2.0 Zero_Chapter 2: Sunlight

The sunlight pouring through the treetops fell onto my closed eyelids and stirred me awake.

Guess it worked huh? I thought, smiling.

I picked myself up and stretched, before grinning widely as I imagined what Mr. Smith must be going through right now, but I quickly put that thought out of my mind. This was my world now; no point in thinking about that other place anymore. I immediately decided to check whether my character, or rather my new body, was exactly as I had planned.

I looked at my hands, checked all my joints and did a few stretches to make sure everything worked. I also inspected the purple robes I was wearing, along with the simple leather armor underneath.

Status, I thought.

A translucent, purple screen appeared in front of me.

Let’s see, Kai Zero, sixteen years old, Male. Wow, these stats are ridiculously low. Level 5, really?

I chuckled. I would probably be pretty ordinary if I’d dropped in without my Ability.

Re:Write: the ability to rewrite anything and everything in the world. This is the biggest cheat code ever, isn’t it?

I laughed, a bit too loudly, but well, letting go of all the shit I’d been going through back on Earth was incredibly liberating. Here on ‘Erath’, I was finally free to do whatever I wanted. Although, I did regret naming the world Erath. I’d made the game when I was eleven and I’d never been good with names either, but a name like Erath was cringe-worthy, even for me.

I scrolled down the screen with a thought. The empty Skills section may have been disconcerting, but the small red button in the lower right corner reassured me. It was the debug button I’d installed as a failsafe against any bugs I couldn’t fix from within the system. I’d developed it to save time while debugging games, but decided it’d be a useful thing to have, just in case.

Now I have to make sure everything is working properly. Let’s start with these crappy stats.

I closed my eyes and focused. It wasn’t necessary because all I have to do is think about what I want to change and how I want to change it, and it would happen. But for now, I wanted to get used to my new powers. So, to help myself focus, I thought of the code like: <re:write.target.effect>

<re:write.self.change stats to max>

There was no energy ripple nor any bright, flashing lights, but I knew it’d worked as a surge of power coursed through me. I checked my status and as expected, my HP and MP were at 9999, my Attack, Defense, Speed, Vitality, and Intelligence were all at 999 and my level was also at 999. These were the highest possible stats in the game.

Good, although the ability could have given me stats higher than the maximum stats in the game, it correctly interpreted “max stats” to mean “the maximum stats possible in the game,” which was my real intention. So, it works based on my thoughts and not the words I use to express them.

This means I don’t have to be careful with my words when describing the effect, I want to apply, nor do I need to know any names or have any images in my head. I just need to be able to identify my target somehow. Even vague descriptions like “that thing that just went past me,” should be enough.

The rise in stats also seemed to have raised my sensory abilities, as I heard a faint rustle in the bushes behind me. I turned around and found a large, tusked figure crouching among the leaves.

A wild boar? A perfect test subject for my new abilities!

I picked up a rock and threw it at the boar. It went straight through its skull, smashed through several trees behind it and hit the ground with a large thud. A huge flock of birds flew away from the trees around me as the boar’s corpse fell.

I guess it worked a little too well…

I noticed that the boar’s corpse didn’t vanish like in the game, so I cleaned it up to avoid attracting other animals or monsters.

<re:write.boar corpse.erase> I thought. The boar’s corpse vanished, leaving no traces.

I’d make a very effective serial killer, I mused.

Having tested my physical strength, it was time to find the nearest human settlement.

<re:write.self.view=map>

A large map of Erath stretched before my eyes. Two large continents dominated the map, with a large, stone bridge connecting them in the middle. The map only showed the names of cities and countries along with other important locations and natural features, but more details were definitely possible. I could stalk people by observing their every move.

Good thing I’m not a pervert.

I focused on my location. I was in the northern part of the Light Kingdom on the Southern Continent. The closest human settlement was a village named Reneste, which didn’t exist in the original game. This proved that I had successfully avoided the main storyline by coming to the future, although I didn’t know how far ahead I had come.

All right, this is a useful code. I had better save it as a ‘favorite’ then.

Since my thoughts and intentions guided Re:Write, I could attach a code to a special phrase or word and think about them to trigger the effect. I called these words, ‘favorites’.

I set the Map code as a favorite and began thinking about my next move. I knew I wouldn’t stick out, since Erath is a very diverse land, but it would be nice to get a hang of my Ability first. And so, I decided to walk over to Reneste even though it would probably take a couple of days. Well, it wasn’t like I had something to do.

A scream pierced through the air.

<re:write.self.position=towards the scream> I thought, as I vanished from the clearing.

Sunlight fell on the little girl, illuminating the brutal scene in front of her.

A ground bathed in red. Flying, scarlet droplets. A crimson sword chopping through someone’s neck.

