A New Land
"Where am I...?" Delst had awoken, lying on soft grass. The smell of the earth and plants had caught his attention, his eyes snapping open as he sat bolt upright, looking around. "Where...what is this place?"
The green grass rustled beneath him, as a small, white-textured dragon flew from above to greet him. ...Yes, it was a dragon. Of all things, this was the most surprising. "...You don't seem to be from here. Who are you?" That...thing...was suspicious; but of course, a dragon reaching plain sight was even more suspicious.
Delst looked up at the creature with surprise. His mental state at the moment seemed not to include fear, in fact, he was merely surprised this thing had come down to talk to him. "That's strange....I don't remember gathering together seven large marbles..." He seemed to have missed what the dragon had asked, lost in his strange stupor.
"This isn't any fiction, you idiot." The dragon reached out with its t-rex sized claw, attempting to dope slap him. "Now, who on earth are you?" His mullet made him look like somebody from thirty years ago.
"I'm...actually not sure." Delst frowned, trying to wrack his brain, but all he could see was muddled blackness. "I can't remember everything...only some things..." He could remember...magic...and he knew this strange creature was a dragon, or at the very least something like it. However...he had no idea what his name was, or where he was from. 'I just...woke up here."
"I see." The dragon shook its head, sighing. "This is awfully convienent. A human who came out of nowhere and claimed to have no memories...but remembers their magic. There's just so many enemy mages I don't give a damn anymore."
"I'm not an enemy!" Delst insisted, affronted. "I don't intend to harm any living creature; in fact, I'm rather grateful that you haven't taken it upon yourself to devour me when you had the chance." Delst breathed a sigh of relief, only just know realising this dragon could have killed him. "It's...nice to wake up and have an amiable conversation partner." The man smiled up at the dragon, obviously sincere.
The dragon paused momentarily, before relenting. "I see. Then we must find out your name and other details. I cannot put my finger- er, claw, on it, but something seems awfully different about you compared to the other humans."
"I can't really compare." Delst smiled again but shrugged. "I don't remember any other humans, so I can't say." He ran his hand through his hair for a moment, sighing. "How do we go about finding who I am...or would it be best to forge a new identity with what I have?"
The dragon used its superior mind to think about this. "Perhaps you should think up your own identity until you remember everything- or somebody tells you about your past life?"
"Good point." Delst agreed. "I suppose for a name....why not...Yasuragi?" He suggested, throwing the name out there. "I think it sounds passable."
"That means peace, hmm..." The dragon laughed slightly. "Ironic, yet meaningful. You humans are so destructive that the extinction of several races is on your hands. On the other hand, you yourself seem non-dangerous."
Delst frowned. He wanted to see what these humans were about. "So what's your name?" He asked curiously. "It wouldn't do well to just call you "dragon", would it?"
"My name...is Leviathan, the Deep Drive Dragon. And despite all appearances, I am certainly a female." The dragon, no, Leviathan responded curtly, though she retracted her constantly bared fangs.
"It's nice to meet you then, Leviathan. If this isn't too presumptuous, would you consider travelling with me for awhile?" He looked up at the dragon with his strange eyes. "I wouldn't mind having a companion, I know nothing about this place after all."
"Then I shall be your guide." A white light surrounded Leviathan's body, as a holo-screen composed of light was emitted from her body, "This shall help you find the way, even in the deepest darkness. Now, where do you wish to go? A place where you can rest, or to explore?"
Delst frowned. This world, and the way she described it, it all seemed so horrible. "The way you speak of this world...which, just looking around, appears to be beautiful, something must have upset you." His curiosity was getting the better of him. "Why go anywhere just now? I want to know more, just from what you can tell me."
"We have an entire world in front of us." White light expanded from her body, forming a map of the region- no, a map of the world. "You are a human, and you seem to be unaware of the demons of this world. Before you ask, there are no evil demons, but the humans are the true demons. Do you wish to see how badly your race has tainted this world, making it so stained in black? Maybe then, you'll see my solution. I will inform you of that once you see the follys of the world. ...No, I have something better. Do you see the most horrid abominations to grace this world, despair made manifest?"
Delst raised an eyebrow. "While that certainly sounds...er....appealing..." He gave her a piercing look. "You avoided my question. I wouldn't mind if you refuse to answer, but you simply glossed over it."
