Note: This post is purely for the fan-fiction only. For details about the world I chose, thought process, research and developments, please refer to this post.
Heads up: This fan-fic is pretty long.
Chapter 1 – The Beginning
Daylight strew into the room. My eyelids fluttered in the golden morning light as I got to my feet. Muffled voices could be heard from outside my bedroom. I edged closer to the doorknob, gently clutching it and pushing the door ajar.
“He’s all grown up, Elden!” my mother yelled. “You need to let him make his own decisions!”
“It’s not easy being an adventurer!” my father shouted in return. “He’s just fifteen!”
An ‘adventurer’ was what they called those who went to University to learn powers and gain special abilities. I had heard about these unnatural abilities. The more common ones that existed were telekinesis, the ability to move objects with one’s mind, and elemental control, the ability to control water, fire and the like.
I had heard about these legendary “adventurers”. They go out to fight the war with the monsters, creatures which had plagued our world since the beginning of time. Their origin was never known, but their numbers constantly grew, and the University was seeking out the most talented individuals to become adventurers to fight these monsters and stand up for the human race.
There was a catch – not everyone could graduate from the University with such powers. You would be given only three years to learn from the Masters, and if you were deemed weak at any point, you would be expelled and have your powers removed.
But I had no fear.
My parents’ argument with each other had intensified to the point that they did not notice my presence. I moved closer, my feet shuffling across the icy cold wooden floor. I looked into my father’s unfaltering eyes as he argued with my mother. Even though I had always been doubtful about this decision, I mustered with as much confidence as I could to speak.
“I won’t let you down!”
He turned his gaze towards me, shifting his attention from my mother to me. There was a long pause and my eyes met my father’s for the first time in what seemed like months. We never communicated much as he had spent much of his time in Ossaris.
My father was one of the few adventurers who had mastered a third tier ability, the strongest ability that one can learn. Less than a hundred of such adventurers exist in the world. Many others struggle with handling a second tier ability, much less master it. I never saw my father or any third tier adventurer in action on the battlefield, but from the stories, I heard they could slay twenty monsters in one swoop. He had even been to the sacred altar. I looked at my father – a legend, standing before me, and there I was as a normal kid.
My father sighed, breaking the silence. I knew he had much to say, but he held back.
“Just go son,” his voice tainted with affection unlike his previous harsh words directed at his spouse. “Your mother is right.”
“It is your life, your destiny. You don’t need us to decide it for you,” he added, trying to sound gentle despite his rough voice.
He turned towards the door, leaving me and my mother alone in the house. I was unsure of what to say to break the tension that still lingered in the air.
“Go now, or you’ll be late,” my mother bent down, passing me a good luck charm to keep me safe and ushering me toward the door.
As I stepped out, I saw my father had long gone. I looked back at our home. It was a simple wooden house like the others in the village of Riena. Our village was situated far from The Wall, an artificial barrier that guarded our land from the monsters and the war beyond it. Even if the barrier were to fall, it would take days for the monsters to even get to us. My mother had always preferred to lead a peaceful and simple life of farming and growing crops for the villagers, in stark contrast to my father.
As I thought back about him, I wondered about when we would next see each other. Hopefully by then, I would have something to show him, an ability I could be proud of.
Chapter 2 – Dan
I arrived in the University. The weather was perfect, almost as though it recognized the importance of the day. Thousands of students were walking into the compounds, all dressed formally like I was, eager to become adventurers. I blended in with the crowd, following them toward the meeting point for all new undergraduates – the Pantheon. We would all be undertaking a huge responsibility.
Ahead of us were several buildings. It felt surreal to finally be here. Looking around, it was unlike any other school. For one, it was huge, composed of several buildings. The grand nature of the university was unmistaken. But one particular structure stood out amongst the rest. A slim, tall white structure jutted above the sea of buildings that surrounded it, its tip piercing the clear blue sky like a huge needle that stood out from the ground. The Pantheon.
