leg still sore from the torment he had been put through for the last few months. Sighing, Isaac sat in the small wooden chair, feeling the relief of his legs.
He looked at the note, trying to read what wasn’t covered in blood. It was almost completely illegible, save for the bottom of the note which read: Farewell, Isaac
-Cyrus. It had been written to him, but why? Cyrus never seemed to be the one to give up. Maybe sense had finally come to him, that Immortality wasn’t worth it. Maybe not. He couldn’t find out until he had left the building. Then a thought came to him. A rose covered with blood…was Rose in trouble? Isaac needed to find out.
“No chance of that without getting out of here.” Isaac said to himself, walking again to the door. He slammed against it, using what little Astral Energy he could muster. The door flew open, a tall man standing at it.
“Isaac, where were you?” asked the familiar voice of Cornelius. Isaac looked up in awe, Cornelius’ bronze-colored eyes matching his blonde-colored hair, his skin barely visible in the shadows.
“Cornelius, you jerk…” Isaac muttered, smiling. “…why didn’t you come earlier?”
“I had to skip out on a date.” Cornelius said, turning around. “Besides, I didn’t even know where you were. I only just entered the building.”
“Is anyone else here?” Isaac asked, hopeful that at least Rose was. Knowing Cyrus, however, and his attachment to her, she wouldn’t be.
“Unfortunately, no.” Cornelius muttered, looking at Isaac. “But I do know where that slime Cyrus went.” Isaac gulped. “However, in your condition, you are not going to help her.”
“I don’t get you sometimes.” Isaac said, walking to the chairs, and sitting down.
“Nothing. I have a question, Cornelius,” Cornelius raised an eyebrow. “I have been feeling something…something evil.”
“Something evil? Have you been having visions?” Cornelius questioned, leaning on the chair to Isaac’s left. He nodded, looking forward blankly. “I see. I have been feeling this since long before I met you. If I am correct, these visions are from far into the future, maybe even at the end of the planet.”
Isaac sighed, folding his hands and rested his chin on them. “That is a cheery thought.” He remarked, and Cornelius smiled.
“Maybe, maybe not. I can only assume the end, I cannot truly tell.” He said. “Anyway, they were headed for the Mountain of Life.”
“Mountain of Life?” Isaac asked, looking at Cornelius. “Never heard of it.”
“I know where it is. Supposedly, it is where the Immortals left the planet prior to us.” Cornelius said, “Not much is known, but Cyrus must have found something I never knew.” He stood. “I suspect he has done quite a bit of research on us, considering how much he knew.”
“More than you have?” Isaac asked, a slight smile forming.
“Maybe. That is what I wish to find out.” Cornelius said, walking towards the study. Isaac stood to follow him, but he stopped. “You have to go stop whatever it is he is doing.”
“How? I don’t even know where the Mountain of Life is.” Isaac commented, looking upward to Cornelius’ head was.
“No, no, no…this won’t do…but then again…” Cornelius muttered, grabbing a book off of the shelf. “I forgot what condition you were in…but maybe…”
“Maybe…?” Isaac questioned, trying to keep up with Cornelius, who even now was tearing the room apart, placing some tomes on the table and others on the ground. Isaac looked at the book, but the symbols were antiquated, Isaac had no clue what any of them meant. They weren’t used back in his time.
“This Cyrus fellow certainly knew his archaic symbols…” Cornelius commented. “I haven’t seen them in a long time…”
Isaac sighed and gave up, sitting down. Cornelius slammed one final book onto the table, Isaac looked around on the shelves which were now barren.
Cornelius sat once more, now searching over the various texts and documents he had pulled off the shelves, entranced in whatever story they seemed to offer. He grabbed a quill and began writing different symbols down, all the odd markings forming words in some odd language.
“What are these, Cornelius?” Isaac asked, looking at the odd symbols which formed archaic runes.
“A code. The Timeless Code that this man tried to recreate.” Cornelius answered half-consciously, still writing down the runes almost automatically. “It is our lineage, Isaac! Where we come from. This man gathered quite a bit of information. The question is…” he said, putting the quill down and grabbing more parchment, “…how did he get this information when I still struggle to gather…”
“The Timeless Code?” Isaac asked, leaning on his hand.
“Yes, the Timeless Code! The code which tells of how to gain, or lose, Immortality, as well as how to regain one’s memory after Reincarnation without a Soulbind.” Cornelius explained, holding his hands out in a gesture that told Isaac to stop talking. He took the hint, and stood.
Walking to the doorway, Isaac pondered the note. He held the rose, looking at its delicate, blood-spattered stem. It seemed so innocent, so gentle…why did she have to get involved? Isaac thought, again and again, guilt plaguing his every breath. He stood by the railing, looking down into the bowl-shaped room. What could it mean, and why was Isaac pulled into it? It was always his fault…always.
The sound of Cornelius pouring over his texts and runes, papers flying, and quill scratching at the surface of parchments was easily distinguishable from the silence of the room. Whatever he was feeling, Cornelius had felt it for a much longer amount of time. He stood from the rail, sitting again in the throne-like chair. He then took out the knife, cleaning it of the blood on his tattered prison cloth. Were Cornelius not here, Isaac would exit the building as quickly as possible.
Cornelius slammed something, Isaac quickly checking what had happened. Cornelius sat at the desk, his hands over his head.
“What happened?” Isaac asked, looking over what Cornelius had been doing. It looked like a large circle, many intricate designs that any art connoisseur would pay a fortune for. But there was one piece missing.
“The Timeless Code is missing a fragment.” Cornelius stated grimly.
“Then just fill it in,” Isaac suggested, leaning against the barren, wooden shelves.
“You don’t understand, Isaac.” Cornelius said, slamming his fist on the table, Isaac stepping back in surprise. “The Timeless Code predicts everything that is supposed to happen in existence, as well! Without a final piece…”
“So we don’t have a spoiler to our lives, oh well.” Isaac scoffed. “Cornelius, get over it.”
“It means that the universe will eventually come to an abrupt halt.” Cornelius stated. “My visions, they almost make sense now! But then…” Cornelius said, looking at the symbols, “…look at these symbols, the Runes of Darkness. They foretell the dying of the sun.” he walked around the table as well, looking at various other symbols. “They tell other things…dark things. Mostly about us, but also on humanity’s advancement through ‘science’.”
Isaac stared at him. “I don’t deny human advancement, but the dying of the sun and a halt to the universe? That is kind of extreme, isn’t it?” he asked, standing over the table as well.
“Unfortunately, no. This was written by Ambrose, the King of All.” Cornelius continued examining what he had done.
“You have mentioned him before,” Isaac remarked, looking at Cornelius. “The one who led the Immortals off of Earth.”
“I didn’t understand his motives at first, but this is basically a road map of the Timeline. See this design here?” He pointed near the middle of the circle, “That foretells that if the Immortals stayed, everything would already be dead.”
“But how? How could one man, Immortal or no, foretell all this?” Isaac asked, his skepticism quite apparent.
“The same way you and I get vague images of the future. The difference being in that he is much more adept at it.” Cornelius said, standing erect and folding his arms. “Well, that is obvious from the get-go.”
“If they left before you were born, how do you know all of this?” Isaac asked, rubbing his temples, chasing a headache away.
“I cannot say. Not yet. I need to confirm my suspicions first and foremost.” Cornelius said, leaning against the table. Isaac sighed, placing his hand over his face, his thumb and forefinger touching his temples.
“One of your many shortcomings, Cornelius, is your ambiguity. Say what you mean,” He said, standing to full height.
“I mean, I won’t tell you false facts.” Cornelius said. “For now, lets carry all this out. Once we are gone, we won’t be capable of coming back.”
“There is a rather powerful spell on this building. At certain, randomized points, entering the Malatesta Palazzo will bring you to this horrific torture den.” Cornelius explained. He rolled the Timeless Code into a portable, scroll-like form. He grabbed many tomes, and told Isaac which ones to grab.