No, not someone’s neck; her father’s neck.

Her father’s decapitated corpse fell on top of another body with an arrow sticking out of its forehead. A body that had once been her mother.

Yet when the sunlight fell on the girl herself, it reflected off her unstained white dress. A shining white glare amid a sea of red. She stood there, unable to move, unable to cry. A scream had escaped her throat when they were ambushed and her mother had been sent tumbling off her horse by an arrow, but now she couldn’t even manage a whimper. The sounds of clashing weapons, exploding magic and death filled the air, but she couldn’t hear any of it.

This can’t be true. It’s just a bad dream. Daddy he- he’s joking, right? Mommy too, right? We were just talking about dinner. We’ll have steamed fish, and daddy will complain about eating nothing but fish again, and mommy will tell him to stop…to stop…to…

Sunlight reflected off the tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Now what the hell is going on here?”

A loud voice carried across the clearing and stunned everyone, causing them to stop fighting. The little girl shifted her gaze towards the voice and stared at the completely ordinary looking boy in the center of the battlefield.

Sunlight fell on his purple robes, making it shine brighter than her own white gown.

Damn, it’s a bloodbath in here. This stench makes me wanna puke, I thought, scrunching my nose. I’d caught their attention so I tried to ask what was going on, but before I could open my mouth, an arrow whistled past my ear.

“That was a warning shot. I don’t know who you are but you better leave right now. This doesn’t concern you,” said the large, bald man who had shot the arrow. “Unless you wanna fertilize the forest like those guys.” He pointed coldly towards the two corpses lying in front of the crying girl.

Right, it looks like the girl was the one who screamed. I shouldn’t have rushed over like this but that scream was impossible to ignore. It was so pitiful and agonizingly sorrowful, like someone had just had their soul shredded. But I had expected someone being attacked by monsters or something, not humans fighting each other.

The bald man was growing impatient. It’s not like the arrow hadn’t made my pulse quicken for a second but I calmed down as soon as I realized that it wouldn’t be able to hurt me at all.

I looked at the bald man. He was wearing light iron armor and held a strung crossbow aimed at my face. Scars littered his face, and his armor was scratched, and well worn.

<re:write.self.view=observe>

I focused on the bald man and a pale white screen appeared over his head. His name was Odog Baner, and he was the leader of this bandit group. He was a level 15 swordsman and his stats and skills matched what would be expected of someone of his level but his equipment was pathetically weak.

Old wooden bow? Rusty armor? I never designed equipment this weak but the people of this world had gone beyond the game I designed. Of course, that also meant that bandits had appeared even though I never designed any in the game. I saved the code that allowed me to check the status of the target I focused on as ‘Observe,’ and shifted my gaze to the girl that had screamed.

Her name was Clare Skye. She was only 12 years old but already level 3, which made me very insecure about the initial level I’d had when I came to this world. She held the title of ‘Reneste Village Chief’s niece,’ which was a simple but unsurprising one to have, since one’s titles basically represented one’s public identity. I didn’t have a title yet because I didn’t have a public identity.

She was wearing a white dress that made her look like a priestess, but her crying face instantly destroyed any divine presence she had. She was just a kid after all.

“I asked first. Now tell me what the hell is going on here?” I asked, looking back at the bald bandit leader, Odog.

He scowled at my question and didn’t reply, so I looked at the crying girl, Clare.

“How about you, can you tell me what’s going on?” I asked in a gentle voice.

Her lips quivered for a moment but it seemed like she was too grief stricken to say anything, so I analyzed my surroundings myself. The whole place was stained with blood and several corpses lay on the ground. A few dead horses lay near the two corpses next to the girl. I observed the corpses and realized why the girl was screaming.

“Listen kid, get the fuck out of here now or else I’ll skewer your tiny brain,” Odog threatened, unaware of our ridiculous difference in power.

Unaware I did not like being called a kid.

Unaware I knew he had just killed a little girl’s parents right in front of her eyes.

And unaware all of this brought back painful memories.

She stared at the purple robed boy.

She wanted to tell him to leave, because it was obvious that someone that young would die here, just like her parents.

The thought made her heart ache again.

She wanted to make sure that at least the boy would survive, but her body wasn’t responding. She couldn’t even answer his question!

No! she thought. I need to do this. At least this much, please…

But just as she was about to force herself to speak, the boy looked at the corpses in front of her and a shadow fell over his eyes. Although he quickly brought his gaze towards the ground, she managed to catch a glimpse of his eyes.

Sorrow, despair, anger, helplessness; she saw those emotions in his eyes. The same ones she was feeling right now. Odog, the infamous leader of the Black Dog Bandits finally snapped and shot his crossbow at the boy.

