BRIGHT

By Stanley Michael Oppong 3 weeks ago

The Beginning

The battle left Hierynth shattered: from normalcy to chaos and insurgencies. Everything has divagated into a complete ruin. Hierynth used to be a realm in the planetoids inhabited by 3 different races with extraordinary abilities: The Archers, the smallest in population but mightiest of all the fighters, mostly 10 feet tall and huge giants that made the hierarchy of the Scoffers ― protectors, warriors of the realm; the Myrs were mind-readers who were virgins forbidden to have romantic relationships lest their gift is corrupted; and the Lynths who were distant whisperers, they could communicate from afar.

Together these races coexisted in harmony with the laws and issuances of the realm superseded by their ruler whose title was Loff (after every half a decade, someone would emerge from one of the races to become the ruler of Hierynth); the Loff’s paramount task was to ensure unilateral, peaceful coexistence and the security of Asys, a yellowish flower capable of reviving life after a person should have died, remains a virgin to invasion from neighboring realms.

People in Hierynth were a lot simpler to be identified differently by their attire and practices, but yet they lived as unique components of a bigger mixture of commoners. The dynamics of their culture undignified inferiority and promoted oneness. Each had a customary way of shielding their bodies.

The Myrs were considered the angels and aphrodisiacal of them all, their fragrance and beauty drove admiration from the woods. Even one look at them could turn a soldier into a stone. And even though they were blessed and cursed at the same time, their glass dresses coupled with their long, flower pinned hair reaching to embrace their hips could cause a scene not even the Lynths could survive. Amongst them, the shortest and yet conny of them were the Lynths. They never wore shoes, but were considered the farmers of them all. The Archers wore ready-for-battle boots and leather jackets reaching their knees over their shorts, both men and women, they were all warriors and they live as though war was always nearby.

Needless to say, they were actually a magnet to attack because of the flower which they cultivated for the revivification of life.

And after many decades and several attacks on its soil, the races of Hierynth lived in utter serenity and wealth. However, there came an unnoticeable intrusion which hampered every growth they have cultivated over the past. Not even the Myrs could have predicted such a tragedy as they have accurately done to ensure adequate preparation for battle in the past.

It was a crucial morning, at The Shades of Frontiers ―  the home of the protectors of the realm, where the Scoffers found true meaning to life ―  for the council in the chamber of Ocyth, a sacred, circular chamber hidden in the Shades of Frontiers exclusively for meetings regarding the affairs of Hierynth; by then, they had assembled to carry on the execution of three of its members accused of committing treason. The council comprised three leaders from each of the races who were principled and of special abilities. And just when they were about to behead the traitors, there was this terrible sound like an earthquake, shaking the ground beneath them; it was a large spaceship penetrating their boundary. All of the council members including the frontiers took to their heels, but it was late! Right in the chamber, the spaceship landed killing all of the council members, but except for one who managed to have escaped the scene in time, albeit badly wounded from the extreme heat and explosion.

Out of the spaceship came a three-footed carnivorous creatures, bluish with glue-like skins, with compound eyes saturated by multiple black spots, and with extraordinary capabilities and intelligence than of humans’. Those brutes utilized the energy from the cosmic wave to run major military and procreation functions ― they were the Coths from the realm of Primoria. They came in search of Asys! 

The whole of Hierynth has never encountered neither seen an army with sophisticated machineries and intelligence in the last two decades, since the invasion of their planet by neighboring realms. Unlike previous battles, the Scuffers fought back unimaginably, but the Coths were fast moving creatures and tactical.

In the extreme heat of the battle, undiscovered between the tall trees of the forest region was the leader who survived the attack at Ocyth, he tried to make it home to his family ― his wife and 1-year-old son. Upon reaching the main entrance of the colony where all the council members resided, he noticed a smoke-stained air extensively covering everywhere. In dismal regrets and frustration, he fought and killed a few Coths before reaching his quarter. Lying half dead in the doorway was his wife, Agath, a furious warrior, with blood pouring from both her eyes and mouth. 

He rushed and creased her in his arms with tears walking down the axle of his eyes. Speechless. And teary. In her breathless body, she uttered, “I lost our son while defending our people when the invaders attacked the colony.” Before he could return a word, Agath had left to Epsilum, a place they believe to inhabit the dead.