I looked down at my feet, thinking about what the rest were feeling. Anxiety? Nervous? The school fees did not come cheap, and I would be a disappointment to my mother if I-
“Hey! Watch where you’re going!” a voice pierced my thoughts. My shoulders tensed. I looked up, noticing an angered teenager staring at me. He was about my age. He was tall and slim and had raven black hair. He then turned to look at my feet and my eyes shifted to a bottle lying on the ground in front of me. Its contents, likely some sort of soft drink, had spilt all over, staining the white and reflective tiles of the ground.
“I-I’m sorry!” I uttered timidly, losing my train of thoughts.
He picked up his bottle, wiping his hands against his shirt. His anger seemed to dissipate when he looked back at me, as though I was instantly forgiven when he recognized me as a new undergraduate.
“So you want to be an adventurer?” he asked. I nodded.
“Well, that’s what I’m here to be as well,” he smiled. “My name’s Dan.” He extended his hand toward mine. I let out a soft sigh of relief.
“You can call me Zack,” I shook his hand.
“Come on, I know a shortcut to the Pantheon. Follow me.” He ushered me forward, as we cut through the crowd and entered one of the buildings. It was mostly empty, save for a few people. Dan led me down an escalator which took us to an underground passageway. It was brightly lit and there were several doors to our sides, lined up on the walls, possibly leading to classrooms.
“So where are you from?” he asked.
“Riena.” I responded.
“Wow, that’s really far. It’s nowhere near the edge of the mainland where the war is, isn’t it?” He asked.
“Yeah, it’s really peaceful here and-”
“Oh really?” he cut me off. He turned to me and I bit my tongue.
I paused, slightly intimidated by his sarcastic tone, unsure whether he was trying to be rhetorical.
“Sorry, don’t mind me.” He turned away sheepishly and apologized. “It’s just that most of the villages I knew had fallen to the monsters. It seems there is nowhere safe.”
“Yes, who knows when the war will end?” We continued to walk and along the way shared about the various lifestyles we led.
“Have you seen your timetable?” He asked, changing the topic.
I slung my bag to the front, reaching in to take out my timetable. He glanced over as I pulled it out. “I have Ms Wong’s Element Mastery classes on Monday and-”
“Woah! We have the same timetable!” Dan exclaimed.
“Really?” I exclaimed, eyes widening. “That’s awesome!”
“So what are you choosing to major in next year?” he inquired.
“Major? You mean our specialisation?” I questioned.
“Yes, they are merely going to build on our basics and foundation in our first year. Next year, we get to choose one of three majors, each one led by one of the three Masters who founded this school.” He continued. “There is the Master of Light who teaches enhanced senses as first tier abilities like super strength and an eagle’s eyesight, then you get to manipulate radiation and electricity as second tier abilities and finally you get to create force fields and control energy as third tier abilities. Then there’s the Master of Magic, who can control fire, water, earth and air as first tier abilities, and get cool stuff like invisibility as second tier abilities, and then telekinesis as a third tier ability. Lastly there’s the Master of Anamorphism. You get to grow animal-like features like having claws as hands, then learn self-regeneration like healing as a second tier ability and finally anamorphism, where you get to fully transform into any animal and become an invincible beast as a third tier ability.”
“I’m going to major in Magic next year,” Dan chuckled.
“I don’t know yet. I’m not even sure I can make it past the first year.” I mumbled. “The training looks tough.”
“Oh you will.” He added. “It’s not that hard. You’ll see in the ceremony later. The masters are going to perform a really cool showcase. You can find out what you like.”
Chapter 3 – The Three Masters
Every new student was seated in the arena. Rows of seats surrounded the center of the arena where a huge stage was constructed. Eight concrete pillars surrounded the stage, supporting nothing in particular. Four of the pillars had been completely decimated, as though knocked down or demolished by a wrecking ball. The remaining pillars were all damaged in some way, either chipped off or decorated with black scorch marks and deep scratches. No doubt a ferocious battle had taken place here.
No later did the welcome ceremony begin and three figures walked onto the stage to introduce themselves.
The Three Masters, just as Dan had mentioned.
The first figure was clad in a white robe and introduced himself as Legren. He wore a silver mask that concealed his identity and donned a long robe that extended from head to toe. He wore white gloves and shoes that covered his skin, leaving no part of himself exposed.
