The Unwitting Guardian Prequel Ch. 01byArraiga©
In the world of Ruk, every person has a single magical ability, called "Talent". These powers range from detecting magical creatures, to strengthening body parts against impact. These abilities determine the job of the users; detection and strengthening are usually security, foresight and persuasion are leaders, and so on.
However, every thousandth person born has the ability to use multiple Talents. These people, known as "Extras" are shunned and feared by the rest of the populace, cast out into the wilderness at early ages, left to fend for themselves. This story begins with one of these people, outside the entrance to a desert oasis town.
Naek stood just outside the entrance of Jalayel. He was a tall man, standing at about 6'6", with sharp red eyes, and a mop of crimson hair. He was lean, but muscular, and he stood in a relaxed manner.
He approached the entrance in the town's walls, hands in the pockets of his open black trench coat. Reaching down, he buried a small ball in the sand, then wiped his hands on the bottom of his trench coat.
"Stop!" a voice yelled from the inside of the guard box. A short man in armor ran out of the box, and stopped four or five feet away from Naek. "Do not come one step closer to our town, you filthy Extra!"
Great, Naek thought.
"Nice to meet you too, Reynor." Naek said, suddenly appearing behind him, walking toward the gate. Reynor pressed a button on his wrist. A door on the wall opened, and several well-muscled men walked out. The leader stood next to Reynor.
"You sure this one's an Extra, Reynor?" he asked.
"Yes I'm sure you dimwit, detecting Extras is my talent!" Reynor snapped at the thug leader. The man gave a muffled grunt of approval, then motioned for his men to surround Naek.
"Awrighty then, mr. Extra, we're gonna have ta ask ya ta scram, or we get violent." The thug leader said, bouncing a club on his shoulder. "An you don't want us ta get violent."
"I'm afraid I can't take you up on your offer, sir thug. I'm in desperate need of a toilet, and squatting on the desert sands just isn't healthy, or comfortable." Naek laughed, sweeping his hand across the horizon.
"So, you're a funny guy. I hate funny guys." the thug said, lifting his club menacingly.
"Too bad, because I can see that you have a sterling personality. At any rate, I really don't have time for you, or your... friends..." Naek said, appearing in front of the town gates. He roundhouse-kicked the door. It caved in where his foot met the door, and pushed the entire door back two feet. Naek disappeared behind the door, leaving Reynor and his thugs' jaws on the floor.
Several hours later, Naek walked into the town's sole bar, the Drunken Jala. He took a seat at the bar next to two middle-aged women. After ordering a drink, he turned to the ladies.
"You two ladies seem like intelligent people," he said, causing a giggle," Have either of you two heard any rumors about the Extra Academy, out of curiosity?" One of the ladies, a brunette, answered first.
"I haven't, no. Why would you want to know about such a wretched place as a school for Extras?" she asked.
"I... work with the Imperial Intelligence Agency, and our leads on the academy have brought us here. We think that it is somewhere in this area. I figured that the locals would be more aware of whether that is true or not." Naek answered, shifting slightly. This time, the second woman spoke.
"I heard from a friend that it was in the forests far to the west of here. Probably a hundred miles or so." she said, trying to be helpful.
"I see, thank you for the information... I'll put in a good word at the Agency." Naek said as he stood up.
"Oh, be careful! There is some crazy Extra roaming the streets. Tom said he almost busted the gate off its hinges in a fit of anger earlier today," the second woman said. At that moment, one of the thugs from the gate bust in the door.
Just what I needed, someone who knows that I'm an Extra. Fantastic.
"You, Extra! You bastard, you called those golems didn't you!?" the man shouted, charging toward Naek. The women stepped away, their faces horrified.
"It appears that the jig is up, huh? Well, sir anonymous thug, I can assure you I didn't call these golems you speak of. Ladies, I bid you farewell, and I appreciate the info." Naek said, bowing to the ladies. Just as the thug tried to punch Naek, he disappeared, reappearing several meters behind a large crowd.
Naek shoved his way to the front of the crowd, and saw what it was gathered around: the gate guards were fighting two armor golems, and losing. Reynor spotted Naek and quickly traveled the distance between them.
"You bastard, you called them here, didn't you!?" He screamed, raising a knife.
"Chillax bro, I didn't call them here. In fact, I'm even willing to help you eliminate them, for a price." Naek lied, easily batting away the older man's knife.