In rage, he cried in an amiss sound of vengeance and loss! To his wake in dismay, only waving dust and powdered bodies of children, mothers, fathers, and fighters were emitted in the air by the ship from whence the Coths came, they had left with a plethora of Asys, leaving Hierynth devastated and destabilized as if uninhabited. There were remnants of the invasion easily visible in Hierynth, amongst its people, infrastructure and fields. In every abandoned building, forest and mountains, the head of the Scuffers searched for his son. But the possibility of finding his son seemed locked centuries away in blue sky.

Over time past, he grew tired of his seemingly fragile life that he took accommodation with the scant number of survivors left, to rebuild and defend the safety of the realm. 

Yet, after two and a half decades had elapsed in the history of the great fall, the recovery process of Hierynth was doomed due to the existence of Coths who did not make it to the spaceship in time; afraid of the light, they went in hidden for decades and only roam the dark. During the night, they would hunt for survival and procreation. Inhabitants cautiously lived in fear and isolation. 

 

The Rescue

One night as usual, it was dark, cold, and busy, too: street corners were full of beggars, spendthrifts, scofflaws and cut-purses; most of their dealings occurred at a superstore downtown. At the superstore, affluent families would grab evening meals and snacks. So, beggars would stick around in hopes of receiving a tip or anything that could survive them through the night. Among them was an apparently disguised beggar believed to be in his early 40's standing by the superstore. He was waiting to get gifted with food to eat for the night ―  his crimson looks of fatigue was obviously an alert of his hunger.

Unlike other nights, the store was extremely choked with buyers, some of them thieves while others lawful! From outside, this beggar glanced with grave anticipation that someone would notice his need. A magic would happen! At the left edge of the counter in the superstore was a boy, tall and dark in complexion with an attractive, toned body, in his teens, wearing a thick leather jacket that covered his head, making him unrecognizable. 

The boy was one of those picking-pockets in the street. Fortunately, his picking pocket job had paid off that night, so he made extra purchases than his regular. Immediately as he exited the store, the beggar reached out to him and requested for any provision he could munch on for the cold, drizzling night in the street. For a minute, the boy was hesitant to assist, yet he reached down in the takeaway bag and handed few of the provisions to the seemingly weakened beggar.

While leaving, the boy saw a gemstone glamorously shining from across the street directly opposite the store. Anyone seeing this illumination of reddish light from afar would presume the obvious, “it is a fortune”. 

'Did you see that?!' he shouted to the old man, by then, the beggar had already left before he could realize it. In a rush, he sped across the busy street to take a close look, disregarding the weight of goods he carried. At this moment, no danger could watermark his desperation to get out of his lawless and deplorable living condition. In his head, he believed it was a hope of revival for him ― a redemption song that silently ran through his windpipe. But after a brief stint, a huge gentleman clothed in a black hoodie carrying a sharp-tipped knife and an arrow crept in the same direction the lad was headed.

Halfway near the gemstone, the boy saw on the wall of the Hierynth Intelligence Corporation (HIC) a shadow that engulfed his reflection ―  the former center for criminal investigation and justice ruined by the great invasion. 

With just an inch away, he felt his heart pounding with much vibration ― fears grouped in every part of his eyes and legs. 

“Was I just allured by the look of the shining stone from across the street only to meet my end?” he had thought this inside of his head. “Or, maybe it is a monstrous cartoon projected from a theater hidden somewhere nearby” ― his mind had injected this thought just to ease the clamor of blood in his body. However, the verisimilitude of the situation couldn’t be juxtaposed with a comic movie.

There was complete tranquility, not as a result of inner peace but of the silence of death creeping in the middle of the night. Standing still, he couldn’t make a turn backward for fear he might tip the snake on its tail. So one step at a time, he moved slowly in the direction adjacent to going forward; appallingly, he felt a sprint on his body that threw him far left to a corner congregated in dirt. 

Above his defeated body was a Coth trying to rip his jugular vein wide open. And just when he felt himself losing the restraints, the Coth got paused in the fight. A sharp-tipped object piercing its spine ran through the center of its body, pulling out enormous traces of dark greenish blood on the boy's face. 