The second figure held a staff in one hand and called himself Gulfro. It was a long rod, intricately carved out of sturdy metal, with strangely coloured jewels attached at its tip where the rod was curved to form a sort of hook like shape. The jewels seemed to emit a glow that seemed to resonate the power of its wielder. He wore a wizard hat and had robes similar to the first figure, but was in blue. He had a white moustache and a beard which he stroked eloquently every so often.
The third figure was dressed lightly and told the audience that preferred to be addressed as Rogue, which stirred some laughter. One could see his arms and legs, which looked almost too hairy for the average human. He looked much younger than his counterparts and his ruffled hair seemed to portray the opposite of what we would expect from a Master – a wise, old man with a clean and neat appearance.
Without warning, Gulfro lifted his staff and a ring of fire surrounded the three masters on stage. Four bolts of incandescent flames shot from Gulfro’s staff toward Legren. Legren lifted his hands, surrounding himself in a force field bubble. The flames hit his protective bubble, dissipating instantly. Meanwhile, Rogue began to transform. His arms began to bulge out and expand as did his legs. Brown hair engulfed his form as his face took the shape of an animal. He had taken the form of a ferocious bear in a matter of seconds.
Gulfro lifted his staff once more, chanting a sort of incantation. Nearby, one of the concrete pillars was lifted off the ground and was hurled toward Rogue. Raising his paws, Rogue sliced the pillar in half with his claw just before it could hit him. The pillar divided into two, scattering away from him and producing a cloud of dust as it skidded across the sand.
Legren waved his hand at Gulfro and bolts of pure energy erupted from his hand. They glowed a ferocious yellow and lunged at high speed toward Gulfro, who rolled out of the way just in time. Bursts of lightning then erupted from Legren’s fingertips, illuminating the arena.
Then, an invisible force lifted Rogue into the air as the huge beast was suspended in midair, a sight that looked surreal enough to look like a glorified magic trick. Rogue was then released and slammed into the ground forcefully. I could feel the earth beneath me shake ever so slightly as vibrations rippled through the ground from the impact.
Rogue stood up, revealing wounds on his knees from the fall. Before blood could ooze out from the wounds, the wounds began to close, patching themselves up with new skin and eventually covered with the same brown fur that matched the rest of his body.
Legren then discarded his robe. “Thunder spear!” He roared, putting his hands together to create an electric spear out of thin air. The spear crackled with electricity, pulsating with unstable energy. Sparks constantly leapt out from his materialised spear. He rushed toward Gulfro who took out his staff. They both clashed, Legren’s spear hitting Gulfro’s seemingly indestructible staff. Rogue transformed back into a human, save for his arms which remained as claws. He leapt toward the other two masters and the three clashed. A blinding light engulfed the center of the arena as disturbed sand erupted from the ground, shrouding the masters from the audience.
Nothing could be seen in the dust. The arena was filled with the sound of crackling electricity. As the smoke cleared, the ring of fire surrounding the masters disappeared, revealing the three masters standing back in their initial formal stances. They bowed to the audience.
Cheers erupted from around the arena as they stood up and applauded.
I looked at Dan, who was seated beside me, clearly excited and cheering for the Master of Magic the whole time.
Chapter 4 – The Fourth Tier
Two Years Later
“You’re back.” My mother stood eagerly at the dining table, laying out the dishes for dinner. There was a wide spread of food, but my eyes were fixated on a letter on the table.
“From dad?” I asked, pointing to the letter. My mother nodded, clearly as excited to read it as I was.
Two years had passed and my father had yet to return home and stories spread of the growing intensity of the war that raged on in Ossaris, which was where my father was sent to. He wrote back once a month and it was always a joyful moment to get to read his letters every time.
We both settled down on the table next to each other. Pulling out Dad’s letter, I saw his familiar handwriting. His words were always blocky and bold, the letters themselves leaving deep markings on the paper that dug into it. To a normal person, it would look as though one had exerted a lot of strength on the pencil to write this letter.