Leviathan dismissed him, "Some things are better left unsaid. It's a similar case to those baby seals which I fed on yesterday. ....Yes, some things are better left unsaid." She attempted to backtrack on her words, but to no avail.
Delst definitely had a deep set frown at this; what could he say, he was curious. However, Leviathan was being kind, and if he pried, she might simply leave. "Alright, I apologise." He said quickly, and cast an eye at the map. "I suppose...travel. Why don't you show me more of these 'humans'?"
Leviathan let out a deep sigh; and with a mighty flap of her wings whipped up a storm; all by accident- probably. "Very well. Hop on my back and we shall traverse the SEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAS." She coughed up for a brief moment. "I mean, I will show you what humanity is capable of, fleshbag."
Delst obliged, clambering onto her back and sitting as comfortably as he could at the base of Leviathan's long neck. "Thank you, Leviathan. I am sure this will be an enlightening experience."
Leviathan snarked, "Oh, you'll see." The moment that Delst touched down on her back, Leviathan took off like a rocket, shooting high into the air in the blink of an eye with such velocity that she almost struck the sound barrier. "We've yet to hit maximum speed, as well." Her eyes scoured the land, to see if there was any place where she could stop off and just show Delst terrible humans there, instead of making a full trip; lazy dragon she was.
Delst let out a gasp of awe; looking down, he could see lush grasslands, large blue lakes that glistened under the morning sun. Animals such as deer, large cats, wolves and the like roamed the ground, while birds flew past in the air. "This world...it's beautiful."
Leviathan looked down at the sundered earth- shaking her head, disappointed at his words. "The whole world is a circus if you know how to look at it. The way the sun goes down when you're tired, comes up when you want to be on the move. That's the real magic; despite the atrocities, it really is impressive."
Delst nodded in agreement. "I can see that point of view. There's beauty in everything." He took a breath, and felt the air enter his grateful lungs. Even a simple breath could have beauty if one could appreciate it.
"Suppose so." She mulled over Delst's seeming innocence, wondering if he was actually making up this amnesia stuff. Nobody would be so abscent-minded- as for every good thing, there was a much worse thing lurking around the corner. "Despite this, the bad outweighs the good. You need to realize that."
"Leviathan, your way of thinking won't do." Delst admonished. "I'm trying to make the best out of it, you see? I have barely any memory of anything except magic, I'm stuck in a strange land of which I know nothing...it's better not to have a negative mindset."
"Or maybe you're wrong. Once you see how bad humans are, your viewpoint ain't gonna change, even after all the positive thinking in the world. Just deal with it." She snarked in response, continuing, "I could just laser breath the whole damn country and be done with it, anyway."
"What good would that do?" Delst frowned at her train of thought. "You'd solve nothing. Violence begets violence and then hatred is born." Where had he heard that before? He wished he could remember. "So...show me these humans."
"Hold on tightly." Leviathan suddenly swooped down at breakneck speeds, not even allowing Delst to catch his breath from the instant descent- dive-bombing head-first into the ground. Thankfully she was nigh invulernable and had a hard head. Delst might not be so lucky, however.
Or so would be the thought, however, Delst seemed to be mostly unscathed. He was, however, making several hacking noises. "Dust...in my throat...urk..!" He coughed again, trying to clear his throat; he was surprised, he hadn't expected a steep dive. "Leviathan, were you trying to kill us?"
Leviathan looked back nonchalantly, muttering something along the lines of "hey, it's a free ride, you take what you get and you don't get upset". However, it was very clear that she did such a spectacular dive to try and get on Delst's nerves.
Delst quickly backtracked with guilt. "I'm apologise, you have a point." He sighed with exasperation at his own stupidity. He kept offending Leviathan more often than he should have, and it had only been a few minutes. "Thank you for the ride, Leviathan."
Leviathan noddded. "Any time." She slowly got up from the ground, shaking the debris off of her snow-white coat. "Now, allow me to take upon a more compact form." White light shrouded her body, as it converted her into a small white sphere, which bounced playfully up and down. "That was neccessary. I may be all-powerful but if a bog-standard humans sees a giant bloody dragon hanging around they'll get the torches and pitchforks."
"I assume whatever you wanted to show me is further off?" Delst asked her, not the least bit surprised by her transformation, though he did try to inspect it. "There isn't much here besides the new crater."