Releasing the weight of the Coth on him, he saw a man whose head was kept hidden from sight under a black hoodie standing a few centimeters away. In a gasp of curiosity, the boy approached the man unafraid:

Boy: “You saved me,” he said and continued, “how did you know that there would be trouble down this god-forsaken place anyway?”

Saviour: “Gratitude is an immeasurable gift to the blind, so he receives sight in every “thank you” he gives.”

Boy: “How could I think of that when I almost got killed by something outrageous? I am sorry, anyways. Thank you!”

The lad tried getting closer to identify who his saviour was when he got paused in his tracks.

Savior: “Don’t approach any further”, he said as the boy approached him. “It is dark, and there could be more coming this way. You should get out of here,” he warned in a departing tone.

As if the words of this hair-raising saviour are void, the boy became even more tenacious.

Boy: “Hey, wait!”, he shouted. “It is late and I have nowhere to sleep. I am an abandoned kid; could you please take me with you?”

The savior recessed at the request. All through the conversation, the identity of the man remained unrevealed beneath the hoodie. 

Saviour: “Where I am from is hidden in trenches. If you can catch up then we would be there sooner.” 

He assured the boy a welcome.

 

The Shock

On their way, between railways and tunnels, the journey was garrulous. The boy asked questions about family, job, survival, and everything surrounding the life of this man and at a certain point, it appeared as though he had bridged the gap that existed at the time of the rescue ―  the dissonance each felt. His hilarious chuckles after he had asked an unnecessary question adroitly arrested an attention out of the man; he did this with intermediate stops and walks until the old man doffed his head from the hoodie, eventually divulging the angel beneath the cover. It meant nothing like a shock would suggest, however, they both were finally getting along, and familiarity was being born out of the long walk away from the occupied, horrendous streets.

Before they could realize it, they had reached their destination. Visible to in front of them in any unimaginable way, was a wretched home standing as a frowned flower in a smiling soil; its untenanted and smoke-stained appearance created a myriad of happy moments stolen by the invasion.  

Since the invasion which made him a caderva ― at least not in a nonexistent way, but void of family connection ―  he had moved away from what others may call the real world for as long as the gray hair on his cheeks could have survived to tell: no family and fun, just hunting wild animals and aliens; the social status he had enjoyed with his family had vanished, gone forever. 

So this time of his roam, he had settled in the woods just to get solitude and reflection. And even though his former life serving as the head of the Scuffers remained undivulged, scavenging wild beasts have been the closest to his heart ― swords and arrows were the dominant of his weaponry and specialty.

“This is my home. It hasn’t been in decades”. The former leader of the Scuffers had eluded at a femto minute away from the house entry.

Located on opposite sides of the stair leading to the front entrance were two lamps, burning in flames, ushering them in; they entered and drew two old wheeling chairs before the burning furnace that kept the inside warmth from the cold woods. Also, pinned on the inside wall were picturesque displays of armor and a little memorabilia of his family. Allured by their outstanding view, the young lad looked at each image with a wow!

“You were a commander?” he asked. “Yes! But a long time ago”, the man replied as he withdrew from his pocket a bracelet belonging to his wife. He held it in his hands with a metered smile rolling across his lips and passed it to the boy. 

“Here is my wife, Agath. I lost her to death and my son, too, to the Invasion when the Coths raided our once peaceful land”. He gently lifted his eyes and turned to the boy and asked: “Have you heard of the great battle between the Scuffers and the Coths that ruined this entire planet?”

“I have heard stories about how strangers [monsters] came through a spaceship and took what belonged to us, the Asys.”  the boy had uttered, “Could you tell me about it?” he added while lustfully admiring the bracelet he had received: the design on the bracelet was quaint albeit wooden and gilt, and its “I Love You” on the circumference told a lot about the unspeakable affection the man had shared with his dead wife. 

“The attack came appallingly; children, mothers, fathers, and frontiers were murdered despite their efforts to fight back. We lost a lot of people ― from all three races ― to the sound of big machine guns and flesh-eating creatures. As the head of the Scuffers, I could see our hopes of a safer colony lensing in doom. But I do believe that I am not the only survivor of my race, The Archers. There could be someone like me out here. I have yet to find out.” 

