ONCE UPON A FUTURE
A woman can be seen walking along the Hanging Gardens of America.
The woman was wearing white dress with her long black hair draped behind her back looking like a Greek Goddess.
The Hanging Gardens of America is a beautiful Garden floating around the city of Washington.
It is filled with the most colorful plants that Earth could offer. With all kinds of flora and fauna and with the width of a small country, the Gardens are almost like Eden.
Only few people are allowed to set foot on it.
With Pillars of Lightning in its four corners, guarding it from external attack, the Garden itself is one of the safest places on Earth.
Not to mention, the Gardens itself was created by one of the Seven Sovereign. Nobody would like to see themselves in conflict with a Sovereign.
The woman that is walking around the garden sometimes peeks down the Hanging Gardens and chuckles bitterly.
High above the sky, the people underneath her looks like ants. She wondered is this how Sovereign look towards the mortals?
Like puny ants? Insignificant? She sighed. And she wondered, is this how He sees her? Is that why?
Or is it because of ‘that?’ Then she remembers about how he helped her to escape the deals she made with the Trickster.
Even though all have been settled between her and the Trickster, she could not help but second guessing her decision.
‘Is this the right choice?’ She was looking at the sky alone in the gardens. No maid around her.
Usually there is some maid servant following her from behind to cater to her every need.
She wanted to be alone before the wedding. And what better place to be alone, other than the most beautiful garden in the world?
With no one around her, she could think.
The wedding is on in a few days.
Raymond has been battling deep in the Great Sea with the Water Dragon King a 50 feet dragon with the abilities to create storms, tsunamis and tidal waves whenever it wanted.
Even now, she could not understand. At the eve of her wedding, memories seems to flood her mind.
The warm sunlight, the beautiful flowers, but her mind could not erase.
‘Could not erase….’she murmured.
She still remembers that black clothed man saving her, being her friend, then her lover, her sun and moon until he left her.
If only their beginning is more…..warm….could it last? She thought to herself.
What she couldn’t understand is the reason why he left her. Why does she always do this kind of love?
The kind of love that hurts herself. The kind of love that consumes her? That makes her pathetic? That makes her change?
She hated that she change. And she hated the fact that she couldn’t hate him…no matter how she tried. She hates that fact the most.
And she hates that…even now….even after all the pain….even after all this time…she still misses him when she look at a peach blossom.
She remembers the declaration of that once young man. You and me, against the world he promised
She wanted to ask him…’Why were you like that?’ ‘Did you even love me?’ Even now she can’t stop asking in her mind.
It’s unfair that he could just leave. Unfair that only she feels the pain
And she was angry because at the moment of their parting, she couldn’t…say anything. If he had told her from the beginning, that he didn’t love her, would she close her heart this tightly?
When he was leaving, she could only stare.
They were perfectly happy before.
Until he got the Eye of the Oracle. He never told her about how he got the eye.
The only thing that Sofia knows was that a few weeks after he could see the future, he began distancing himself from her.
She blames the Oracle
The Time Crisis happens because of the Oracle. Because of something the Oracle says. Sofia once went to the Temple of Erika once to seek answers.
But the Oracle did not say anything.
Only saying that Destiny Will must be done. And at that time, it was enough. Because at that time, she has her own problems with Azief.
At that time, she needed a reason to hate him.
But now, she knows she needs to know the answer. She needs to know. Because she could not marry Raymond knowing her heart is like this.
Wavering….second guessing….dreaming of a once future dream
She needs to end this. That’s the reason she is here far away from everyone else, and far away from Raymond.
But her heart asks her…is it really because she wanted to end this? Or…is it something else?
Is that why she is here? Far from Raymond? Then she said to herself, almost like trying to convince herself
‘Because she knows that he would not like it if he knows what she is about to do.’ That is what she thought to herself to convince herself.
Sofia looks up at the sky and then she closes her hands together and she prays.
And she called him. Called his true name.
‘Azief’ she whispers, covered by the sound of the wind. But the word echoes like a melody of a song.
Somewhere in another realm, a realm of Light and joy, of beauty and majesty, of a realm free from the taints of mortals, of a realm where sorrow and sadness does not exist, where only majestic beauty existed, a paradise, full with winged creature with faces that is full of light, a man clothed in Light who was resting on his Throne open his eyes.
