CHAPTER 48: ONCE UPON A FUTURE

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The wind rustles the large tree. The night is cold and the howling of wolf could be heard in a faraway distance. Under the tree is a woman.

This woman is 6 feet tall and wearing a very sleek and stunning attire. Her clothes are full of runic design and she emits an aura of power.

She has that femme fatale look. Her purple tunic is not a normal tunic but seems to shine with dark glow in this cold night.

But it was the bow behind her back that would attract any attention on those who look at it.

Shining like the sun and emitted an ancient power, the bow behind her back seems to be a source of light…..and capable of great destruction.

The woman looks at the sky and then she said with a face that show reluctance and hesitation but also a trace of great determination.

Then strengthening her resolve she said to the wind

‘I summon thee, Loki. I want to make a deal’ Saying this word suddenly from out of nowhere someone appeared behind her back and she could hear the cackle of laughter.

The Trickster has come. She mused.

Turning back she could see a tall, lanky man wearing an attire that has its collar up and a tight leather jeans full with dark glowing ancient writing.

The man itself was not handsome but gaunt and seems to give the feeling of mischievousness and mischief glinted in his eyes.

‘Hehehe…We meet again, Sofia, dear.’ His voice was shrill and high pitched.

‘Or should I call you the Divine Archer now? I think you are satisfied with my deals don’t you? Did you get everything you ever wanted?’ He asked and he cackles with laughter again as he keeps disappearing and reappearing in front of Sofia.

Sometimes he disappears and arrive at her left, sometimes at her right.

‘Why call me again? Hehehe’ the Trickster laughed. But one could see that he is happy people is calling him.

‘I want to make another deal.’ She said resolute

‘Another deal? Hehehehe.’ And then suddenly the Trickster disappeared and appear in front of Sofia, his face looks scrutinizing at Sofia and then he said with a smirk full of mischief.

‘Magic has a price, dear. Especially dark magic. The last time you came to me with a deal, the price was a steep one. Now, with what you have achieved do you still want to make a deal with me? Think carefully, dear. Don’t want people saying that I force you to make these deals. Hehehe. Can you pay this price? Hehehe ‘The place is only full of his cackle of laughter.

Loki is famous as the Trickster and also one of the Seven Sovereign. He is also known to make deals.

And he always delivers. And he always collects his price.

‘Do you want to make a deal or not?’ Sofia said.

‘Hehehehe. Of course, dear. Of course. Tell me what you want. The Trickster has all that you need. Magic and curses is what I peddle. Don’t be scared, come near and come here. Make a deal and your problem will be solved. Wait, that doesn’t rhyme. Should I end it with dealt? Hehehehe’ he laughs.

‘I want someone whereabouts.’ She said ignoring the Trickster behavior

‘That is simple. Hehehe. Seeking someone is easy and the price of such magic is miniscule. But if you were so desperate to even summon me…..that mean the one you want to seek is someone that you can’t seek. Seeking for someone that can’t be sought. Now, such price would be steep.’ Loki said and he chuckles again.

‘Who do you want to seek? Now this is the most important question.’ Loki asks, chuckling all the while.

‘The Lord of the Underworld. The Prince of Darkness Azief.’ Sofia said and there is some hint of regret in her eyes.

‘Oooh. Him? Hmmm….he is a sovereign. Offending him….is not something I would like to do.’

‘Do we have deal?’ Sofia said, her voice was hard.

‘Hmmm. Hehehehe. The price will be a steep one.’

‘Tell me what you want!’ she said

‘The Bow’ he said and then he chuckles.

‘My bow?’

‘Well, trying to locate a sovereign and not only a sovereign but Him, is not an easy task even for me, I would have to expend great power to find him.’

‘People say you can travels to the realms of the sovereign? Why would this be hard?’ Sofia said.

‘And that I can. But if there is one realm that I have not travel, it would be his realm. Well, with name like the Underworld, one could see my hesitation of going there. Not I would go if I am extended an invitation. Hehehe’

‘Can you do it?’ Sofia asked.

Loki looks at the sky and then a smile is formed and then he said.

‘I can. Now…’ and saying this he flicked his finger and a floating paper appears in front of Sofia.

‘Just sign this and we can both go our way.’

Clicking his finger a quill appears on Sofia hand.