"Do it, we'll discuss price later!" Reynor pleaded. Naek turned and faced the golems.
"Yo, guard-thugs, get outta the way, or I'll kill you too." he shouted, walking toward the golems. The men gladly retreated into the crowd. The golems both turned to face Naek. One of them, much smaller than the other, charged at Naek.
"Hey, someone give me a number between one and ten." Naek said, looking at the charging golem.
"Five!" someone said.
"Cool, just what I was thinking too." Naek said. He appeared behind the golem, and touched his hands to its back. There was a flash of blue light and a circle with several runes, symbols, and triangles appeared on the golem's back. "Demon seal release, 5%!" He bit his thumb, and splashed several drops of blood onto the circle.
The golem's back was suddenly gone, leaving its delicate inner machinery exposed. It turned and hopped back to its partner before Naek could exploit that weakness.
"This is where it get's interesting folks." Naek said grinning, "Release!" The crimson in his hair retreated to the tips, replaced by white, and small horns grew from his hairline. He held a hand out, and a ball of black fire came into existence on his palm. He grabbed it with his other hand, splitting it in two. Both of the fires elongated into the rough shape of a sword, stopping at a little over the average length of a katana. The fires burst away from the swords, leaving two katanas in Naek's hands. He twitched forward, then appeared above the smaller golem, preparing an overhead strike.
The swords tore through the golem's head like butter. It dropped to its knees as the larger golem turned and swung a massive claymore at where Naek was falling.
Except he wasn't falling. Naek hung midair, standing on nothing. The golem stopped its blow, and Naek dropped onto the thicker part of the blade. A wicked grin crossed his face as he thrust his swords into the larger golem's core. He pulled them out, hopped off, and turned toward the townspeople. After he had crossed half of the distance to the crowd, the larger golem exploded behind him.
"Now, about that fee..." Ryna said, ignoring the awe in the faces of the townspeople.
"Stay back damned Extra! We will pay you for your services, but you must leave right after," The thug leader, Tom, called out from the middle of the crowd. He broke out of the crowd holding a small sack of coins.
"Now, I trust that you aren't trying to rip me off here. The federal bounty for this type of monster is 200 silvers. That is twenty gold apiece, how much do you have here?" Naek asked, allowing Tom to drop the bag of coins into his hand.
"There is forty gold in there, relax," Tom said, backing away uneasily.
"You know, Tommy-boy, I haven't eaten a human in about a week, can you think of anywhere they serve really tasty ones?" Naek asked jokingly, scaring the shit out of Tom and most of the crowd," I'm feeling nice, so I'll leave the monsters here so you can turn them in for the gold back anyway," Naek said, walking across the plaza toward the charred remains of the golems. While he was passing by the smaller golem, he took his swords and slammed them into the circle, blurring the lines. Almost instantaneously, the red on the tips of his hair returned to its previous state of dominance, and the horns on his forehead disappeared into his skull.
"Goodnight to all of you wonderful people. By the way, which direction is west?" Naek said, looking back at the dispersing crowd. Someone yelled out "Straight", so Naek continued out of the gate he had kicked in only an hour ago.
"Great, back into this godawful desert, I can barely contain my joy," Naek said sarcastically to himself.
Several days later, Naek had reached the edge of the desert. He had seen from a long ways out that the edge of the desert was marked by an expanse of plateau that, he hoped, would eventually culminate in forests and the "Extra Academy". However, as he drew closer to the plateaus, he realized that he had a much more pressing problem.
"How the fuck do I get up onto the plateaus?" Naek asked aloud, voice hoarse from lack of water. He was rather hungry as well, and nearing exhaustion. All in all, not a situation most people would want to be in, Naek included. He staggered his way up to the edge of the plateau before passing out.
"I found him on the edge of the plateau Rita! It was the weirdest thing, he was, like, passed out about a meter from the ladder," Said a voice from somewhere in front of Naek. Opening his eyes slightly, he discovered that his hands were bound by some sort of leather that also connected to the wall he was leaning against, and that his captors were two scantily clad redheaded women.
"Wow, that is really strange. He's quite the looker too! I bet we could get a good price if we sold him in the capital," the redhead on his right, Rita, said, scratching her chin thoughtfully.