Beside him was a Scepter as large as a planet which is white like diamondshine the stone that emits light.
All around the scepter life blooms and death do not dare approaches.
The Throne was as big as a planet, and the man itself was larger than that. He opens his eyes, and light filled the realm.
His Throne glowed with an incomparably shine that if it released on the stars, the stars would be shamed and the sun would be outshine by the glow.
The denizen of that realm was shocked.
The splendor of the realms magnified, life blooms on the Lower Realms and the Sinful Souls were spared from their punishment today.
The Hell Girl stopped torturing; the Reapers stop reaping souls and Hell freezes over. The tortured soul was spared for that day because the Man opens his eyes.
And just because he is feeling happy. He spared the one who is about to die today in his realm, stop the tortures of the sinful souls and grant blessing to his realm.
The winged creatures which resemble the angels in paintings all rushed towards the man on the throne and prostrate themselves.
Their expression was reverent and full of worship. They will not disobey, they will not rebel, and their loyalty is immeasurable.
They do not dare look up to see the face of their Lord else they will be blinded by the splendor of their Lord.
The angels itself has different positions and hierarchy. The largest of them have a wing that could cover the earth.
The smallest of them is already two times bigger than planet earth. Even though they are big, they do not incite the feeling of fear or instill dread.
Each of their faces was pleasant and good looking.
‘She called me’ the man on the throne said in a disbelieving tone. His word when uttered shakes the Pillars of that Realm.
The man on the throne smiles and his smiles blinded one thousand angels.
The angels who seen his smile, their eyes was instantly burned by black fire and they crumbled and turns to nothingness.
But the other angels didn’t care.
Then He got up. He clicked his fingers and the robe make of light turns dark red with malicious runic writing covering it.
The robes make him look like an avenger of sins. His kind face, his holy aura disappeared replaced with a cold expression that could create winter.
His holy aura is replaced with a wrathful vengeance.
He clicked his finger again and the Scepter turns into a Black Red Scythe emitting killing fiendish aura, as thousands more angels was instantly evaporated when they came into the contact of the aura.
Yet, the angels did not move. They still prostrate themselves. Another click of his fingers and rings suddenly appears in each of his fingers.
Then looking the angels prostrating in front of him, he clicked his fingers and the thousands of evaporated angels who was turned into nothingness, appears again, larger and stronger.
Then without explanation, the man closes his eyes and he disappears in a flash of light. The moment he disappears the Pillars of the Realms cracked.
The angels even though their lord has disappeared still prostrate themselves and did not do anything.
MEANWHILE ON EARTH
Sofia who was on Earth suddenly feels an intense pressure covering the entire USA when she finished praying.
The warm sunlight was suddenly covered by black clouds, and thunder boomed in the distance.
Lightning could be seen to strike the ground.
Storms are formed and the winds changed direction. Air shattered and space crack suddenly appeared in many parts around the hanging gardens.
Looking at this Sofia yelled
‘Is that you!’
Then a fog suddenly appears on the Hanging Garden even though that should be impossible.
The fog is black like the blackest night and the fog was magic…of the highest kind. Laws ripple from the fog, almost like the fog has its own intelligence.
Lightning crossed in the dark clouds and thunder showered the land, the winds form and dissipated like a bizarre scene of forming and destruction.
Then as she turns around to look at the source of the fog, she could see a man appearing from the fog.
And Sofia heart jolted.
The same cold face. The same cold demeanor. The same powerful charisma. The same imposing presence.
The moment the man materializes from the fog, Godly Presence filled the world.
Alarms rang out from World Government headquarters.
Blaring red alarms all glowed in the HQ of World Headquarters as Generals of the organization began panicking from this unexpected alarm.
The peaceful morning of the World Organization is quickly broken as the HQ began seeing a bustle of activity as engineers began preparing Battlestar to be deployed.
On the other side of the world, in Russia, the Revolutionary Army quickly raises their emergency protocol.
The General of RA began communicating with the Kaiser to ask him to call upon her sister who was in seclusion in the White Dragon Mountain.
This is the power of a Sovereign. An arrival that echoes all over the world. The sovereign that releases this power is not a friendly one’s.