‘Just sign at the bottom and then we could conclude our business tonight. Well, this is not your first time right, so I trust you to know what to do. Hehehe’

Sofia come closer to the floating paper and Loki smiles is getting wider when suddenly his smile fell when he realizes a disturbance in the energy.

But instead of running away his smile looks more mischievous and is full with disdain.

‘Hehehehe’ he chuckles. Then he looked at Sofia with eyes that is full with dark thoughts and killing intent billowed out from him, black dark aura roils around him.

He stared at Sofia and it felt like her soul is almost enveloped in the darkest of energy, her soul almost suffocated itself with such malevolent aura.

Chuckling he said, voice laced with anger and indignation but his face was plaster with a smile that resembles madness.

‘Ahh, you know, my dear, the only way to stop me is through magic. And all magic has a price. Hahaha’

Saying this he was suddenly trapped by a pillar of light crackling with power and imposing majestic presence.

Loki tries to escape by burrowing through the ground but the soil denied his access. Trying to fly outside the lightning strikes him down.

He laughed and chuckles when he realizes why he could not break this prison..

‘Raymond. Oreki. Is that you two? Light magic? Seriously? Hehehehe. Trapping me? ’ Then thunder boomed on the sky and then clad in lightning appear one of the Sovereign.

Oreki the Thunder God. From the soil under the tree, the earth cracked and from the hole a man formed from the soil and appear nearby the pillars of light.

Raymond the Earth shaker.

‘You’re trapping me? Trapping the Trickster? Deceiving me?’ he said half crazed with craziness and his eyes was full of hatred.

‘You have terrorized all the realms for decades. It is time that you are stopped.’ Raymond said righteously. Loki snorted in disdain.

‘Is this your work, Raymond? Did you ask the people in the World Government about this? I am after all also a Sovereign, Raymond. Or is this about the first contract she signs with me? I heard that you are to marry her. The Divine Archer and the Earth shaker. HEHEHE. Is that why? Fear I will have my deals? No one breaks a deal with me, Raymond. You should know. You once make a deal with me, remember? HEHEHE’

And the Trickster laughs again.

‘Destroy her contract, Trickster.’ Raymond insisted and the earth shakes along with his unstable emotions.

In the prison of earth and thunder, Loki smiles naughtily and then he laughed.

‘Her firstborn child?’ And there was a smile on his face.

‘Is this about that?’ he said nonchalantly

Sofia face darkens.

‘You made a deal. And no one breaks a deal with me. I will get that baby. Imprisoning me will not change that fact. Hahahaha.’

On the outside Oreki frowned in dissatisfaction.

‘Raymond. I have told you that this will not be easy. The trickster never breaks a deal.’

‘He once has.’ Sofia interjected.

Oreki look at Sofia with disdain. After all, he has tries to help not a Sovereign but a normal mortal.

He was a Sovereign and he had to expend this much effort to imprison the Trickster for her and not only that.

He has possibly offended the other Sovereign if they all know about this. To imprison a Sovereign would impact many things in the world.

‘Sofia, the one who breaks that deal is the Lord of the Underworld. The Prince of Darkness is mysterious and has his way dealing with dark magic’ Oreki said.

Then he turned to Raymond and said what is on his heart

‘You made me offend the Trickster, Raymond. I agree to help you imprison him but that’s all. My involvement ends here.’ He declared

‘Wise decision, Thunder God’ the voice sounded from the prison.

Saying this word, thunder strikes where Oreki stood and he disappeared in the flash of lightning.

‘What should we do?’ Sofia asked to Raymond.

Raymond caresses her hair and he said that everything will be fine.

‘I have a prison in the middle of the Great Ocean that could contain him until he decided to play ball with us.’

Then the soil around the prison enveloped the prison and then with a wave of Raymond hand, they disappeared from that place.

Then from the shadow, a rip in space is produced as one man clad in black, full with deathly aura appears.

Then looking at the surrounding he smiles bitterly and into the shadow he go again.

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IN AN UNDISCLOSED LOCATION ON THE GREAT OCEANS

‘Humm.humm.hummm.Humm’ the sound of the humming from the jail is freaking out the guard and they do not dare check inside.

Loki sit in his cell and he hummed. He hummed like there is no tomorrow.

The island that he is in right now is heavily protected like a fortress and there is only a few people here.