She screamed as the arrow flew and pierced the boy’s forehead. Or rather, that was what should have happened. Instead, the arrow shattered upon touching his skin, without leaving a scratch on him.

The boy’s expression didn’t change as he continued to stare at the ground.

What! thought Odog, as his arrow shattered upon touching the boy’s forehead. Who is this crazy bastard?

He felt a cold sweat trickle down his back as he took a step back.

Even though my skills, and my special ability-

He was cut short by the sound of arrows being released and even a few magic spells being fired. A fireball hit the ground at the boy’s feet and made a cloud of dust rise around him, so they couldn’t tell whether the arrows and magic had worked.

Or rather, they could tell, but they didn’t want to believe it.

And sure enough, as the dust settled, the boy stood unharmed. But his gaze was arctic; cold enough to freeze the souls of the people who met it.

Odog’s heart fell. Why? Why did a monster like this have to come now? I was so close. The job was almost over. I could go back to Jenny. I knew I shouldn’t have joined my old bandit group. But, how else was I going to get enough money for…

He met the boy’s gaze and came to a startling conclusion. He would die here.

Yet oddly enough, he wasn’t afraid. No, he was afraid, but he also felt like he didn’t deserve to be afraid after all that he had done. Sure, he’d had a good reason for what he did. But he had done unforgivable things.

In the corner of his eye, he saw the girl crying over the dead bodies of her parents.

Yeah, I don’t deserve to be afraid. He sighed.

He met the boy’s gaze again.

I’m sorry Jenny, looks like I won’t get to see our kid after all. But I guess it’s better that they don’t have a no-good dad like me…

She observed the boy staring at the bandit who’d given up all hope of living. Inside the boy’s eyes she could almost see the bandit leader twisting into painful shapes, and being tortured to death. The intense hatred in the boy’s eyes made her shiver, but what the boy did next, astonished her. He closed his eyes.

“Who are they?” the boy asked, eyes still shut tight.

The bandit leader looked at him in a puzzled way, but when the boy opened his eyes, Odog suddenly understood something. His lips moved as he calmly whispered a few words she couldn’t hear.

The boy nodded and asked: “Any messages?”

“Tell them that I… that I’m sorry. Don’t tell them you did this. I don’t want them going after you. All though, if they do, please spare them. They had nothing to do with this,” the bandit leader replied, still donning a calm demeanor.

The boy nodded once again. She waited as the tension became almost palpable. And then it happened. But there were no explosions, no massive bursts of mana or flashing lights.

One moment Odog, the infamous leader of the Black Dog Bandits that had terrorized Reneste, was looking at the purple robed boy and having a conversation with him.

The next moment, he was gone.

And then the boy shifted his gaze at the other bandits and they began to disappear too. Her own guards had already died. The bandits had been cleaning up when the boy appeared. Soon, the entire battlefield was empty except for the blood and corpses that stained the ground. The only living things left were the boy and herself. When the boy shifted his gaze towards her, she flinched. Was she going to disappear as well?

That didn’t happen. Instead, the boy walked over to her and looked at the corpses in front of her. She ended up following his gaze. It fell on her mother’s face, arrow protruding from her forehead, and a smile forever frozen on her lips.

Her father’s decapitated head stared at her, his eyes stretched wide open.

The wall of emotions she had been holding back crashed into her.

Sorrow.

Despair.

Anger.

Helplessness.

They were too much for her; she couldn’t help but lose consciousness.

As the boy rushed over to support her, he noticed that her dress didn’t have any bloodstains or dirt on it. It still gleamed brightly in the sunlight.

The sunlight pouring through the treetops fell onto my closed eyelids and stirred me awake.

Guess it worked huh? I thought, smiling.

I picked myself up and stretched, before grinning widely as I imagined what Mr. Smith must be going through right now, but I quickly put that thought out of my mind. This was my world now; no point in thinking about that other place anymore. I immediately decided to check whether my character, or rather my new body, was exactly as I had planned.

I looked at my hands, checked all my joints and did a few stretches to make sure everything worked. I also inspected the purple robes I was wearing, along with the simple leather armor underneath.

Status, I thought.

A translucent, purple screen appeared in front of me.

Let’s see, Kai Zero, sixteen years old, Male. Wow, these stats are ridiculously low. Level 5, really?

I chuckled. I would probably be pretty ordinary if I’d dropped in without my Ability.

Re:Write: the ability to rewrite anything and everything in the world. This is the biggest cheat code ever, isn’t it?

I laughed, a bit too loudly, but well, letting go of all the shit I’d been going through back on Earth was incredibly liberating. Here on ‘Erath’, I was finally free to do whatever I wanted. Although, I did regret naming the world Erath. I’d made the game when I was eleven and I’d never been good with names either, but a name like Erath was cringe-worthy, even for me.