The darkened halls seemed to stretch on and on, just as when he had first entered the building. He remembered the guard he had spoken with that day, how they had both suffered from the “Red Flash”. The memory, however, had been broken. He could not remember the sun, nor the clouds. To him, remembering that day was simply imagining him and the guard standing in a dark void, not unlike the one he and Cornelius were walking through now. He had to find Rose, he had to know if she was okay. He just had to…something drove him on.
Cornelius opened the door with his leg, his arms full. “Careful, the light will hurt for a few minutes.” The door opened, the light flooded into the dark corridor. It burned. Isaac closed his eyes, unable to shield them as his arms were preoccupied. Even closed, the light burned his eyes. A bright red color had flooded his vision, rather than the bleak darkness his eyelids usually brought.
Opening his eyes, he managed to squint, gradually letting the light in. He now saw more of Cornelius, his cloak had been replaced with a fine silken shirt, his pants were finely colored black. He wore a small ponytail, his hair parted down the middle. They walked through the gate, the foreboding gargoyles still watching. Isaac admitted to himself, he missed them slightly.
“Nice clothes,” Isaac remarked, looking around at the crowds of people that filled the streets. Beggars, merchants, aristocrats, everything he had been robbed of for a few months. It wasn’t the worst, but it made Isaac realize what it was to be robbed of something, even if you didn’t think much of it.
“The same could be said of you, Isaac. Now come, our estate is this way.” Cornelius said, walking around the corner. Isaac followed, the building now surrounding him on either side. “Welcome to my estate. You see, my wife and I divorced, and I made off with her fortune by some miracle.” Isaac smirked, rolling his eyes.
The bright, colorful mansion sprawled out before him, the shrubbery pristine, even compared to the green grass of which the front garden had to offer. Servants tended the plants, visitors admired the view. It almost compensated for the months of pure darkness Isaac had gone through.
Cornelius talked with a slave, they both nodded, and agreed with whatever they were talking about. Isaac didn’t pay attention, something else was nagging at his conscience, something darker. Isaac had no thoughts about the presence in that void before now. Why did it plague him now?
A servant took the documents and tomes from him, catching him off guard. He almost attacked, but then he realized it was probably his orders.
“Come, now Isaac. Let us feast, to freedom.” Cornelius said, leading him into the building. The room expanded before Isaac, red carpets, beautiful stained-glass windows, luminous torches. A paradise.
A large door lay before Isaac, the room inside filled with torches and sunlight. A large table sat in the middle, candles and a glorious red tablecloth with purple adornments covering the tables. “Come, sit, have a glass. Lets talk about worldly happenings.”
“What worldly happenings would I know of?” Isaac asked, the servants placing a wine glass and a silver platter.
“The time has come for me to tell you what I have really been doing, Isaac.” Cornelius said. “Now that you are experiencing these ‘visions’ as well.”
“What you have ‘really’ been doing? I don’t get it.” Isaac said, the servants pouring wine into the glass, and putting a full turkey onto the plate.
“Yes. You see, we are not the last two Immortals on Earth.” Cornelius said, sitting down, sitting back as the servants served his meal. Isaac nodded, indicating that he understood. “There are three others, which I have searched for, and have only had luck with two. You…” he said, grabbing his fork, and putting a bite in his mouth. Isaac looked at his food, he had no appetite at the moment.
Cornelius gulped, taking a drink of his wine. “…and another in Italy. Coincidentally, he is also Roman.” Isaac shifted in surprise, looking at Cornelius. “His name is Orpheus.”
“Do any of the other Immortals have these crazy nicknames you gave us?” Isaac asked, humour in his voice.
“Yes, actually. In fact, my vision mentioned five titles. ‘The Disease’, presumably you, ‘The Genius’, more than likely me, ‘The Twin’, ‘The Crusader’, and the ‘New Life’.”
“I see…” Isaac said, taking a sip of the wine, feeling the cool liquid pour down his throat. Placing the glass down on the table, Cornelius was sitting back.
“So, I ask you if you know anything, about any other Immortals?” he asked, folding his hands and resting his chin on them.
“I’m sorry, but no.” Isaac said, standing. “I have no appetite at the moment.”
“Ah, then shall I show you your room?” Cornelius said, standing.
“I’d say ‘yes’, but I am afraid of what you could have come up with.” Isaac said, a smirk coming over his face.
“Ah, come on then.” Cornelius led Isaac down a long hallway, a decorated door leading to his room. The main decoration was the glorious large bed in the center of the room, surrounded by stairs and a red carpet. The window let the sun shine through, now orange as the horizon overtook the light. Isaac slowly walked toward the center, feeling his pocket for the note, the dagger, and the rose. Holding the rose in front of him, he saw her face. He didn’t want it to be, but it was. He was infatuated.
“Something wrong?” Cornelius asked, standing at the doorway. Isaac placed the rose on the bed, along with the note and the dagger. “There are some new clothes for you in the closet. That prisoner’s tunic doesn’t suit you.” He started to walk out, and stopped. “If you need me, just look for me.”
The door closed, Isaac left to stare at the note, the only legible words being “Farewell Isaac” and Cyrus’ name. He sat on the bed, looking at the three objects, still trying to discern what they could mean. Cyrus didn’t write the note, otherwise there wouldn’t be blood on it. Unless he was psychopathic. That didn’t seem likely.
Isaac lie on the bed, sleep overtaking him. The first non-torturous sleep he had in months, and it was more painful than any of the nights inside the torture den.
That night I had more dreams. Worse dreams. They were also about the soldiers, the ones that were in the desert. Their color was also green, but they were different people. I could only assume the others had died. What had really shocked me was what they were fighting. Rather than other humans, they were creatures the like of which I had never seen. Incredible monsters that brimmed with darkness.
They had no mercy. The soldiers fell quickly and painfully. The monster's ugly porous appearance just as much torture. The worst part, I couldn't do anything. I was forced to stand there, and watch. A cold sweat ran over me, the overpowering darkness contained within the creature's aura pushing me back a few steps.
I awoke again, sweat dripping down my face. Looking around the richly decorated room. Sitting up, I looked at my palms, clenching my fists a few times and then stopping. "What…happened…?" I muttered, looking around. The décor of the room was very regal, the dresser made of some form of oak, the windows were showing the moon crystal clear. The moonlight blacked out for a moment, then shined again. I looked up, seeing a figure black against the white circle. He stood, looking at it. It seemed to stare at me, stare through me.
I got dressed as quickly as possible, the figure still watching, as though it were waiting for me. Opening the window, I followed the figure, which leaped off the rooftop he was perched on. I leapt upward, placing my foot on the wall, and pushing myself farther along the wall. I ascended rather quickly, making it to the rooftop. The chase continued, wind blowing through my crimson hair. I leaped across the rooftop, across a small canal, and landed a few yards away from the figure. It turned and began to flee, at speeds no Mortal could have surmised. It leaped off of the building, landing below in a fruit stand, crushing it.
I followed, landing by the crushed remains of the stand. The figure was already running away, the streets now becoming a race. I followed, more than likely with equal, if not greater, speed than the figure. It stopped before a larger canal, turning around. The moonlight cast a light upon his darkened face, golden-red scars coursing his face, his hair deepened black, his eyes filled with a demonic sense.
"Who are you?" it asked, cracking its neck.
"Call me Isaac." I replied, looking at him. The golden-red scars, more like fissures in his skin showing deep lava from beneath accompanied his darkened grey skin.
"Fool." He said, drawing a scimitar, "Now you die."
"I do not fear Death." I replied. He drew the knife he found with the rose, twirling it.
"A knife?" he asked, smiling. His teeth were pure white, save for blood dripping off of them.
"A vampire?" I asked, holding the dagger in front of me, my other hand behind the blade to reinforce any blows I dealt.
"You wish, kid." He replied, flying at me. He stabbed his blade forward; I barely managed dodge due to the sheer speed at which he attacked.
