[Various dates, 2727 AD; Admorse, Ameci]
(Little Blood Raven’s Awakening)
Everything had happened so suddenly. The sudden shock in young Korbin’s eyes as he bare witness to the sight of the corpses of both his mother and his twin brother, Kormac, in the living room of his house. That day was the first time he had even seen a dead body and, unfortunately, it was the two people he was the closest with. It was all like a nightmare that seemed to have no beginning or end, with the time seemingly stopping as Korbin found it difficult to breathe. None of it even seemed real, but there they were, lying before him. His mother, lying dead on the ground void of air, while his brother was wide eyed, his neck snapped. It could not be real, Korbin denied.
“Shit, it looks like you’re already here,” Harold said. “I mean… I’m sorry you had to see this.”
Korbin could not understand. His father looked calm as he bent down by him. His hand rested on Korbin’s shoulder as he tried not to cry. His father did not like to see him cry, which only resulted in pain and further crying. Korbin had to be strong for his father’s sake, lest he incur punishment.
“What you see here, Korbin, was an accident,” Harold said. “It was only an accident and nothing more. Do you understand?”
Korbin nodded, as it was the only response he could give. It was the only response he knew.
“I’m glad to see that you understand,” Harold replied. “I know it may look like something else, but I assure you that this was not my fault.”
“Not my fault,” Harold repeated. “You got that?”
Korbin gulped. “I… I got it…”
“Very good,” Harold said. “Now, this next part is going to be tricky, but if you do as I say, we’ll be able to forget about this. It’d be in our best interest for us to do so, so I’m going to need your help disposing of them.”
“D-Dispose?” Korbin asked.
“They’re dead now, so there’s nothing we can do,” Harold replied. “The best option is, of course, to make sure that no one can find them. We wouldn’t want anybody else to suffer the pain you’ve had to endure, now would we?”
“I guess so,” Korbin said.
“Good, good, now get up,” Harold said. “We’ll have to act fast if we don’t want to be seen by anybody else.”
Korbin did as he was told and went with his father in order to take care of the bodies. He still had trouble understanding everything, but complied because he knew he could not refuse an order from his father. It took everything Korbin had for him not to cry the entire drive to the river. Once they were there, they disposed of the bodies and left as fast as they had entered. From there, Korbin thought that the pain was finally over, but he had no idea what was in store for him in the coming days.
About a week later, Harold left Korbin with one of his trusted allies: a man by the name of Casper Bradley. It had been an experience that Korbin had not experienced before, but he felt like he had somewhere he could call home. He did want to ask his father where he was going, but Harold did not answer him. Soon enough, however, Korbin learned from Casper that his father had gone away for a few days and would be back later.
“You shouldn’t worry yourself too much, kid,” Casper said. “Your dad just needs to take care of some business with a friend of his.”
“When will he be back?” Korbin asked.
“I don’t know,” Casper replied. “All I know is that he’s with Mr. Kunigunde right now. They’re probably talking about a lot of stuff you don’t need to worry about.”
“I… Okay, I understand…”
“Now why don’t you go play with my son,” Casper said. “I’m sure you two will get along fine. Just try not to make a lot of ruckus, okay?”
Korbin nodded. He went outside and saw Crawford, who was busy looking at something by the bushes in the front yard. After Korbin asked about what he was doing, Crawford gave him a simple answer.
“I’m watching this little bird die,” Bradley said.
“Why?” Korbin asked.
“Because I want to,” Bradley replied. “Do you like it?”
Korbin hesitated to give a response. “I… I don’t know…”
“It’s just a weak little thing,” Bradley said. “Come on, maybe you should let it die. Oh, I’ve got an idea!”
He moved aside and let Korbin have a look for himself. It was exactly as Crawford described it: a small bird lying on the ground, writhing as it struggled to move its wings. A familiar liquid coated the creature as Crawford patted Korbin on the back. Something told Korbin that this was yet another situation that he had no way of stepping out of, so he began to wonder to himself. He wondered if it was all normal, that this was all a part of growing up.
“What are you waiting for, Korb?” Bradley asked. “You know what we’ve gotta do, don’t you?”
“I don’t know,” Korbin replied. “I really don’t know!”