“He’s going to visit us next month!” My mother exclaimed, her face bright with glee. She continued to mutter his favourite dishes that she would prepare. I leapt up in excitement, for it meant I had a chance to show my father my new abilities and what kind of adventurer I had become.
“How’s your studies? Time flies… I can’t believe we are in our final year now.” Dan wrapped his arms around my neck, pulling me over to him. “Heard you got top in your class again, isn’t it?”
Dan had become my best friend in school, and we had moved on to study in our majors. He studied magic while I followed in my father’s footsteps and studied light. We had both earned our place in the top 5% of the cohort and had advanced to study in third tier abilities. We only had a few months left before we would graduate. Fewer than a hundred students had the privilege of getting to learn third tier abilities.
“I hope I can master the third tier ability.” I said hopefully. “My father would be proud.”
“Listen.” Dan abruptly gripped my shoulders. His grip intensified as he breathed heavily. I could feel discomfort as he squeezed my arms. He pulled me close to him and looked intently into my eyes. I was stunned by his sudden actions.
“The war is closer to us than you think. The monsters are growing more intelligent and the University is underestimating their intelligence! Worse, they’re not doing anything about it!” His voice was almost menacing. “But I’m going to do something about it. I’m not going to stop after this year. I’m going to master the fourth tier and stop everything.”
“The… fourth tier?” I asked. It was never spoken of before.
“The Land of Frozen Flames. That’s where the knowledge of the fourth tier is kept. They can’t hide this secret forever.” He laughed.
“The Land of Frozen Flames… you mean it’s inside the Altar?” I looked at him in astonishment. The altar… it was a place the best and strongest of the third tier adventurers went to seek knowledge and perfect their abilities. I thought of my father for a moment. Did he know? Had he known about the secrets within the Altar and kept it from me?
“Your father is a liar.” Dan merely smirked, as though he had read my thoughts. “I’m going there to get the scroll that contains the knowledge of how to master the fourth tier ability. The monsters have taken over that land and the University has kept it a secret from all of us. The masters are selfish… they intend to keep this power for themselves.”
“That’s not true, we have to ask the Masters what really is going on in the Altar.”
“Don’t bother!” Dan yelled, frustrated. “Let me show you.”
He put his hands on my shoulder and began uttering an incantation. I felt a strange energy surround me and my consciousness almost slipping away. The world around me became a blur and the only thing I could see was Dan’s eyes. I could see rage, anger, frustration.
Then, my consciousness slipped back and I looked around me. Dan let go of me as I fell to the ground, dizzy from the strange experience. I struggled to stand on both my legs. I was no longer at the University. I was now someplace else. It was no longer concrete I was standing on, but soft fresh grass which reminded me of my village.
“This is Banesevek,” Dan sighed, “or what’s left of it.”
“Bansevek had used to be a bustling village. Many villagers and traders from the city came here to trade. It was safe, protected by the barrier created by the University.”
“Wait, isn’t Banesevek a 2-hour journey from our University?” I enquired. “How did we get here within seconds?”
“Teleportation.” He smirked, almost happy to look at my confused face. “It’s a fourth tier ability.”
“You went to the Altar?!” I exclaimed, still slightly dizzy from the teleportation.
“Teleportation and telepathy are just merely the most basic of fourth tier abilities.” He proclaimed, a tone of arrogance clearly in his voice. “Back to Banesevek. This was my village, my home, and it was destroyed by the monsters. And it’s all the University’s fault!”
“You can’t blame them…” I said.
“They assured us that the barrier was reliable! They were so confident that they did not even assign any adventurers in this sector” He cried. “But the barrier fell due to a careless design of the barrier. I lost my parents and my home, and I swore that day, that I will become an adventurer and right all the wrongs! Whatever happened to Banesevek will befall the University!”
“You better not tell anyone about this. Seeing that you’re not with me on this, then I shall do this alone. If you change your mind, find me at our usual meeting place in the forest. I’ll give you a long time to think about it.” He laughed. There was a flash of light, and Dan was gone. In the distance, a downpour ensued as petrichor filled the air. It was a long trip back to the University.
Chapter 5 – Revenge
The master stood before me. The two hour long bus ride had dropped me off at the University.
