A City of Glass: Part II, Chapter I

Ariex holds onto his bottle of strong liquor with some sort of intensity in his grip. The cold glass, wet from condensation, seems to be fighting against the heat of his hand. Both sides know a different part of the same story. Struggle. His hand knows only of hard work. The bottle knows only of rest.

He lifts the bottle to take a drink. The liquid flows down his throat with its briskness. Once it hits his stomach warmth spreads over his body. Every sip he gets this chill and warmth. A puff of air  trails out of his mouth after every sip. Is he setting atmosphere or forgot? Ariex coughs on the bitter air.

“So the Frealigayn is a term once used for a religion that swore it could send living creatures to the Other Side. They wrote down their findings much more like scholars than believers of a faith. One day they decided sending a human through the device could be possible. Their hubris wrought their own pain. The leader of the faith, Raejak Utheyn, offered himself as the guinea pig.

Now most religions wouldn’t let their leader sacrifice himself. This religion didn’t question his choice. They started preparing for the test that day. The scariest part of the device is how it  works. Manuscripts about it have been long sought at by scholars but to no avail. Only the children of those people have the knowledge. We promised to our parents to never let anyone know the truth. Do you promise to never tell anyone?” he tips his drink towards me.

“I wouldn’t. The things I can tell from this so far tell me something terrible happened.” I shudder at the thought.

“Terrible? Yes. The animal tests only asked for a little bit of blood. It isn’t their choice. The device chooses the sacrifice. My parents told me the day before the trial that the cost could be grave. They had no clue. They thought it would be a limb not their lives. How can a device make such a complicated choice?

A gift known as a Frealigayn was given to them by a demon. He told them it had their answers. The thing, drawings that I’ve seen, showed a scepter made of bones, flesh, and ten eyes. It spoke to them with overlapping voices. They knew the thing couldn’t be good. Why would they take it? God. They wanted to beg for him to deal with the monsters in Dragacia. At what cost? Their whole beings. A choice like that is selflessly selfish. I cursed them for being so stupid. But they always said they already cursed themselves by taking the gift and so it is their destiny to take their sin before their Lord.

I was young back then. I didn’t get what Dragacia had done. Apparently the King of Dragacia found his status by sabotaging people who called him friend. Every country came together in an attempt to thwart the plans of an evil cult known as the Lost Crusaders. What plan? Legend says thirteen hellgates exist. They opened eleven of the Hellgates. Long story short the current Dragacian King ran a group of people into the heart of the Lost Crusaders’ base. They killed every last one of the Crusaders except one they wanted to interrogate. Fine and all right? Not even bloody close. The place where they were isn’t no ordinary place on Earth. It ain’t here anymore.

The King who fought the leader of the cult noticed something strange. Old magics stirred in the corridors. Some call it a Xylexia, others call it God’s Library, all I know is the King couldn’t help himself. He read through books that the leader had on a table in his private study. Something explained that anything taken from Xylexia would condemn the holder. He could’ve accepted that day’s victory but he only looked at what could be gained. A single grain of sand from an hourglass he hid in the supplies of the other royalty.

Everyone learned how one man’s greed can destroy all that’s good in the world. My parents watched ghostly wolves tear an innocent man apart. No one can pinpoint blame but nobody will say the King of Dragacia didn’t do it. Every nation wants his head. He’s marooned in Dragacia because Orion, the King of Cetera, and Faelorin, the King of Aldrassil, have made it a prime directive to hold their enemy accountable.

Now, I don’t know who did what back then. I don’t care. Dragacia as a whole has started killing people who are different. These people don’t impose their beliefs on anyone but for believing they’re executed. Aldrassil ain’t much different but Faelorin tries to stop the savage blood spill. Syael (see-ale) is the Dragacian King and he sees nobody as his equal. He isn’t a king. He proclaimed himself as an Emperor of the World.

Isn’t that messed up? He isn’t the only one responsible for the state of Dragacia. A few of the generals have stood faithfully by Syael’s side. My parents knew this. They decided sacrificing their souls for a better tomorrow was fair. Many demons have appeared on the Earth is what they told me. They want to abuse bleeding hearts and use them to create an even greater evil. The scepter did help them at a cost. Syael has the scepter now. I need to get it back. So here’s the rest of the story.