"Then what?" I asked, now deciding to fight seriously. It would be the first time in years he had fought an equal.
"Immortal." He replied, slashing at me, a wave of dark power flying at me. I somersaulted to the right, the hard, rocky ground meeting first the bone in my neck, then rolled to my spine, then my butt, then back to my legs.
"Immortal? Already?" I replied, looking at the dark creature. "What the hell did you do to yourself?" I shouted, looking at him.
"Why does a mortal like you even care? It isn't like I will die from it!" the figure shouted, slashing another dark wave of energy at me. After somersaulting out of the way, I focused my power into the dagger I held. I focused it into a blade—a blade forged from my soul. An Astral Blade. The energy swirled around the edge of the dagger, then lengthened, growing to the size of a small sword. I swung the blade a few times, making sure I forged it correctly, otherwise I would merely damage myself with the weapon.
"An Angel?" the figure said, holding the sword in front.
"No." I replied curtly. "I am Isaac." I concluded. The Immortal in front of me was outraged. "Very well then, 'Isaac', suffer!" he called, charging again at full speed. Twirling my blade before me, I flew at him with equal speed, our blades clashed. A strong wind created from the impact blasted us both, or at least, it is assumable that it did, as I flew into a wall. The knife lost the Astral Blade I had given it, laying before me as I grabbed it. Standing, I looked at where I was, seeing the Immortal stand as well. It wasn't looking at me.
Isaac looked across the street, again activating the Astral Blade. "No matter what, you won't win." He said, cracking his neck. "Immortal or no, I am superior to you, fool."
The dark Immortal across the street spat, his golden-red scars stretching along his dark grey skin. "I hate you…" it muttered. "you are a plague upon this land…"
"And you are nothing more than an animal." Isaac said. "Besides, sometime 'The Demon' kills the unneeded parts of society."
"What…?" asked the Immortal.
"So you don't know? All Immortals have a 'title', or so Cornelius says," he twirled the Astral Blade, and pointed it towards the Immortal. "I am Isaac 'The Demon', for whatever reason, but I guess corny lines aside, the time for you to die has come." The Immortal stood.
"Go ahead and try it." The Immortal said, before looking North. "No…no…!" he said, then began running. "It followed me!"
Isaac walked out to the middle of the street, looking toward where the Immortal looked. It no longer mattered to him what happened to the Immortal. His Astral Blade hummed, the bright blue that was his soul's color shined in the dark night. Save for a shining light coming towards him. He looked at it.
"It couldn't be…well I'll be damned…" he muttered, the light coming closer, growing bigger, at extreme speeds. "Looks like the Immortal won't be my hardest fight after all."
The light crashed into him, a hand grabbing his throat. "You fool Orpheus! Letting me catch up!" Isaac struggled, incapable of speaking, his arm holding the Astral Blade ensnared by the light. He tried punching the light, but as his fist was about to collide, the light backed away from where he was. Desperate, he let the Astral Blade drop, returning it to a normal knife, and charged his fist with the same energy. He grabbed the wrist of whatever was holding his throat, concentrating it into flames. The light let go, Isaac crashing through a home and falling into water.
He came up, taking a deep breath of gratitude. The light died down, revealing an angelic figure, with four wings and a covered face. Not just an Angel… Isaac thought, staring, …but an Archangel…
"Orpheus, you will end here and now!" it called, launching a beam of light into the water. Isaac was blasted through a bridge, and landed back into the canal, his blood washed away in the currents. He grabbed onto the wall on the side, looking at the Archangel as he clambered up. On the ground, he began breathing normally again.
"Look," he said, standing, "I don't know who you think I am, but my name is Isaac." He called toward the Archangel. It stopped, looking at him.
"Isaac… 'The Demon'…" it muttered, looking at him. "Another who must be ended."
Isaac looked at the Archangel, prepared to fight if need be. "I 'must be ended', hm?" he said, amusedly. He placed his hand forward, his palm open, and concentrated his palm into what looked like a hilt. Clenching the hilt, he concentrated his soul through the hollow tube he had created, forging a pure Astral Sword, taking on the shape of a bastard sword.
"Say good bye, Isaac." The Archangel said, flying at Isaac. He narrowly avoided the main impact, stabbing one of the wings, his Astral Sword on the same plane of existence that the Archangel was. It screamed, a silvery liquid spraying out like blood, Isaac twirled the Sword he carried, smirking. It spun, and attacked him, now baring it's fangs.
"Angel…Archangel… you are all the same to me." Isaac taunted, the Archangel attacking again. Isaac thrust his blade at the creature coming at him, impaling its heart. "Two hits." Isaac said, confidently. "All it took? I thought you would be a—"
The Archangel charged again, its hand already through Isaac's abdomen. Pain surged through his body, as he grabbed the Archangel's mask and began charging Astral Energy into it. He was going to overload the thing, and gain his victory that way. It grabbed his face with the other hand, pain circulating his body already. The pain of claws clenching down, tearing his flesh wasn't a lie, blood poured over his vision to prove he was being killed. He had to finish the Archangel before it finished him. He kneed it in the throat, hoping to keep it busy, it started grabbing for Isaac's internal organs, hoping to crush something.
There they stood, the Archangel and the Immortal, rich red blood pouring from one, silvery-white blood drenching the other. Isaac could only laugh though—while Angels, even Archangels, could survive forever, never dying unless murdered, they can't recover, even from the smallest of injuries. Isaac would return to life less than five minutes from then anyway, the Angel would die later.
"Goodbye, Archangel…" Isaac muttered, a smirk on his face. He won. Pain was all he could feel, but he had won. That was all that mattered to him for now. The Archangel's helmet began to crack under Isaac's Astral Pressure, an eye revealing itself, terrified. Its face began cracking as well, the silver liquid pouring out.
"Her Majesty won't forget this, Isaac…" it muttered, falling down, taking Isaac's internal organs out as well. He grabbed his own neck, frying himself. No way would he endure living in that body anymore.
He awoke again in the void, the presence there. "Where are you?" he called, but with no response. The pain of reincarnation overtook him, a burning sensation filling his entire body, as he awoke next to the corpse of his previous life. It had become second nature to him, dying. The mystical thing here was that the Archangel left no corpse. Isaac checked for his Soulbind, and was relieved to find it was still there.
He wore his old attire, still blood-spattered, walking down empty streets, contemplating what had happened. "So…I had just seen Orpheus…assumably, anyway." He muttered, finding his dagger in the street, probably since he dropped it while being strangle-dragged across the city of Rimini. He knelt over, dislodging it from the cold, hard street. The moon had set, and the sun was already coming back up.
"Cornelius will certainly find this interesting…" Isaac said, and began walking in the direction of Cornelius' mansion. He walked up to the door, knocking on it, and leaning on his leg.
"Who are you?" asked Cornelius' doorman, more than likely shaken by the blood spattered across Isaac's attire.
"It is me, Isaac. Let me in." Isaac replied, calmly.
"Isaac is currently sleeping, sir. Please leave…" The doorman said, nervously.
"I am well aware that he was, but clearly…" Isaac started, but then remembered the Reincarnation. "Tell Cornelius to come see me." Isaac said, pulling his Soulbind out from under his shirt. A few minutes passed, and the door opened, Cornelius looking disgruntled, his eyes still barely open.
"Isaac…" he muttered, welcoming him in, "…what are you doing?" he asked, holding the door for support.
"Nightmare." Isaac said, walking in.
"Yeah, right. What really happened?"
"You really want me to explain it to you tonight?" Isaac asked, biding for time.
"Yes." Cornelius replied.
"Fine. I found another Immortal." Isaac said, walking through.
"Unless you fought him, that doesn't explain the bloody clothes."
"You aren't my father Cornelius!" Isaac exclaimed, sleep not being his problem. His problem now, was that Cornelius wouldn't leave him alone.
"Was it Orpheus?"
