Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

Primotechnology has an excellent review of Devil May Cry 4 up. Here’s an excerpt:

With Devil May Cry 4, Capcom decides to both play it safe and live dangerously. The former can be seen with the familiar demon-slaying gameplay, but the latter revolves around the newest main character, Nero. As Metal Gear Solid 2’s Raiden has proven, passing the protagonist torch can be a very risky move that can alienate fans, but there is little doubt that newcomer Nero will be met with a much warmer response.

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Note: This was originally submitted for a contest. It hasn’t been edited beyond what was submitted. Originally inspired by a Coheed and Cambria song. Later re-written to take out all references to said song.

Randall walked the road in silence. His violet eyes stared intently at the horizon spreading before him but he still couldn’t see the great armies that he knew had amassed just beyond his sight. Their numbers were said to drench the very land itself with black bodies. Such implications filled his mind with the most horrible images he could conjuror. He swallowed and released a heavy breath. There was still time. By the light, he still had time.

Frightened eyes watched him from behind the towering gates of the great city, the last bastion of majesty in the fallen kingdom. His heart sank in his chest like a great weight. Every pair of eyes stared at him with hope. They had offered solemn prayers, tokens of thanks, and kind words on his journey. They had steeled his will to an act he knew would either liberate or damn them. It hadn’t mattered that because of him they had found themselves in the terrifying situation his people now faced. It hadn’t mattered that he had unknowingly released a plague that had taken most of the kingdom’s populace while they slept. He was their savior. Their eyes echoed that sentiment.

Randall found his eyes darting amongst the faces in search of the one that buoyed his spirits. There she stood near the front in all her youthful wonder with her arms stretching toward him and her bottom lip tucked squarely between her teeth. Tears glistened at the corners of her eyes. He sucked in sharply. If there was anything that gave his noble mission pause, it was the thought of her. It was because of her that he had taken all the chances he had, hoping desperately to prevent her death as she lay wasting away in his arms. He had succeeded, of course, but at what cost? Randall smiled. She returned it in kind. At the cost of her beautiful smile; his sweet little Annalina. With iron resolve hammering in his chest, Randall turned to the tower of Fal’thorn spiraling above him, the very tower from which all of their problems had begun and from which he hoped to end them.

Randall pulled the door to the temple open and ascended the stairs inside to the top. As he passed a stained glass window, he heard distant quaking. When the circling staircase afforded him a look at the horizon, he saw the rumors were indeed true. The armies marched across rolling hills, blackening the ground as if it were a living mass coming to trample his people. Roaring flames erupted from the mass, demonic magic hungry for blood. Randall stood transfixed with terror. It had been he who called them into being with his selfishness. He faced the stairs. He had to hurry; for his people and the little girl that called him father.

He took the stairs two at a time, never again pausing to look out the windows. He had lost too much time staring at what faced him. The armies came.

Randall reached the summit and turned to the horizon. With the mountains far to the south enclosing the kingdom, he finally saw the full extent of the army. There was no unsoiled ground beneath its withering mass, moving as one slow being towards them. He swallowed a shiver back down his spine. Before turning away, he stared into the distant mountains where the daemon lords would be patiently waiting as their armies marched. It was there he would direct his anger.

Regret sat in his throat. He had meant to save her, to save his people from a fate worst than mere mortal death, but had instead doomed them to walk as nothing more than ghostly after images of their earthly selves. Even after he had found a way to pull the plague from the lands, he had delivered them into the hands of a menace they had banished thousands of years before; now those exiled lords sought to reclaim what had once been theirs. The tower of Fal’thorn stood as the symbol of that past struggle.

People in the city stared up at him. His eyes danced around in search of Annalina, whom he spotted with her arms outstretched reaching up to him. She mouthed his name. For her he would succeed.

Randall turned to the center of the tower and held his arms aloft. Soft white light pulsated between his palms as his fingers wove around it, growing it as its soft colors turned his purple robes lavender. Staring out at the black armies closing in on them, Randall lifted his arms into the air and sent the ball into the heavens. The ring of steel and murderous chants of daemons finally graced his ears. They were close.

There was only one way he knew to rid his lands of the daemons that now encroached on his people. Not a trace of apprehension pounded with his heart. For her, he would succeed.

Randall’s eyes turned to the heavens as he watched them open. Clouds swirled around silken white light that fell from their midst and bathed the tower. In that light, free of fear, hatred, guilt, and apprehension, he felt only love. He poured that love into the heavens. The people below gasped and held their collective breath in wonderment. Randall’s feet left the ground and he held out his arms as the light pulled him closer. In that moment, Randall gave his ultimate sacrifice.

The light erupted into flames. Randall’s bliss turned into deadly vengeance. The heavens shuddered with a crash. Snaking tendrils of righteous justice seized his heart. In its wake the tower beneath him shuddered violently. The stained glass windows shattered with a roar and each brick moaned and crumbled with the fury of heaven’s blast.

The living flames consumed Randall. Shaking, he splayed his hands out to his sides and screamed before the roar of the fire drowned him out. “Annalina, watch over me!”

The tower exploded in a flash of glory. Chunks of stone skittered across the ground. He felt the fires changing him, reforming his body into their living messenger. He shivered, calling out to Annalina again. “Annalina, watch over me!”

Randall gestured, his unabated hatred directed at the dark mass below him. “I have come as only the heavens are able to give, reformed!”

He pointed. A long tendril of flame and smoke followed his burning arm’s movements. His voice thundered with anger. He could think only of little Annalina behind the gates and the murderous deeds the daemons would have done to her. “For the deeds you have done, Heaven’s message is clear.” He screamed. “I will kill you all!”