"These people don't seem to be handing out cookies, so maybe I should try to escape. Seriously though, why does this shit only ever happen to me?!" Naek thought, beginning to draw a circle on the sand floor of the room he was in.
"Should we tell Nana though? She doesn't particularly like the whole 'bandit' process," the woman on his left asked. Rita took a minute to consider her answer, giving Naek just enough time to finish his circle.
I know this is a longshot, but Nana has told us that she is looking for a guy, and her description looks kinda like this guy, doesn't he, Leah," Rita said, taking a closer look at Naek. Intrigued, Naek decided that he would stay until this "Nana" character came back, but he made sure to keep his circle intact just in case.
"Aunt Rita! Aunt Leah! I'm back!" A voice exclaimed from down the hall.
"Speak of the devil..." Leah said, laughing slightly," Rita, get your ass in here, we found something you might like!"
"Is it a cat? I love cats!" the voice said, coming closer to the room Naek was sitting in. She walked into the room, immediately showing Naek that his decision to stay had been the right one. She was tall for a woman, maybe 6'0", with midback length strawberry-blonde hair. Her blue-gray eyes contrasted nicely with her cherry-red lips, both of which complemented her beautiful, smooth face. Her body was amazing, with perfect sized breasts, and a nice ass.
"Did you guys kidnap a person again?! I told you not to do that anymore," Nana said berating the two women.
"Look closer Nana, this guy looks like your description of your 'dream guy', doesn't he?" Rita asked sarcastically. Nana, suddenly curious, walked over to Naek, and kneeled in front, looking at him. Because his face was angled slightly, she crawled over his body, looking up at his face.
"Hello gorgeous," Naek whispered to her as she got within inches of his face.
"Kyaaah! You were awake this whole time!" She exclaimed, stumbling back off of him. In the confusion he had created, he called a little fire to his hands, burning off the leather bindings. Then he disappeared, reappearing at the doorway.
"I've been awake for about... since these two put me on that rock wall," he said, rubbing his wrists. He smiled broadly, looking down at the bewildered faces of the ladies in the room.
"H-h-how d-did you get free?" Leah stammered, looking between the rock he had been on and where he was now.
"It was elementary, my dear. I simply burned off the bindings, then walked over here," he explained simply, chuckling inwardly at the pun he had made.
"There is no way you walked over there, we all would have seen you!" Rita exclaimed. Clearly the calmest of the group, her hands were already on the assortment of knives strapped across her waist.
"I suppose that is true, but I really did just walk over here. Maybe I am forgetting to explain something..." Naek said thoughtfully, enjoying toying with these women.
"Is that your Talent? To teleport?" Nana asked, trying to get to her feet but failing.
"To teleport? No way, that's too mainstream! I am an Extra, you see. But unlike normal Extras who have only two powers, I have three. The one I just employed to escape was the my control over time. I paused it, then walked over here, then unpaused it," Naek said, completely nonchalant.
"Control over time? Is your name Naek?!" Nana asked, excited. She stood up, completely forgetting her fear.
"Don't ask him his name, Nana! He will have to kill us then, so his name won't spread!" Leah said, now standing as well.
"Yeah, my name is Naek, why?" he responded, ignoring Leah's comment.
"My real name is Natalia, we used to live in the same town until we were cast out for being Extras!" Nana said, clearly excited.
"Hmmm, I really don't remember you," Naek said, wracking his brain for memories of the girl.
"Really..." she said, downtrodden, "I've looked for you for years, and you don't even remember me?!"
"Now, now, don't get angry. My childhood wasn't a happy one, so I have repressed most of the memories from that time," Naek said uneasily, trying to calm her down. Huffing angrily, Nana walked up to him and pulled his head down to hers, allowing her to press her lips against his.
"I don't care about your other memories. I want you to remember the memories containing me," she whispered sensually after she broke the kiss.
"I apologize for the inconvenience, but I really don't remember anything about you," he whispered back, forgetting to make a witty remark.
"I am not going to leave you alone until you remember both me and our promise," She said, turning back to Leah and Rita, "You hear that Aunt Rita and Aunt Leah, I am going with Naek here until he remembers me,"
"That is fine, but where exactly is he going?" Rita asked, looking slightly lass tense than before.
"I am headed to the Extra Academy in the forests to the west of here," Naek said, attempting to remove himself from Nana's arms.
