"Blake, hurry! Grab your brothers and sisters and RUN!" Mother cried outside. Fire had overwhelmed the town, and everyone was fleeing while the cries of the weeping echoed off the flames.
"No, dammit—it's getting away!" I heard someone of the local fire department cry. It was a menacing beast. Unstoppable—unbearable they would all say. No one had ever come close to destroying the beast. Well, it wasn't like that. It was more like no one dared. They wouldn't want to...feed the beast.
"So, what is this beast?" you're probably thinking. The beast is...well...the beast! The most feared creature in the lands. No one knew much about the beast. All we knew was that the beast was a monster of massive destruction. Its intentions were unknown, and that's if we're pretending he had intentions. The beast had been sighted by a couple of forest men two years ago. They described the beast as a nightmare—a disturbance to humanity. A huge winged beast without a care to give about anyone about itself: the beast. Everything about the beast was terrible. Nothing positive ever came from its existence. Why did we have to coincide with it...WHY US? I thought this a lot, but, deep down, I knew it wouldn't get me the answer.
"Blake, what are you doing?! Hurry! Do you want to die?" my mother startled me. Thinking of the beast would not be able to help me at a time like this.
"John...Lucy! Tanner...Jen!" I called out as I watched them burn. It was too late. It had got them. The beast's fire had burned the flesh of my siblings. I had screwed up. I should have been quicker and escaped from the building when I had the chance. What am I going to do? I thought as I looked out the window. I was two stories up, and I was staring at the image of my mother on the leveled ground, waving her hands. I could tell from her lip movement that she was screaming my name. I turned around, only to see my exit blocked off the flames. The hot substance roared its way up the staircase, and I had only two choices: die here or die jumping.
I picked up a nearby wooden stool before it caught fire. The glass in the windows shattered, and I jumped. That's it, I thought as I jumped. I closed my eyes and pictured a kingdom of clouds. I saw the place I was expecting to go when I hit the ground. The image my head had created was the afterlife; the safest place to be. There was not a beast in the afterlife, and not a single person in the afterlife had anything to fear. Instead, they lived in a peaceful world of perfectness. Evil ceased to exist in the afterlife. All the bad things people lived to fear were nonexistent. What a perfect world. It's good to be here, I thought as I looked around me.
"Blake! What are you doing? Behind you!" Much to my surprise, I was not dead, and there were only a few minor bruises and scratches on my body. I turned around and saw a wave of fire waiting to collect my life. It would have taken it too if it weren't for my mother. I quickly rose to my feet and ran as fast as I could to escape the wrath of the beast. My mother ran by my side. We were safe; there was nothing the beast could possibly do to us now...or so we thought. Mother tripped on toasted body, and fell to her knees. All I could smell was death and the smoke of the fire. The fire...the beast's rage...was creeping upon my mother. The body was hot, and Mother couldn't react to it in time. The flames caught her. It was that day...March 24th...that I had witnessed the deaths of my own mother and my siblings. The worst part of it all was that I was the only one who could have prevented their deaths. I failed. The beast had won.
I tried to keep my emotions stored up until I was safe. If I were to let them get the best of me right here, right now, then I had no chance of survival. I needed to live. I needed to fight. I wasn't going to let the beast win oh-so easily. The whole world would know of me in the future. I would be known as the one who killed the beast. I would return happiness to the world he had gave to us. The only thing in the way of my plans was the beast itself.
I ran from the scorching flames that had burned my family. Killing the beast was the only thing I could do. The beast had taken away everything I had ever done. It destroyed everything I lived for. Soon enough the beast would be known of me. I would be the Almighty Emperor. The beast wouldn't be known as the feared one much longer. Soon, I would be known as the feared one, and everyone would obey me. Nobody would defy me. Not a single person or creature would dare. I would become the beast, and take over the world in flames...no, not flames...magic. I would cast magic upon the world that the beast created. As the new beast, I would be the most feared and also the most trusted. I would be just like the beast. I would destroy the world as we know it. That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing though.
This time I would be erasing the fallen beast's world, and I would create one much better. I would rebuild the previous world of the classics. The Greeks did a good job in the past. My new empire would be modeled after it...the way it was before the beast had come along: perfect. It would be the rebirth of the best...Renaissance. The thoughts of power devoured my sanity. The smoke had gotten to my head. I could see the afterlife.
