Chapter 6

MrSo-I got no reason not to.


The past

Some graveyards


In a land of mystery, there was a massive graveyard filled with coffins and graves, but most of these were open, their occupants missing. It was as if someone had dug them up and opened their caskets to steal both the body and whatever belonging was stored with the body. But that would be far from the actual case. No, what had happened was far more mythical than just grave robbing. In fact, one such open casket was having it's occupant rise up from their coffin, ashes falling off of their armor as they got up from their casket. The armor was medieval in nature and was, somehow, still in pristine condition as if it had just been assembled recently. The armor also masked whatever injuries that had killed the wearer, even their head was covered by the helmet of the armor.

As for the wearer themselves, they said nothing. They just looked beyond the horizon, towards the sun, a mysterious purpose was guiding them towards the sound of a bell. A bell that caused them to stir and get out of their coffin. Getting out of their coffin, the figure went out to the unknown, to both figure out what that bell sound was and what was the purpose of it, unbeknownst to them a purpose had been given to them. A purpose that they had failed initially and were being given a 2nd chance to redeem themselves.


Present

Parrs home


"So…you were dead? And you came back to life." Asked Helen in shock as she looked at Tony's father, who just nodded. The rest of her family was also looking in shock at the man along with his son. In any other day, they would have thought he was crazy, but with what happened last night and what they saw Karla did, they kind of had to believe him and his wife, no matter what insane nonsense they spout. The serious looks on Tony's parents as they spoke also helped.

"Yes, that is correct." Said the Ashen one. "I had died so long ago that I can't remember how I died and who I was before the day I returned to life. "Who I was prior to waking up and rising from that coffin. Gone. Who I knew prior to that. Gone. What family and friends I knew or had is long gone to me. What past…lovers I had are also gone. I've tried to look into it. Try to find traces of who I was and who I knew, but…nothing ever came." Upon hearing that and the sincerity behind it, the Parrs felt much sympathy for the man. Karla, sensing the pain of her husband was in as he recounted his failures of finding who he originally was, placed a delicate hand on his own, causing him to squeeze it in appreciation.

"But moving on, with nothing to my name except the weapons and armor on my person when I awoke, I journeyed to where the ringing of the bell occurred. A sort of shrine with five thrones in it. One of those thrones was occupied by a small man with dried up skin and wore a crown on his head. He and a blind woman told me of my purpose that day."


Past

Shrine


The recently risen knight looked at the shrine that was just before him. A reward for him in defeating that massive knight a few moments ago. That knight. Something had infected his body, coming out at the climax of the fight. His shock at seeing it virtually overtake the knight's body as well as creating a black serpentine head with glowing red eyes and a wooden, claw-like hand, nearly costed him his life, but he managed to defeat the infected knight and taking the sword that had been embedded in him, which he took before the fighting occurred. Now that he thought about it, though, that was probably what caused the fight in the first place.

Regardless of what had actually caused the fight to happen, he took the key that was left behind by the knight when he disintegrated into white particles after he defeated the knight and opened the door that lead out of the arena they fought it. That door lead him to the ruined remains of a shrine. Despite it's desolate and damaged state, the shrine had the bell that had awoke him. He just knew that it was. And if he was right, then that meant that someone had rung that bell, which meant that shrine was inhabited. And with nothing to lose, the knight went towards the shrine, passing some robbed figures that were just sitting around, doing nothing, not even giving him a glance. As he walked, the knight wondered what would await him when he finally arrived to the shrine. Was it another monster? A band of thieves? Or something that can help him remember who he was? Whatever it was, the knight was prepared for a fight should it come to it.

Making it inside the shrine, the knight saw that it was indeed occupied, if the hammering of metal was anything to go by. Walking inside, but cautious for any threat to him, he went to the inner chamber of the shrine. In that inner chamber, were five thrones of varying sizes. Out of those five thrones, only one was occupied by a small man with a crown. As he made his way to them, he noticed one man in full knight armor sitting on a flight of stairs covered in ashes, mopping over something. Ignoring the other knight, the first knight looked at a blond-haired woman in a dirty, ash covered, robe and skirt making her way towards him. As she got closer, the knight realized that she had a tiara on her forehead that also covered her eyes. Stopping just a few feet from the recently arrived knight, the woman spoke.