“You’re bigger than it!” Bradley said. “Just stomp on it already! You can do this for me, can’t you?”
It was then that everything blurred. Korbin could not tell what happened next, but before he knew it, he found himself stomping his foot onto the dying bird, going over and over again as Crawford cheered him on. Korbin could not cry, his fear turning to anger and then to joy as Crawford’s repeated rallying did much to keep Korbin going. The blinding fury he exerted upon the now dead bird fueled deep feelings of excitement in Korbin.
“Do it, Korb!” Bradley exclaimed. “You’re the superior bird! Way to crush its neck!”
And before he knew it, Korbin was finished. An unrecognizable mess of feathers, blood, and dirt dropped off the bottom of his shoe as he turned back to Crawford. It was over.
“Feels good, doesn’t it?” Bradley asked.
“It… it does,” Korbin replied.
“Looks like me and you are friends now, then,” Bradley said. “As long as you follow me, then you’ll be okay. Got it?”
Those words were familiar to Korbin, but this time he did not hesitate to respond. “Got it,” he said. “I totally got it.”
Crawford cracked a smile and looked over to the house. “My father’s still working, so we can have a little more fun,” he said. “There’s a forest nearby. Let’s go, Korb.”
Korbin nodded and followed after Crawford. He felt as if he could rely on this boy to guide him ahead during a time where he rarely saw his father. Many years passed since that day, but Korbin had a feeling that he would reunite with his father soon. He never did find out what truly happened to his mother and Kormac, but as long as Korbin had Crawford, he knew that he could keep going on until he was stronger.
Nine years had passed since the last time Korbin had seen his father. That changed one day when he went overseas to a country called Iiayikohn with both Crawford and Casper. A lot had changed over the years, the most noticeable being the fact that Korbin could not help but smile from time to time. It made some of the other children stare at him, but Crawford had reassured that to the both of them, they were all just afraid.
“They only look away because they know they’re weaker than you,” he said to Korbin. “You don’t need to pay them any attention.”
One other change was the fact that Korbin had found it easier to kill. He no longer had any hesitation to hold back killing any animal that Crawford deemed to be pathetic. That extended to people as well, as only a month prior, Korbin had found himself in a scuffle with a local schoolmate. It was after school, outside of the city when he and Crawford came across the boy. Korbin could not remember the reason for the fight, but he knew it had something to do with Crawford. Most of the time, it usually did. This time, though, instead of ignoring the boy and going on, Crawford decided on something different.
“He should know who we are,” Bradley said. “Why don’t you teach him not to mess with us, Korb?”
That was all the encouragement Korbin needed to unleash himself upon the other boy. He wasted no time in tackling him to the ground and proceeded to pummel him. Korbin had gotten stronger to the point where he could just snap several branches with ease and used his strength to wail on the defenseless boy beneath him. The unstoppable barrage of fists kept coming until Crawford could see for himself and hurried over to Korbin.
“I think that’s enough,” Bradley said. “God damn, you really did a number on him, didn’t you?”
“He… can’t mess with us anymore, that’s for fucking sure,” Korbin said. “This son of a bitch… I killed him.”
Crawford patted Korbin on the back. “Good job,” he said. “But it looks like we can’t just leave him here lying all bloody and shit. Why don’t we take care of what we started, okay?”
Korbin felt it was too easy, however. He had a desire within him to fulfill and felt an ongoing anxiousness whenever he was not engaging in a fight. That he wanted to fulfill his desire only made him more bored whenever he was not fighting, and Korbin could only wonder when the next unfortunate person tried to cross paths with him and Crawford. But when he went to Hurst in Iiaykohn, Korbin reunited with the man that had left him so long ago.
“Just as I thought, you’ve survived,” Harold said.
Inside the dark lobby, Korbin could feel the chill going down his spine. It was an unfamiliar feeling to him, but Korbin remained strong. He could not let anything get to him, not even this foreign setting. Harold walked into the lobby and greeted Casper while glancing over at both Crawford and Korbin.
“I did,” Korbin said. “I wasn’t going to let some fucking piece of shit try and kill me, because I’d beat the shit out of them before they’d try!”
