Viewing as Guest
Chapter 0: Prologue
Date Published: January 10th, 2015
Eleven year old Naza hugged himself inside the shadows of the hidden cellar, praying that the demons would not look below. With a dust-covered hand, he wiped the tears from his face. From the floor above, he could hear movement and muffled shouts—the voices of his parents. Mother and father, who had closed the trapdoor once he had entered the hidden cellar.
A violent scream pierced through, and Naza felt it in his very bones and flesh—it was the scream of his mother. Multiple thuds caused dust and some wood shavings to fall down on him inside the musty, enclosed room. Naza heard his father’s muffled shouts.
“Damn you, demons!”
Another thud. The sound was very familiar to Naza. He himself had made it when he was playing around and had tripped and fell multiple times against the wooden floors of the house. It was the sound of a body falling.
“Mother…father,” Naza whispered, his voice so soft that it could not even be called a whisper. He himself could barely hear it.
Silent tears streaked his face, and Naza knew with certainty from the sounds that his parents had been slain by the demons. But though child he was, Naza did not scream out or bawl against this cold reality. His parents had explicitly instructed him to stay quietly down here.
Time passed, but Naza could not tell how long he stayed silently weeping in the darkness, repeating and muttering to himself of his mother and father.
Eventually, the tears stopped falling, drying and only becoming a discomfort on his face. Naza stood up hesitantly, having finally gained the courage to go out again—he could no longer hear any more footsteps or other sounds. His courage was a small speck in his heart though, only coming into existence due to the fact that crying down here in the cellar would not serve any purpose. No, the only purpose crying would serve would be to stain his short-sleeved tunic with his tears.
Naza blindly searched through the dimness of the cellar, until his hands finally found purchase on the thick wooden rungs of the ladder. He climbed up, stopping near the top rung. It took a few seconds and a couple of hard pushing before the trapdoor finally opened.
Coming out of that darkness, it took Naza’s eyes for a few seconds to adjust to the afternoon light that was coming through from the windows and sections of the walls, which had large holes and piles of strewn rubbles on the floor. Something wet and sticky touched against his arms as Naza propped himself out of the entrance.
Naza looked down, only to find himself staring wide-eyed at the pool of blood that was spreading, dripping steadily down onto the ladder. Though just a child, Naza knew at first glance that the pool of blood belonged to one of his parents. An involuntary whimper almost broke out as Naza scrambled quickly out of the entrance, wiping his arms furiously against his brown tunic.
Having gotten out and in an upright position, Naza had a good vantage of the room. He looked around, but not even a few seconds had passed before Naza saw a gory head split into two sections on the floor. The long, blue hair of the head almost shrouded the face, but Naza could still see a lifeless, dead eye peeking out.
A scream burst out from Naza, as he turned away from the bloody scene, quickly running out of the opened door of the bedroom. Before he could even find himself in the living room, Naza slipped on a pool of blood. He fell face first, and almost slipped again as he braced himself against the floor with his arms and legs.
In his prone position, Naza came face-to-face with a severed limb, the chopped off section of the thigh almost touching his nose.
Naza let out a half-whimper, half-scream, and he quickly got up. In his speed and haste, Naza did not even cared about the fact that his bare arms and tunic were soaked crimson with blood from the floor.
It took barely even half a minute before Naza ran out through the front door of the house. On his way, he had ignored the puddles of blood, severed limbs, small, misshapen body parts, and the intestines curling around itself.
Only when he was outside of the house did Naza took time to reflect and catch his breath. But relief did not come to him.
“Mother…father…sister,” Naza muttered to himself, as he looked around at the destroyed neighboring homes.
The town of Lazul had been razed by demons, its people eaten. Sections of the town had smoke rising toward the sky. It was a sign of houses set to fire, most likely through magical means. There were a few corpses, kindly neighbors which Naza recognized and had often spoke with.
And though the sight was horrid to Naza’s eyes, tears would not fall down. He had softly cried for what seemed like an eternity for his family down in the cellar; he was not a dim-witted boy. He knew what would happen if a demon portal opened in the middle of town.