I scrolled down the screen with a thought. The empty Skills section may have been disconcerting, but the small red button in the lower right corner reassured me. It was the debug button I’d installed as a failsafe against any bugs I couldn’t fix from within the system. I’d developed it to save time while debugging games, but decided it’d be a useful thing to have, just in case.

Now I have to make sure everything is working properly. Let’s start with these crappy stats.

I closed my eyes and focused. It wasn’t necessary because all I have to do is think about what I want to change and how I want to change it, and it would happen. But for now, I wanted to get used to my new powers. So, to help myself focus, I thought of the code like:

There was no energy ripple nor any bright, flashing lights, but I knew it’d worked as a surge of power coursed through me. I checked my status and as expected, my HP and MP were at 9999, my Attack, Defense, Speed, Vitality, and Intelligence were all at 999 and my level was also at 999. These were the highest possible stats in the game.

Good, although the ability could have given me stats higher than the maximum stats in the game, it correctly interpreted “max stats” to mean “the maximum stats possible in the game,” which was my real intention. So, it works based on my thoughts and not the words I use to express them.

This means I don’t have to be careful with my words when describing the effect, I want to apply, nor do I need to know any names or have any images in my head. I just need to be able to identify my target somehow. Even vague descriptions like “that thing that just went past me,” should be enough.

The rise in stats also seemed to have raised my sensory abilities, as I heard a faint rustle in the bushes behind me. I turned around and found a large, tusked figure crouching among the leaves.

A wild boar? A perfect test subject for my new abilities!

I picked up a rock and threw it at the boar. It went straight through its skull, smashed through several trees behind it and hit the ground with a large thud. A huge flock of birds flew away from the trees around me as the boar’s corpse fell.

I guess it worked a little too well…

I noticed that the boar’s corpse didn’t vanish like in the game, so I cleaned it up to avoid attracting other animals or monsters.

I thought. The boar’s corpse vanished, leaving no traces.

I’d make a very effective serial killer, I mused.

Having tested my physical strength, it was time to find the nearest human settlement.

A large map of Erath stretched before my eyes. Two large continents dominated the map, with a large, stone bridge connecting them in the middle. The map only showed the names of cities and countries along with other important locations and natural features, but more details were definitely possible. I could stalk people by observing their every move.

Good thing I’m not a pervert.

I focused on my location. I was in the northern part of the Light Kingdom on the Southern Continent. The closest human settlement was a village named Reneste, which didn’t exist in the original game. This proved that I had successfully avoided the main storyline by coming to the future, although I didn’t know how far ahead I had come.

All right, this is a useful code. I had better save it as a ‘favorite’ then.

Since my thoughts and intentions guided Re:Write, I could attach a code to a special phrase or word and think about them to trigger the effect. I called these words, ‘favorites’.

I set the Map code as a favorite and began thinking about my next move. I knew I wouldn’t stick out, since Erath is a very diverse land, but it would be nice to get a hang of my Ability first. And so, I decided to walk over to Reneste even though it would probably take a couple of days. Well, it wasn’t like I had something to do.

A scream pierced through the air.

I thought, as I vanished from the clearing.

Sunlight fell on the little girl, illuminating the brutal scene in front of her.

A ground bathed in red. Flying, scarlet droplets. A crimson sword chopping through someone’s neck.

No, not someone’s neck; her father’s neck.

Her father’s decapitated corpse fell on top of another body with an arrow sticking out of its forehead. A body that had once been her mother.

Yet when the sunlight fell on the girl herself, it reflected off her unstained white dress. A shining white glare amid a sea of red. She stood there, unable to move, unable to cry. A scream had escaped her throat when they were ambushed and her mother had been sent tumbling off her horse by an arrow, but now she couldn’t even manage a whimper. The sounds of clashing weapons, exploding magic and death filled the air, but she couldn’t hear any of it.

This can’t be true. It’s just a bad dream. Daddy he- he’s joking, right? Mommy too, right? We were just talking about dinner. We’ll have steamed fish, and daddy will complain about eating nothing but fish again, and mommy will tell him to stop…to stop…to…

Sunlight reflected off the tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Now what the hell is going on here?”

A loud voice carried across the clearing and stunned everyone, causing them to stop fighting. The little girl shifted her gaze towards the voice and stared at the completely ordinary looking boy in the center of the battlefield.

Sunlight fell on his purple robes, making it shine brighter than her own white gown.

Damn, it’s a bloodbath in here. This stench makes me wanna puke, I thought, scrunching my nose. I’d caught their attention so I tried to ask what was going on, but before I could open my mouth, an arrow whistled past my ear.

“That was a warning shot. I don’t know who you are but you better leave right now. This doesn’t concern you,” said the large, bald man who had shot the arrow. “Unless you wanna fertilize the forest like those guys.” He pointed coldly towards the two corpses lying in front of the crying girl.

