Mandrake’s scribbling: First chapter! Hope readers find it good!
A dark figure towers over the knights, its back facing them. The knights are alert and forms a defensive formation. One of them, a woman, huddles close to her companions. Her right hand is missing as it was sliced off. Grimacing from her lost hand, she tightens her grip of her other hand on a glowing sword. In front of the figure, a man lie motionless on the floor, his eyes slowing losing its shine of life. His body has suffered a slash wound across his chest, which bled a fatal amount of blood onto the floor. The dark figure finally speaks. A female voice.
The dark figure grips a shortsword dripping with blood. Her figure starts distorting as black mist envelopes her whole body. It forms a flowing shroud that seemingly moves not to the wind which has been stilled, but from the heavy aura emanating from her. A bleached skull of a ram slowly materializes over her head.
“I have to do this.”
With her transformation complete, she turns towards the terrified knights. With an appearance of an unearthly demon, she says those equally terrifying words.
“I will end everything.”
A man shakes up from his sleep. He sits up and stares into the dark, empty space in his cabin. The sound of the train rattling across the tracks can be heard outside in the night.
[That dream… I haven’t had that one in a while…]
He sighs and turns his view to the cabin window. The dark scenery of paddy fields in the night slides by as the train carries on to its destination through the night.
[You are proving yourself a hard child to find. I’m worried that I could not find you in time.]
He looks at the cabin’s clock. 3.37 am in the morning. The time does not matter to him, but the date does. Eight years have passed since he started looking for the child. Eight years since the time he believed the child was born.
[I’m anxious to meet your parents. I want us to get along.]
He turns down his gaze.
[I hope they will understand.]
[Well then, I suppose I could contact somebody.]
He reaches for his luggage, a big metal case large enough to fit a small adult inside. The case boasts its long history with many scratches on its surface and dark gray patches where the aluminum metal surface has oxidized. From the opened case, he pulls out a smaller case, this one housing a computer. He turns it on and waits for the machine to start up. Even after it turns on, he waited a bit more. Securing a connection safe from spying takes time after all. As he stares at the screen, he thinks about the people he’s hiding from.
Traitors. Now powerful with the backing of organizations and nations worldwide, they scour the earth, hell bent on foiling his life mission. He and his companions are now scattered across the world escaping their grasp while pursuing the same mission.
The last one. The child is the last one. Not only the last one. The most important. To him, the child weighs more than the world.
As he reaffirms that, the computer is ready. A black screen with a green text input. Very retro. Like the ones that first began as a tool of the old war. A lot of the computer’s processing is dedicated to encryption and secrecy. In this case, function precedes aesthetics after all.
He types in the command to connect to the recipient. ‘Center’ was the recipient.
[The old man begs at the door.]
That is the first message sent.
[The library welcomes the old man.]
That is the reply he received. He feels relieved and happy that the recipient is still there and more importantly, safe. With this exchange of messages, he can resume normal conversation.
Rosetta: [Center? It has been months, hasn’t it? How are you? Has the world been treating you well?]
Center: [What is this? Rosetta, you talk like an old man meeting his grandchild. I’m fine. They cannot find me no matter how much technology or magic they have under their wing. I am the master of my own space. You blessed me with this gift after all. ]
Rosetta: [I still regret what they did. It is unforgivable and I could have done something to prevent it. I’m sorry.]
It has been 23 years since that time. A few of his companions betrayed everyone, killed their allies, and created an opposing faction for their own selfish cause to secure and monopolize power.
A long pause. Certainly the scars of the incident still remain. Then Center quickly changes the topic.
Center: [Anyway, I have completed the analysis of the blood samples collected in the UK since two months ago. I’ve been meaning to contact you, but their net cast on you was too fine for me to pass through.]
Rosetta: [Oh? How was it? Do you have a lead? Judging from the situation, I guess you have not found her.]
Center: [Correct. I could not find anything in regards to her. Not in the UK. Not in Germany or France. If she is to be believed to be in the time frame you suggested, she is not in the EU.]