"Follow me." Leviathan replied, as she bounced towards a cave a few meters away- covered by moss and stones. "You can avert your eyes once we enter. I wouldn't mind."
Delst shuddered at those words; a feeling of foreboding coming across him in waves. What was she about to show him that he didn't want to see? He shrugged this off. "I'm already here, I shouldn't back away now." Against his better judgement, he trudged along after Leviathan.
As the two wandered further into the cave, what they saw was...
The dark reddish-black pool of blood... The scattered pieces of flesh... Organs strewn across the floor like the blossoming of a grotesque flower... The explosion that had torn through her body had been powerful. The dragon's neck had been twisted at an odd angle. Leviathan suspected the explosion had thrown her against the wall. Half of her face was crushed, and the other half was covered in blood. Most of her abdomen had been emptied, either by explosion or by gravity. She had landed on her back, and stark white ribs jutted out of her chest like some sort of macabre crab.
"This is what you humans do to our kind, for "fun"." Leviathan lamented, having given up the will to actually fight against the humans.
Delst stopped dead when he saw the horrific sight that lay before him. The hundreds, if not thousands, of bodies that had originally been here reduced to organs, limbs, and ash. The smell of death had overtaken this area, and because the battle was not fresh, it was strengthened, overcoming Delst's sensitive nose, causing his head to spin. "Urk..." His head was swimming as he collapsed to his knees, trying to collect himself. "What...all of this...everything here was destroyed...these dragons..." The image he'd seen of Leviathan flashed in his head. "Beautiful creatures...utterly eradicated like this...why?" The thoughts he could form in his nauseous state were ones of confusion.
Leviathan mulled it over. "Humans are greedy, jealous beings. They'll do whatever it takes to prove their superiority. They're scared of those stronger than them, and they'll eliminate the target of their greed and jealousy without remorse. There's no end to the cycle of death and destruction as long as humans are still around."
"So this is the handiwork of humans..." Delst staggered to his feet, looking at the gravesite with strong feelings of pity. "Leviathan...can I show you something?" He wanted to help. The sight of this mangled and sorry display was too much to bear. He had to do something.
"Then show me what you want. I doubt that you will be capable of swaying my opinion. This is a futile situation." Leviathan sighed, ceasing with her bounding for the briefest of moments for Delst.
Delst took a breath....he could absolutely taste the corruption. Not in the way that one normally would; an area so rancid it affected the sense of taste. He could taste the lack of life energy in this area. Everything was slowly dying. This, however, he could fix. Delst took a breath, suffering through it as he nearly choked, and began to draw out life energy from his own body, before placing his palms onto the ruined ground, channeling the rich energy into it. "Watch this..." He breathed as the life energy was expelled into the ground, and began to spread outward. As it did so, the land began to purify; plants began to grow, springs returned to normal, and the gravesite, despite not returning life to the bodies, were covered in an abundance of flora, hiding them from view.
"That doesn't change the fact that the corpses still exist, you know." Leviathan casually commented- though deep down, she really was touched by Delst's act of kindness. Maybe he was different than humans, after all?
"It should, however, begin to open your eyes to a point I want to make." Delst replied, just as casually. Despite the fact that Delst had just induced terraforming, the two were talking as if they were having a cup of tea. "Even the most horrible recesses of our nightmares can produce a bit of beauty if we try."
"Well, a certain dictator produced amazing paintings which were rejected. They produced a bit of beauty, but the end result was the same." Leviathan 'argued', but she did genuinely appreciate Delst's act. "...Thank you in any case."
"Think nothing of it." Delst smiled, and waved it off, but he was nice to see her open up with a response of gratitude. "This area will become something much more beautiful with time." Even with this, however, he hadn't forgotten what she said only a few moments ago. "Humans did this....against such beautiful creatures." He gritted his teeth. "Show me more, Leviathan."
"Very well." The sphere which was the Deep Drive Dragon, Leviathan exploded all of a sudden, with the sphere disappearing, revealing her majestic form once more. "Hop on my back again, fleshbag. I'll try and make the landing less disastrous, but I do not keep any promises. We're heading to the outskirts of Hargeon now."
"Hargeon, hm?" Delst clambered up onto her back again. "I already know this won't be a pleasure trip, I'm resigned to that after what we saw here." He gestured to the terraformed plain. "Alright Leviathan, show me your worst."