Because both organization knows where their sovereigns are.
A Sovereign is releasing their Godly Intent. The people beneath the Hanging Garden, most of them have already fainted.
Some was foaming in the mouth because of shock.
To be hit by a Godly Intent by a Sovereign, that would not be good.
‘Always with the theatrics’ Sofia muttered under her breath.
Raymond while he always comes in with a flair but Azief always comes with thunders and lightning, with black fog thus he was always associated with darkness.
Associated with dark feelings. To others this would be a Godly arrival, people will prostate to the ground and beg for mercy.
To Sofia this is theatrics. Because she knows Azief.
Always imposing. Always intimidating. Always dark.
Even before he reached the negotiation table, a certain image of power has already been formed.
That was the purpose of all the show. To create an inviolable image. To create a dissonance on the hearts of his opponents. To instill fear and encourage obedience
Sofia knows how Azief operates.
Azief comes out from the dark fog. His face shows no emotion whatsoever but there is a slight smirk on his mouth. Others might not notice it but Sofia notices it.
The Prince of Darkness. The Lord of the Underworld. The God of Death. That is his title. The strongest man in the world.
First, Azief look around him and he creased his eyebrows when he saw the Pillars of Light around the Garden.
Clearly he is not pleased.
Azief then waved his hand and the Pillars of light that Raymond constructed was enveloped by black fog
The Pillars of Light turns to a Flag of Darkness as it create a wall of darkness enclosing the Hanging Garden from any interruptions.
In the World Government Headquarters, three Battlestar are deployed to see why a Sovereign suddenly releases his Godly Intent.
The Battlestar is only for initial contact. The World Government is not naïve enough to think that three Battlestar could contain a Sovereign.
Since Raymond is still fighting the beast in the Great Sea, the World Government need to delay until the big gun is available.
Hirate who was the president has already guessed who would be this domineering. Loki would not do this.
Even though he is a sovereign, he mainly keeps a low profile. Jean is still in Neverland, beside his beloved comatose Paulette.
Katarina is in seclusion after her battle with the Prince. Oreki and Hikigaya have no reason to provoke the World Government.
Which leave the only Sovereign daring enough to do this…the Prince, the Death God.
He is rarely on Earth and always in the Underworld. He rarely surfaces and rarely interferes.
But once he does come up, that means big waves will follow. The last time he appears, he nearly ruptured the time continuum and almost ripped the fabric of reality.
Akira has already rubbed his forehead. This would be a headache.
On the White Dragon Mountain, far away in Russia, Katarina the Snow Deity was sitting under a waterfall in the coldest cave in the world, when she felt the Godly Intent.
‘It’s him! He returned! She muttered as she opens her eyes. She was about to get up but then she stopped.
Then she sighed and she calms herself down again.
Then slowly she closes her eyes back. She knows her relationship with the Prince is complicated and she didn’t want to complicate it even more.
The last time they met, they engage in a world shattering battle but both of them knows that whatever between them is not over.
She knows there is something between the Prince and Sofia but she didn’t know what it is.
She didn’t want to meddle and the Prince didn’t seem to want troubles which are why He informs all the Sovereign.
She didn’t want to be seen as a jealous girl but that is what she is feeling now.
He was the bane of her existence….but when he wanted to reconnect with Sofia, she find herself feeling possessive, jealous of the girl he’s trying to protect.
She sighed and then she returned back to her acquiring of the Laws.
Oreki and Hikigaya also felt the Godly Intent sweeps Japan and they chose not to do anything.
Why would they readily offend the Prince when the Prince only wanted to talk to someone?
But if the Prince wanted to harm Earth, of course they will leap into action but since he is not, they would just ignore what is happening in America.
After all, that is Raymond territory. Let the Earthshaker deals with it. The Thunder God and Illusion God will not meddle.
Jean who was sitting on his throne in Neverland also felt the reverberation and the fluctuation of Godly Intent sweeping across his Realm but he did not do anything.
He could not leave Neverland else the Wall of Time in Neverland will crumbles and Paulette will die.
The Prince once advises him that he should let the dead rest.
Jean remembers that he even begged the Prince to revive his wife, but he rejected. He said the Price of reviving a person is not a price that Jean could handle.
