Join Date: May 2009
Location: Northrigde, California
IGN: Hekutaa / Yaripon / Flins
Guild: Mirage Coordinator
Chapter 8: Vindication
Heku and the others sat in the train car, waiting patiently for the train to arrive at Lumisade, yet the train had not yet reached even one inspection checkpoint. The four remained silent ever since Heku finished his story. Flins sat in his chair, his head resting on his hand. He examined Heku, then tried to replay his story in his head. He associated the character of Kenneth with Heku, yet could not decipher the portrayal of Clarice, Adelaide, nor the father. Frustrated with his lack of knowledge of Heku, Flins slowly closed his eyes to think.
He yearned to understand Heku, and to an extent, mirror his extreme strength. His thirst for power came from his sister, who would grow up in an isolated, war-torn land unless someone stopped the war. He couldn't bear letting himself, or anyone close to him, die from such a senseless waste of life.
The two boys fell asleep, at least to Cerise. She nudged Heku, then whispered something in his ear. The only word audible to Flins was the faint echo of the word "Erina." Heku nodded in agreement, then sighed.
"Erina." A name? To Yari Flins, any utterance concerning Heku would beguile him into hours of painstaking research if it allowed him to become stronger. He desired to awaken from his slumber, yet felt consumed by a strange aversion to Heku. He feared that Heku would fly into some unimaginable, apocalyptic rage if he inquired about his personal life. A mixed sensation of forbearance and curiosity encapsulated Flins' mind; To understand a wild beast, one must face its fangs.
Two uneventful hours flew by the group. The train began to slow, heralding the entrance into the fortified walls of Lumisade, the Kingdom of Perennial Snow. The train came to a screeching halt, waking both Flins and Shiro from their slumber.
"Did we make it?" Yawned Flins.
"Yes, I suppose so." Heku nodded with indifference. He looked to his right, noticing Minit standing before them.
"You four must follow me." She spoke, in her prideful and confident tone. "You all have to register at our headquarters.
"I'll no business of the sort." Argued Heku, "Cerise and I, unlike our acquaintances here; We're mercenaries, and as such, will not have any fixated alliance."
Minit scowled. Heku seemed to fill her with an intolerable amount of frustration out of his mentality alone. His mind, to her, appeared like a leaf flowing in some haphazard wind, only flowing in an erratic pattern that does not allow for permanence.
"Fine. But don't expect much payment." Minit growled.
Heku shrugged his shoulders. "If such actions beget such a result, then fine with me." Heku, too, felt vexed by her proud and pompous behavior. Albeit she has attained a high-commanding rank in the Lumisian army, Heku thought that such egotistical behavior acted against one's strength; He recalled the immense amount of annoyance he once experienced at Roman: Minit disregarding an impending doom to the secluded town, and to an extent, the whole kingdom of Lumisade, just to confront him.
"That aside, you'll need a place to recuperate. Just follow me to the fortress." Minit continued, gesturing to the four.
The group stood up and followed Minit out of the train car, along with the small crowd of troops out of the train car.
A chill of bitter reminiscence shook Cerise's spine. She recalled the biting frost of snow over the city, and remembered the destruction she and Heku caused along with it. The city seemed different from the last time Heku and she left, although they both left the city several hours ago. Snow gently fell from the grey clouds above them, while a gentile breeze kicked up the drifting snow.
The small group slowly walked down the empty, seemingly deserted streets of Lumisade. They reached a large, looming, marble-white institution with grey, stone-cut steps. A statue of a man with a large broadsword stood before the group. Heku passed by the statue with bitter anger, muttering "Good thing I killed you." Nevertheless, he continued following Minit into the military headquarters, their clothes lightly covered in a pall of brilliant white snow.
They entered the shining white building, several uniformed individuals in a standard Lumisian regalia consisting of a dark-green petticoat adorned with Lumisian symbols, rushed to Minit. Heku spied at the guards, hiding his face under the shadow of his cap brim.
"Dame Gaap! You have returned!" One man cried in exaltation.
"We have urgent news!" Another continued, "The Vesisians simply fired blank shots, then retreated."
Minit raised her right hand to gesture silence to the men. She smiled in a calm manner, cordially stating, "I shall approach this matter immediately." She looked at Heku and Cerise, pointing at one of them men, commanding, "For now, show these two guests their quarters, then take the young recruits to their examination quarters."