They dug a hole to place the scepter in. The eyes opened and used magic to draw lines around it. For animals it made bowls for blood sacrifice. It made five graves for them to rest forevermore. I sneaked into the building they selected for the ritual. I watched as my father laid down inside one of the graves. My mother went to kiss him one last time but the eyes wouldn’t have it. Crystallized magic skewered my father through the chest bringing his heart out. Another guy died, one woman died,  another guy  died, and my mother was getting ready. I yelled for my mom to not leave me. A chill ran down my spine.

The eyes turned towards me. A voice called to me. My mother begged for the eyes to let me go. Something took over my body, walked me to the empty grave, and my lips went numb. She screamed and cried for my life. I knew the eyes had no intent in killing me instead. I wasn’t a fit sacrifice. She had no idea what the eyes wanted. They craved for suffering. My mom jumped into the grave to save me. I couldn’t be saved or spared.

The crystallized magic came out at an angle. My body soaked in blood and a heart right in front of me.  I screamed. A man behind me placed his hand on my shoulder and told me to hear him out. I said no. He dumped a bucket of water on me and hugged me. The words he told me still echo in my head.

‘Your parents did everything out of love. That device right there is an evil thing I want to see destroyed. I’ll go through this portal. Promise me that you’ll destroy this thing.’ he said right before stepping through the portal.

By the strings of my heart I will keep that promise. I was so close to snapping the scepter in half but a mysterious group of people took it. The only thing I could see on them were the letters R and P. Today, Dragacia can be such a strong military state due to the efforts of the Royal Protectorate. Something tastes ill to me about them. They’ll stop a movement in Cetera and Aldrassil both at the same time. If they took  the Frealigayn they have an endless supply of people. Evil be stirring deep in Dragacia’s walls.

I didn’t leave that place at first. I waited for something I didn’t quite understand. Every time I tried to leave it felt like a hand held my shoulder. Ghosts. My parents kept giving me hints to their secret study. The key is all I needed. A key my father wore around his neck always. Wrapped around the crystallized magic was a necklace holding a small, rusty key. The stench was the worst thing. Decaying and rotting matter has a smell unlike anything. As soon as you smell it your stomach flips and you’ll find yourself dizzy, sick, and gagging. I threw up.

My shaky hands break the necklace but I caught the key by some miracle. I saw a glimpse of my father. Face became sullen, veins in his neck shallow and colorless, and the soil underneath him remains wet from blood. His intestines sprawled around the crystal like vines around a pillar. I ran from that room. My heart and mind were going crazy. I fumbled with the key once upstairs.

The hints showed a place behind the fireplace. I moved the wood out of the way and reached my hand down a shaft until I felt a valve, turned it a few times, a metal plate fell down from the back of the fireplace revealing a key hole, and I opened it without hesitation. The whole fireplace was on a hinge. I scurried into the room on the other side.

A dim light glows from overhead. In the light I could make out a cabinet, a desk, and a map on the wall. Every object in the place had information on Frealigayns. They come in many forms. A spirit, a scepter, a critter, and almost anything can be made into a Frealigayn. The strength of Frealigayn comes from its sorrow. Deeper into the journals I found a myth about them from thousands of years ago. These demons exist for the sole purpose of gathering shards from broken hearts for the revival of some arch demon. Personally I’d rather believe they only do this for themselves.

You said the Frealigayn knew your name? That’s strange. What else d id he tell you to do?”

“He wanted me to not go to the port. Something about how him and myself will want revenge and get it together. He said I’d become something I’m not. He said he is the future of the man I’ll call a friend.” my hushed tone whispers through the wind barely reaching Ariex’s ears.

“I see. Was he really a Frealigayn then? I can’t say. Spirits are weird. They come to us in times of need and times of no reason. My parents still haunt me when I let all the filth get to  me. Love can be a stranger thing too. He wouldn’t have came that far to warn you about something for no reason. Maybe he wants you to do his own bidding  or he truly wants to give you a second chance.

All in all, the choice is yours to make. We let you leave somewhere far from Aldrassil or you live your life. The costs and benefits don’t exist. It’s a gut feeling you gotta trust. It’s really like love. You either wait til you are ready or you jump right in.”

“Ariex thanks for everything. You saved me from the freezing ocean, gave me stuff to eat and drink, told me stories, abandoned me to die to a ghost. . .I’m not going to forget that one. I told you I want to be a part of your crew. For better or worse that’s what I intend to do.’ we shake hands as a way to seal the decision.

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