"Hang on, then." White light began to scatter from her splendid wings, as she took off like a rocket- accelerating into the air at high speed, the amount of G-forces generated could actually tear a man in half from the sheer pressure. "Humans are an odd lot. They go from fighting amongst each other to forming alliances- only to snap back into battle immediately after the crisis at hand is solved. I mean, just make up your minds, fleshbags."
"I wouldn't know anything about that..." Delst replied sheepishly. "All I know is, I'm not like other humans, especially if they're as violent as you said." Enjoying the feeling of the wind rushing around him. An average man would be rent asunder by now, but Delst was anything but average. "I know I'll have my own way of seeing the world, so, I'd like to see these 'humans'."
"Not humans, per-se, but the effect is quite similar. These demi-humans, they were born from within the bodies of despairing humans; destroying the human's soul before bursting from the host and gaining a physical humanoid body appearance and receiving the ability to disguise as the human which had given birth to them. It's an improvement for me. They're plotting SOMETHING, which has to do with a specific stone." Leviathan began to explain.
"I see...." Delst turned all of this over in his mind. Demi-humans...not entirely human...that ran on the power of their own despair, and eventually replaced them. Why did he have to wake up in a world like this? "Plotting something for a specific stone? What do you know about it, Leviathan?"
"It's a special magical artefact that's existed since the very beginning. It was created by Makers millions of years ago by condensing countless numbers of souls into a regular Magic Stone- the despair and fear cultivated by these people upon death allowed the stone to turn people into these demi-humans. If a demi-human manages to use it, it will allow them to bypass the laws of magic." She muttered, "It's the Philosopher's Stone."
"My first inclination is to destroy it." Delst said quickly, seemingly ignoring the "bypass laws of magic" part of the explanation. "Something like that, fueled by despair and fear, shouldn't exist."
"It's indestructible; so there's not like you can do anything about it." Leviathan argued, "Besides, with great evil comes great good with these sorts of things, at least most of the time. With the Philosopher's Stone you could wish for an everlasting perfect world, at the cost of it crumbling away."
Delst snorted derisively. "I wouldn't want to use that." He told her quickly. "Peace is only meaningful if it's achieved through physical effort. What good would peace forged through a wish be? It'd simply be forced on everyone — that isn't what I want to see. However...any other wish and I could remove that stone from existence." He smiled at this. "I suppose everything does has a silver lining, because that loophole is ideal."
"I suppose some psudo-science bullshit will intervene in that and there'll be like the end of the world or something if the stone is destroyed. There's always SOME excuse for that. You know how it goes." Leviathan sighed, knowing that since so much effort was put into forging the Philosopher's Stone, there had to be a catch.
"It's no concern of ours unless it becomes a real problem, right?" Delst replied. "I want to help you do something about these humans. If the demi-humans haven't found the stone now, I think it should be fine for a little while longer. The demi-humans themselves are the more pressing concern."
The Gathering of Evil
"So, let me tell you a little story, fleshbag." Leviathan sighed, "It's extremely long, so don't fall asleep. In the beginning, there was only nothing. Before the dawn of time, Order and Chaos existed within an extra-dimensional entity known as The Exalted One. To explore the fledgling universe, he created the astral being known as Varian, and then subdivided her, creating her twin, Origin. Both sisters were multiversal singularities, unique in all realities, but whereas Varian could only exist in one universe at a time, moving between them at will, Origin existed simultaneously in all realities at once. It is suggested, in fact, that the two sisters embody the basic concepts of reality—good and evil, order and chaos—and that their continued existence is necessary for the stability of the multiverse. As Varian and Origin went about their appointed task, venturing through the cosmos, it became apparent to Origin that Varian was a corrupt being, and she took it upon herself to stop the threat posed to all of existence by her sibling. In combat, Origin was no match for Varian. In cunning, however, she proved herself to be her sister's superior when she shifted their battle to the astral plane, and then back to the physical world once more, only to have both their essences manifest within planetoids, leaving them both trapped. It was with this act of sacrifice that Origin hoped to contain Varian's evil forever. Unfortunately for her, over time, Varian learned to psionically shape her prison into her eldritch form, and Origin followed suit.
