Hello, everyone! SwordOfTheGods here with another story I don't plan of finishing. So yeah, I'll say right off the bat that this story is up for adoption. I have three chapters written, just enough to help establish the world, the history, and the placement of the characters as I envisioned them in this setting. If anyone wants to pick this story up or take any ideas from it, just send me a PM and note the fact in an A/N. It's always nice when someone toots your horn for you.
Anyway, I'll leave another message at the end of Chapter 3 reminding y'all that this story will not be finished by me.
Soul Evans ran for his life, tears streaming down his face and his home burning behind him. The screams of the people still reached him as they were slaughtered without mercy. The sound of horses pounded from somewhere behind, forcing the boy to take a sharp turn and dash into the forest beyond the edge of the path.
"Damn it!" a man exclaimed, his horse slowing to a stop. "That little bastard ran off into the forest!"
"Calm down, Hendrick," another man muttered. "It won't get too far." The two dismounted, trudging into the woods.
Several dozen feet ahead, Soul continued to hurry, running from the men. Coming upon a large oak with a hollow area, he pushed his way inside and piled branches from a nearby bush in front of the entrance. Just in time.
"Where the Hell did that little monster go?" the man named Hendrick yelled, pushing himself through the branches and trees. He was a tall man with dark hair and a sword hanging at his side. "He was just here a second ago!"
"The bloodhounds are on the way," the unnamed pursuer grunted, a bow slung over his shoulder and an arrow pouch strapped to his back. "They'll come help when they're certain all of those things are dealt with in the kingdom proper."
"But we can't let the Weapon Prince get away!" Hendrick replied. "You know what Mistress Medusa does to those who fail her, Norman!"
"And we won't fail," Norman responded. "Just keep looking in the woods, yeah? I'll head back to the road and return with the bloodhounds in a few minutes."
"Fine." With a grunt, Hendrick wandered off into the brush. Norman eyed the area around them, but, luckily, his eyes passed over Soul's hiding spot without pausing.
"This is what they get," Norman muttered angrily to himself. "I don't see why they were so loved. People that turn into weapons and eat souls aren't people at all. They're monsters." He turned back toward the road and retreated.
Soul waited for only a minute and a half before bursting out of hiding, forging a path through the undergrowth as quickly and as silently as he could. Luck just seemed to be against him, however, since the baying of hunting dogs began to sound only a few minutes afterward.
"Damn it, damn it, damn it!" Soul whisper-yelled. "Why is this happening?!" Tears continued to fall as memories pushed their way to the forefront of this mind: his mother laughing at dinner only an hour before. His brother Wes teaching him how to play the new pianoforte their family had just bought the month prior. His father teaching him about their black-bloodline and the powers that came with it the night before.
And then everything was gone, ripped from him in the span of a half-hour. What had once been a powerful kingdom was now in the process of being razed to the ground by a group of terrorists.
The whistling sound was the only warning the prince had before pain bloomed in his side. With a wail, Soul collapsed, clutching at his side and the arrow impaled therein. Blood as black as midnight dripped to the ground, the evening light dancing off of each drop. He hadn't even heard them getting closer!
"I got 'em!" the man from before, Norman, called over the sound of the dogs.
"Really?!" Hendrick yelled, barging toward his comrade and their prey. Soul turned, raising his arms in what he knew was a futile defense. Hendrick was upon him in an instant, his sword coming down to cleave across the prince's torso from left shoulder to right hip. The boy stumbled backward in a spray of black and a gasp.
"No," Soul wheezed weakly, trying to stay on his feet as he prayed to Death and his Holy Weapons. "No. Not like this. Please not like this. Don't let it end like this." He prayed for help, a miracle, something to save him from the Hell his life had become. Something inside him snapped.
He would never know if it was stress or despair or destiny, but everything seemed to change. A warm feeling bubbled up from inside Soul's gut, filling his being. A yellow glow covered the area, emanating from the wounded boy as his form twisted and changed. He clattered to the ground.
Everything was different. Soul threw his head back and forth, but there was nothing but an inky darkness on all sides. A quick check found that his injuries were still present, but they were not bleeding and he couldn't feel them. Looking up, he could see a glimmer of the red sky through the canopy of trees. The bowman, Norman, came into view, his face glaring down at the prince's window.
"Bloody monster used its shape-shifting magic," he muttered. Reaching down, the man tried to grasp something only to reel back with a blackened hand. "Tch. Damn demon magic shocked me. Not like he'll be going anywhere with that poisoned arrow I struck 'im with or that cut you gave 'im, though. Looks like our work here is done."