"And?" Cornelius led Isaac on.
"He was being chased by an Archangel, like I chased him. The Archangel mistook me for him, and attacked." Isaac explained hurriedly. "Why?"
"What color was its blood, Isaac?"
"Why does it—"
"What color?" Cornelius exclaimed, grabbing Isaac's blood-soaked shoulder. Dark rings were under his bloodshot eyes, the bronze still capable of piercing through his soul. Isaac sometimes wondered if he had the same impression on others.
Cornelius began to walk away, muttering. "Isaac…Isaac…Isaac…what have you done…"
"What have I done, Cornelius?" Isaac asked, now annoyed.
"Come. I'll explain in the study." They entered a library like room, books covering shelves all around him.
"Have I ever told you of the 'Four Forms of Life'?" Cornelius asked, placing two fingers on the table.
"Yeah," Isaac said, walking over to Cornelius, "Mortal, Immortal…"
"…Angel and Darkangel." Cornelius finished. "And the Fifth,"
"The Creator. Cornelius, we already—"
"I never said the fifth exists, but I never said it doesn't, either." Cornelius explained. "But there is an equally mysterious Sixth form exists as well, one of which is like none other." He turned to Isaac. "The ones we know as Silverbloods, the Reapers."
"Like the Grim Reaper?" Isaac asked, amused.
"Exactly." Isaac raised a brow. "The Grim Reaper is one of them. They are the most superior form of life, second only to the fifth…" Cornelius looked at Isaac. "The Angel of Death is what he is called, but the Grim Reaper is no Angel. He is a Silverblood. The Fifth's Guardians, the Two Reapers…" he said, sitting down. "The Unkillable Form of Life."
"But you said the Fifth always had a weakness for each form of life, that way it stayed superior, a God." Isaac said, remembering past explanations Cornelius had given him.
"They do. But only to the Fifth." Cornelius explained. "Depending on which Silverblood you killed, you will be receiving a visitor sometime soon, and you must be ready. They are known as the Fifth's Assassins."
"So they kill all who the Fifth find undesirable?" Isaac asked, leaning on the desk with his hands.
"Precisely. And you just made your way onto the target list." Cornelius said.
"Big deal. They can kill me, but I'll come back."
"Yes, Isaac it is a big deal." Isaac sighed. "The Darkangels are equally as indestructible as us. But the Silverbloods have their way."
"To kill the undesirable Darkangels, they beat them until they can no longer move, and deliver them straight to the Fifth."
"All the better."
"For Immortals, they drain the soul using the Immortal's own Soulbind, and seal them to where they stand. The only who has ever escaped…"
Isaac stood to leave, Cornelius stopped him. "One last thing, Isaac. Was the being wearing a cloak, or wings?"
Isaac turned around, looking at Cornelius. "I'll figure out for myself." He said, smirking. "Besides, we have an Immortal to look for now. I can describe him if you wish."
"That would be nice." Cornelius said, getting out a quill and paper.
"It had four wings, and a metallic helmet." Isaac explained, moving his hands in gestures that also explained this. "Also, it wore a white cloak."
"So…you met the Chaos Reaper…" Cornelius muttered. "It is better than if you met the Grim Reaper, although they both foretell your eventual end."
Isaac scoffed, turning around. "We begin searching for Orpheus tomorrow. He must be somewhere around Rimini still." Cornelius said, "However, we search together. Two of us should be able to keep a Silverblood at bay."
Isaac left the room, closing the door. Now all of a sudden, there were six forms of life, why wasn't this explained sooner? He returned to his room, looking out at the window, the figure no longer there. "Tomorrow…" he muttered, laying on the bed. "…tomorrow."
June 10, 1250-The Demon of Rimini
The light shone through the window, I covered my eyes with my hand as I sat up. Looking around, memories of the night before flashed through my mind. I never told anyone, but sheer terror filled me. I was being hunted, by something that could really ruin my life. The Chaos Reaper could have, even then burst out of nowhere and sealed me then. I stared at my hand, as if expecting to see something no one else could. As if my palm could tell me what I had to do to survive.
I got out of bed, and dressed, a black coat accompanying my black pants and white undershirt. I walked out of the room, and began looking for Cornelius. My brownish-black hair fashioned into a small ponytail that swayed slightly behind my head. I walked into the dining hall, a rather glorious breakfast set out, more than likely for me. I left the hall. I didn't need food; I could go without it for quite a while. I needed to figure out how often I needed to run from the Chaos Reaper.
Outside the mansion, I followed my gut, looking for Orpheus. The sounds around town filled my ears, I tried to concentrate. I had to find Orpheus before the Chaos Reaper could. The image of the Immortal: a dark, grey skin, golden-red scar, jet-black hair, was burned into my mind as I shoved through the crowds. I didn't know why, but when I was near Cornelius, I grew faster. My body was already that of a young man; 16 at least. The town square now sprawled before me. It wouldn't have meant anything unless I had heard the words.
"…did you see those two freaks last night? They must have been witches."
"Yeah. I even followed the one with all of those scars…lost track of him around that…what was it called again?"
"What was what called?"
"Anyway, I lost him somewhere in the South."
I continued blending with the crowd, however never moving forward. This was a pretty great clue to finding Orpheus; as well as the person hadn't followed me. I now would head South, shoving through the crowd, through the square. I made my way to where Orpheus and I had fought the night before. The smell of the water filled my nostrils, the sound of the canal filling my ears. Today was the day that Rimini had found its demon.
Isaac stood by the waters of the canal, watching them. "Hmph. South, huh?" he muttered, looking up to the sun. He determined which direction was South, looking over to the road Orpheus had run. That was East. Had the man lied to the other? Or maybe, Orpheus hadn't fled in one direction. In which case, Isaac thought, looking at the building he had was launched into. If he headed South, he would have a better chance of finding Orpheus than if he followed by memory. He just had to follow any trail Orpheus might have left; even if it was a trail of witnesses. On the bright side, Isaac looked nothing like he did before Reincarnation—questioning people would become a lot easier. On a lower note, it wasn't the best that he tracked around the town covered in blood last night.
Isaac ran up the wall, grabbing a slightly worn away foothold in the worn-away stone, and using it to catapult him even higher up. He grabbed the next slight indent in the wall, keeping balance and strength, as well as holding his weight toward the strength. He pulled upwards, carefully choosing each of his footholds, and eventually ascending to the top of the building. Climbing up, Isaac used his foot, along with his shin, to gain and keep balance along the edge of the roof as he finished his ascent.
Now at the top of the building, Isaac looked in the Southward direction. He began walking along the roof, leaping the gap between buildings, staring at the building that remained prominent. The cathedral in the distance broke the horizon. He leaped down to the street, in an alley, walking out of the alley.
Isaac looked around at the people who populated the street; they went on with their normal life. He had to choose whom he would ask about Orpheus carefully. This was, after all, pretty close to where he had defeated the Silverblood. He walked around the street, remaining as inconspicuous as possible, listening for any hint of Orpheus. All he heard, however, were discussions about the oncoming drought, people arguing whether or not they were going to go to the cathedral today.
Isaac decided to draw the conversation he was waiting for out into the open. "Hey," he asked someone, pretending to be a scholar, "have you heard anything about that incident last night?"
Two people took notice. "Yeah, we saw the whole thing." The one on the right said, the one on the left punching him.
"Idiot! How do you know we can trust him?" he hissed.
"Right…sorry." The man said, holding his arm.
"I just need to know what direction one of them went." Isaac said, choosing his words carefully, remembering that he was pretending not to know much about what happened, much less a clear description of one of the Immortals.
"Well, one of them disappeared that way," the man on the left said, "the other went towards the Basilica de Morte."
"Church of Death?" Isaac asked, looking confused.
"A scholar surely would know…you are a scholar, correct?"
"Er…" Isaac muttered, now looking for an excuse to get out.
"Merda! I told you not to trust him!" the man on the left said, backing up. "Now the guardswill surely kill us!" he held his hands above his face in fear.