Jean the Time God has always had a complicated relationship with the Prince.
They were not friends.
They were not rivals.
They were not enemies.
They just know each other because of their status as Sovereign.
But he could not accept Paulette death as destiny so he created his own Time Pocket and places Paulette in a state of dying and not dying.
She should have been dead but here in Neverland, time stops. Nothing grows. Nothing ages.
In Neverland, as long as you did not go out, you will live in a single moment. Eternal youth. Eternal life. A place where time is trapped.
In here, Paulette did not die. But she is not alive either.
Staying unconscious even though the heart is beating, though the brains function, the last breath could not be taken because of the trapping of Time.
Jean only sighs when he realizes that the Prince has returned to Earth again but he did not interfere.
In another part of the world, Loki was examining a staff when he felt the Intent.
‘Ptuii’ he spited on the ground as the ground melted from his spit.
‘He’s here again. That troublesome guy.’ He never liked the Prince.
The Prince has deceived him, reneges on his deals, force him to break another deal with Sofia and the humiliation of being saved from him is still something Loki could not forget.
But even though he does not like the Prince he would not be so stupid to fly and confront the Prince.
What is he? An idiot? The Prince is the first sovereign of all the Seven. He is also the strongest.
Being able to render the heavens with one slash, splitting the seas apart with one strike and summon fire and rain with a wave of his hand.
Loki was the youngest of the Sovereign. When the Prince first becomes Sovereign he was only an Orb Condensing Stage junior.
The Prince has experience and stronger than him. He would just stomach his unsatisfied feeling.
If he manages to make a deal with the Prince, then he could only imagine how much power he would get from that deal.
His path to Sovereign stage is different from all the other Sovereigns and as such his method is different.
Then he continues his wok examining the staff.
In the Great Sea Raymond was fighting the Sea dragon with other warlords behind him assisting.
In the Great Sea, a tornado with the speed of Mach 4 is spinning furiously killing all of the sea creatures who couldn’t stand the pressure.
Thunders and lightning keep falling from the sky as he battles the beast. In his battle he suddenly felt the Intent and his eyes widened.
He wanted to finish the beast fast but the beast did not want to go down. So Raymond gritted his teeth and advances his attack while thinking of Sofia
Meanwhile on the Garden, Sofia look at that face and her eyes began to become red as tears began to pool.
She choked. She didn’t know what to say even though it was she that summons him.
‘What to say?’ she mumbles.
Before, no matter how she summons him, he did not listen. But now….. and her heart is in disarray, looking at that face again
‘You’ve come, finally’ she said coldly not knowing why that sentence comes out of her mouth
But there is no change of expression in Azief face which only makes Sofia even more incensed
‘I’m here’ he said looking at Sofia like looking at an old friend and his gaze softens. Laws still ripple from the cloak, aura of death pervaded all around the garden.
His rings glowed like the shine of the moon in each of his fingers.
Then he moved forward. He takes a step. This step was imbued with Universal Laws.
The areas around him all were affected.
The moment his step reaches the ground, the flowers wilted, and the trees crumble, and the life of everything around five meter radius was sucked into him like an eternal gluttonous black hole.
But when another step is taken and he moves forward, the place where it was wilted and dissipated of all life essence suddenly it turns back to its former vitality.
The flowers blooms again, the trees stand up straight again, and life is restored. Life comes and goes. Death is a certainty.
Creation and Destruction. The state of life, the laws of the Universe, rebirth and reincarnation, the power of the soul, all of this elements and enlightenment of the laws exist in that one step he taken.
‘Laws of Time’ she muttered but then she shakes her head. No, this is not the Law of Time. This is the Law of Life and Death.
Laws of Reincarnation and Rebirth. Destruction and creation
He walks step by step while this phenomenon happens with each step. Sofia admitted that there is no Sovereign that comprehended more difficult laws other than the Prince.
No wonder, he could control everything in this world and could look in disdain all those experts, fear no one and acted so domineering, and each moves of him created waves.
Then he arrived in front of Sofia only a few steps separate them.
‘It’s not long since we meet Sofia. Why do you call me?’ That was the first word he said. But he was not angry.
