Chapter 5: Dawn of the Heroes
As the three stepped into the vast, open space inside the temple, the light seemed to be concentrated on one point, spreading out across the room and shining out of the windows from where the group had originally seen it. The focal point was so bright that none of the group could stare directly at it. It was like a miniature star, condensed and sent down to the earthly realm.
" 'Eesh…" Kirk placed his a hand to his forehead, attempting to block some of the light. It didn’t really work, but it was better than nothing. “This thing trying to kill us? Hey, you two, what’s even happening here? Jackass who caught me didn’t tell me what the hell to do when I got here.”
“If you had arrived on time, I could have filled you in. It pays to be punctual.” Jerome reprimanded his teammate, and pulled the brim of his hat down to act as a sort of makeshift visor.
And finally, Dakota was…
Dakota had covered his whole face in his scarf, and had scurried off to a corner of the temple. It seemed the intensity of the light had startled him.
Jerome shot a disappointed look over to the snow wizard, and Kirk just rolled his eyes behind his hand. There wasn’t going to be much time to talk about this little stunt, though, because the light seemed to be… changing.
The silvery glow was morphing. The light seemed to be drawing itself inwards, and decreasing in brightness substantially. The three- or, the two who were still standing there,- could now look towards the light without blinding themselves.
It seemed to be taking the form of…
The shimmering glow was now much softer. In the place of all that energy stood what appeared to be a man made of the light itself. He had a silvery shine to him, and it seemed as if the stars themselves were swimming through his veins, and his long beard and hair had little shiny flecks all throughout them.
“Greetings, young heroes.” The voice seemed to be wise with age as it welcomed the three in. “Believe it or not… I have been waiting for the arrival of you three for some time.” The glimmering man gave a small, crooked smile and a laugh that seemed to rattle the man’s frail body.
“Ah… were there not supposed to be three of you…?” The man looked around, but… no, there seemed to only be two. A well and darkly dressed man who looked almost like a soldier, and some rough and tumble type who looked like he’d come here right after a fight.
“…There’s three.” Jerome spoke curtly, and then pointed over to the corner where Dakota was still hiding.
“…Yes. I… suppose, knowing how one of the group would be… I perhaps should have expected something like that.” The silver man sighed. “Boy… you are in no danger. Your friends are still alive. Come join then, and here my words.”
Dakota let out a small whimper, pulling his scarf down just enough to where he could peek out and see the three standing there. He slowly pushed himself upwards, and slowly crept over to the group.
Yet again, it was Jerome who spoke. “We are not friends. We merely met by chance for a mission. No relationship has been formed.”
“Aw, c’mon, redhead, you’ll never get a girl if you act like that to people!” Kirk managed one of his wisecracks, and then turned back to the man. “So! Old guy, you mind filling me in? These two losers haven’t told me nuthin. You believe that?”
Dakota let out yet another small sigh, while Jerome simply shot a glare at the iron wizard who had spoken.
“I…I don’t really know a whole ton either. Just that this is something… s-special…” Dakota finally spoke, his voice shaking and rattling as he did so.
“Have the wizards of this day been taught nothing by my writings…?” The old man mused, running a hand through his star filled beard. “Nevermind that. I suppose I will oblige you. Have you ever heard of Mercury’s Novel?”
Both Kirk and Dakota let out a ‘nope,’ which seemed to deflate the man’s spirit a bit.
“You’re… sure? You’ve never heard of it? Legendary book of prophecy and ancient magic?” The man seemed to sound hopeful as he attempted to get the two to recall this book.
“Sssstill a nope from me, gramps.” Kirk shrugged a bit.
“I’m… I’m sorry…” Dakota bowed his head slightly, shutting his eyes.
Jerome, who had still been relatively silent, sighed. “I have. The one who sent me informed me of what is was. Does that make you…?”
“It does indeed. Not that it matters to these two, but I am the writer of that ancient book. The guardian of the northern sky, Mercury.” It seemed that, despite being somewhat of a deity, Mercury took offense to two of the group members not knowing about his book. Huh.
“W-Wait… so you’re a… g-god or something…?” Dakota whispered, his eyes now opening and widening significantly. He seemed terribly afraid now. Had he just offended a god? Would that mean anything bad for him?
“No, no. I have simply achieved a state beyond mortality, thanks to the gods. Not many prophets get this honor, but… it seems I was the chosen one. Good taste, those old blokes had.” Mercury let out a bit of a wistful sigh, and then continued.
“Anyways… that is who I am. And as for why I called you here… well, as I have stated many times, mine is a book of prophecies. And it just so happens that you three are a part of the one that has come to pass.” Mercury gave another one of his small, polite smiles.