Right, it looks like the girl was the one who screamed. I shouldn’t have rushed over like this but that scream was impossible to ignore. It was so pitiful and agonizingly sorrowful, like someone had just had their soul shredded. But I had expected someone being attacked by monsters or something, not humans fighting each other.

The bald man was growing impatient. It’s not like the arrow hadn’t made my pulse quicken for a second but I calmed down as soon as I realized that it wouldn’t be able to hurt me at all.

I looked at the bald man. He was wearing light iron armor and held a strung crossbow aimed at my face. Scars littered his face, and his armor was scratched, and well worn.

I focused on the bald man and a pale white screen appeared over his head. His name was Odog Baner, and he was the leader of this bandit group. He was a level 15 swordsman and his stats and skills matched what would be expected of someone of his level but his equipment was pathetically weak.

Old wooden bow? Rusty armor? I never designed equipment this weak but the people of this world had gone beyond the game I designed. Of course, that also meant that bandits had appeared even though I never designed any in the game. I saved the code that allowed me to check the status of the target I focused on as ‘Observe,’ and shifted my gaze to the girl that had screamed.

Her name was Clare Skye. She was only 12 years old but already level 3, which made me very insecure about the initial level I’d had when I came to this world. She held the title of ‘Reneste Village Chief’s niece,’ which was a simple but unsurprising one to have, since one’s titles basically represented one’s public identity. I didn’t have a title yet because I didn’t have a public identity.

She was wearing a white dress that made her look like a priestess, but her crying face instantly destroyed any divine presence she had. She was just a kid after all.

“I asked first. Now tell me what the hell is going on here?” I asked, looking back at the bald bandit leader, Odog.

He scowled at my question and didn’t reply, so I looked at the crying girl, Clare.

“How about you, can you tell me what’s going on?” I asked in a gentle voice.

Her lips quivered for a moment but it seemed like she was too grief stricken to say anything, so I analyzed my surroundings myself. The whole place was stained with blood and several corpses lay on the ground. A few dead horses lay near the two corpses next to the girl. I observed the corpses and realized why the girl was screaming.

“Listen kid, get the fuck out of here now or else I’ll skewer your tiny brain,” Odog threatened, unaware of our ridiculous difference in power.

Unaware I did not like being called a kid.

Unaware I knew he had just killed a little girl’s parents right in front of her eyes.

And unaware all of this brought back painful memories.

She stared at the purple robed boy.

She wanted to tell him to leave, because it was obvious that someone that young would die here, just like her parents.

The thought made her heart ache again.

She wanted to make sure that at least the boy would survive, but her body wasn’t responding. She couldn’t even answer his question!

No! she thought. I need to do this. At least this much, please…

But just as she was about to force herself to speak, the boy looked at the corpses in front of her and a shadow fell over his eyes. Although he quickly brought his gaze towards the ground, she managed to catch a glimpse of his eyes.

Sorrow, despair, anger, helplessness; she saw those emotions in his eyes. The same ones she was feeling right now. Odog, the infamous leader of the Black Dog Bandits finally snapped and shot his crossbow at the boy.

She screamed as the arrow flew and pierced the boy’s forehead. Or rather, that was what should have happened. Instead, the arrow shattered upon touching his skin, without leaving a scratch on him.

The boy’s expression didn’t change as he continued to stare at the ground.

What! thought Odog, as his arrow shattered upon touching the boy’s forehead. Who is this crazy bastard?

He felt a cold sweat trickle down his back as he took a step back.

Even though my skills, and my special ability-

He was cut short by the sound of arrows being released and even a few magic spells being fired. A fireball hit the ground at the boy’s feet and made a cloud of dust rise around him, so they couldn’t tell whether the arrows and magic had worked.

Or rather, they could tell, but they didn’t want to believe it.

And sure enough, as the dust settled, the boy stood unharmed. But his gaze was arctic; cold enough to freeze the souls of the people who met it.

Odog’s heart fell. Why? Why did a monster like this have to come now? I was so close. The job was almost over. I could go back to Jenny. I knew I shouldn’t have joined my old bandit group. But, how else was I going to get enough money for…

He met the boy’s gaze and came to a startling conclusion. He would die here.

Yet oddly enough, he wasn’t afraid. No, he was afraid, but he also felt like he didn’t deserve to be afraid after all that he had done. Sure, he’d had a good reason for what he did. But he had done unforgivable things.

In the corner of his eye, he saw the girl crying over the dead bodies of her parents.

Yeah, I don’t deserve to be afraid. He sighed.

He met the boy’s gaze again.