"I am no guard." Isaac said, realizing their reason for secrecy. "I am merely trying to figure out what happened last night." He began walking away, towards that abnormally large cathedral in the distance. "Church of Death…" he muttered, after determining that he was far from the two. "If that is where Orpheus went…if Death is what I think it means…" his head snapped up. "No! That means…" He ran into an alley.
"If he went to the Church of Death, then he couldn't be…" He ran up one wall for a few steps, gaining a few feet from the ground, then kicking off of the wall, landing on the wall parallel to it, and running a few feet up it. He grabbed an indent, pulling himself up and leaping to the parallel wall once more, grabbing a windowsill, pulling himself up. He looked inside, no one. Good. He leaped to the wall behind him once more, still climbing upwards, he ascended the rest of the way in a similar manner.
Isaac reached the rooftop, looking out to the cathedral. "Orpheus…you had better not…" he muttered, charging at full speed toward the cathedral, leaping across a gap between buildings. The air flew through his hair as the scenery blurred quickly from his foresight to peripheral and gone. He leaped one more building, charging Astral Power into his movements, easily leaping over the next building. Isaac missed his landing, falling into a somersault, continuing despite whatever might have stopped him. The cathedral was seemed bigger than what distance had portrayed it with.
Isaac leapt onto a gargoyle, looking into the cathedral. He panted, the run he had just performed was slightly tiring. He looked through the stained-glass window, seeing an empty hall. "Did that…" Isaac muttered, still out of breath, "…did that man lie…to me…" realization overtook him. He looked at the statue of Death inside. "I…I could've sworn…" he sat down on the gargoyle, leaning against the stained glass, "…Death…the Grim Reaper…he isn't worshipped, so it had to be…" He looked out before him, seeing the rest of Rimini. "Besides, why is there a statue of him in there?" he slapped his face. Why am I talking to myself?
"Because you have no one else. You are alone on this Earth." A cool, collected voice said behind him. Isaac sat up, looking at the stained glass.
"You know me by many names. Death, Kronos, Grim Reaper," he said, calmly, "The Angel of Death, Silverblooded Demise, you name it." Isaac looked at the stained glass, something pulled him. He was jerked through the stained glass, falling for a few seconds before slamming into the ground. "But no matter what you call me…" Isaac looked up, seeing a man in a black cloak floating above the ground, wielding an impossibly large scythe that had to be powered by Astral Energy, "…I am where you stop, Phocas."
"…" Isaac said nothing, his eyes now narrowed. He stood. He clearly hadn't been called that in a long time. "…Phocas is long dead."
"Is he? I see him right before me." Death said, landing with great agility before Isaac.
"Phocas died in Rome. All that is left is a dying rose." Isaac drew his dagger, looking at his black cloaked foe before him. "All that is left is Isaac."
"Very well, 'Isaac'." Death said, amused. "But to the High King Ambrose, Phocas is still very much alive." He lifted the scythe, and readied for battle. "We can avoid this, 'Isaac'." he warned keeping the scythe in a neutral position. "Ambrose will still take you back. Come with me, I will take you to Elysium, the Final Colony."
"Elysium…huh…" Isaac channeled his Astral Energy into his dagger, projecting a two-sided blade. "…I'll have to say no, Death."
"Very well. Then your soul shall make a nice addition to my collection." Death said, swinging the scythe, readying to attack.
Isaac stood there, still looking at the floor. Memories of who he had been flooded his mind. Phocas, the great Roman Soldier. Death charged, Isaac ducked under the attack, rolling to his side. He returned to his feet, Death's black cloak still swaying with the action of swinging the scythe that was bigger than him.
"Interesting. You aren't even trying." Death noted, looking at Isaac. "I won't attack unless you do."
Isaac scoffed, looking at Death. "Fine." He charged, slashing at Death, who avoided the airborne assault easily, slamming him in the gut, winding him. Isaac slammed into the ground, looking at the stained glass shards. A barely visible reflection of Death could be seen. Something in him clicked. He remembered Rose.
"I…can't die. Not today." Isaac said, standing up. "Death…you will fall, just as Chaos had." He pointed the Astral Blade at Death. "Talk is over." Death nodded, twirling his scythe overhead, then stopping the swing, the staff was on his back, the wood of the staff going along his spine, and alongside his arm, then on until the blade of the scythe was visible.
They charged at one another, Isaac slashed forward while Death slashed downward. Isaac's attack connected, but so did Death's. He had been caught on Death's scythe. Death swung Isaac in a circle for a few minutes, letting Isaac become dazed and confused, then slammed him to the ground. He stepped on Isaac's back, leaning his weight onto him. "Phocas could have taken it. What does that say about Isaac?" He placed the blade of the scythe next to Isaac's temple. "So? Are you going to give up and come to Elysium, or are you going to resist and force me to seal you where you lay?"
Isaac placed a hand on the ground, pushing up. He gritted his teeth, pushing against Death's weight. He glanced at Death, looking at the hood which concealed his face. Red eyes could be seen.
"Very well, Isaac." Death said, grabbing Isaac by the throat, lifting him into the air. "I shall seal you now." They were already in the center of the room, midair. Isaac could barely breathe, Death had been crushing him from within. There was one way out, he knew it. Isaac kicked him in the ribs, using his height to push his neck out of Death's reach. The image of Rose kept him going. Isaac grabbed Death's wrist, twisting his entire body using Death's chest, forcing Death to let go.
Isaac fell, landing on his back. He quickly rolled to his side, starting to sprint towards the statue of Death after accelerating from his shins to his feet. Death flew at him, scythe outstretched. He somersaulted, avoiding his attack, grabbing the butt of the scythe, and taking momentum from the attack to leap onto the statue. Using the statue's stone scythe, he flung himself around the stone figure of Death, avoiding another attack. He quickly began climbing up the statue, leaping to the stained glass window. Death attacked him from above, however, sending him plummeting downward. Isaac grabbed the stone blade of Death's statue's scythe, using it to pivot around to the front of Death's statue. He climbed to the top of the statue, making a second attempt to escape.
Death swung downward, sending Isaac into the wall, rather than through the window. For whatever reason, the Grim Reaper was determined to keep Isaac in the cathedral. Death grabbed Isaac by the back of the head, tossing him back to the center of the cathedral, landing on the brilliant, red carpet, shards of stained glass embedded themselves in Isaac's chest. Blood began to pour from him. He stood, looking at the shining crimson. Blood.
Death charged at him again. Blood. His scythe coming down. Blood. That blade drawing even more from Isaac's body. Blood. Isaac flew into the wall, Death swinging the scythe. That was it. Blood. Isaac imagined the blood of Rose, he forced the image of Cyrus onto Death. He wasn't fighting Death. He was fighting Cyrus. The man who drew his blood and slashed at his emotions. Blood, that was never his, and was never meant to be spilled many times over.
Isaac flew at Death bare-handed, socking the being in the face, who, in return, swung his scythe. Isaac ducked, shoving his hand forward again, into his opponent's bony chest this time. Blood; that was all he needed. He channeled his Astral Energy. Avoiding a few more attacks from Death, Isaac pelted him with more blows from his fists, which began drawing his brilliant, crimson, blood. The white of his knuckles were hidden by his blood. He avoided more attacks from Death and began piston-punching him, harder each time. A brilliant silver began leaking from the dark man-like creature. He leaped backwards, out of Isaac's range.
"Fool." Death muttered, holding the scythe before him, "Now you die." The scythe began charging with Astral Energy, the power making the Earth slightly tremble. Isaac stared at Death's face. No. This wasn't Death. This was Phocas. This was Orpheus. This was Cyrus. This was Isaac. He charged at Death, his mind fading away due to blood loss, punching Death, again and again. Death avoided the blows, but the ones he was hit by sent him slightly off guard. Isaac continued his onslaught. This was the last run. If he let Death finish the scythe, it was over. He clenched his fists even harder, channeling Astral Energy into his blood, hardening and sharpening it. Crimson red claws protruded from the several wounds from which he had drawn blood. A wicked smile overtook his face. "You will pay, Cyrus." Isaac muttered. "I hope you are watching. A worse fate awaits you."