I saw myself. It was as if I was watching from a third person perspective. I wasn't sure if I was able to control myself or if this gaze was omniscient or a cut scene create by my brain. I tried to signal my "character" to move, but I wouldn't budge. My bird's eye view showed a dull expression on my face, and I was standing still with a lack of movement. All around me, I saw gardens and lovely fountains. There were statues erected near the fountains, and all the statues seemed to be bored or depressed. They showed no emotion when one was to look at them, and they didn't seem to be doing any form of movement in the statue. The statues were nude, and their bodies were just like my soon-to-be empire...perfect!
I looked up towards the sun from the body or life form I was in. The light blinded my sight with an endless white glow. I then felt the movement of my real arms and legs. I saw the gardens and fountains, but this time the sight was from a different view. I was myself. I was the perfect figure, and this was the start of my empire. Inside my head I heard cheers created by imagination. I looked back towards the sun, and found myself looking back at it when I woke up.
I looked around at trees. I was no longer in paradise. I was trapped in the beast's domain. I looked at the leaves of the trees, and I watched the fire spread to everything near. I stood back up and triumphantly walked away. This type of walk made my loss to the beast seem like a victory. I walked in a straight path through the forest as the forest fire followed in a safe distance. I was controlling the fire now. It was following me. I felt trapped but as if I was winning. The wind whistled through the trees, and I heard the fire sizzle as it burned down one tree after another. It sounded as if the forest was mocking me. No, not the forest—it was the beast mocking me. It was antagonizing my every move, or so it seemed. My mind was far from my actual brain. My mind was high in space, and my brain was attached to my head. My mind was overworking. The smoke and tragedy had got to it. I could hardly think, and all my thoughts were overwhelming like the fire. Overtaking any form of control and sanity I might possibly have left. It was just like I had been on the carousel after eating peanut butter and pretzel crumbs. Okay...maybe not that bad, but still really confusing.
I rubbed my head as I continued my risky walk through the forest. I heard the flames sneaking up on me and I turned my walk into a race for dear life. I ran as far away from the fire as I could, and then I encountered a problem...a cliff edge of a mountain towering high above me. The fire surrounded me, and I was shocked. If I had taken it more seriously, I wouldn't have been in such a situation.
Crap! What am I going to do? I thought as the beast's creation destroyed the landscape around me.
"Who's controlling the flames now, Blake?" I heard the crackles in the fire communicate. I fell to the ground and began to pound it in a rage. I knew my fate...the flames would consume my entire body just like it did with the bodies of my family. Even though my death was scheduled here by the beast, I knew that I had to at least try to escape. That was the problem though—where to escape?
The only place to run was into the flames. I had to do it if I even wanted a small chance of survival. Even though I was a weak and overconfident human being on the inside, I knew that I had potential to be a brave warrior. I was going to defeat the beast, and not only because he killed my family but also because I wouldn't allow the future of our world to be worse than this one. I had to be the hero; I had to be the one in command. How would I be able to defeat the monster if I couldn't even fight the measly flames that wished to cremate me?
I charged straight into the flames and ran as the heat slowly melted my skin. I looked at my flesh as I ran. It was all torn, and it looked easy to peel all the skin off of my body in only one pull. It was like opening a present, once the wrapping started to tear, the rest of it would be off in seconds.
I found a huge tree and rested beneath it. It gave me shade and comfort. I looked at my wounds and thought of a way to cure them. If I can find a town or village that the beast didn't destroy, then I might be in luck, I thought. I needed medical assistance soon. I also had to be very careful. If I tripped or accidentally ran into something, then all my flesh would instantly fall off.
I stood back up and looked for a nearby town. If I walked straight, I knew I would find one eventually. The problem was I would be as good as dead if I was unable to locate one in the near future. I continued running until I was a far distance away from the fire. I kept reminding myself to take note of my surroundings in case I needed to escape of something bad were to happen. I looked at the trees, and I looked at possible paths I could take if I were to run through them. Then, right there in the distance, I saw exactly what I was looking for...a large city!
I allowed my legs to carry my body to the city. It was on top of a large green hill, and it would probably be hard to climb—especially in the condition I was in. Still, I marched up the hill with all the strength I had left, and I occasionally rested as I trekked. The sun was going to set soon, and night would come. I had to get to the city before night time so that I could book a room for the night and have a medic check out my wavy flesh. As I drew nearer, the lights became brighter. They lit up the entire town, and everything could be clearly seen.
