Pathless Origin: Bane of the Gods
Chapter 1- Life is a Choice, Death is a Decision
On top of a tall building, in a certain city, stood a teenage boy. He was wearing torn clothes, his face, normally handsome, was strained with fatigue, his eyes were red (due to countless hours spent crying), dried blood covered his body in patches.
His white hair displayed a red hue, due to the blood. His red eyes appeared determined, as though he had made a decision. His bare feet started creeping towards the edge, each step heavier than the last.
Upon reaching the edge he stopped, to take one last look at his bloodied hands, regret filling his heart, never in his entire life, had he felt such misery. Never had he thought that he could do something so terrible, so vile, with his own hands.
The blood on his hands flared up at him, as if it was reminding him that, even in death, his deeds would follow him! The boy looked up, toward the horizon, one last time, so he could see the sun, a beautiful view he knew he would never see again. As he looked, he was mesmerized by the sight.
Like any other human, he had looked up at the sky his entire life. The sun to him had been something he was used to, he had seen thousands of horizons. Yet none have ever looked so beautiful, he started to regret ever having seen its beauty.
It really is true, you don’t know the value of something until you lose it…
The boy steeled his resolve, after taking one last breath, he closed his eyes, spread his hands wide and smiled. The most serene moment in his life, would be his death, a suicide no less, the irony of it was amusing to him.
I deserve this, at least I can decide when I die, unlike her…
The boy jumped from the edge, plunging straight into the unknown, never to return to this life again.
Hestia witnessed the boy fall. She had also seen the events that had preceded this, which had lead to the boy’s decision. She felt truly sorry for him, her heart ached, as if she was the one who had suffered. She had always been empathic towards others, this and her kindness had been part of her downfall.
Now she was just a lowly spirit. The last of her divine essence would only allow her to live on for a few centuries. After which her soul would be gone…forever.
Although she was sad about the fact that she was practically doomed, she was even more sad at seeing the boy jump.
It was at this point that she made a choice. To her there was no meaning in living for a few more centuries if she could not help those she came across. She would rather use up her remaining years to help the boy gain another chance at life, than live on as a lower spirit in such an abandoned world like earth.
On this world, no one had enough spiritual power to see her, let alone help her. She had been sealed in this tiny world and had no means to leave.
Thus she decided to help the boy. She would give up a few of her years and use some magic, to seal some of his memories. That was the least she could do. As the boy was falling she floated next to his body as it was descending.
She put in some of her divine essence and attempted to seal his memories and stop his fall, but there was a problem. The boy’s body kept sucking divine essence out of her body. It was like a ravenous black hole, devouring everything in reach.
This? This is? How is this possible?
Indeed. Although she was only a lower spirit, she still had a little bit of divine essence left. At most it should have only taken a second to seal the boy’s memories and stop his descent! Yet at this rate the boy would hit the ground soon, as if nothing had happened! He just kept on sucking out more and more of her essence.
She had intended to spend her last few years helping as many people as she could, but now she decided to put in her all into saving this boy. Although she didn’t know why he was devouring her essence so much, she didn’t care, once she put her mind into helping someone, she would go all out! Even if it meant her life was at stake!
How low I have fallen. To do such a simple spell is devouring my divine essence. Well at least I will die knowing I am doing the right thing…
Just when the boy was about to hit the ground, Hestia put through all her divine essence. She didn’t know if she was going too far or if it wasn’t enough. All she knew was that she would do anything to save his life!
Thousands of soldiers were marching in formation. These soldiers were all adorned with armor matching their ranks. Those of higher ranks were wearing shiny, metallic armor, whilst the new recruits were wearing cheap, leather armor.
Their destination was a plain that was a day’s march away. This was the army of Atley. Atley was having at war with their neighbor, Ragah. The two countries had been at war for the past 10 years or so. They had engaged in all types of battle against each other, from tiny skirmishes involving only a few hundred soldiers, to full-scale wars like this one which involved hundreds of thousands of soldiers.
This led to both countries aggressively recruiting soldiers. Messengers and bards all across both countries spread tales about the glory of the battlefield. About how one can obtain anything there, from money, to fame, land, women. One could even become a noble! This propaganda led to a period of mass recruitment in both countries.
Men in villages, towns and cities across both countries swarmed to recruitment offices hoping to join the fray. Once a man or woman becomes 16, they become eligible to join. One such case was Artillian .