He flew at Death, pelting with sharpened fists. Silver blood flew out of Death, who failed to avoid the lengthened attacks. His back against a wall, still unfazed by Isaac's onslaught. He leaped out of the way of Isaac's attack, the claws of blood now lodged into the wall. He placed the scythe by Isaac's head. "A valiant effort, however…" he tapped the blade against Isaac's temple, "…I am almost as undefeatable as the Fifth Form herself." Isaac's eyes shot open.
"Fifth…form…" he muttered. "…God…" Isaac grabbed the scythe, attempting to pull it away from Death. No matter what, he won now. If Death resisted, he would be able to dislodge his claw from the wall. If Death didn't, he would have the scythe. Death resisted, anticipating Isaac's move. He ducked under the attack, slamming Isaac in the stomach with the butt of his scythe.
"No matter how hard you try, not even a Darkangel is capable of defeating me. I am not like Chaos." He said, looking at Isaac's nearly collapsed form. "I cannot be defeated so easily as he."
"No…but fall you will!" Isaac shouted, standing back up, blood now pouring from his mouth.
"Such stamina." Death said, sighing. "Are the other four just as troublesome?"
Isaac began laughing. "You'll never find out."
"I guess not now, no." Death said. "Goodbye, Phocas."
"That's Isaac." The Immortal declared, consciousness slowly slipping away. Death walked toward him.
"Such. A. Shame." He said, grabbing Isaac by his forehead, and launching him across the room. "You would have made such a fine Silverblood."
He held a small piece of burning wood. There was nowhere he could have possibly got it, but it mattered not to Isaac. Dropping it, Death set the building aflame, and began walking away. "You are too troublesome. I'll seal you after you reincarnate." A dark cloud enveloped Death, and he disappeared. The building had a new, red tint, caused by the flames. Isaac looked for a way out. He remembered the statue. He flew at it, using all of his reserve energy, pivoting off of the butt of the statue's scythe, landing on the wall and launching upwards his blood oozing out of him. He was going to die; but he didn't want to. Reincarnation would put him in exactly the position Death wanted him in. He continued climbing the statue, beams from the top already falling and spreading the flame. Isaac leaped into the stained glass window. The heat inside the building exploded, sending Isaac flying even farther. The sun had set, that was all Isaac could tell before crashing through a building, and somersaulting into hay.
Isaac laid there for what must have been hours. He slept. He rested. He feared, even more than what he had before. Had Orpheus tricked him into revealing himself to both Death and Chaos? But why? Isaac needed to talk with Cornelius. He walked out to the hole he had made, his entire body sore from the constant adrenaline as well as continuous bleeding he had felt while fighting Death. A man in a black cloak was shouting something.
"The man known as Isaac, or Phocas, is now a hated enemy of Rimini!" he shouted. "Burn this demon! One who would burn down our churches! May he burn in hell!" Isaac's eyes widened. Everything had gone wrong. Now he was a hated enemy. "Burn him! Burn the Demon of Rimini!"
June 10, 1250- Pride Among Romans
I stood there, in the building, watching the man continue to rant. The Demon of Rimini. That was Death's plan. Realization filled my mind, thoughts of vengeance accompanying them. Death had not expected me to die in the church, rather, he expected the opposite. He expected what happened. Now I had two options remaining, both of which would be playing right into Death's hands.
I could stay in this body, the body of the so-called Demon of Rimini, or I could Reincarnate, alerting Death to my presence, and allowing him to seal me while I am incapable of fighting back. Fear, anger, and hatred filled my veins, rushing faster than my blood, pumping faster than my heart. I wanted to kill Death, no matter what.
I leaped off of the building, thinking deeply about Orpheus. If we were both Roman by origin, then unless he was a fairly new Immortal, it was almost insane not to think that we had met before. Even if it was merely passing glances, we had to have met before. We just had to.
Now, merely being in Rimini was dangerous, and Isaac could no longer search for Rose or Orpheus. I stood atop a gargoyle, half expecting Death to attack again. He wouldn't. Not so soon. And not unless I Reincarnated. The safest place for the moment, I decided, had to be under Cornelius' stern watch. I hated having to be babysat. I returned to Cornelius' home, and entered my room. Unnoticed or otherwise made no difference. I held my Soulbind, muttering…
February 3, 339 BC
Phocas stood among his squad, looking at the others. He had no clue what was going on—not since he was the sole survivor of the disaster of his village. They called it the "Red Flash" Outbreak…Phocas didn't think so.
The war tent gave the shade a certain color, the dirt-brown coloring the atmosphere. The breathing before the battle was often more intense than the actual battle; anticipation was everything. After almost five hundred years of war, Phocas was used to the stress. He uneasily shifted his segmented armor—he had received it from an anonymous source. The others in the tent had no clue, not even the faintest idea, of what was about to transpire. Sometimes, even Phocas knew not.
"Hey Phocas…" asked a soldier beside him, who went by the name of Isaac. "Have you ever wondered…why do we fight?"
"Speaking like that will get you killed." Phocas stated gruffly.
"No, no, not meaning I have no motivation. I am asking…" he muttered, looking down, "…why can't we just talk it out with them?"
"We tried, Isaac." Phocas said, sitting down. "They didn't listen."
"So…what? We…we just kill them all?" Isaac asked. Phocas scoffed. The boy was still young—why he was in the front lines Phocas would never know.
"If that is what is necessary, then yes." Phocas stated, staring blankly at Isaac. They both stood as the commander entered the tent to give his briefing to their squad.
"Now!" called the commander, walking in front of them all with magnificent armor, his face completely concealed. "We strike at the heart of the Latin people! We will crush their resistance!" He faced the soldiers, who stood at attention as his paludamentum (a cape worn on one shoulder) swayed behind him.
All the soldiers stood at arms, their shoulders stiff, their posture perfect, and their armor reflecting the golden light of the sun. Phocas and the others all saluted, shouting "Yessir!"
"The battle today will be a major deciding factor in the war! We assault Sicily!" he shouted. All the men repeated "Yessir!" The squad leader walked across the line of soldiers, stopping at Phocas. "Likewise, you have a good military record. Keep it up, and we may one day see the Latin League disbanded." He patted his shoulder, his hand coming down hard but sportingly on the shoulder piece of Phocas' manica (arm piece of armor).
"Yes, Commander." Phocas said, nodding. "As you wish."
"Now, carry on!" the commander said, walking away from Phocas, who followed the other soldiers out of the war tent. The city of Sicily stood before them, Phocas ready to strike. They were members of the Hastati, people on the front lines of any battle.
The air was stiff with the sounds of fear; slight whimpering could be heard in the distance, probably the people within the city. The Roman soldiers made no noise; they had no need as of yet. The group of Hastati silently made their way towards the walls, Phocas' breathing being the only sound he now heard. The Latin soldiers patrolled the front gate, extremely close to revealing Phocas' group. However, they were incapable of stopping them. The unit was composed of seven people, a pathetic first line of defence, Phocas noted. However, they had to have nearby hidden reinforcements.
"What shall we do, Phocas?" asked one of his men, nicknamed Aeolus.
"This is quite clearly a trap…" Phocas muttered, placing his hand on his hilt. "I will attack alone, you keep watch for any and all reinforcements."
The troops nodded, all flattening against the wall. "Good luck, Phocas."