The portal was gone now, but Naza did not felt any relief. He was most likely the only survivor of the small town. After all, the people were lax about any defenses, knowing that the town would be safe far, very far behind the war frontier. Only Naza’s parents had been cautious enough to build secret rooms.
It was quite inconceivable for any demon to get past this far into human territory, after all. Who would expect it? No, one would only be called a needless paranoid to create secret rooms.
Still, had there been a chink in the magical defenses? A hole that would allow demons to create a portal this far into human territories?
It was useless, however, to think of that now. His sister…there was a small chance she had not been caught up in the demons’ raid and run.
Naza shook his head, trying to clear the images of the corpses of his parents in the house, their severed limbs and parts lying haphazardly. He had to remain hopeful. There was a small chance that his sister could still be alive.
Thus, an hour passed by as Naza searched through the town looking for any survivors. As he witnessed more and more scenes of destruction, his eyes turned more and more lifeless—it was almost akin to that of the dead bodies lying on the ground.
Finally, Naza dropped to his knees amidst the ruins of the town, small fires from the nearby buildings surrounding him. Tears dripped down his face, as the destruction of everything he was familiar with finally came unbidden into his mind.
What would he do now? How would he survive?
Naza did not know how long he stayed on his knees in the center of the town, before he finally stood up. A grim and fiery determination had sunk to the very depths of his elven year old mind, which was far more mentally composed and mature than other kids his age. Before the demons had razed the town, Naza had only played around infrequently, spending most of his time learning about things and staying close to his father, who worked as the small town’s librarian.
Through some fortunate donation or accident—Naza had always been unsure of that story—the small town actually had quite an expansive library, almost equal or better than that of a city’s. It was there that he spent most of his time, reading and helping his father.
His small fists tightly gripped in anger and motivated by the seeds of vengeance, Naza shouted as best as he could with his small lungs.
Naza continued shouting, his voice reaching across other sections of the town. He continued shouting until he could no longer do so, until his throat felt parched and dry, until his throat felt as if it was on fire.
“I am sorry,” a soft voice came from behind Naza.
Turning around, Naza found that the owner of the voice belonged to a female dressed in all black clothing, soft steel armor encasing her legs and large bosomed chest. The armor did not encase her arms and shoulders though, allowing a tight, black material to be shown. Just below the right shoulder, on the side of the arm, there was a large white “Z” with a diagonal line running through the middle. The letter looked pleated and was etched onto a soft, silver material.
It was the side crest of the Zalkions. Demon Hunters.
“No…it’s not your fault,” Naza replied in an almost deaden voice. A whisper due to his raw throat. There was a hint of blame in it. “It’s not…”
Naza knew that it was not the fault of the female Zalkion. No one could have known that demons could have managed to penetrate this far into human territories, that they would raid this specific town.
Still, he could not remove the small blame in his voice.
“Are you the only survivor?” the female Zalkion asked.
“I see…Once again, I apologize to you. It was our fault for testing out a new magic…it weakened and interfered with the magical defenses, causing a temporary hole.”
Rage took over Naza’s mind. And before he knew what he was doing, Naza was already running toward the female Zalkion.
Try as he might though, his small fists only fell ineffectually against the tall female Zalkion’s stomach.
“Why! Why! Why!”
“I am sorry,” the Zalkion said once more in a soft voice. “I am sorry…Is there anything I can do for you? Say it, and I promise you in the name of the Zalkions.”
The demon hunter apologized over and over again in her soothing soft, tone, while at the same time hugging Naza in a tight embrace. Her blue eyes looked sad and apologetic.
But apologies would not bring back the dead, Naza knew. Nothing would.
The rage quickly left Naza, almost as fast as it entered. Only a feeling of weakness was left. Naza pushed the Zalkion away, trying to escape from her embrace.
With determined eyes, Naza looked fiercely at the female Zalkion, who, on closer glance, looked very beautiful. Especially her intense, blue eyes and her hair, the color of the burning town buildings, the color of bright, red fire.
Looking at the Zalkion, Naza realized that there was in fact something she could do for him.
Naza said in a voice as strong as he could muster with his weakened state, “I want to become a Zalkion.”
Then everything became darkness as Naza fainted, but not before he felt strong, supple hands catching him.
But not before he let out one more sentence:
“Naza Ashfell, my name…”