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The End of the Beginning (Origin Story)

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    A whistle made from a blade of grass,

    The sound piercing through the forest.

    Ever longing for the place from which it was torn,

    But forever retreating.


The Alsace Myrian had finally decided to set for camp as the sun edged further past the horizon. It had been yet another long day on the road, but the troupe of actors, acrobats, and various other performers were not entirely fatigued. The journey had always been a pleasant experience for the men and women of the Myrian, who considered themselves like family; a very unique family. As the stakes were driven and the tents started rising, pieces of a new song could be heard, or a half-finished tale spoken. Revelry and good cheer echoed throughout the camp of more than two dozen men, women, and children. Among this lot was a young lad of twelve years, born to an actor father and an acrobat mother. His name is Riken, and he is the blade of grass in this tale.


With the work finished and the night sky hanging wistfully above, the Myrian sat around the few fires spread across the camp, sharing stories over dinner. Riken was sitting with a friend, whom he may or may not have once had a whimsical crush on. She was the daughter of one of his mother's partners, who as usual followed in the family trade. Where as Riken had taken his father's mantle, Mira had become an acrobat like her mother. Unfortunately for him, Mira saw Riken more as family than close friends, as these tales often go, and so he eventually had resigned himself in this childish endeavor. His father had once told him not to dwell on any individual scene, and the young actor had taken that lesson literally, applying it to life itself. It was a practice his father had always found ridiculous, but Riken found it a fun game nonetheless. The rest of the dinner went as serenely as expected, and that night Riken went to sleep happy and content.


    Dancing amidst the shadows and trees,

    Kin of the fae, yet elder still.

    Death-bringer and life-giver,

    There lies serene dominance in the flame.


When Riken finally awoke, it was not due to the welcome shine of the sun, or the soft touch of his mother's hand. It was a much sharper sensation, with an unfamiliar warmth to the air. Dreary-eyed, he managed to wake himself up enough to stand, and stumbled his way out of the tent. The smell was stronger here, and much more recognizable at that; the familiar campfire scent, but amplified far beyond such a small scale. In a state of panic, Riken spun in place, expecting to see the forest ablaze around him. But the night was still quite dark, and even a distant forest fire would still illuminate the shadowed night. In fact, Riken had not seen such a dark night in camp for quite a while. He was halfway back inside the tent before the anxiety returned, as he had his revelation.


Where were the watchers?


There were a trio of mercenaries that the Alsace Myrian kept with them, always pacing the perimeter of the camp with torchlight in order to keep away any wildlife or other nuisances. They had come everywhere with the troupe, ever since Riken first met them at the age of five, and never did all three of them remain in the dark at once. Frozen at the threshold of his tent, Riken tried to reason out some explanation for the absence of the familiar security he had grown accustomed to. But still the darkness crept at the back of his mind, with the horrors of a thousand plays and stories coming to infect his creativity. Struggling to keep his composure, the young actor did his best to emulate his father, and decided to go tell someone. Each step was more nervous than the last, but eventually Riken made it to his parent's tent, right beside one of the carriages. His lips parted to ask for help, but no sound came out. A rustle from inside had sent another wave of shivers down his spine, and instinctively he ducked aside to kneel behind one of the nearby wagon wheels. Chiding himself for being such a coward, Riken wiped the dirt off his palms, beginning to crawl out of the small space beneath the carriage. 


    Elysian meadows turned to haunted crypts,

    The mind plays foul and deceiving.

    Within the infinite chasms of the night,

    Lies ourselves looking into the abyss.


And that was when the demon appeared. The shadow that stepped out was much too large to be Hyur; not even the Elezen could match his size. Riken's eyes struggled to make out details, any details, in the black of night. The faint rustling of feathers was the only sound made as the shade-cloaked figure dashed away, leaving Riken once again paralyzed with hesitation and fear. But a worse sensation began to arise in this child, as his legs acted of their own accord and haphazardly made their way over to the tent. His mind screamed against himself as he lifted the flap, walked into the darkness and knelt. The grass was wet with dew, and Riken reached out for his father's hand. He was flushed with relief as he touched his father's warm skin. The panic still held the words in his throat, but Riken was now sure all of this was just his own over-active imagination playing tricks. He pulled at his father in an attempt to wake him up, to share with him the scare of the peculiar darkness. At the same time he reached to his side, feeling for his mother. (failing his father's deep sleep) But as Riken found his mind clearer and clearer yet, he couldn't ignore one aspect any longer.


His father had not closed his hand the entire time.


The horrible thoughts were now his reality, as Riken's mind went into a manic frenzy. Why was his mother not here? Why was his father not answering him? Since when was he this light- That last question almost pressed the teenage actor into shock. The answer stared at him from the darkness as he refused to face it. For five minutes Riken knelt, his father's hand in his, as still as stone. And when he finally pulled at the comforting grasp within his own, there was nothing pulling back. There was a click, and suddenly the figure before him was clear as day. His brain brought together the details from the darkness, and illustrated it before him in terrifying detail. His father, arm severed at the shoulder, spear lodged through the heart. His blood had trickled along the ground, now staining Riken's shorts. And almost on cue, the camp began to burn, as screams echoed throughout the remnants of the Alsace Myrian.


With his mind now completely self-destructed, Riken began to carry his father's corpse out through the back of the tent, away from the beckoning flames. Whispering almost incoherently, the young child soothed his sleeping father, promising everything would be alright. The sun was bright as ever, and his father could use the fresh air. They always loved napping beneath the trees, until someone caught them slacking off. A smile across his face, Riken propped the bleeding body of his father up against the trunk of a solid tree, and sat beside him, laying on his bloody chest. Riken slept with warm thoughts of family and friends, as they all faded away into the shadows.


    Truth broken, reality severed,

    Words taken, bodies left.

    Voices silenced, Passions quenched,

    Lives given, the penultimate theft.


And with the break of day, the true Nightmare begins..

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