I walked down a few of the crowded roads in the city until I reached the building that stood out the most: Town Hall. As I walked, I saw people look at me with strange expressions. They all had looks of disgust and sympathy when they viewed my burned skin.
When I entered the building, the receptionist gasped. "Oh my!" she exclaimed as she looked at me. Her face was in total shock. The receptionist wore a teal formal uniform and looked very official. She had long, wavy brown hair and she wore a longer black skirt. She was wearing high heels, and I eyed a nametag on her uniform. My brain identified the name as "Anna". She smiled and winked at me. "What happened to you? Come with me! We need to get you to the hospital right now!" she said as dark red blood gushed from my left arm.
She grabbed my right arm and pulled me out of the building as quickly as she could. "Get in," she said as she opened the door to an ordinary car. I listened to her commands and sat down in the vehicle.
"What's your name?" she asked from the seat next to mine. It was hard for me to talk; all I wanted to do was rest.
"My name is Blake. Nice to meet you," I quietly said trying to imply I was unable to have a conversation with her. She didn't really get the message though.
"It's a pleasure. I'm Anna!" she introduced herself. "Where are you from? What happened to you?" she asked.
"I'm from Darksun. It's past the forest," I informed her. She looked at me as if she had been there. I started to talk, but she interrupted.
"Oh, that's cool! There are oil industries there, right?"
"Yeah, that's correct. The marks on my skin are from the fire that got ahold of me. That same fire also killed the rest of my family. I'm on my own now, Anna," I said as I let out a shameful sigh.
"So that's what happened," she started. "We saw a huge cloud of smoke erupt from that general area. The beast got you?" she said with a sad look. The car turned around a corner and I could see the hospital in sight. I said nothing, but I knew she understood. All I could do was nod my head and feel a wave of depression looming over me. I'm not sure if surviving was lucky or unlucky. I'm not sure if I'd rather live another day in a destroyed world or as a dead man in the perfect world of the afterlife.
Anna helped me get out of the car, and she also helped me walk into the waiting room. A nurse working in the hospital noticed me and gasped just like Anna had before. She quickly rushed over to me and took me to an emergency room. She dialed a number into the phone sitting on a table in the room and she began to speak.
"Doctor Meer, is that you?" she asked the man she had called. I could hear a small sound come from the phone as she nodded her head. "Yes, the patient has burn marks all over his skin and could die if not treated soon," she listened again. "Alright, thanks, Meer. We're in emergency room 46," she continued to listen to Doctor Meer through the phone while I looked up at Anna. She looked worried even though she just met me. The nurse then changed her line of sight to me and said, "Where are you from? What's your name?"
"His name is Blake, and he is from Darksun. Darksun was overwhelmed by the flames of the beast, and Blake had to endure the fire. Plus, all the oil factories exploded, so most of the residents of Darksun are dead," Anna replied for me.
"Can you confirm this, Blake?" the nurse questioned as she wrote down the gathered information. I nodded my head, and she continued talking to Meer. "Alright, Blake, the doctor will be in shortly to examine your injuries. I'm sorry this happened to you," the nurse said as she exited the room.
"Blake, I'm sure you'll be okay," Anna said to break the awkward silence.
"I sure hope so," I humorously replied. "It would suck to have to escape Darksun, run through a forest fire, up a hill, and into town for nothing."
"You had to go through all of that?" Anna was surprised. "What are your plans, Blake? Are you going to live here in Lightmoon, or do you have other plans?"
"I came to the town hall to ask where a hotel was. Well, that and the hospital's location. Based on my current state, I'm not even sure if I would have made it to the hospital on foot if you hadn't drove me here. Anna, why did you drive me here? We barely know each other."
"You seemed nice. Of course, assuming based on looks is kind of silly, but I suppose I also felt kind of sorry for you—sympathetic," she paused for a moment. "All the hotels in town are completely filled."
"Really? What should I do then?" I asked unsurely. She thought about it.
"Well, I suppose I could let you stay in the town hall while I work the graveyard shift. That is if the doctor says you're fine though."
"What if I'm not fine? Then what would I do?"
"I'm sure the hospital would let you stay in this room for the night or until you recover from your burn. By the way, is your skin fine? Are you in pain?" she queried.