The war between Varian and Origin came to its seeming end during a climactic battle in which it ended when Varian was sucked into a black hole and disappeared from reality. With Varian gone for now, Origin entered an eons-long slumber, her self-imposed sleep preventing Origin from detecting her through the mental link the sisters shared. After her defeat at the dawn of time, the entire planet of Earth Land naturally formed around Varian over billions of years.
With Varian gone; Origin birthed the Guardian Trio—A special trio of holy demons that represent knowledge, emotion, and willpower, respectively; known as Elainerius, Blazeout, and Sentinel respectively. The trio, along with Origin's ability to give life; managed to breathe life into the land and create the human race.
Meanwhile, as Varian momentarily awoke soon after the Guardian Trio was conceptualized, which Origin took note of—Varian would once again be unleashed upon the world. Knowing this, Origin searched for a more permanent solution. Ultimately, Origin succeeded by using her Divide Unto One ability to divide Varian into two separate constructs that would later become known as the Ancient Duo; Gehaburn and Elysdeon, scattering them throughout the world. Meanwhile, with more than half of her power gone, Varian fell back into a deep slumber; as did Origin—however, remnants of Varian's scattered magical power formed themselves into the beings known as Dragons.
Gehaburn and Elysdeon were natural enemies—and while Gehaburn, the Alpha, controlled Darkness and the Earth, Elysdeon, the Omega, controlled Light and the Skies. The dual beings battled fiercely for centuries on end, obliterating countries with their signature spells; Alpha Raze and Omega Discharge. However, eventually, the humans learned the secret of God Slayer Magic via the lucid dreams that Origin sent them; and with it, they were able to seal the dual demons in towers. That's when we come in. Let's just say that some of us want to eat humans, and some of us like the little fleshbags. But me, I see them for what they are." She stopped speaking finally. "That was a fair amount, wasn't it? All of those demons from a single egg."
Delst's face contorted into a grimace. "That was...a very disturbing origin story." The man was trying to wrap his head around all of it. "So this world was created through the efforts and quarrels of demons. That word rings a bell..." He winced, as if his head hurt. It felt like a memory trying to surface but not quite making it. He shrugged this off. "I'm not sure how much of that I can actually believe, but considering I'm riding around the world on the back of a gargantuan dragon, I'm not sure how much I can doubt either." Then he remembered the last part of it. "Dragons eat humans?" If Delst was any normal person, he would have immediately leapt off Leviathan's back, and fled like the devil was on his heels. "I suppose that makes sense...animals higher on the food chain do consume those on the lower rung." He shook his head, everything felt so cluttered. 'Why tell me all of this, Leviathan? What good does it do?"
"I told you...." Leviathan paused dramatically, before flatly stating, "I told you because every second dragon ride comes with a free history lesson." She was obviously lying out of her butt. "It's because you had a stupid face that I wanted to poke. You looked so damn clueless that I had to just give you a little brush-up on history."
Delst blinked, evidently confused. "You make it very difficult to understand you, but I am thankful for the information at the least." He was starting to wonder, at the speed they were traveling, how long it would take to reach Hargeon? He had figured they'd be there already.
"I slowed down so I could tell you the history of Earth Land, obviously." Leviathan snarked, before continuing, "Full speed ahead, again." Suddenly, white light quickly condensed on Leviathan's wings before being released- as she blasted forward, manifesting a sonic boom in the wake of her sudden movement, reaching Hargeon within a few seconds. Gently touching down, she resisted the urge to faceplant as to throw Delst off for a cheap laugh.
Delst slid down, landing neatly on the ground and once again thanking Leviathan. He then turned to look towards the city that was off into the small distance. From what he could see, the city was on the coast, with houses and various building scattered across. The town spread out to the ocean, where multiple boats seemed to be waiting. Not that Delst knew, having no idea what it was, but this was a fishing town. "So many humans!" He sounded a bit excited as he saw from the distance that the city was bustling with people rushing around. "I didn't think there'd be this many...!"
Leviathan rolled her eyes. "At least, this variant of fleshbags are shown to be mostly non-dangerous. However, they're like sheep in a flock- following the words of the president of this town." She gazed around, slightly taken aback. "Did you know? Hargeon is the most advanced of the current cities- it grows at a rate which is five times faster than any other town in Earth Land."
Delst took another glance at the city. Even without reference of other cities, he could tell this place was truly something. Then, in the distance, a figure caught his eyes. "Hmm...what's that?"