No, on the contrary he was happy. He is conflicted. He knows he must not see her, he knows he must contain his feeling; he knows he must forget her, but the moment she called him, he comes.
It was not the first time she has called him.
But every time he did not answer. He wanted her to let him go. But now, now that she is about to get married….it seems that it is he that could not let go.
Humans feelings……always…always conflicted, always doesn’t make sense, always….complicated like this.
He wanted to forget. Yet, he couldn’t ignore. When she is in dangers, he helped her, in a way that she didn’t even know.
When she is sad, Azief wanted to wipe the tears from her face and say it will all be okay. When she is happy, he was happy.
He wanted to erase the memories. But the more he wanted to forget, the more he remembers.
Then he could hear Sofia angry tone. Her voice cracked and wavering
‘Why do you answer this time? IS this the first time I ask you? I ask you before. I pray to you. I even went to your temple and leave some offerings. I called upon you. Yet, you never answer. Why now? At the eve of my wedding?’
Azief did not response as he only let Sofia vent.
‘Is that what you want to ask me? Why I did not answer? Is that really what you want to know?’ he then ask
Sofia stopped talking and then shakes her head.
‘No, that is not the reason.’
‘So, ask me what you really want to know.’ Azief said with that uncaring tone. But Sofia realizes his voice is trembling
‘Why did you leave me? I never could understand.’ Azief looks at her and there is a profound sorrow in his eyes, a look of sorrows only Sofia could know.
‘Why does it matter? I leave you. That’s what matters. Not why.’ he said as thunders roars on the sky.
‘It matters to me. Why do you stop loving me?’ She asked again this time the tears is already falling.
Azief always thought woman when they cried would look ugly, but he doesn’t know why every time he looks at Sofia crying in front of him, he always thought of her to be beautiful.
‘I never stop loving you’ he said with a tone of resolute will.
‘Then why did you let me go?’
She moves forward and she stares at Azief eye and she said with her voice trembling and her eyes full of welling tears
‘We could have been happy together. I know that, and it is perhaps the hardest thing to know.’
But he did not say anything.
‘You’re not going to say anything? I’m marrying Raymond. You ok with this?’ She said with a higher tone clearly angry at Azief lack of response.
‘Do you miss me?’ He asked suddenly. And that question startled Sofia. She looks at his eyes and nodded
‘Do you hate me?’ he asks again.
‘Yes’ she reply as tears keeps running down her face. Azief didn’t say anything just pondering.
He could not stay long here on Earth since he could already felt that his presence has already alters some natural laws in America.
Outside the gardens, storms appears out of nowhere, fire tornadoes erupted from the ground, lightning joins in and began striking the lands.
It was like Apocalypse is coming. This is because his energy is released. But he had to release it. Because he knows what is at stake.
Then Sofia said to him, looking him straight at his eyes, while tears was rushing down from her face
‘I hate that I can’t hate you for breaking my heart into pieces. I hate that not only you were my boyfriend but also my only best friend. I hate that when we broke up I lost not only my boyfriend; I also lost my best friend. I hate that you made me feel like I was special and how I can’t forget how that makes me feel. I hate how easy it is for you to give up on us. I hate that you made me fell in love with you. I hate the fact that you are fine when I felt like my life ended. I hate that even though you broke my heart, my heart could not let go. I could not let go. I hate that I can’t hate you even if I tried. I hate you. I hate you’ she said and she was almost in verge of breaking down.
Azief tries to grab her but she immediately pushes his hand.
‘Don’t. You can’t do that. Not now. Not after all this time. I want to know.’
‘You miss me. You hate me…..which means you can’t forget me. Is this wedding is really what you want?’ He asked.
‘It is’ she replies a little angry.
‘Or is this your way of getting back on me?’ Azief said, his tone was cold.
Sofia didn’t say anything.
Azief look at the dark sky overhead and sighed.
‘Knowing the future is a curse, Sofia. You will not understand even if I tell you. So what’s the point telling?’ He said and he sighed again.
‘We were young. We didn’t understand love. We make mistakes. I hurt you. You hurt me. But even through it all, through all the pain, I wish only happiness for you. And if that happiness was with another man…..’
‘Then you should fight for us!’ Sofia interjected with anger in her tones.