"Understood!" The guards said, standing tall while Minit passed by them.
The two guard whispered to each other, telling one another who to take. They nodded at each other's comments, then stood next to each other. They had their hands behind their back while their legs were stretched apart.
"Come with me to our guest quarters, please." One said.
"Follow me." The other said, "We will need to test your skills."
Flins and Shiro followed one guard to the left of the military institution, while Heku and Cerise followed the other guard to the right of the headquarters.
The floor had been crafted out of a high quality of oak and appeared painstakingly varnished. A loud clacking sound run from beneath Heku's shoes every time he took a step. He stared at his surroundings, disgusted by the lavish spending the Lumisians threw to create a sizable home for their nation's pride in arms. While he mindlessly followed the Lumisian guard, he gazed at a mural of framed plaques and next to it, a monolithic wall with the full-body portraits of previous Lumisian army leaders. He examined one portrait to the far right, seeing Minit in her bright-red casque while a bright-blue coat adorned her body. She seemed to mirror a Napoleonic pose: Her right hand lay comfortably on her sheathed arming sword at her side. A smirk of arrogance escaped her emotion, causing the bile to rise up Heku's stomach in pure contempt. He looked away from the gigantic hall, affixing his gaze at a winding, downward staircase that lead them to the guest quarters.
"A vacant room is at the furthest left door. I trust you can find your way there." The guard said, walking back up the metal staircase.
Heku and Cerise went down the green, velvet-lined hallway of the living quarters, opening the furthest left door, just like the guard told them to.
The room appeared homely, yet completely devoid of sunlight. A small ceiling lamp hung above the pair, while two separate beds stood in the middle, separated by a green lamp. A singular painting of the Lumisian kingdom hung on the walls of the windowless room. Heku and Cerise entered the room, then closed the mahogany, ornate door behind them.
"Now we can talk." Cerise said in her tender, motherly tone.
"What do you want me to divulge to you?" Heku sighed, feeling the immense weight of his guilt pushing down on his conscious. "Erina, my choice to aid the city whose king I killed in cold blood, or that story?"
"I need to understand what happened between you and Erina."
"Right." He said, avoiding eye contact with Cerise in anguish. "If I can recall, I made a pact with Vaughn three years. Those words will never escape me: 'In exchange for your life and emotions, I will grant you immense power to absolve the war. You may reclaim what you have compounded while I take my powers back. You will know when you complete your task.' He said. My own endeavors took precedence, so I used this augmentation to combat Count Sanguine. With that, I simply thought that the war would solve itself"
"That explains very little, Heku."
"You, Erina, and I returned back to Serdin, but I received another pocket watch in the mail. The sender's name was 'Vaughn.' With that , we departed for Frostig once more, then found out that the kingdoms of Frostig changed drastically, for the King of Lumisade obtained a power akin to ours."
"That's why you killed him." She said, trying to complete Heku's thought.
"Yes. I thought that would end the war, but I ended up absorbing his power."
"Then why did you submit yourself to that icy jail cell?"
"That only served to test my hypothesis: The day the frigid jail cell, fueled by my strength, faded, I could then rest knowing that my task would be completed."
"Where does Erina fit into all of this?"
"She wished for me to live alone with her."
"And you didn't?!" Cerise yelled, suddenly outraged. "But I thought you-"
"Loved her? I still do. But she clearly knows that if we simply isolate ourselves from Frostig, the war would eventually hit the modern borders of Serdin, then we would be looking down the barrel of the second Great War; The modern world cannot handle another war of that magnitude, for it has only begun the reparation process. Who knows what will occur after that, especially when the modernized world sees our… our apocalyptic prowess."
"You tear yourself between your morals and your heart." Cerise pointed out, looking at Heku somberly. She passed by Heku, her dark, fiery, slightly wavy hair wafting past Heku's face while she approached the door. She opened the opened, stopping to look back, saying, "If this continues, you will end up like that deranged father of your story, except Erina will not leave a parting gift for her dearest friend."
She closed the door.
Heku looked at the lit lamp above him in deep reflection, asking, "What do I do now…? Erina, Count Larme, Flügellos, Vaughn, Fuerig; Someone answer me!"