"Leave these imbeciles to me." Phocas said, smiling with reassurance. Charging at the small unit, his sword outstretched, the first soldier's meager armor meant nothing. Blood covered Phocas' arm, as he grabbed one of the other's arms, twisting the elbow beyond breaking point, then used the soldier as a shield against the others. One attacked, but was knocked over by Phocas' hostage; both were smitten in a matter of moments. The blood covered the ground; the city's alarm began sounding. Phocas looked up, seeing Archers. Looks like it was a trap. Aeolus should be capable of warding the archers off of me, at least until I need to give the signal. Another attacked, Phocas tapping his blade to the side and socking the soldier in the throat, killing him almost instantly. The remaining two looked at him, fear in their eyes.
"Come then, let's see how you Latin people really fight!" Phocas called, sheathing his sword. One man charged, Phocas grabbing his wrist and punching the elbow upwards, snapping it. He grabbed the sword out of the man's hand, stabbing him through the shoulder, grabbing his head and breaking his neck. Blood spattered the ground. The last man looked toward the gate, dozens of others charging out. Phocas unsheathed his blade, signaling for his force to come out to battle as well. The Archers hadn't been firing until now for a reason, Phocas knew. His men had secretly infiltrated the wall's turret towers, killing most of them. His archers were up there as well as the Latin ones.
Here, Phocas thought, grinning, is where the real bloodshed begins. The groups clashed, Phocas easily darting through the enemies, not killing any. Yet. Once behind the enemy group, Phocas almost literally leaped up the castle walls, climbing each and every indent or erosion possible, the grey wall more like a ladder to his advanced climbing skill.
He made his way to the top, sneaking up on the remaining enemy archers. He stole an arrow from one's quiver without him noticing, and stabbed it through the back of his cranium, killing him instantly. Dislodging the arrow, the other archers noticed him, forgetting the dead archer that even now, fell to the ground below. Phocas threw the arrow, launching it through one of their skulls, killing them, and avoided a few more bolts. His archers were preoccupied with the battle, which was all the better. It meant more offense on the Roman side, and they weren't even trying yet.
Making his way towards the turret tower the rest of the archers hid in, he climbed to the top, looking down. "Good night." He muttered, amused that the Latin people still attempted to fight.
Phocas leapt downwards, landing on the fleeing soldier. The fear could be felt by the man's constant quivering, but he ended his suffering quickly by snapping his neck. Time to return to the main assault. Leaping to the bottom of the stairwell, Phocas exited the tower, now inside the city, and behind the gate. Fresh blood now scenting the air, but he kept going; the battle wasn't over yet…
June 11, 1250
Isaac sat up in bed, thinking back on his Soul dream. If Orpheus wasn't there, then where? They must have met. Isaac had only been in the service of Rome for thirty years before he met Cornelius and left. He looked at his Soulbind, sighing.
Phocas…how did anyone know… he thought silently. Isaac stood up, hearing knocking on his door. "Come in."
Cornelius walked in, a dreadful look on his face. "Isaac, what happened last night?" he asked, angrily.
"What do you mean?" Isaac asked, playing dumb.
"Well, if you can tell me anything about the 'Demon of Rimini' or your exact reason for burning down the Church of Death, that would be helpful."
"Demon of Rimini…can't say I know anything of it." Isaac said, looking at Cornelius. "As for burning down the church, well…" Cornelius gave him a spiteful look. "I was there when it burned, but I didn't burn it down."
"Who then, Isaac? Who?" Cornelius asked, recognizing Isaac's withholding of information. Isaac stood there for a moment, weighing his options. Cornelius would be extremely angry if he had told him about Death, however he probably already knew.
"I…fought Death." Isaac muttered, looking toward the floor.
"You…fought Death…" Cornelius muttered, exasperated. "…you…fought Death…and haven't been sealed…" he sat on a chair, his expression still blank. "…Isaac…you fool…"
"Look, Cornelius, I am still ali—"
"Exactly! If you are alive, it means Death wants more from you than your soul!" Cornelius jolted upward. "What the hell? Why did you fight Death? Why didn't you run!"
"Apparently not hard enough! Why did you hesitate?"
"I didn't hesitate! I tried my best to run!"
Cornelius sat down. "Isaac…fool…" he muttered. "Now they know your current name…"
"Have you ever even wondered why I told you to abandon the name of Phocas?" Isaac looked up. "Ambrose! That's why."
"I thought Ambrose was a…"
"Good guy? Yeah, sure, he is a saint by all rights." Cornelius said, now pacing around the room. "Of course, you never bothered to ask what he did in his rule, or if he had any faults."
"You never hinted that he had any." Isaac retorted, walking towards Cornelius, who sighed.
"Fine, what were you doing just now?"
"Reliving February 3, 338 BC." Isaac said, sitting on the bed.
"February…what were you hoping to find then? Phocas certainly did nothing good that day." Cornelius said.
"He might have seen Orpheus." Isaac muttered, staring at his Soulbind, which, even now, carried that same darkness he felt the day of the invasion.
"Quit making excuses for constantly wanting to relive the past Isaac." Cornelius said, sitting beside him, a look of empathy now on his face. "What's done is done. You couldn't have saved him, anyway."
"You're right…" Isaac said, gripping his fist. "…I wasn't strong enough. And now, I'm not strong enough to save Rose…" Cornelius sighed.
"Crying about what you can't do does nothing for anyone else, not even you," he said. "Doing what you can, however, to save those you can, and never looking back, that will help a great deal more."
"Not quantity, Cornelius…quality." Isaac retorted silently.
"So…you have finally fallen for a Mortal female?" Cornelius asked, amused, deciding to leave the serious tone behind.
"Shut up, Cornelius." Isaac muttered.
"Well, I will say I had some success yesterday, Isaac." Cornelius said, now grinning and standing. "Let's stop moping, now."
"Some success?" Isaac asked, now curious.
"I managed to set up a connection to Orpheus, and through a very interesting source too," Cornelius said, pointing his index finger up as a teacher would point to a board. "The source I have been keeping taps on for Cyrus, managed to find Orpheus. Of course, you know what that means."
"In their investigation for finding Cyrus, he found—"
"Meaning we find Orpheus, we find Rose." Cornelius said. "Likewise, I have also set up a meeting with the Immortal in question."
"You're kidding! You already made contact?" Isaac asked, awestruck.
"Not direct, but I believe one of my sources who he trusts found him, and told him about us. He should be here this afternoon, so…" he looked at Isaac, "…go ahead and finish your memory, if you wish."
"Thanks." Isaac said, grabbing his Soulbind again. That day…the day that changed everything…
Isaac began muttering, his environment shifting once more, being sent backwards in his own memory.
February 3, 339 BC
Phocas stood with his squad, awaiting further orders after the demise of the front guard to the city gates. The body count was impressive—due to the Roman advanced tactics, only two died. Out of a count of fifteen to sixty, that was indeed, impressive. Isaac walked toward where Phocas stood. The commander walked toward him as well.
"Great job, Phocas!" the commander said, smiling rather largely. "The battle isn't over, but our morale is definitely up due to this victory."
"Thank you, commander." Phocas said, bowing. Isaac bowed as well.
"For your first battle, Isaac, that was pretty good." The commander said. "You two will accompany me to finish the war."
"Excuse me, commander?" Phocas asked, Isaac clearly unsure of what was going on. "All due respect, sir, but I don't do suicide missions." The commander sighed, looking at Phocas.
"Unfortunately, we really have no choice." He said, looking at Phocas. "For whatever reason, they added a rookie into the game-plan, so we have to roll with it."
"'They'?" Isaac asked, looking at the other armored men before him.
"The higher-ups. The people who got us into war in the first place." The commander explained. "They try to keep their presence in battle secret, however every veteran soldier is aware of their existence."
"Oh…" Isaac sighed, looking down.
"Then explain this," Phocas said, staring down the commander, establishing his superiority. Rank meant nothing to experience, and Phocas had more than any soldier here. "Why would they send their best soldiers and a rookie into the thick of combat, only to have them pulled for a suicide mission?"
"If I knew that, then I wouldn't be in this army!" The commander snapped back, asserting his authority by rank. Phocas wasn't intimidated, however, and merely shrugged it off.