He was an orphan from a small village near the border between the two countries. After becoming, 16 the orphanage kicked him out. He didn’t mind anyway since he had the intention of joining the army.
He was a handsome young lad. He had fair hair. His blue eyes only served to show his vigorous vitality. He was neither tall, nor short. His build was lean, like a leopard. He was fast and highly agile.
Growing up in a poor orphanage makes one become very competitive. This resulted in him being physically fit. This however wasn’t the result of him fighting, but the result of him running. Artillian was a coward by nature. He always avoided fighting if he could. He had probably ran from a confrontation so many times that he could run backwards as fast as a normal person runs looking forward.
In a society were honor and courage are taken very seriously, people like Artillian are ostracized. He was often bullied and teased because of his cowardly nature. Even though he was quite handsome, the girls in the village thought him unattractive due to their mindsets. They would rather die than be together with a coward.
At some point the boy was sick of it all. He wanted to prove everyone wrong. He wanted to show everyone in his village that he was actually the bravest in his generation. He walked up to the prettiest girl in his village and asked for her hand in marriage. He told her that he would do anything to get her to agree.
The girl told him that if he wanted her hand in marriage, then he should join the army to prove himself. If he came back with some accomplishments she would definitely marry him. As soon as the other villagers heard this they laughed at him. Artillian was determined to prove them wrong and get the girl of his dreams. He went to the nearest town and joined the army, his resolve to marry the love of his life was all that was keeping him going.
Little did he know that she had married the son of the village chief a few months after his departure. Currently it had been 6 months since he had left his village. Most of the people in his village had probably forgotten that he existed.
After his training, Artillian believed that he was a true warrior. He believed that he could gain glory on the battlefield. Perhaps even slay enemy officers and gain a promotion! Just because he now knew how to use a spear somewhat.
Currently he was in one of the infantry formations. With a spear and a shield in hand he marched on, brimming with confidence.
At night, the soldiers stopped on a hill a made camp. Plenty of tents were raised all around. Soldiers surrounded hundreds of fires, having perhaps their last supper. There was cheering and merry making everywhere.
Artillian was sitting with some soldiers near a fire. He was reserved so he didn’t talk much. He wasn’t good at talking to strangers, so he was mostly ignored. He just sat there, maintaining his shoddy equipment whilst listening to the other soldiers talk.
“Hey I heard a very interesting rumor. Apparently if any young soldiers show potential in this battle, they may get a chance to enter a battle academy!”
Bastian looked up as soon as heard the phrase ‘battle academy’, he stopped what he was doing and started paying attention to his counterparts.
“I heard the same rumor too. Apparently all one has to do is slay one of the enemy generals during battle and bring his head!”
“ Wow, are you serious?”
“Aye. Its true. There are however other conditions necessary.”
After hearing this the soldiers frowned. They were afraid that these conditions would only make an already impossible task harder.
“What conditions?” asked one of the soldiers.
“First, you have to be below 18 years of age. Second, you must kill at least a hundred men. Lastly, you must posses the aptitude to be able to contract a spirit!”
After hearing these conditions, the other soldiers couldn’t help but smack their lips in jealousy, after all, they were all above 18…except Artillian.
Battle Academies. Schools were the finest of warriors were made. Rumor had it that if you were a graduate from these academies, you would automatically become a noble. Not only that, one cannot reach the upper levels of society without having graduated from one.
For example, to become a general in a normal army, all you need is to do is climb up the ladder. To become a member of a special army however, like the royal guard, you must have at least spent one year at an academy. It must be known that any member of the royal guard is far more valuable than a measly general from a normal army.
For these people could use powerful things like magic to battle. Anyone who could use magic was very valuable to a kingdom.
The issue here was that the conditions were too strict. Artillian had dreams, but he was no fool. He knew that there was no way for a novice like him to kill a hundred men, let alone an experienced general. As for what a spirit was, the boy had no clue.
He had grown up in a small village. So the amount of knowledge he had related to magic was tiny. One could even say he knew practically nothing.
Like the rest, he could only give up and try his best in the upcoming battle tomorrow. As long as he could survive he would be happy. He stopped listening to their conversation and decided to sleep early. There was no point in thinking about something beyond a peasant like him.
In the middle of the night, Artillian was woken up by loud shouting.