I’m sorry Jenny, looks like I won’t get to see our kid after all. But I guess it’s better that they don’t have a no-good dad like me…

She observed the boy staring at the bandit who’d given up all hope of living. Inside the boy’s eyes she could almost see the bandit leader twisting into painful shapes, and being tortured to death. The intense hatred in the boy’s eyes made her shiver, but what the boy did next, astonished her. He closed his eyes.

“Who are they?” the boy asked, eyes still shut tight.

The bandit leader looked at him in a puzzled way, but when the boy opened his eyes, Odog suddenly understood something. His lips moved as he calmly whispered a few words she couldn’t hear.

The boy nodded and asked: “Any messages?”

“Tell them that I… that I’m sorry. Don’t tell them you did this. I don’t want them going after you. All though, if they do, please spare them. They had nothing to do with this,” the bandit leader replied, still donning a calm demeanor.

The boy nodded once again. She waited as the tension became almost palpable. And then it happened. But there were no explosions, no massive bursts of mana or flashing lights.

One moment Odog, the infamous leader of the Black Dog Bandits that had terrorized Reneste, was looking at the purple robed boy and having a conversation with him.

The next moment, he was gone.

And then the boy shifted his gaze at the other bandits and they began to disappear too. Her own guards had already died. The bandits had been cleaning up when the boy appeared. Soon, the entire battlefield was empty except for the blood and corpses that stained the ground. The only living things left were the boy and herself. When the boy shifted his gaze towards her, she flinched. Was she going to disappear as well?

That didn’t happen. Instead, the boy walked over to her and looked at the corpses in front of her. She ended up following his gaze. It fell on her mother’s face, arrow protruding from her forehead, and a smile forever frozen on her lips.

Her father’s decapitated head stared at her, his eyes stretched wide open.

The wall of emotions she had been holding back crashed into her.

Sorrow.

Despair.

Anger.

Helplessness.

They were too much for her; she couldn’t help but lose consciousness.

As the boy rushed over to support her, he noticed that her dress didn’t have any bloodstains or dirt on it. It still gleamed brightly in the sunlight.

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0.0 Re:Write Prologue: Waves

The faint sound of crashing waves carried over the hot air, filling the ears of everyone present with a distant yet powerful roar. The sun blazed overhead, sending relentless waves of heat and light onto the thousands of people lined up below.

Angry red banners fluttered in the hot, summer wind, while swords and armor glittered in the sunlight. Tens of thousands of soldiers, donning red armor and crimson shields, stood alongside thousands of armored warriors atop horses draped in battle colors. Behind them, a horde of robed and hooded figures emitted pulses of hot, searing energy. On a small hill overlooking the sea of soldiers, stood a massive, red tent with a grand flag raised over it.

While the rest of the army was a cacophony of shouts, neighs, grunts, and clanking armor, the inside of the tent was engulfed by a stifling silence. There, the king stood with his hands stretched to either side of a map of the battlefield. Pins of various colors lay scattered across the map: red, blue, white, black, yellow and gray, all arranged in seemingly endless rows.

But the king wasn’t looking at the map, and neither were the several ministers, generals and commanders that stood next to him. Their eyes were unfocused, as if they were all daydreaming.

All of them had heard it; at the same time, in fact. One word, resounding through their minds, making them freeze because of its power and the reverence they attached to the voice, a voice that most people only ever heard at their initiation into the Church of Fire.

But even though they had only heard it once in their entire lives, none of them doubted that it was her voice. The voice of the Fire Goddess.

Two armies of similar sizes stretched far to the right of the army of the Fire Kingdom. These were the armies of their allies, the Light Kingdom and the Water Kingdom, respectively adorned in white and blue.

In front of these armies stood a giant, stone bridge running far into the distance. On the other side of the bridge were the three armies of the Dark, Air, and Earth Kingdoms.

However, the command tents of these armies were all in a similar state. They’d all heard a voice in their head, the voice of their respective Goddess, and each of those voices had told them the same thing at the same time.

Stop!

So they immediately dropped everything they’d been doing, not daring to disobey their venerated deities. Then their shock gave way to confusion. Why did their Goddess force them to stop just as they were on the cusp of war, a war that their churches had prophesied. Wasn’t this war decreed by the Goddesses themselves?

Despite their confusion, they still sent out orders to stop their armies, while nervously wondering whether their enemies would use this opportunity to attack. For now, they could only await their scouts’ reports.

The thunder of a horse’s hooves hitting stone cut through the continuous crashing sound of the waves as a yellow robed rider thundered across the stone bridge.

Zoe Hill was a scout from the Earth Kingdom who had been ordered to observe the enemy’s position and report back to her commander.

Her hair fluttered in the wind as the horse galloped across the stone bridge. She intended to slow down when she was closer to the other side, but wasn’t concerned about being found yet, since she wasn’t even halfway across the bridge.