Other than Sofia, Raymond ,Loki and the guards there is no other living beings here on this island.

Loki is gritting his teeth. It will take some more time to destroy this jail he tough inwardly.

None of his magic seems to work.

He throws another fireball to the jail but the jail seems to absorb anything he could throw.

‘That Raymond knew that I’m weak in offensive power. He insults me by doing this.’ He complained

He was about to throw another fireball when a voice cold as winter spoke in the darkness of the shadow.

‘It would be useless, Trickster.’

‘Who’s there?’ Loki was startled. With that voice alone, the undulation of energy around the cell is disturbed.

Then from the shadow appears a man 7 feet tall, with ten rings on his finger, five on each hand and two different colors of eyes.

His left eyes were blue like the sky and scarred while his right eyes are hazel and normal.

‘It has been a long time since we have seen each other, Trickster.’ The voice greeted Loki sounding like an old friend but Loki is not pleased seeing the man in front of him.

Its him he mused.

‘You!’ Loki exclaimed and he could not stoke the anger inside his heart. The only one who have broken a deal and did not pay the price.

‘Yes, it’s me.’ The man in front of him nodded and then he continued.

‘That is Eluvian stones. Your magic won’t work on them.’ Loki looks at the stone and finally realizes but he didn’t want to admit it so he talks about other things.

‘But yours will. Is that what you want to say?’ So, he attacks him with words. Azief smiles.

He did not say anything. Instead he clicked his finger and a throne of bones appears out of nowhere floating in the air, giving off death aura.

Azief slowly walk to the throne and sit on the throne as the throne floated to approach the cell.

‘What are you doing here? Gloating?’ Loki looking at the thrones of bones approaching him, could feel dread in his heart so he put up a false front.

‘Not really.’ He said dismissively

‘I am offering you your freedom.’

‘In exchange for my soul? No.’ Loki said. Loki heard all about those who enter the Devil Bargains.

‘I heard all about your furies and your Hell Girl.’

‘Aren’t our practice of business is almost the same?’

‘No.’ Loki said.

‘I offer them a deal that is equivalent to their request. You take their souls. Even now, I don’t understand how you did what you did and what happens to those who sold their soul to you. But one thing I do understand. I would not be selling my soul to you.’ He said adamantly.

Even if he is tortured, his soul is his soul. It is mine. And he will not give it to anyone else.

‘The Trickster…afraid’ and there is a trace of ridicule in Azief tone. He is challenging the Trickster

‘I am afraid of what I don’t understand. Of all the sovereign you are the most mysterious and your realm is the only realm I have never visited.’

Azief snorted

‘I heard your bragging earlier.’

‘You can enter my realm? No one enters my realms unless I want them to. Not even the famous trickster. You know as I do, that the only reason you have never enter my realms is because you can’t. And that puzzles you.’

Loki face hardens and his loathing rises up again.

‘Magic has a price.’ Loki said like a statement

‘I know’ Azief nodded.

‘No, you don’t. You’re the only one I have seen to not pay the price of magic. The strongest man in the world. I will not give you my soul no matter the favour so give up now.’

He said as he looks at Azief. Of all the sovereign it is well known that the only one that people referred as the strongest is either Raymond or Azief.

But not many people say his true name.

People always call him Lord of the Underworld or Prince of Darkness.

‘You think the World Government will save you? They probably would. But not if they don’t know you were apprehended. We are Sovereign. This is not merely a title. We are the one who transcend the limitations of level and broke the constraint of level 99.  With one wave of our hand we could destroy a horde of monster whenever we feel like it. Even the Law of The World Government really doesn’t apply to us since what use of Law if there is no one to enforce it against us? We are deterrence towards the horde of monster and the other planets that wish to do harm o Earth and at the same time we are a threat to the myriads of political power of the world. The WG as I like to call them tiptoe in front of us because the balance of power has always been in equilibrium. The Seven Sovereign. The World Government. The Free People. And the Revolutionary Army. It is fascinating though, that it takes two Sovereign to apprehend you. Smile a bit, trickster. I’m complimenting you. And I rarely compliments someone.’

Loki smile in glee. Come to think of it, it does take two sovereign to contain him which is the testament of how dangerous he really is.

Thinking about it, he feel a little proud of himself. But then it still didn’t change the fact he is imprisoned.