“I’ll paraphrase for the lot of you who don’t know what’s going on. As you know, there are many who believe in and worship the gods, despite not knowing for sure if they are actually there. Well… they are. Some of them, at the least. The ones who haven’t been wiped from existence… they are still around.”
“Sooooo… is our mission learning about some religion or something? This is kind of a lame prophecy.” Kirk spoke again, stifling a yawn that was threatening to break through.
“I wasn’t finished.” Mercury spoke sharply, and then continued. “Some of these believers are… very devout, to say the least. From my spot in the sky, I have spied something troubling. A cult, if you will. While that itself is nothing new, what they are doing is.”
“…Go on.” Jerome stood with his arms now behind his back as he looked towards the old man.
“Thanatos. The God of Death itself. Have any of you ever heard that name?” Mercury’s voice sounded a bit more serious now as he scanned the three young wizards for a reaction.
“M-My dad… used to say …things… about him.” Dakota spoke, but didn’t continue on. That sentence alone seemed to stir some fear in him, as he pulled his scarf a bit tighter around his face and tugged his fur hood closer to his head. “Nothing that gave… information, though. J-Just… his name.” Dakota was leaving out a pretty key part there, but… he didn’t seem to have anything else to say.
Mercury gave a small nod, understanding at least a bit of Dakota’s plight. “Well, then… your end goal is to hunt down this cult and put a stop to their activities. It may seem like a small task, but I assure you. This could determine the fate of the world itself. What they are trying to do is summon Thanatos himself into this world. If they are able to get the very incarnation of death to wreak havoc in this plane of existence…” The man paused.
“Nobody will be spared.”
“I can not serve as a meeting point, but I will do my best to give you hints from my place in the sky whenever possible. I have the mission, but that is all. I was unable to collect any information on the group other than that one of their underling members was last spotted crossing the Bronze Grasslands around a week ago. If you are able to hurry, you may be able to catch them.”
“Understood. We will complete this mission to the highest degree of success.” Jerome spoke, placing his right fist over his heart as he spoke.
“…Sorry about this guy. He’s kind of a stiff. So all we gotta do is take out some extremely powerful death cult and save the whole world? Simple enough.” Kirk shrugged a bit, a grin coming to his face. “Can’t be too strong, right? I mean… c’mon. Hit 'em enough times and they’ll just go down.”
“Do not make light of this situation.” Jerome spoke again, now turning towards the iron wizard.
“Or what? What’s gonna happen if I do? I’m just sayin’ that I’m confident. Confident that I can wipe the floor with whoever needs it.” Kirk seemed to have conveniently forgotten about his bout with the magic council captain as he spoke to his teammate.
“If you can not realize the severity of this mission, I will have to show you myself.” Jerome took a step forward, his eyes narrowing.
“Ooh? Those sound like some fighting words, shortstack. You got something to prove?” Kirk gave a crooked grin, and took a step so that he and Jerome were now face to face. Kirk tilted his head down slightly to look at Jerome. It was only a 2 inch difference, but it was enough to flaunt over the ash wizard’s head.
Off to the side, Dakota sat and watched with an embarrassed look on his face.
Why did I have to end up with these two as teammates…? He thought giving an apologetic look to Mercury.
“Ahem.” The old man cleared his throat, which caused the other two to turn their heads. “Save the quarrels for later. Outside of my temple, at the very least. And on that note, I have just about run out of time on this plane. I will be watching over you, my heroes. Do not let this world fall.” Mercury seemed to be fading away as he spoke, twinkling into the darkness.
“W-We…” Dakota couldn’t finish, but instead gave a small nod. He was still unsure. But now he had both the confidence of a King and this semi-deity on his back. Were they right to place their confidence in him…?
“We will.” Jerome finished the sentence for Dakota, who gave a sheepish laugh at the words. He had now stepped away from Kirk, and gave a small salute as Mercury disappeared. He himself had a few doubts, namely about how well he would work with this group. One was completely spineless, and the other was completely… annoying. But, as always, he intended to see this mission through.
“Eesh. Just when it was getting good. Oh well. Grasslands 'r whatever, right? Sounds like we gotta get moving. Hup - two, snowball. Double time, emo. Leeeet’s get movin!” Kirk snickered a bit, and then began to walk from the temple, not waiting for the others. He assumed they would catch up. The other two could have their doubts. Kirk’s mind was completely clear. Wiping out a few wackos who worshipped death? Walk in the park.
And just like that, the three were gone. Off on their quest to save the world.
…Let’s hope they succeed.
To Be Continued