"Welcome to the bonfire, Unkindled One." Said the woman in a soft voice, looking at the general direction of the knight, despite her blindness. Before he could even speak in greetings, the woman continued. "I am a Fire Keeper. I tend to the flame, and tend to thee. The Lords have left their thrones, and must be deliver'd to them. To this end, I am at thy side." Stunned, the knight didn't even know what to do when the woman pointed at the coiled sword on his back, the sword he taken from his last opponent. "Produce the coiled sword at the bonfire. The mark of ash will guide thee to the land of the Lords. To Lothric, where the homes of the Lords converge. From there, your journey will resume and the fate of the world can lay in your hands." Stunned even more, the knight stood looking at the woman as she patiently waiting for him to do what she instructed.


Present


"And so I eventually did what she asked." Said the Ashen one, recalling everything that day with perfect clarity. "I placed that sword at the bonfire at the center for that shrine, and then used that bonfire to, essentially teleport to this Lothric, which turned out to be a massive castle. It was there that I learned fully what my purpose was after being revived. I was brought back for the purpose of saving my world from some sort of darkness that would have brought the apocalypse on it by continuing an age that they called the age of fire. Or at least that was what some of my allies claimed. So, with nothing else to do, I accepted the task that fire keeper and that man on the throne bestowed upon me, which was to bring forth the other occupants of the thrones in that shrine for they have abandoned their duty, forcing me to bring them back by force." He was about to continue on when Bob interrupted him.

"Wait, you said your world." Said Bob, noticing that. "What do you mean by that?"

"It is exactly what I mean." Said the Ashen one. "Myself, my wife, my family," He gestured to Irina and the man in gargoyle like armor. "We all come from another world. One that we had to leave due to…strange circumstances." Everyone widened their eyes in shock at that. Another world? How was that possible.

"What happened?" Asked Violet, looking at her boyfriend's father as he explained all this. She heard of the multiverse theory, both on the internet and at school, but she never believed in such things, yet now there was seemingly proof of such a theory right before her eyes.

"I'll explain later that in due time." Promised the Ashen one. "But for now, listen." The Parrs frowned at that, but complied with the Ashen One's request. "Continuing on, the task they have given me proved to be more problematic than you might think. Nearly everything and everyone that I encountered has tried to kill me. Whether it by for my soul, my equipment, or just plain because it didn't matter. Countless things tried to kill me and some of them succeeding in it." That caused the Parrs and his son to widen their eyes in shock or disbelief, not understanding what he means. Karla then took this opportunity to explain.

"Before any of you ask, my husband speaks true." Said Karla. "He has died quite a bit since undertaking that quest from them. Some of which I've personally seen before my eyes." The sincerity of Karla's tone didn't detract to their disbelief on what Mr. Parr had just said, causing her to sigh. "We are, including Irina and her husband Eygon, are undead. When we die, we don't go to heaven, hell, or whatever afterlife you believe in, rather we just come back to the land of the living. No injuries on our physical bodies that can show what caused our death. This may sound hard to believe and coming straight out of a horror film or something from a fantasy novel, but I assure you. We are telling the truth." The Parrs, despite hearing the sincerity in Karla's voice, were shaking their heads in disbelief. Undead? Coming back to life. Other worlds? It was all too much to bear.

"I…I'm sorry, Mrs. Parr, but this is all…very hard to believe." Said Helen. There were a lot of superpowers in the world, all incredibly powerful in their own rights, but returning to life was not one of them. There never has been a recorded instance of a super having the ability to rise up from the dead like a zombie. It just didn't seem possible, even to those with superpowers.

"We know." Said Irina with sadness in her voice. "But it is all true. All of it. If you wish to have more proof, then we will provide it."