"But you are, which means you are close to them." Phocas said, turning around. "Unless you give me a valid reason to go on this suicide mission, then I refuse."
"Phocas, they'll kill you!" the commander shouted, reaching his hand in the direction Phocas was in.
"So what? I'd rather die on the battlefield than in a phony suicide mission." Phocas shouted, slapping the commander's hand aside. Isaac stepped back, his eyes wide.
"I-I'll…do it…" he stammered, not sure.
"Fool." Phocas said, walking away. "You just signed your own death warrant."
"At least he is willing to fight and die for Rome!" the commander shouted.
"Yes, but, if the battle made no difference, then what good was his death?" Phocas taunted, now ignoring the commander. "I am not abandoning the army, nor am I abandoning Rome. Rather, I will help her in my own way."
"Very well." The commander said, boiling with rage. "We'll find someone else."
"Thank you." Phocas said, waving his hand goodbye, however not turning around or even stopping.
June 11, 1250
Isaac awoke again to Cornelius shaking him. "Isaac, our meeting is starting."
"It isn't formal, Cornelius." Isaac said, sitting up using Cornelius as a support. He sat there for a moment, absorbing his memory. The commander was the smarter one that day...
"Well, now it is." Cornelius said, smiling. "Besides, he doesn't seem like too bad of a chap."
"He tried to kill me." Isaac muttered, sitting up. "I'll try to forgive him, but it won't be easy."
"Don't I know it…" Cornelius said, standing off of the bed. "You are having trouble forgiving yourself, even for February third."
"I guess…" Isaac muttered in response, standing as well. "So, is he here already?"
"Ah! Why, yes he is. He is waiting in the lobby for us now." Cornelius said. Isaac grabbed for his dagger, forgetting his battle with Death. Letting the thought go, Isaac guessed he could settle for an Astral Sword if worse came to worse. "What's wrong?" Cornelius asked, now waiting by the door.
"Nothing. Let's go." Isaac said, trying not to mutter. They walked down the gloriously decorated steps, a red carpet running through the center of the stairwell. They eventually came into a hall, the portraits of Cornelius' latest wife's ancestors, people Cornelius probably knew personally, thinking back on it. Their footsteps sounded softly on the crimson carpet of which they walked, the lobby now before them. A young man with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a clear complexion stood there.
"Where is Orpheus?" Isaac asked, remembering the dark, grey skinned Immortal from two nights ago.
"That is him." Cornelius said, walking over to the kid.
"Hang on, that can't be Orpheus!" Isaac said, hurrying over to Cornelius. "Did I not describe what I saw that night? Dark skin, blackened eyes with bronze irises…?"
"Ah, you did." Cornelius said, gesturing to the young man. "However, it is completely possible he reincarnated after your battle."
"But he doesn't even…"
"Notice, he has no Soulbind." Cornelius said, pointing out something Isaac didn't notice, and enjoying the look on his face.
"All the more reason—"
"Also, his eyes seem to have almost bronzed over. He could be a fairly new Immortal."
"Cornelius, this isn't Orpheus. I am not denying that he could be Immortal, but he is not Orpheus. Keep in mind, he has the body of a sixteen year old, rather than a ten year old, the default body age of an Immortal."
"I see your logic in that…" Cornelius said, looking at the young man. "However, you are also in the body of an eighteen-year old by now, because of my…'effects'."
"Effects or no, he isn't Orpheus." Isaac said, now getting angry. "Death and Chaos would have found him and sealed him if he Reincarnated."
"Uh…" the young man said, stepping back. "I am unsure what you two are talking about…"
"Soulbind." Cornelius retorted, Isaac sighing and folding his arms.
"Besides, there is no way that he is a Roman. They had honor, pride…"
"Betrayal." Cornelius stated, now focusing on the young man. "One word will test whether or not he is Immortal." The three stood in the lobby, tension now high in the air. Isaac eager to see his correctness, the young man wishing to leave before he was too involved, and Cornelius, still reveling in the tension in the atmosphere.
Orpheus' eyes shot open, obviously trying to remember something. Something that, were he Immortal, he would have no memory of. Regardless of whether or not they had lost their memory due to Reincarnating without a Soulbind.
"I've never…" Orpheus stuttered, his eyes growing larger. "…never…" he fell to his knees, his skin growing dark. "No…no…not…now…!" he began repeating under his breath.
"What the—" Isaac started, gritting his teeth, summoning the Astral Sword.
"I have never seen anything like this before…" Cornelius said silently, placing his palm over his chin, examining and marveling at the awe of an Immortal transforming. "…then again, I have never seen an Immortal Reincarnate without their Soulbind."
Orpheus screamed in pain, the earth trembled around the three. The plants, portraits, and pottery began falling to the ground, smashing on impact. "This can't be good at all for my home's value." Cornelius called, knowing that was the least of their problems.
"I take back what I said, Corn!"
"Don't call me that." Cornelius replied, curtly.
"That guy, more than likely, is Orpheus!" Isaac finished, twirling the Astral Blade. "However, let's relocate the battlefield. I'd rather not have a trashed homebase."
"Graagh!" Orpheus screamed, dark smoke now emanating from his dark grey skin. He now fit Isaac's earlier description.
But how? Isaac thought, sidestepping, preparing for an onslaught. Even Cornelius can't transform, and he is the oldest Immortal on Earth! Isaac charged at Orpheus, tackling him out the front door. They rolled along the ground until they were off of the front porch. Orpheus kicked Isaac off, who landed on his side.
"I…" Isaac muttered, standing again, re-igniting his Astral Sword, "…have been tossed around enough for a while!"
"Hmph. And you call yourself a Roman?" Orpheus muttered, smirking evilly. "You were a disgrace to us all!"
"How would you know?" Isaac shouted, his pride bracing for impact, "How in hell would you remember? You don't even have your Soulbind!"
"Ah, but you do. Perhaps this could solidify my control, give me my body back!" Orpheus said aloud, looking at Isaac. "So, you call yourself a Roman? Where were you when we disbanded the Latin League? Where were you when…when we were destroyed?"
"I wasn't complaining about what wasn't possible anymore, I was battling an even greater opponent." Isaac replied, seeing deep into Orpheus' mentality. "Unlike you, I did my best for everyone, not just Rome."
"You…you are no Roman…" Orpheus said, rage boiling within him. "…no…you are a coward!" he flew at Isaac.
"The problem with my pride…" Isaac muttered, readying for the assault. "…is that it is a pride among Romans."
Orpheus and Isaac clashed, the force of the blow created a small vortex, pieces of garbage and debris crashing around them, the battlefield still only just outside of Cornelius' mansion. Isaac and Orpheus stopped just behind each other, the vortex meaning nothing to them. They spun, as if in a dance, clashing blades two more times, each with equal force, before leaping backwards. They landed, facing each other, Isaac staring into the contrasting black-bronze eyes. The realization overtook him; they were equal as of yet, at least until Isaac was able to overcome his wounds from Death.
"Is this all you have?" Orpheus screamed, charging again.
"Not even close!" Isaac replied, dashing in response. The clashed again, their blades humming with Astral Energy. They spun to face each other, parrying opposing attacks as adrenaline filled their veins. No hits got past the other's iron guard, until Cornelius kicked Orpheus up the crotch from behind. Orpheus fell, Isaac slamming him across the garden with the dismissing Astral Blade. The blade gone, he grabbed Orpheus by the back of the neck.
"Now…" Cornelius muttered, looking at the body of Orpheus, unconscious for some time. "We should figure out how he transforms." Orpheus' pitch-black hair grew blonde again, his skin returning to a peach-red once more.
"Yes…a power like that to defy even Death…" Isaac muttered. Cornelius looked at him, raising a brow.
"I doubt Death would lose to this power." He said, shrugging. "But speculation can wait. We have to get him inside, quickly!" he said, suddenly realizing the absence of a crowd.
Tag der Veröffentlichung: 12.01.2010
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