It was all too much for the young prince, the weight of all that had happened coming to him all at once. He closed his eyes and knew no more...
It's amazing what 300 years can to to a single area of land. The history of any place can be lost almost as fast as it is created, but the legends and myths will find some way to continue. The knowledge of the existence of the race known as Weapons, or negatively as Demon Weapons, and any belief in magic had long since been forgotten, fading into nothing but rumors and fairytales and hearsay. Great kingdoms grew to replace the old, knowing nothing of their predecessors.
Now is the era of the powerful Albarn Kingdom, a country that had grown over the last 100 years with the downfall of the previous rulers. The Albarn family, however, was only two people strong despite the respect they held. These two were King Spirit Albarn and his beloved daughter, Princess Maka. Maka's mother, Queen Kami, had passed away from sickness some years before, leaving a heartbroken king to raise their young child.
King Spirit had not taken the Queen's death well. He turned to the drink and, when that failed, to the company of women to alleviate his loneliness, even if only for a short time. He became overprotective of his only child, forbidding her from going outside of her chambers without one of his trusted to escort her and, under no circumstances, was she allowed outside of the castle.
But a headstrong spirit like the princess' would not be denied. For all the King's protectiveness, he was surprisingly Lazie Fare. He trusted his daughter to stay within the castle and for the servants to inform him if she tried to leave. Little did he know that his beloved Maka had her own network, a group of servants she would trust with her secret journeys into the wilderness behind the castle.
It was on one such journey that everything changed.
Princess Maka was a pretty girl of 14 years with soft brown hair that she kept in twin pigtails and emerald-green eyes. She wandered through the underbrush with a book tucked under one arm, being careful not to ruin her knee-length green dress; it wouldn't do if her Papa learned of her adventures.
She had been in the fresh spring wind for nearly an hour, a new record for her in both time and distance. Looking around her, the girl took notice of the base of the Great Oak, a tree so tall that it stuck out of the forest like a beacon. The rumors she'd heard from the servants said that the tree was more than 300 years old and that there was an amazing treasure buried somewhere near it. Many a treasure hunter had come looking for the rumor's origin, but all had left empty-handed. Even so, some still claimed that there was indeed a treasure; that they had found it but were unable to remove it. The princess pushed ahead, moving past the Great Oak and two dozen feet forward, only for a flash of light to attract her attention.
Bending down, Maka reached forward to brush dirt and leaves from her find, uncovering a pole of what seemed to be steel about as long as she was tall. Following the pole, she uncovered a blade as well. The blade itself was of red and black, the colors split down the blade in a zigzaging pattern with the red on top. The blade was connected at the top of the pole by a wider area decorated with an eye-like design, also of red and black. It was a scythe.
The princess marveled at her find. For an item having been buried in the ground, the weapon was cleaner than any she had seen in the castle's armory. Grasping the handle, the girl lifted the item up off the ground. Upon turning it over, the back of the scythe was shown to be a mirror image of the front and the rest of the dirt fell away without leaving a single trace behind.
It was surprisingly light, the girl thought, for a weapon made of steel. A warmth came over her being from her hands, a feeling of oneness, and she decided to keep it. Hoisting the weapon over her shoulder, the princess began to return to the castle in the distance.
"Oh my, Princess," Tsubaki giggled as her long-time friend and mistress returned with a scythe of all things. "What have you brought back with you?" Tsubaki was a maid that stood a head taller than the princess she served, having three years more in age than the royal. The young woman was of Eastern heritage, her family having moved into the Albarn Kingdom a handful of generations ago, giving her an exotic look that had men craning their necks to see her. She was hailed as the most beautiful of the maids with her long, black hair that brushed the base of her back in a ponytail and a perfect figure only partially hidden by the maid outfit she wore. Many a man, both staff and guests, had tried to woo her, but each had left disappointed. It appeared someone already owned the young maid's heart.
"I found this by the Great Oak Tree," the princess answered, moving the weapon to show off what she'd found. "I decided to keep it."
"Well I can't stop you," the maid chuckled, gesturing to the passageway back into the castle with perfectly-schooled features. It was a secret servant tunnel connected to a system that ran throughout the building. The tunnel was build with the castle during a time when servants were to be neither seen nor heard when they were moving from room to room, so most walls were basically hollow. Use of the tunnels had since been deemed unnecessary, but most still used it for the shortcuts it provided. Smiling at her friend, the princess and maid entered the tunnel.