"And that we will, but I must finish my story." Said the Ashen one before looking at the Parrs. "If you will allow me to." Despite already having a great deal of overwhelming knowledge that was hard to believe, the Parrs allowed him to continue. Might as well continue with this insanity. "Thank you. As I said before, retrieving the quest was more difficult than you might think. Those, whose thrones demand their seating, have refused to accept their fates and forced me to fight them to the death. I…killed them and collected their ashes." The Parrs and his son reacted in horror at the thought of him killing those people and burning their remains to ashes for something. Tony, in particular, was horrified that his father, the man he looked up to, would do such a thing. This caused Karla to tell them to withhold judgement until he was completely finished. If they do so, or if they don't, then she informed them that she had a way to make them understand fully what her husband did. "Despite what you may think, I didn't kill them just like that. No, they put up a fierce fight. They've killed me many times as I tried to defeat them in combat. But each time I died, I rose up, either learning something new about their way of fighting or some weakness I can exploit or becoming stronger through ways that you may find abhorrent, and fought them again, eventually defeating them and collecting their ashes. But as my deaths continue to pile up and the more things that I encounter that try to kill me, I began to question my purpose. Was everything I was doing meaningless? The old man in the throne, Ludleth, said that I must bring these ashes to the thrones to use their power to save the world from a perpetual darkness, but I've seen the state of the world was in, learned that some of it was due to people trying to save the world from something they thought would be the end of everything, others just because. I've seen the results of those that had been killed or subject to persecution because their affiliation to the supposed doom to our world. My wife being amongst them. As my journey continued on and on, these thoughts continued to pile up until I decided to just end it all. Stop the age of fire and let the age of darkness, the one that some of my allies claim to bring about the end of all things. I told both the old man and the woman about my plan as well as all the allies I've gathered that survived up to that point. Surprisingly, they all understood my decision, some of even supporting it. Even those against ending the age of fire didn't stop me, believing that it was my destiny or choice to end the age of fire or continue it."

"But why?" Asked Violet. This all sounded insane, yet the serious looks on all the adults in Tony's family told her that it was all true, no matter how ludicrous some of it sounded. "Why did they agree to your decision so easily? Didn't you say that some people thought bringing this age of darkness would end the world?"

"He did." Said Karla. "To be honest, the old man, Ludleth, and the blind woman, going at the time the title of Firekeeper, along with one friend of ours, feared the age of darkness because they feared the unknown. What would become to all of the people in our world should it come? What would happen if the age of fire died? That fear was what allowed the age of fire to go on as long as it did. To go on long past it's time. It'll be explained later by us, but the age of fire went on far longer than it should have done. How this was done was by sacrificing powerful individuals with powerful souls to the source of the age of fire, using their life source as a way to sustain it, and as a result, extend the duration of the age of fire via unnatural means." She closed her eyes a bit before opening them again. "Many of done this over the course of tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of years, sacrificing their lives to sustain that accursed age until my husband time came and he choose to finally end it." Her husband nodded at that.

"And with that the age of darkness came, finally ending the age of fire and allowing that age to occur." Said the Ashen one. "As the name befitted for it, darkness came over the entire land as the age of fire died, but it wasn't anything like the stories I was told or read about it. The darkness was calming in a way, almost like a blanket you give to a child to calm them before sending them to sleep. It wasn't the nightmarish horrors that many tried to teach us about it. And so, for a time, I helped gather what people I befriended that could fight and we set out to find people out the world, teaching how to survive in this new age and help them adjust to it. We had a few downs over the years, some I like not to talk about, but, for the most part, we did good. Some people despaired at the coming age of darkness, but more have simply accepted it and tried to adapt as much as they can in the new age. And so, for around ten decades, life was good. Peace was in everyone's mind, but then something happened. A light overcame us all and we suddenly found ourselves in a new world. Your world." The Parrs and Tony were starting to get headaches from all this information, but still listened in to his words. I will admit, this world was much like our old world, but also much more different. Panic set in with our people, but we quickly restored order and began learning about the new world we were in. Once enough information was gathered, our leader at the time, a woman by the name Yorshka, decided to remain hidden from the world and it's supers, fearing we would be exterminated. Some of us protested at her decision, but her resolve was firm and we had no reason at the time to distrust her. And so, we remain hidden for a great amount of time, even integrating into your societies and learning your ways, including your weapons of war. For a time, we did nothing but watch as your people advance and grow. And with that, we grew as well, albeit in a slower rate. So, once again, we had a brief, albeit hidden, peace amongst your people, but then, remnants from our world appeared here. And they weren't as peaceful or understanding as us. Do you remember those monsters that those vagrants brought with them last night? The ones with skill masks?" When the Parrs nodded, the Ashen one continued. "They are amongst a group of creatures from our world that do nothing but bring death and misery to those that they laid their eyes on, whether it be human or animal. For a brief moment, they hunted and destroyed small villages and towns in more rural and underdeveloped parts of this world, but then they began going to the bigger cities and the like, attracting the attention of supers and the governments. When this began to occur, Yorshka found something for her people. We became, sort of, guardians to this world. Protecting it from monsters and people from our world, preventing our existence from being discovered by your governments as well as preventing the loss of innocent life. And that brings us up to speed, relatively anyway. Now, I know this all sounds unbelievable, and I understand that, but it is the truth. If you still don't believe me, then my wife has a way to make you all believe it. It's a bit intrusive, but if you still need evidence that I'm speaking the truth, then you must partake in it." With that, Karla spoke.