"Oh, I kind of forgot it while talking to you. Ha ha!" she blushed as I romantically told her. "Your face is beat red," I told her, and she began to giggle. She smiled to me and began to yawn. "Are you sure you can handle an entire graveyard shift? You look like you can barely stay awake as is."
"I'm be fine, Blake," she assured me. "I'm not too tired. I'm sure I can last another twelve or so hours. I'm more concerned about your health than my resting time," she said as she gazed at me. Her blue eyes showed my own reflection clearly. Inside her eyes, I could see myself. I saw the depressed smile on my face, and I tricked myself into believing I wasn't truly happy to meet her even though I was.
The door creaked open as the doctor walked in. "Hello, Blake! My name is Doctor Meer. Are you feeling alright? Is it only your flesh that was burned?" he asked me.
"Yeah, everything else is fine, doctor. The beast wrecked the village I lived in, and I got these scars from the flames. The fire killed my entire family."
"That's unfortunate," he said in a monotone voice. He seemed like he didn't care. He opened a nearby cabinet and took out a magnifying glass. He put it directly under a bright light and held it up to my skin.
"Oww!" I shouted as he backed away. He let out a loud sigh and shook his head.
"Is there a problem, Blake?" he asked as I began to lightly rub the area he had burned with the magnifying glass. I growled with anger, but I had to keep my cool.
"Dr. Meer...you kind of burned my skin, sir," I replied. He stared at me with a blank expression. He was acting like the perfect statues of the afterlife. Although, Meer was far from perfect. He was an average-sized man with pale skin. His voice was emotionless, and he looked as if he had never been outside to see the sun. We wore a stereotypical white lab coat with black buttons.
"I apologize," he said in his boring voice. "Your wounds don't seem fatal. I would like to get some cold water on it soon, but I fear it would tear the skin off of your body. For tonight, I would like you to stay here if you are fine with it. It will help you recover and we can supply you with medical assistance. If you move around there is a chance that parasites and other foreign chemicals could sneak under your 'lumpy' skin and enter your bloodstream. If you stay here in an air conditioned room with little movement, and you get some rest, and you will be back to normal in less than a week."
"Thanks, Meer," I thanked him with a genuinely nice tone. Anna looked relieved and shook the doctor's hand. "I'll stay the night here. I don't really have anywhere else to go, and I want my wounds to heal as quickly as possible."
"Alright," he said in monotone. He picked up the same phone the nurse had used and dialed a number—the front desk I assumed. "This is Dr. Meer," he said to the person on the other side of the line. He listened for what seemed to be hours and then finally replied. "What?" he asked. On the inside, I was facepalming. "Yes, that is correct. He's staying here until he recovers from his burn." I began to trust Meer, and I was happy that I had somewhere to stay for the night. Meer left the room to take care of another patient, so I was alone with Anna.
"Shouldn't you go work your shift?" I asked her even though I didn't want her to leave. She shook her head.
"I'll take the night off to stay here with you. You seem nice, and you remind me of someone very brave and powerful. The person you remind me of was known as the Ancient Empress. She controlled much of the known world until she decided to take on the beast. Her land was perfect from the stories I heard of her. She apparently had many people living in her vast empire, and all of her people were happy. She always treated the people that worked for her, and lived in her land with respect and cared for them. She wasn't like an ordinary ruler; she didn't rule only for power, but the Ancient Empress ruled for the better of her empire. When she was unable to contact the faraway lands that she would always trade with, she became worried. She sent a group of seventeen soldiers to investigate. The soldiers rode on mounts known as the Almighties. The riders of the Almighties entered the distant lands only to see massive destruction. The riders were in shock, and explored all the fallen empires. Once they visited three destroyed empires they decided to go back home.
"One of the riders told them that they had to visit the last two and that they couldn't head back just yet. Nine of the riders thought of the idea as foolish, and they left. However, the records of the Ancient World reveal their deaths, but their bodies were never found. They were all banished to Hell for defying the Empress. It seemed unlike the Empress to send the wiser of the riders to a terrible world, but you'll understand as I explain the rest of the story. It is believed that there is an undiscovered burial site of the Hell Riders and that no one has found it yet. It was actually not the Ancient Empress who banished the Hell Riders, but God himself.
"The Holy Riders continued riding on their Almighties until they reached the fourth ruined empire. In the sky, they could all say a huge, dark figure soaring above them. It was the life more powerful that the Empress—it was...The Beast!"