“Greetings, Zack.” Legren stood before me, his robes draped behind him as he walked toward me.
I explained everything to him, about Dan, about him going to the altar.
“Dan isn’t being completely truthful with you, Zack. The Altar had never fallen to the monsters. It has always been under the University’s safekeeping. We kept it a secret from all the students except for the best of our adventurers. Your father was one of those who knew about the true power that the Altar really contained.”
So it was true, the Altar contained secrets of the fourth tier abilities.
“But Dan, he killed the guards and nearly all our finest third tier warriors. A few of them survived but a dozen of them who were protecting the scroll and the altar from monsters were killed that day.” I listened in horror as he continued. “The scroll isn’t ready for the world.”
“It’s time I showed you this. You must be prepared for what you are about to see.” I wondered in curiosity at what he meant.
He raised his hands, his fingers gently sliding underneath his mask. There was a soft metallic click as he unlocked the mechanism that held his mask in place. Slowly, he removed his mask, letting it drop to the floor. I stared at his face, forcing myself not to be repelled by what I saw.
His face was disfigured, his left eye missing from its socket and his mouth crooked, a deep cut extended to the right side of his face while the other was battered with scars. What was left of his nose was a mere protrusion of flesh jutting out in a crooked angle. In certain places, parts of his skin were peeling, revealing the vulnerable flesh underneath.
“I look like a monster, don’t I?” he groaned in a deep voice that made it seem as though he struggled to utter those few words. It was the first time I had heard his voice without it being muffled by the mask he always donned. He chuckled, before bending down, picking up his mask and putting it back, concealing his face once more.
“It’s a permanent consequence of when I was still an adventurer trying to master the fourth tier ability. When I learned of what it could do, I wanted to master it. I trained and trained until I was the most powerful adventurer. I could single-handedly beat every one of my comrades in a spar. I thought I was ready. But this power… it’s not for us to control. It has its own living force and it will consume you like a leech that latches onto its prey with its hook. I had to pay a heavy price for acquiring this power and it took me decades before I could lead a normal life once more.”
“But I can teach you the fourth tier ability,” he glared. Even though the mask concealed his expression, I could somehow tell he was looking directly into my eyes, dead serious about what he had just said.
“That’s impossible!” I smiled awkwardly. “I’m barely even coping with using a third tier ability.”
“But you’re still young.” Legren argued. “I was 40 years old when I tried to learn it. Though I had the power to learn the ability, my body was way too old. You are powerful enough and your body is still growing. It can still accept and tame such high tier powers while you’re still at this stage. Unfortunately, this means that Dan is also able to learn the fourth tier ability and once he does so, no one can stop him, other than another user of the fourth tier ability.”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t.” I looked away, my eyes darting toward the horizon by the window. “If you want me to kill my best friend, I won’t do it.”
“You have to destroy Dan before he destroys the world.” Legren explained. “While you have been studying here, the Masters have studied you. You were the only one to pass the test at the Cave of Unrest.”
“No, I will not fight him.” I turned away flustered. “There has to be a way. I can convince him. I’ll tell him everything you told me! My father will know what to do. He’s been to the altar.”
“It is already too late,” he bellowed. “Dan has already gone down the path of darkness. Zack… I don’t know how to say this, but your father… is gone.”
“What?” My attention turned back to him. “Gone? What are you-”
“Your father was one of those killed at the altar. Dan disguised himself as one of the Masters and resorted to forbidden abilities to kill those who were at the altar that day. We have identified your father’s body and…”
Tears swelled up uncontrollably in my eyes. I could not bear to hear anymore. I ran out into the rain and disappeared into the forest. I tripped over a rock, falling onto the mud-soaked ground. Tears trickled down my face, merging with the heavy raindrops that fell from above.
How could he? How could Dan do this…? I could not forgive him. Perhaps, the Master was right. Someone had to stop Dan.
I took my weapon and ran off into the forest to seek Dan out.
It was not long before I found Dan.
“So, you have changed your mind?” Dan asked slyly.
“Stop this Dan!” I screamed, my voice still choked on the tears.