‘And about the matter of your soul?’ And Azief chuckles.

‘Soul as darkest as yours is no value to me. You have no love’ and then closing his eyes, Azief said.

‘Correction. You no longer have any love. It’s tragic what happens to her.’

‘You!’ Loki knows that Azief the Prince of Darkness has some weird technique. One of them is to look through people past.

Some even said he could see the future.

‘Well, you clearly are more interesting than I thought.’  Azief said as he opens his eyes again and his eyes look like star, looking at the galaxy and for a moment there is silence between these two Sovereign.

‘Then what is your price?’ Loki asked.

‘Her contract and the location of your staff.’ Hearing this Loki face paled. He even wants his staff. Better to kill him right now!

‘My staff! It’s better to kill me right here right now.’ He declared, his eyes looking at Azief with distrust.

He imagines this is the kind of eyes that peoples showed him when making a deal with him.

‘5 years. That is all I need. Five years with me and I will release you’.

‘I can wait this out.’ Loki defiantly said

‘Trying to break an Eluvian Stone? It is pointless. You know that better than me. Isn’t that how you were imprisoned by the Tiger of Kai? Only Light magic will work on this stone. And we both know that you are not a fan of such magic.’

You did. You escape the Sovereign Prison of the World Government! You can do something with your dark magic. Why can’t I?’ he said defiantly

Azief chuckles

‘Are you sure?’ and a trace of smile formed in Azief mouth.

‘Are you sure what I use is dark magic? Would you bet your life on it? Raymond will torture you, Loki. He will and he will not do it gently. I know him and I know you. The things you dislike the most is pain. You struggle to live until of course you became what you are.’

Loki snorted but he did not say anything to refuse, deny or accept.

He looks at the calm face of the prince of Darkness. Looking at him, sitting calmly in his floating thrones of bones that emit an unapproachable aura.

‘How did you enter here?’ He asks.

‘My Dominion.’ He simply said. Loki knows that each Sovereign has their own dominion. This is why Sovereigns could create their own realms.

For example, Oreki has a realm called the Land of Lightning where thunders boomed every seconds and lightning always showers the land.

But he also knows that no one really knows the type of Dominion that Azief has.

Loki then laughed. Then he sighed. Then he chuckles like a mad man. But then he sighed again.

In the end he has no other choice. He could not break the stone with his magic and he is afraid of pain. Then there is the matter of his other deals.

He uses the Invocation of Deals when making deals with people. And as such it binds him. And like always, magic always has price.

If he could not fulfill his end of the bargain, hundreds of loopholes would not save him from the Price.

‘Fine’ he finally surrendered.

‘You want my staff. And the contract..’

‘The first contract’ Azief said making sure that Loki will not use any loophole regarding Sofia contract and Loki nodded dismally

‘The first contract to be ripped apart. And in exchange you will whisk me away from this dungeon.’

‘Indeed.’ Azief replied calmly.

Loki clicked his fingers and a paper appeared out of thin air.

‘Then sign the deal’ Loki said smiling mischievously. Azief look coldly at Loki and the he waved his hand and the contract was burn with a black fire and instantly turns to ashes.

‘You will swear it under my name’ he said.

‘What are you-‘ Loki was about to protest but Azief said coldly with a menacing aura.

‘Swear it.’

Loki was reluctant. But he gives in.

‘I swear it under the true name of the Prince of Darkness Azief.’ And up in the sky, thunder boomed and black lightning roiled around the clouds like flood dragons ready to be unleashed.

Azief smiles and said.

‘And so it will be’ saying this word, the sky over the island turns calm again.

Then waving his hand the jail suddenly melted and Loki is a free man. Loki looks depressed. Not only did he not get a deal he even encounter the Prince.

‘You will come to me when I summon you’ Azief said.

‘Bring me the contract and the staff at that time.’

Loki then asked

‘You are not afraid I would run off and never come to see you again?’ Hearing this Azief only smiles.

‘You…invoke my name in an oath. You want to run off? Please do. Curses are not something to be trifled with, trickster.’

Loki looks at Azief with a newfound frustration. He may have the Invocation of Deals but it is clear that Azief comprehended more dark magic then he ever did.

It is said that the true reason why no one said his true name is because when his true name is invoked, he could see from the Underworld what is happening in the life of the people who invoke his name.