He remarked with regrets while getting boozy. Every word that came out signified a wish that this tragic fall had never taken place. When the bottle of wine was finally inviting thin air at its bottom, the old man paused, “You said you live on the street, where are your family and which race are you?”

This question left a colossal silence in the room, the lad didn’t know how to begin, for he grew up knowing himself as a kid picking in pockets for survival. Chagrined by the question, he quickly interposed at the sound of the last word: "You know what 'old man'? Let's leave that, do you have a shower? I'm stinking in the blood of that creature."  The old man sighed at the boy's response and responded, "It is on the left-wing of the room ahead of you. I am heading to bed. Keep your eyes open."

That night while the lad slept in utter ignorance of the wild beasts and violent breeze, the man couldn't stop thinking of where his kid could possibly be in this world. Had it not been that he was trapped and wounded, he would have reached home to save his son in time.

However, with the passing on with time, all he had ever done is to count the stars and wish for a miraculous reunion with his son. I guess that is what a lonely father would dare to embrace before death takes him. Yet as he hoped in his crunchy bed, it appeared as though his anticipation would never be realized ―  that the possibility of ever beholding this realism was locked, hidden somewhere in the galaxy which only the guardians of the world could release. 

The thought of reuniting with his son, if he ever survived the invasion, brought the morning sun early to his window. It was time to commit to his morning ritual ― to clean his weapons ― therefore, without any delay, he rushed out to commence his day’s job of maintenance.  By then, the woods had casted its beauty upon the house and made a seizure of the boy’s view; beauteously, he sat on the rock adjacent to the arsenal in amazement listening to the moody voices of birds while gazing at the snowy peaks of mountains that surrounded the forest. 

"Hey, Old man! Do you have any food?" the boy shouted.

Without hearing any response, he immediately went into the house and began searching the backpack the man had carried the night he was rescued. To his surprise, he found out that the provisions contained in the bag were exactly the same as the ones he helped an old man with at the superstore. 

"This must be a mistake," he thought to himself. 

As he went further in the bag, he saw something very familiar to him; something he had pondered for quite a long time! At that moment, all of the hunger had vanished into curiosity ― even though unsure of whether or not it is the old man he had helped the night before, the metal which he found became enthralling! 

Forthwith, he drew it from the bag to take a closer look. It was a symbol! He had worn exactly the same symbol as a mark on his body since birth, on the left side of his chest. For a long time he had thought of what possibly this could mean. Never once had the answer seemed visible.

Not knowledgeable of where this symbol leads neither its interpretation, he sprang through the open door to interrogate the man in hopes of solving the puzzle of the symbol ‘carved’ on his chest, but unfortunately, the man was not at the armory. There was no sound made to signal this departure. To where exactly he could have gone? ― the boy became daunted and not sure where he could possibly be despite the searches he made.

When he finally reclined searching for his saviour, on his return to the armory anticipating the reappearance of the man, he saw a note lying next to two weapons, which appeared unused and ready for battle.

He picked the note and this was what he saw written on the piece of paper:

On the note, he saw exactly the symbol (a right, half-headed arrow pointed upward) artistically drawn to perfection below the message:

“I know you might be looking for me by now. But if you are reading this note, I want you to know that I am in search of my son; he is the last of my race, The Archers. And this symbol represents our lineage, the only race on the planet of Hierynth to inherit such gift of precision and valor in battle, and the expected race to claim something priceless and invaluable, which I can not reveal to you!

When we had him, his mother and I, we noticed a mark on his left chest, shining and attractive, exactly the symbol you see on this epistle. It was interpreted by the Myrs that he would survive this realm from calamities untold. Because of this, we named him Bright before the counsel and elders. 

Therefore if you ever come across him, tell him that his father, Barinth, is searching to tell him the secret to the throne of Hierynth. Without it, he can not fulfill the call which he was born unto. I carry a similar mark on the sore of my left foot, that is why I never stay in the same place for more than two years. Take these weapons, they always find a way to reunite with its origin, you would need it to fight your way through the woods.

We shall meet again when our paths cross each other, hilarious lad!

After reading this note, he folded in tears, packed all that he could get his hands on, and set off to where it all started in search of answers and unity.

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