The way into the building proper was a narrow, circular staircase built to fit between hallways. The stairs' entrances and exits were placed at 200 foot intervals, hidden passageways with locking mechanisms on the inside to disable the hidden buttons on the outside. Coming to the exit closest to the princess' chambers, Tsubaki opened the hidden door and glanced outside to confirm that the coast was clear before letting her mistress by. Maka quickly filed down the dozen steps to her doorway before entering.
The princess' chambers were well-fitted, but still plain. A plush bed sat near the middle of the room, its headboard pressed against the leftmost wall and the mattress covered by plain blue sheets. Two bookcases rested on the opposite wall to the bed, the written word there about anything and everything. To the immediate left upon entrance was a simple desk with several quills and ink pots for writing if the princess so chose and, on the far wall, was a large window that faced the sunrise. To the left of the bed was a wooden door that led to her personal bathroom. Maka's pet cat, Blair, a purple feline that had lived in the castle longer than anyone could remember, was absent. If the princess were to guess her whereabouts, she'd say the cat was probably hunting mice out in the castle's pumpkin patch.
"Is there anything else you need, Maka?" Tsubaki questioned, stepping into the room with her friend.
"If you see Sid, could you please tell him to come see me tomorrow morning? I would like his help with something." Tsubaki bowed in response and took her leave. Sid was the castle's blacksmith, a talented man of almost 30 years and the oldest of Princess Maka's trusted. Now left alone with only her thoughts, the fading sunlight, and her new weapon, the princess walked over to the bed, slid the scythe underneath to where it would be hidden, laid down, and closed her eyes.
With a deep breath, the young girl drifted off to sleep, unaware of the significance that day would hold.
Princess Maka awoke early the morning after her discovery, the faint glow of the rising sun filtering in thorough the window. She groaned, futility trying to stave off the light. When that failed, she pushed herself into a sitting position and yawned loudly, stretching. She was still in her green dress from the day before, but someone had apparently come in to tuck her into bed since the sheets were no longer under her. She had awoken just in time as a soft knocking lightly rattled the hinges of the door.
"Princess," a gruff, male voice grunted from the other side. "You wished to see me?"
"Please, come in." The door opened to show a tall, dark-skinned man dressed in a simple pair of long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a blacksmith's apron. A white bandana was tied around his forehead, holding his dreadlocks out of his face. Muscles from working in the forges rippled under his clothing as he took a few steps into the room.
"What can I do for you, Your Highness?" Sid asked.
"Oh, drop the formalities, Sid," Maka waved off, rubbing the last of the sleep from her eyes. "You know how I feel about those when no one's around."
"Of course, Maka," Sid corrected himself. "Anyway, you called?"
"I did-? Oh, right. One moment." Maka scrambled out of her bed and knelt down, pulling the scythe she had found in the woods the day prior out into the open. Sid's eyes widened as the princess carried the weapon over to him. He reached out tentatively before pulling back, never touching the object.
"What? W-Where did you find this?"
"I found it in the woods yesterday," the girl answered. "I managed to go out past the Great Oak and found this scythe buried under some leaves and dirt. I was hoping you could tell me about it." She held out the weapon with one hand in a way that shouldn't have been possible with an item of its apparent weight and her body type.
"Of course." The blacksmith reached out to grasp the handle of the weapon, but as soon as the princess released her hold, the weapon's weight increased exponentially. Sid was dragged to the floor by the heavy scythe and, try as he might, the blacksmith could not pick it up.
Maka laughed. "Wow, Sid! I didn't know you were one for jokes!"
"I'm not," the dark-skinned man grunted, still trying to lift the weapon. He was able to pull the handle up, but the blade stayed firmly grounded. "I'm not the kind of man that makes jokes."
"But," Maka blinked, "that scythe is as light as a feather. Are you telling me that you're too weak to lift it?"
"As light as a feather?" the man balked. "Not at all. You must have been doing strength training with Captain Black*Star if you think this weapon is light."
"Well, here. Let me show you." Maka's hands moved forward, grabbing the base of the weapon and lifting it from the ground without any sign of strain. "See?"
Sid gaped and a legend from his late master came to the forefront of his mind. "Soul Weapon," he gasped.
"Did you say something, Sid?" Maka asked, still holding the scythe without a problem.
"It's a legend that my old master once told me. He said that there are weapons out there called Soul Weapons. No one knows where they came from or how to forge them. They look like ordinary weapons and come in all varieties, and only certain people can wield each, but those that can are able to perform great feats of battle unlike any other. And, so the legend goes, no one can wield any two Soul Weapons, even if they are the same type. If the legends are true, then you may have found yourself a Soul Weapon that only you can lift."