Her horse’s ears flicked to the right just as Zoe turned her gaze in the same direction. Another pair of horses were galloping across the bridge. After noticing the color of their armor, Zoe stroked her horse’s neck to calm it down and directed it to slowly move towards the other riders.

As her horse drew near, the other scouts also directed their gazes towards her before adjusting their reins to draw closer to her as well. Zoe gave them a quick nod before turning her gaze forward.

“Has your communications prism also gone silent?” asked the man in black robes.

Zoe nodded. The man turned his gaze towards the front as well. When her prism had suddenly gone silent, Zoe assumed it was a malfunction but quickly realized that although no messages were being sent by the commanders, the prism itself could still send messages, which meant it wasn’t broken.

The people on the other end had just gone quiet. The thought had made her heart skip a beat. If central command went silent, wouldn’t that send the whole army into confusion?

Her prism buzzed soon after, and she was ordered to get even closer to enemy territory. She was also told to report the first thing she saw, as soon as she saw it. The urgency in the voice of her superiors filled her with trepidation. What could have worked them up so much before the battle had even begun?

The other scouts exclaimed loudly before pulling their horses to a stop. Zoe also pulled her horse’s reins, and quickly looked to the other scouts, expecting an explanation for why they were stopping.

The others were staring straight ahead, towards the center of the bridge, so Zoe turned her gaze in that direction as well. And she froze.

In the center of the bridge stood a purple robed figure. The figure had its back towards her so she couldn’t tell who it was but that wasn’t what surprised her. This figure had no presence at all. She couldn’t sense any magic from it! And yet here it stood, right in the middle of the ancient Bridge of Babel.

But the entire world knows this is where the final battle is going to take place! Doesn’t this person realize that this is the battleground for the largest battle of all time?

Zoe stood motionless for several minutes, barely daring to breathe. Just who could this person be? Moreover, they were wearing purple robes? Which force did that represent? It wasn’t the Celeste nor the Pandomins, so maybe a mercenary or a bandit group? But why would someone like that be here? Especially now, of all times!

Just as these thoughts were going through her mind, a bright flash made Zoe raise a hand to cover her eyes while desperately holding onto the spooked horse’s reins with the other. A tremendous pressure bore down on her at the same time.

Shit!

She wrestled with the reins while tightly clasping the horse’s body with her legs, and barely managed to calm it down. She rubbed her eyes and slowly blinked them open as the blurred images began to take shape.

Several new figures surrounded the purple robed one in a circle. Zoe felt an unbearable pressure from those figures despite being so far away, making her wonder where so many powerful figures came from, and why they would all come to the freaking middle of the battlefield!

The sound of the waves barely carried this far from the bridge.

A robed figure stood alone on a hill overlooking an army, but she seemed to be looking somewhere far away. A growing sense of sorrow gnawed at her heart as she recalled the man she had loved, but a sigh escaped her lips as she realized the futility of her feelings.

It’s too late now, she thought.

Something buzzed in her pocket. Puzzled, she reached in and took it out. Her hand began to tremble and her eyes widened when she saw the small, crystalline prism in her hand, and heard the message being transmitted into her ears.

How could this…? No! This can’t be happening. This…

She burst into the air in a flash of light and began flying towards the center of the bridge.

This isn’t possible! He can’t be here! But if he is… will he still –

Another flash of light rushed ahead of her, interrupting her thoughts. She shook her head. This wasn’t the time for idle thoughts. She needed to see it with her own eyes.

She appeared in the center of the bridge just as several other figures materialized from flashes of light. Yet, she didn’t spare a single glance for the powerful beings that had appeared so suddenly. No, she couldn’t help but give the purple robed figure standing in front of her, her undivided attention.

The other figures stared at the person in purple robes as well. He was a young man with black hair and slightly tanned skin. He wore a pair of simple, black framed glasses. His ethnicity was hard to make out and his face wasn’t particularly remarkable either. What’s more, his aura was virtually non-existent.

Yet, all the other figures held their breath. Various emotions flashed on their faces. Traces of shock and disbelief. Some anger, guilt, and frustration. But mostly, there was a sense of overwhelming fear.

But the purple robed youth wasn’t even looking at them. His cold, brown eyes were directed towards the sky and his face was an empty slate. Even when the others materialized around him, he didn’t show the slightest indication of acknowledging their presence.

She stared at the youth in front of her as her eyes began to swell, but no tears would flow. Her overwhelming shame and guilt held them back. He continued to stare into the sky, ignoring the people around him even as they experienced multiple, conflicting emotions.

She couldn’t tell how long they stood there, wondering when he would stop ignoring them, and dreading the moment that he would. She tried to say something, tried to break the silence, make him react to her, to respond, but the words died down in her throat. She couldn’t even manage a whimper.