He could curse and could bless the people who invoke his name. This is the reason why no one dares speak his name…his true name openly.

‘Fine!’ Loki said stomping his feet and was about to teleport away when suddenly he asked.

‘What is your fascination with the girl? I really don’t understand’ he said.

‘Before you were sovereign, you and her was some kind of rival? You fought on the Mountains of Flowers, alerting the whole world of your famous battle. The wielder of Houyi Bow and the famous Lord Shadow. I was there during that time when you fought her. You won. Yet you didn’t kill her. You fought her again the year after that. And you won again. Yet, you spare her life….yet again. Is there some history between you two? Maybe one of your conquests? Like Jean mother?’

Hearing Jean, Azief face flushed and then he said.

‘For your information what happen that night was not of my own initiative. His mother seduces me.’

‘What about Katarina then? Did she seduce you too?’ Azief did not say anything on this matter.

‘But Sofia? Who is she to you? Why even help her? She is not stronger than you. Did you know her….before?’

‘Why are you so interested?’ Azief ask

‘People said and many believes that to defeat you, people should learn about your past…which, to many people remain a mystery. Those who can talk about your past are dead. Those that are still alive are too afraid to talk. But what fascinates me more than anything, is because of your insistence, your fascination with the girl.’

‘Why?’ Azief ask.

‘You….know that she is one of the Loyalist of the World Government?’

‘So?’

‘So, you are not.’

‘I am not their enemy’ Azief said.

‘Ah. But you are not their friends either. You help whichever one that suits you.’

‘What’s your points, trickster?’

‘One day, I will find out about your fascination with her and I will get your weakness.’

Azief smiles

‘Oh, that you will.’

Startled by this statement Loki puzzled asked.

‘How do you know?’

‘I could see the future’ he speaks nonchalantly.

Loki face turns even grimmer.

‘Hmph. It is wasting my time talking to you.’ Saying this he disappears into a puff of smoke.

Azief was about to teleport himself away when he heard the sound of footsteps….no….energy coming towards him.

But he did not run. Instead he waited.

Then in a few seconds a woman appears in front of him.

‘It’s you. It’s truly you.’ Her voice was trembling and she looks at Azief like an old friend.

‘Where is Ray?’ he asked, still standing majestically on his throne of bones which invites fear to anyone who sees it.

‘Taking care of things.’ She said her voice quiver and tremble. There is this silence between them.

Azief did not say anything.

‘You will get married.’

‘With the man you deserve.’ He added.

‘You could have been that man’ she said, and there is tears pooling in her eyes. There is regret, there is longing in that eyes.

Azief closes his eyes and he thinks to that moment she has with him and all the mistakes and the things they have endured and experience together and he choked up his word.

‘You should have followed me back then. You should have ran after me. Take me back. Take me back to you.’

Azief open his eyes and said.

‘You said you needed space. You wanted to think.’

She sighed.

‘Not forever.’ Then they look at each other, and both of their lips got tongue tied and all the things they couldn’t said before, remains unsaid.

Azief then said

‘Your problem with the Trickster is resolved’ he said.

Azief then claw the air with his hand and a portal was ripped open from the air.

‘You’re going? Returning to the Underworld?’

‘Why would people always say that it was the Underworld?’ Azief chuckles a bit. Looking at Sofia he said.

‘Don’t ever lose that smile. I hope he could protect that smile. Because I can’t.’

Saying this words of parting, his thrones of bones enter the portal and before Sofia could say anything else, he disappeared.

Sofia looking at the empty cell and the area where Azief has disappeared to and she said.

‘You….could have waited. You could have waited for me…to catch up to you. You could have asked me.’

Then saying this to the wind, she walked away from the cells…preparing for her wedding.

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‘Loki! Loki!’ then Loki opens his eyes.

‘Awake?’ he could see a woman with white robe in front of him and he chuckles to himself. Memories.

That is all that is left. Memories of once upon a future.

‘Sina? Where is Azief and Sofia?’ This is the first question he asked in his delirious state.

‘Still reorganizing their skill.’

‘Oh, that’s good.’

He said and not far away from him, he could hear the sound of talking and as he look at the open sky, he smiles as he wished for a better tomorrow and he hoped that he could change not only his fate but the fates of the people he cared for.

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