"It won't be anything hurtful, mind you." Said Karla. "I will be merely sharing memories of my husband and myself between us all. Nothing painful or anything. Although, I should note that some of the memories I saw will be quite graphic to watch and may not be suited for your children, Mr. and Mrs. Parr. So, unless you wish to take the words of my husband and myself, say that you'll wish to see evidence of this and I'll show you said evidence. What is your answer?" The Parrs looked at each other at that, unsure of what to do. On one hand, they had absolutely no reason to distrust Tony's parents. Not only did they give them a good impression of themselves during the dinner last night, but they helped them fight off their assailants as well, even saving Helen and Dash from them. But on the other hand, this all sounded so insane and unbelievable that they needed more evidence before they could fully commit to believing them. So, looking at each other, all of them unsure of what to do, they eventually decided to go through with Karla's offer of providing evidence.

"Alright." Said Bob, looking at Karla. "Show us this evidence. But you be sure it isn't too graphic. I don't want my kids scarred because of what you show us." Karla, needing to show this to her son as well, nodded in understanding.

"I understand." Said Karla before taking Tony's hand, squeezing it while giving her boy a smile, who returned it, albeit weakly. "My son will also be seeing them and though he is a young man, some of the memories me and my husband have are not for most people to endure. So, I'll be only showing the most important ones, though even then, some of them are graphic as well, but are needed for you to understand completely. Do you understand?" Bob and Helen, upon hearing that, wanted to protest, but Dash and Violet told them that it'll be fine and that they can handle a bit of blood and swearing. After a small argument between the Parrs, the two parents reluctantly allowed their kids to join in. With the group set in, Karla motioned for them all to stand in a circle around her and for Irina to take Jak-Jak, as he was absolutely not partaking in this venture. Once that was done and everyone was in a circle around her, Karla began to lifted up her hands, which then began to emit black flames that completely engulfed her hands, much to the Parrs' and Tony's surprise, even more so when Karla looked completely fine with having black flames all over her hands. She then went over to the Parrs and Tony individually, waving her black flame covered hands over them as she past each person in the circle. As she passed them, everyone noted that the flames weren't as hot as they thought. It was still hot, mind you, but not nearly as much as they thought they would be. They were akin to a cozy campfire with your family rather than a wild forest fire or an out of control fire in a building. Before any of them commented, Karla finished and brought out a piece of parchment from her left sleeve. "This may actually be a bit creepy for you all. So, bear that in mind." Before anyone could comment on that, Karla tossed the parchment to the ground where it began to glow black and white before engulfing them all in a veil of darkness. Jak-Jak screamed in alarm at this, but Irina, having knew prior hand about Jak-Jak and his abilities, waved her hands over him, causing small particles to flow over him. Whatever it was, it caused him to soundly fall asleep as this happened, preventing him from going berserk and causing harm to anyone. The Ashen one, meanwhile, watched as the veil completely formed, engulfing the rest of the Parr family, his wife, and son in a black cage with no way for them to see what's inside and vice versa. Once this was complete, the Ashen one prayed that the Parrs and his son can endure what they saw and that Karla would avoid the more…sensitive and violent memories away from them, for some things that he's seen in this quest at that time were best left for the strong willed and mind. They were not meant for the feint of heart.