Then, as if mocking her inability to speak, the youth sighed and closed his eyes. The others tensed up and held their breath.

He opened his eyes and looked straight in front of himself.

He looked straight at her.

Her mind tensed and her heart skipped a beat, but the cold gaze almost immediately moved on to the person beside her. Her heart went cold, and she bit her lips to stop them from trembling, while holding back her tears.

He slowly looked at everyone that surrounded him, his gaze never lingering on anyone for long. They all felt the sharp coldness of his gaze as sweat began to flow down their backs but they didn’t dare move.

They were some of the most powerful people in the world; any one of them would have commanded the love and respect of millions of people, but under his gaze they couldn’t help but feel insignificant. They couldn’t help but feel afraid.

He lifted his gaze towards the sky once again. He closed his eyes and his lips moved to form a single word.

But she knew what he would say before he even said it. She had heard him say that word countless times but it had always carried different emotions back then.

It confused her, shocked and awed her, when she heard it for the first time. She had felt the power behind the word. Felt the thrill of knowing what it meant. Who it represented. And even when she was wallowing in despair, that word had brought her comfort and relief. But now it terrified her because she knew that this time, it wasn’t meant for monsters or villains.

She was the enemy this time. She was his enemy this time. This time, it was meant for her.

She couldn’t fight back the tears anymore.

A sphere of emptiness began spreading around the purple robed man.

As the emptiness began to spread, she thought about saying something, about telling him how her heart had been mutilated and tortured, how her nightmares woke her up every day, and how miserable she was even when she was awake. She thought about telling him about her sorrow, guilt, and love. She thought about apologizing.

But she couldn’t. She didn’t deserve to say anything.

The emptiness washed over her and yet surprisingly, she felt relieved. She felt a huge weight lift off her chest just as the void engulfed her.

Guess we can’t run from fate after all…

Zoe Hill saw the purple robed figure lift its head back towards the sky. She wondered why the others weren’t moving at all. They weren’t talking, nor did it seem like they were waiting for someone. All she heard was the sound of waves crashing against the bridge’s stone pillars.

Then, a spherical, black emptiness erupted around the purple robed figure. It was unlike anything she had ever seen. It definitely wasn’t dark magic, because she couldn’t sense any magical energy from it. Everyone knew, darkness wasn’t the mere absence of light, rather, it existed as a separate form of energy, therefore the black sphere wasn’t magical, nor was it anything substantial. It was simply emptiness.

Zoe stared at this inexplicable void as cold sweat trickled down her back. She needed to leave, now!

As the void swept over the robed figures, Zoe felt the pressure that had been pressing down on her vanish completely. However, she didn’t have the time to think about that as she pulled on her horse’s reins and made it gallop back across the bridge.

As the thunder of her horse’s hooves resounded through the air, Zoe chanced a glance behind her back. The void was surging rapidly and soundlessly, absorbing even the air around it and the stone below it. The void wasn’t really a sphere, because it didn’t seem to be three dimensional at all. It was like a giant circle drawn on a flat canvas, only it was rapidly expanding in all directions like raging floodwaters.

However, the purple robed figure still stood unmoving, in the center.

Fucking hell!

She kicked her horse and urged it to move faster, but the void was rapidly gaining on her. The other scouts didn’t respond as quickly as her and were soon swallowed by the void.

Her horse thundered across the stone bridge, the rumble of its hooves accompanying the distant sound of waves crashing against the bridge. The waves slammed and crashed into the stone with all their might but the stone pillars would continue to stand, unfazed and unyielding.

Her horse suddenly reared and she was sent flying off its back. She crashed into the hard stone, her left leg smashing against the ground. She writhed in agony for a few seconds but quickly collected her thoughts.

A broken leg is the least of your problems right now Zoe! Fucking focus damn it!

She glanced over her shoulder at the furiously expanding void. She could barely tell how close it was, but she was sure that it would catch up to her soon.

Shit! Move Zoe, move!

She gritted her teeth and picked herself up. She stumbled and limped her way towards the other end of the bridge, shooting furtive glances behind her at the void.

She tripped. Blood flooded her mouth as she fell face first onto the hard stone below. She was panting; her every breath accompanied by a sharp pain in her chest.

Shit. So… tired.

She coughed up some blood and spat it out to the side. She endured the pain of moving her neck and turned her gaze towards the void.

Well fuck, guess there’s no running from this, huh? Tired, so very tired. Maybe a little rest wouldn’t hurt after all…?

And just as the void engulfed her, she heard the word that the purple robed youth had said. The word that the other robed figures had heard and the word that everyone in the entire world would hear as the void consumed them all. Even the waves would be engulfed by the void, silenced forevermore.

The only sound left was the echo of the word, until it too, faded into oblivion.

“REWRITE”

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