Rosetta: [No sign of her, huh. Thank you so much for your work.]
Center: [I’ll keep tabs on any new babies born in all the areas I’ve covered so far. So the ones left are countries with a less than optimal registry.]
Rosetta: [I’ve already started on Vietnam. I should be done with Southeast Asia. Then perhaps I should move on to the biggest population in China next.]
Center: [This has been such a laborious task. Aside from China, there’s India, the African and South American continents, and the Arab countries to look into. Eight years. If it takes this long to find her to this extent, it’s going to take four more.]
Rosetta: [It has been tough, wasn’t it? She is the hardest to find so far. The last one we sent was six years ago.]
Center: [That one was a bit pathetic, wasn’t he? He was very arrogant for a 25 year old unemployed man with no skills. I can’t believe you kept watch over him for twelve years before you finally approached him. Do you really need to wait that long for him to be ready?]
Rosetta: [He needs to be ready for the sake of the other world. The only way for that to happen is to have him experience life in this one. Experience and ideals take time to create and can’t be rushed. It has been the same for all of them that I sent through.]
Center: [Fair point. But if that’s the case, why do we need to find this girl this early? You’re seriously sending a child over?]
Rosetta: [A cruel choice, at first glance. But it will be for her best interest. She is strong enough to survive in the other world. As for her time left in this world, it will be used to prepare her for her new one. All resources will be focused on her preparation and her safety. Nothing will be spared. That’s why we need to find her as fast as possible.]
Center: [I’m still not all in on this. There will be questions after the girl is found. We want answers.]
Rosetta: [I know. I have prepared answers for all of you. I won’t send her until your minds are at ease.]
Center: [Understood. Going all in, huh? She is the last one after all. And she’s that important. I would like to meet her before she is sent off.]
Rosetta: [Thank you for bearing with my unreasonable requests. I’ll see to it that you meet her when she is found.]
Center: [I’ll impart my skills and knowledge to her when that time comes. So, do you know what kind of person she is? I suspect that you would even know her personally given your mythical nature.]
Rosetta: [Come now. There’s nothing mythical about me. I’m merely a magician. But if I would simply describe what I expect her to be. She would-]
As he is typing his message, he notices the green interface showed a slight tinge of yellow. An indicator that the traitors are closing in on the conversation. Even though it is likely that they haven’t noticed that they are on the right path in finding this conversation, he isn’t going to give them a chance. He quickly adds [Bye.] to his interrupted message and quickly disconnected.
The sound of the train continued as he stares at the blank computer screen. He turns the machine over and takes out its hardware. Empty. The canister containing the magically charged particles that help mask the signals has been spent. Also, the magically charged wire weave mesh that prevents an external force from infiltrating the machine has been turned into a tangled mess. Brute force magic. The culprit’s actions are similar to one of the traitors’, now most likely retired and passed the gift to another to continue the work. Center should be safe but his position could very likely be compromised. Even if he can replenish his methods on contacting Center easily, throwing more crumbs when they are already on his scent would not be a smart move.
They already know that he is currently residing in Vietnam after that extravagant stunt he pulled in Thailand few days ago. Fortunately, he managed to escape without being discovered so he could search in Vietnam a little longer. However, the entire country had turned into a police state overnight since that stunt and he can feel the agents of that organization moving into the country, closing his routes of escape.
Rosetta places the machine back into his luggage bag. He reminds himself to refill the canister and fix the wire weave mesh so he can contact the others again. Especially at such an important time.
Everything is staked on finding her and preparing her before sending her over to the other world. Even the enemy knew. Their actions mirror their intentions as they are staking everything on their side. He must find them before they do. The enemy finding her. The thought of her being captured by them. War. An all-out one. Rosetta prepared himself for this very real possibility. War is his least desired option but nonetheless one he will not hesitate to take. Rosetta takes a more relaxed position and ushers himself to sleep. With nothing that can be done at this time, he waits for the train to arrive at his destination.
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