Randall rushed to the ground towards the army with the righteous fire of heaven behind him, scorching the ground for miles in either direction. He had but one thought: death. As he struck the front of the army, he heard the howls. He need not look to see them fall. For miles they dropped from the wall of heavenly vengeance sweeping out behind him, smoking, still. He drove further into the heart of the army, felling everything across the field. He knew what they would have done to his people. His sacrifice would be salvation.

Randall screamed as he roared passed the hills and valleys that held the army, into the encampment of daemon lords. All five stood watching, resolutely challenging him with lifeless eyes. They spread their black wings in contention. Randall didn’t wait for them to prepare. He plummeted into them, twisted their already crooked forms with his fire, and cleaved their hearts, pushing their souls back into the nether abyss from which they had come. The thought of Annalina encompassed him.

Randall raced back towards the city, watching his fires consume what remained of the armies. The heavens again opened with their light as he neared the smoking rubble of what once signified the sacred tower. They extinguished the fury undulating his body and wrapped him in a white shroud. The light pulled him closer to the heavens from which he had beseeched help and guidance. In his sacrifice, he had given everything he had: his life.

As he rose, he looked into the city and saw Annalina standing with her arms outstretched pleading for him. Randall answered her with his own. He watched as Annalina’s feet left the ground and her tiny body began floating towards him. She wiggled free from those trying to grasp her and ascended towards him. Randall encircled her with his arms and held her against his breast. Annalina smiled at him and gave him a kiss on his cheek. Her tiny voice whispered a word of thanks to him. Randall smiled into the light as it bathed the two of them before they disappeared through the clouds.

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From where she was perched, Emeraldwind watched the streets below. They were full of evening activity as people went about their business before turning in for the night. All manner of smells, both sweet and foul, floated up to her as she sat with one leg dangling over the edge of the roof. She sighed and turned her attention to the autumn sky, reds, golds, and purples splashed across the canvas as the sun sank below the horizon.

For what it was worth, she’d come as long way from the little girl she had been; the same little girl that once believed she could please her mother and soon learned that it was an impossible task that even her well-mannered sisters had trouble accomplishing. She was a little girl no more nor was she a troublesome adolescent intent on causing as much turmoil as she could. She’d left that household and turned her attention to the world, a grown woman out to shape her destiny.

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Senaiya watched as the man, covered in mud and dripping with water, crawled onto the bank before her, exhaustion rattling his breath. Water ran down his face, dripping from his hair and nose. He looked defeated, beaten by what ever ills had befallen him, but still she did not move, afraid that he would see her through the fog and green shoots of bamboo separating them.

She didn’t need to worry. The man collapsed, lying still on the lake shore, his breath rattling from his lung as he tried to catch it. But he never did. A wisp of steam rose from his lips, the last breath he would ever release and his body stilled.

Horrified, Senaiya stared at the man, too frightened to investigate and too entranced to run. She’d never seen a dead body in all of her years; at least not one so unceremoniously strewn like the man on the shore. He may have had family who didn’t know he was gone, perhaps children and a wife who would miss him. Maybe he was a lowly farmer who had been robbed of his wares by bandits while he went to sell them in town. All she knew was that he was dead.

The lake was oddly silent. From where she sat she couldn’t hear the bubbling of the streams that filled the lake and the normally boisterous cranes were quiet. Even the fog seemed to press in all around her, suffocating.

She was alone with the man, the only witness to his struggling, final breath. She felt responsible. If anything, he needed a proper burial. If he didn’t have one, his soul would haunt her for the rest of her life.

Senaiya swallowed back the horror and revulsion she felt and made her way down the muddy, rain slicked slope to the shore and crossed to the man’s body. When she got close, she paused.

A trail of blood led from the man to the water still lapping at his ripped and water soaked sandals. She swallowed. It had been bandits. Senaiya went to her knees in silent prayer but stopped with her hands clasped before her. There was something on the man. Something distantly familiar. She hesitated. Would it be wrong of her to turn him over and see what it was that had caught her eye? Would the dead understand?

Not wanting to wait for the answers and with the sand digging into her knees, Senaiya crawled across the sand, gripped the man’s shoulders, and pushed him onto his back.

Of all the things that had given her pause since the man had crawled upon the shore and exhaled his final dying breath, what was on his chest made her faint and sick. There was only one other place she had seen that perfectly etched, pure white symbol: on her.

Against her will, she reached out and touched the symbol. When she did, the man’s eyes opened. She wanted to scream, but her voice was caught in her throat. Unbidden, the man sat up and stared at her. His eyes watched her, not exactly into her own, but through her, as if he was seeing her from a great distance, and she knew that he was. He was seeing her from the echoes of death. Senaiya tried to move away but the man grabbed her wrist, held her as she felt bile rise up in her throat and her heart thunder so hard it almost drowned out the soft lapping of the water on the shore.

He pulled her closer. His strength was so much greater than hers, perhaps the strength lent by the Gods upon his death. She tried to get away but she couldn’t, he held her too tight. When they were near enough that their faces almost touched, he opened his mouth. “Do not let the child emperor have you. Escape.”

She opened her mouth to ask a question but he was gone. His eyes rolled back into his head and he fell back upon the sandy shore in the same position he had been before, death once again claiming his person. Senaiya peeled her wrist out of his cold grip and backed away from the shore. Against her will, she vomited on the sand, hacking and retching as that morning’s breakfast came out in great chunks. When the digested food came no more, she spit, looked at the body one last time and started back up the slick slope. She needed to get away. Whoever had killed the man would look for him. She didn’t want to be there when they came. She needed to get back home.

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There was only the Shepherds, sent to usher in what we would know as the world. Two of them, sons, both sent by their father, who would watch over them and make certain that they did not stray from their paths. It would be harsh for them… harsh winters and harsh summers, but they would walk those lands and they would learn. It was their destiny.

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