"Wow," Maka marveled, inspecting her find in a new light. "Hey, Sid. Could you install a couple of bars over my bed to hold this? I'd like to keep it close on hand."
"Sure," the blacksmith replied, "if you'll let me run some tests. I've always wanted to see a Soul Weapon for myself."
"No problem," Maka waved off. "Heck, maybe I'll have Black*Star teach me how to use this. It might alleviate some of dad's worries about protecting me."
"I'd say that's a good idea," Sid nodded. "I can have the mounts up by the end of the day, so why don't you go track down Black*Star and talk to him about training? The bars will be there when you get back, that's the kind of work ethic I have."
"Alright!" Maka chirped, leaning the scythe against the wall, "but I have to bathe first. Go on down and get the stuff you need. I'll be gone by the time you get back." She all but skipped over to her personal bathroom and shut the door tightly. Sid waited a moment until he heard the sound of running water before he edged over to the weapon. He began examining it.
"It's all true," Sid mumbled to himself, running his hand over the blade. "This blade is sharper than any I've ever seen. And the seamless flow from blade to handle, that shouldn't be physically possible. The craftsmanship that it would take to make a weapon like this would be god-like. I'll have to run more tests; that's just the kind of man I am." Finally, the blacksmith went to take his leave, nodding to Tsubaki on his way out. The maid had been about to enter when he opened the door.
"Oh, Sid," Tsubaki greeted. "I didn't expect you to be here so early."
"You know the kind of man I am," Sid waved off. "I'm glad I came, though. It seems that our princess has found herself a Soul Weapon."
"A what?" the servant gasped, her face taking on a look of terror for only a second before schooling into calm surprise.
"A Soul Weapon," the blacksmith repeated, causing the young woman to flinch again. "Do you know anything about them?"
"N-No," Tsubaki denied much too quickly, waving her hands in front of her face to hide a faint grey tinge. "My parents told stories of heroes with w-weapons like that, but they're j-just myths! Th-They aren't real!"
"Well apparently they are," Sid rebuffed. "One of them is right there." He pointed his thumb over his shoulder to where the scythe sat silently.
"W-Well I guess so," Tsubaki responded, edging around the man and gently pushing him out of the room. "Thank you for meeting with the princess so early. Bye!" She closed the door in the blacksmith's face before he could answer and leaned against the wood. Sid was still on the other side before his quiet footsteps began retreating down the hallway. The maid let out a sigh as she turned to the immobile weapon.
"I can't believe it," she whispered, eyeing the scythe. "Mom and Dad said that all the Scythes were killed during the Weapon Purge 300 years ago. I know that we don't age while in Weapon form, but 300 years..." She shuffled over to the item and ran a hand along the blunt edge of the blade. Her fingers tingled with an electric feeling, confirming her suspicions. "I can't imagine what you've had to endure, Your Highness, but what does your coming mean?"
The sounds of running water and splashing stopped, causing the maid to jerk away from the Weapon and hurry to the princess' wardrobe where she pulled out undergarments and a pale blue dress that fell just short of the knees. She shuffled over to the bathroom and cracked the door, allowing a good bit of steam to filter out the the top.
"Maka," the servant whispered so as to not startle the younger girl. "I have your clothes for the day."
"Thank you, Tsubaki," the princess replied, toweling her hair dry. She took the clothes and pulled them on before sweeping past her friend and over to the weapon. The princess lifted it without preamble, leaning it over her shoulder and walking to the door.
"Ah, Maka," Tsubaki called, striding over to stand by her mistress. "If I may be so bold, where are you taking that weapon?"
"This?" Maka questioned. "I've decided that, since it seems I'm the only one that can lift it, I'll have Black*Star teach me how to use it."
"Are you sure that is wise? Some say that Soul Weapons bare cursed magic and a mind of their own."
"...How did you know it was a Soul Weapon?" Maka turned to face her friend.
"Ah, Sid told me," Tsubaki answered with a startled gasp. Maka's eyes bored into the servant for a few seconds, but, just as Tsubaki was about to start fidgeting, the princess relented.
"Well, if nothing else, I might be able to get my father to let me out of the castle freely." Maka shrugged and stepped into the hallway, leaving Tsubaki to let out a silent breath of relief before following.