“It still seems like you’ve got some learning to do,” Harold said. “Though at this point, your brain looks as if it’s beyond saving…”
“So what are we here for?” Bradley asked. “This is getting into my training, I’ll have you know.”
“Calm yourself,” Casper said. “There’s a reason why we’re all here today and I’m sure Mr. Mars is going to tell us.”
“I’m only going to tell you,” Harold said. “These two children don’t have any reason to hear any of this, nor should they.”
“As I thought,” Bradley said. “You’re just going to waste my time.”
“Now, now, Crawford,” Casper replied. “This won’t take long at all. Besides, there’s plenty to do around here, isn’t there?”
Harold turned away and headed down the hall. “Come along, Casper,” he said. “Don’t worry yourself about those two, we’ve got more pressing matters to deal with right now.”
“Oh, is it about Isaac?” Casper asked.
He hurried after Harold while Crawford shook his head. Korbin wondered why they came here if Harold was not going to speak to them, but that was when he heard a loud noise. He looked over to the door nearby and went over with Crawford to find out what it was that made that noise. A roar came from behind the door as Crawford backed off. Korbin looked at him and saw a grin upon his face, so he looked at the door again.
“So that Wilk boy is behind the door, huh,” Bradley said. “Well, now I see why we’re here after all…”
This was the first that Korbin had heard of such a person. Someone was behind the door and, from the sound of it, was ready to break down that door. It only made Korbin more curious about who this “Wilk boy” was and if he would ever have to face him. Whatever the reason, Korbin knew that there was only one reason he was here: so he could become even stronger. That was why his father needed him and why Korbin was so willing to go along.
[2nd of January, 2741 AD; Harold Mars’s hideout, Hurst, Iiayikohn]
“You’re bluffing,” Harold said to Rysol. “You’re bluffing because you’re about to die with a gaping hole in your chest! That’s the only reason you’d say something so outlandish!”
“You think I’d come here… without a plan?” Rysol asked. “No… you’re the one without a plan, Harold. This whole place… it’s gonna come crashing down… Everything you’ve worked for is going to go… and you… are going to die along with me!”
“What the fuck?” Korbin asked. “What the fuck is he talking about?”
“Don’t listen to him, Korbin,” Harold said. “He’s desperately holding onto his life for as long as he can. He’s trying to break you!”
“There’s a couple bombs on either side of the building,” Rysol said, “It’s only a matter of time before they go off… Better start running, Harold… unless you care so much about your project that you’d rather die…”
“What about what you said earlier, asshole?” Korbin asked. “The fuck are you talking about? What do you know!?”
Rysol started to laugh. It did not last long as he soon began to cough. Then, he turned over once more and stared up at the ceiling.
“It doesn’t matter now… does it?” Rysol asked. “You’re gonna die here with me, too… Both of you are going to die…”
“He’s losing it,” Harold said. “I can’t let this project go to waste!”
He spun around and hurried down the hallway. Korbin could only watch as Rysol coughed. Korbin wanted to know what Rysol knew and went over to him and knelt next to him.
“You’re wasting… your time,” Rysol said. “I’m already dead… don’t you know?”
“Bullshit! What did you say about my mother and brother?” Korbin asked. “You’ve got to answer me right now!”
“Only you know about… how they died,” Rysol replied. “About how… that man killed them… and what he did to make sure no one would find out…”
“If that’s the case, then you shouldn’t know a damn thing,” Korbin said. “It was so long ago that I practically forgot all about having family members! It’s just me and him, damn it!”
“Harold… told me a lot more… than he thought,” Rysol said. “If only he had a clue… then he would’ve killed me sooner…”
With one final breath, Rysol closed his eyes. Korbin shook him but found it unsuccessful in waking Rysol up. Korbin balled his fist and punched the ground as he screamed. He was confused as to what happened and Rysol’s departure only served to further that confusion.
“Why, damn it!?” Korbin exclaimed. “What the fuck is going on anymore!? Why can’t I remember!?”
At that moment, a deafening rumble echoed. The explosions went off as the building started to collapse. Korbin was in further confusion as the walls around him shook while the ceiling started to crumble. Everything was crashing down as several more explosions set off, the impact destroying the entire hideout beyond recognition until there was no more. The entire building ceased to exist.
To be continued…