"That is perfect, I know exactly where that is! I attend classes every now and then," Nana said, moving her grip from his neck to his arm, "Girls, I'll get some stuff ready for the trip, then we'll head out. It should only take a day by foot anyway." She walked out of the room, heading to what Naek hoped was a kitchen.
"So, what do you plan to do at the Extra Academy? From what I hear, you have been wandering around towns stirring up trouble for a while now. So why the interest in the Extra Academy now?" Rita asked, pushing Leah out of the room.
"I have not been stirring up trouble, just conning the local citizens. Bait monsters, slay them, take money. It is really quite easy once you do it a couple times--wait a minute, how did you know that was me?" Naek asked, his curiosity piqued.
"There have been rumors for months of monsters following a man across the continent. The down in the direction you came from just got visited, so I figured it was you. But back to the original question: why the sudden interest in the Extra Academy?" Rita asked again.
"It isn't a sudden interest, I have been scouring the continent for clues on how to find the damned place. Every city said, 'go to this next city, they'll know', I swear, it was the most annoying thing. I was just about to give up when some people in that oasis pointed me this way. And now I have a guide, so hey, it all worked out eventually," Naek said, leaning against the door frame of the room. Seemingly satisfied, Rita nodded, then brushed past him and went down the hall.
A little while later, Nana had packed a bag full of food and water, while Rita and Leah had packed a tent and some camping equipment to last them the trip to the Academy. The departure was teary for the girls, with plenty of 'I'll miss you's and a couple 'come back soon's. The majority of the trip that day was silent. That night, as they set up camp near the edge of the forest, the pair discovered that there was only one tent packed.
"I'll sleep outside," Naek said after dinner. He climbed up a tree, and settled into a semi-comfortable spot on a wider branch.
"Naek, if you want, um, you could, well, sleep in the tent with me," Nana said quietly.
"You sure? I'm a guy, you know," Naek answered.
"I don't mind. I kinda want to talk, and it is awkward talking to someone I can't see," Nana explained. Naek appeared next to her, already underneath the blanket, "You could have just walked, though,"
"I did walk--oh, my bad. So, what did you want to talk about?" Naek asked quietly.
"I don't know, stuff..." Nana said, blushing slightly.
"You wanted to talk, but you didn't know what you wanted to talk about?" he asked, confused.
"Why don't you ask something then," Nana said, trying to salvage the conversation.
"Um, okay then... Hmm, well, can you tell me about the last time you saw me?" Naek asked.
"O.K., well, it was about, what, 10 years ago. We would have been eight, so yeah, that's right. Anyway, we were back visiting our hometown. We had gotten chased out again, and you were really angry. You told me to stay hidden just outside of town, so I found a killer hiding spot, like you woulda never found me if I didn't come out. Anyway, I hid there for about half an hour when the explosions started. All over the town, explosions started happening. Then, as soon as it started, it ended. I peeked out when I heard footsteps, and there you were. Except it wasn't you. Your hair was snow-white, with red tips, and your eyes were gleaming. I swear I saw a tail made of this odd black fire and claws over your fingers. But the strangest thing was that the bricks on the ground seemed to dent around you, and underneath the bricks simply disintegrated. I was so scared from the explosions that I ran out and grabbed you.
Then there was this weird white light, and I felt lighter than air. I was glowing, which, I'll admit, kinda freaked me out. I grabbed you, because you had always been there to comfort me, and then I blacked out. I woke up a couple days later out in the woods surrounding the town, with you holding my hand, asleep. It was honestly the sweetest thing I have ever seen. Anyway, I woke you up, and you told me that you had to go on a journey to train yourself, and that I couldn't come along cuz' I was a girl and I could get hurt or killed. I told you I didn't care, and I made you make the promise. After that, all I remember was was waking up at Aunt Rita and Aunt Leah's place. Can I tell you how angry I was at you?" Nana recounted.
"I left you with those two? I apologize sincerely," Naek said, shaking his head.
"Hahahaha, they are nice people, you leave them alone. Anyway, you said that you don't remember your childhood, but did that spark anything?" Nana asked, shuffling closer to him.
"Not really, but what was the promise?" Naek asked.
"I will not tell you. you have to remember it otherwise it doesn't mean anything! I could totally lie about it and you wouldn't even know!" Nana exclaimed, shuffling back to her original position, disappointed.