Maka's chamber was on the third floor of the eastern side of Castle Albarn, meaning that it could take quite a bit of travel time to reach anywhere else in the castle. The princess chose to use the hallways rather than the servants' passageways on account of her new scythe, adding a good ten minutes to the duo's decent through the building. The servants they passed sent them odd looks, not because seeing the princess was anything odd, but the princess carrying a weapon certainly was. If they weren't mistaken, Tsubaki looked ill-at-ease as well.
"So, Tsubaki," Maka called, descending down a flight of stairs. "It's about eight, so Black*Star should be at the training grounds by now, right?"
"Ah, yes, Princess," the maid answered, trying to hide the grey of her cheeks.
"That is to say, if he didn't oversleep," Maka laughed.
"I'm sure Captain Black*Star would not shirk his training just for a nap so early in the morning, Princess." Finally reaching the first floor, the two girls took a detour through the kitchens to swipe a couple of apples before making their way out to the training grounds. Already outside were most of the castle's knights that weren't on duty, training themselves.
In the middle of a dueling ring was a young man with spiky light-blue hair. He was dressed in traditional knight armor, but had forgone the helmet and the breastplate for freedom of both eyesight and movement. The lack of a breastplate revealed the cloth covering his chainmail which bore a black pentogram over a blue background the same color as his hair. In his hands was a chainscythe, one bladed end a blur as he used it to stave off the four knights circling him with the other blade in his left hand.
With a battle cry, one of the circling knights charged toward the back of the man in the center, his sword brought up for an overhead strike. The center knight's eyes snapped to him, the chainscythe's chain coming up to catch the downward swing before the man wrapped the chain around the blade. In an impressive show of dexterity, the blue-haired knight flipped over the other, ripping the sword out of the attacker's hand and spinning to kick the aggressor in the side of the head. With a groan, the foolish knight slumped unconscious, his sword sticking into the ground beside him.
The fight relapsed into a lull in the action, a servant carefully entering the ring to drag the downed man out of the arena but leaving his sword. The three regular knights gathered on one side of the circle, facing the remaining blue-haired man.
"Come on!" the lone knight yelled, gesturing widely with his weapon. "If you small fry can't beat me together, what hope to you have against anyone else?!" The knights, seemingly offended, glanced at each other before charging as one.
The blue-haired man smirked, waiting for the trio to approach. They never got very far. The lone man rolled to the left, his chainscythe shooting out to wrap around the abandoned sword. The knight dashed forward, the chain of his weapon sweeping forward to pull the legs out from his three opponents. The trio screamed, their momentum dragging their top halves forward even as the chain stopped their legs. They fell, rolling out of the ring.
"Last lesson for today," the victorious knight said, a lash freeing his weapon from where the end had wrapped around the stuck sword. "Don't fall for your enemy's taunts. When you fall for them, you lose control of the battle. Remember that." The other three knights, seemingly disappointed, nodded and shuffled off, their servants walking over to them. The lone knight laughed boisterously before his eyes landed on the princess and her maid.
"Princess Maka," he greeted, striding proudly toward the two women. "Tsubaki. What can a man like the great Black*Star do for you this day?" Now that they had a closer look, Maka and Tsubaki could see that Captain Black*Star was around their age with dark eyes. A slight sheen of sweat glimmered on his forehead and the visible chainmail on his torso shimmered.
"I need your help," Maka stated, lowering the scythe in her hand from her shoulder so the handle rested on the ground and the blade was extended away from her. "I need you to teach me how to use this."
"And why is that, Princess?" the captain questioned. "Not that I can't. The great Black*Star can teach anyone! But why do you want to?"
"I talked to Sid about it. Apparently, this scythe is what's called a Soul Weapon, so I'm the only one that can wield it."
"Ha!" the knight laughed. "As if there's a weapon out there that the great Black*Star can't wield! Let me see that!" Black*Star held out his hand, an arrogant smirk on his face. The princess sighed, long use to the captain's antics and quirks. Sure, Black*Star had earned his title through hard work and dedication with a little bit of natural skill, but his ego was something of a mystery. Lifting her scythe, the princess held it out for the weapon for the man to take.
Black*Star gripped the weapon for only a second before the weight got to him, holding it up for that long through brute strength alone. Still, the scythe became too heavy for the captain who was forced to drop the weapon or else be dragged down with it.
"Well I'll be damned," he muttered, watching the princess bend down and lift the weapon. He smirked. "Lucky for you, I know how to use every weapon we have in the castle's armory, scythes included. When do you want to start, Your Highness?"
Maka smirked. "Right now."
End of Chapter 1
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