‘You should fight for us. You should hold on with everything you got. You should hold my hand and never let go. My happiness was with you. If you fight for us, do you think I would leave? You gave up on us. I didn’t.’ she said her emotion was high and her eyes was full of indignation
‘I waited, Azief. I waited for you. I waited long enough don’t you think? There is a history between us. I hate you once for what happens with little Alexander. But, at the time, I was lost. And that’s not why you broke up with me. You just gave up. You left me like that, heartbroken and in pain for years. You left me cold. And now, you handle the matter with the Trickster, helping Raymond in his quest. Suddenly you want to help? Now, you protect me when I’m in danger. Become my prince on a white horse. Smite my enemies. You act like nothing changed between us. You know what you are? You’re selfish, Azief. You said you let me go. But this …..you made me waver. What sick game you are playing?’
Azief look at Sofia and he wanted…so bad…he wanted so bad to hug her and tell her that everything will be okay.
That the future he saw could be averted. That all of his actions have reasons. Has purpose.
But God, he really wanted to flip everything, destiny, fate, he wanted to flip all that, and just hug her there, and ask her to stop the wedding. He wanted to kiss her and feel that lips again.
He wanted to hold her hand again. Wanted to touch her cheeks. Wanted to drown in her eyes. He wanted to feel….whole again.
So, he comes closer to her. A step.
‘No games. No tricks. ‘And he comes closer to Sofia and he held out his hand and caressed Sofia cheeks.
Another step. His face was very close to Sofia face, his breath could be felt by Sofia and she blushes red.
Sofia did not push it away this time. There is warmth in his touch. Familiar warmth. And looking at those eyes again, her heart still beats.
And at that time, she finally realized why she summons him. But she could not admit it now.
She still loves him. She misses the times when they used to kiss. Then Azief spoke.
‘I want you to be happy. Being with me……’and he shakes his head and sigh. Then he inch away and look at Sofia with a face of resignation
‘Do you really you wanted to know why I broke up with you? Is that the only reason?’
He said and he could see that in Sofia eyes, that was not the truth. She wanted confirmation.
She wanted to see her own heart. She wanted him to take her away.
And Azief knows.
And he could not let that happens. The farther away from her he is the better it is for both of them.
The Eye of Oracle has shown him the glimpse of the future and there is not a day goes by he cursed the day he got those eyes.
No wonder the Oracle was so eager to volunteer her eye.
‘I broke up with you because I don’t find you attractive anymore. Satisfied?’ He said and he turned back.
The Battlestar which already arrives a few minutes before hovers around the perimeter of the Garden and try to initiate contact when Azief who all along already notice the Battlestar waves his hand and thunders form on the sky.
The sky cracked and a three bolts of red black thunder, strikes down the three Battlestar and they fall down to the ground beneath almost instantly.
Some fall into the ocean.
He was about to teleport himself back to his realm when Sofia said behind him
‘You don’t think I would believe that excuse, right?’
‘Believe whatever you want’ he said and then the black fog envelops Azief and when the fog clears Azief was no longer there and the clouds becomes normal again.
All over the world, the suppressing feelings disappears.
‘Why?’ Sofia said as she looks at the sky, looking defiantly.
‘Why would you….give up? You? You have never given up on anything! You have always been selfish! So why do you give up on us! Why have you suddenly becomes generous!’ She yelled to the sky.
‘I’m going to marry another man. Can you bear that Azief!?’ she still yelling at the sky, her tears keep falling.
‘You could have your happy ending. And…I….could have mine’ she said stuttering, overwhelmed by her own emotions, as she slowly slid down to the ground and sobs in tears.
Azief who was already back at his realms and already sit back on his throne look at Sofia, a universe away, and he too…..was suppressing the urge to cry.
He gritted his teeth, his hand gripped tight, his eyes red because of anger.
He wanted her to be happy. That was always his wish. He just never imagined that her being happy is not with him. He could never have imagined that.
But then he remembers the word of the Oracle a long time ago and he closes his eyes and the image of Sofia crying disappears.
He closed his heart and the words of the Oracle echoes in his ear.
‘She will be your downfall. Mark my word, O God of Death; she will be your downfall. And you will be her’s.’
And remembering that word, he returns back to the emotionless man he is and opens his eyes.