I drew my weapon, the Omega Orb, an object that was said to enhance my abilities. The Master had slid it into my pocket earlier, saying that I would need it.
“The Omega Orb? You went to the Masters? You betrayed me Zack!” He yelled, clearly aggravated by what he saw. Then, he smiled.
“And now you want to fight me?” He laughed, a slight hint of irritation in his voice.
“You really think you can take on me?” He retorted. “You have no idea how strong these tier four abilities have made me.”
“You killed my father!” I snapped.
“Sacrifices had to be made, Zack.” He muttered in a calm tone that merely angered me even further. “Surely you have to understand that.”
I was overwhelmed by emotions. It didn’t matter to me anymore if I lived or died. I just wanted to kill this monster and bring justice to my father. I clutched the orb, unleashing a stream of energy bolts directed at Dan. He darted to the side, dodging it easily.
I watched as the raindrops around me began to freeze and crystallise into sharp knives made of ice. I lifted the Omega Orb and concentrated my energy into a ball before releasing a shockwave just as I saw the knives turn and speed toward me. The shockwave destroyed most of the knives, but two knives continued to make its way toward me. I narrowly managed to dodge one, but another grazed my cheek, leaving behind a bloody cut on one side of my face. I barely had time to tend to my wound when I saw a fiery spear moving toward me at a high speed.
“Force Field!” I uttered, casting an energy bubble around myself. Dan’s flaming spear hit the bubble, but did not dissipate. It continued to burn and had begun to pierce through my force field, creating cracks. I stared wide eyed as the flame destroyed my force field and slammed right into me. I had a moment to react before I created a weaker energy guard around my chest to shield myself before the flames came into direct contact with my skin. My energy guard deflected the flames but the impact sent me flying a few feet away before I skidded into the mud, blood staining the soil beneath me.
I was exhausted and my energy depleted. It was then that I realised I could not move. Dan has used his telekinesis to freeze me in place. I lay helplessly on the ground. He lifted his staff. I could hear the roots of a nearby tree being forced out of the ground. He had uprooted a nearby tree and moved it over my body. I lay flat, looking up at the tree that hovered dangerously over me. Small twigs snapped and fell around me as the tree blocked out the moonlight while raindrops continued to splash on my face as cold wind pierced the silent air around me. Dan looked at me, ready to release the tree and let it crush me, but I could see he was hesitating. I closed my eyes.
I thought back about the two or so years we spent at the university. Dan had always had greater ambitions than me, about wanting to make the world a better place for everyone. I respected that. I was so upset about the loss of my father, but failed to see that Dan had experienced a greater loss and for far longer than me. Perhaps I was not a good enough friend to him. I didn’t try to understand what he was going through. I knew he wasn’t exactly a popular kid in school and was occasionally ridiculed by his peers, yet I didn’t check to see if he was doing okay every now and then. I was not a good friend.
In that moment, a huge bear emerged from the forest and pushed the levitating tree away from me and into the direction of Dan. I could see Dan’s face showing fear for the first time as he teleported out of the way.
The bear stood over me, then transformed into Rogue. In the distant, I saw two figures emerge from the trees, their weapons drawn as they stood in a battle stance.
Dan was across them, his weapon drawn as well. Dan and the three masters locked eyes with each other intensely, neither willing to make the first move.
Then, Dan turned his gaze toward me. I heard his voice in my head, almost as though he was whispering into my ear despite standing at least thirty feet away from me.
“It’s not your fault, Zack. You were the best friend I could ever have.”
I looked in his direction, and Dan was gone. His words continued to echo in the air before fading off in the loud and heavy drizzle of the rain.
Legren rushed to me and pulled me up from the dirt while Rogue began to heal my wounds.
Legren then put his arm on my shoulder.
“Now, your real training begins… Zack. You have to go back to the Cave of Unrest immediately.”
Dear reader, thanks for taking an interest in my fan-fic and reading all the way to the bottom. I think I had too much fun writing it that I got carried away and I honestly wished I wrote something shorter and simpler because I was too ambitious with this. I misunderstood the brief and thought we had to be as detailed as possible to describe the world so that the reader is able to imagine it, so yeah. Sorry if it was too long!