Needless to say, Surya had grown increasingly paranoid ever since repelling the pack of Horned Wolves. There was a perpetual scowl on his face, and he kept the cloth tied over his head tight enough to not sway even with fierce wind while traveling under the escort of a 'warrior' that was leading them back to Kuru.

The best way to describe Surya's action was shame. Shame at his perceived failure, and inability to realize that someone had dared to tamper with his own memories. Shame that it took him so long to break out of this spell or that it required some freak phenomena to snap his senses right.

Karna.

Surya's gaze never left the figure resolutely walking ahead of the group.

Karna.

The warrior who maintained an aloof yet trustworthy vigil for any threats to the make-shift convoy. The one who talked little, yet smiled softly with a face that clearly weathered numerous hardships.

Karna.

Surya felt someone nervously tap him on the side. The glare on Surya's face was palpable by this point, but the person who'd nudged Surya had done it with good intentions.

"Sir, your hands." The woman swallowed before finally pointing with a finger when Surya couldn't connect how what she said had any relation to him.

Surya felt it as droplets of liquid hit a sandaled foot. He glanced at his palms and realized that his own nails had cut into the flesh of his palms from how tightly he was clenching his hands.

"Thank you, but it's of no concern," Surya said, acknowledging the woman but insisting that it wasn't something to be worried about.

Surya was angry, no; livid. The composure he was maintaining was a product of his own discipline and the unease of whether Karna had seen through him or not.

That was the source of Surya's struggle along with the implication of Karna's existence.

Surya began to paint a picture with the logic of the visions he'd seen and what he knew of himself and those around him.

Making Kunti forget Karna would be simple.

Karna's conception wasn't an ordinary birth, leaving no signs of post or pre-pregnancy symptoms. Indeed, roughly translated, Karna also stood for 'ear,' describing the miraculous method of Karna's origin.

Given the divine boon to bear a child, a teenage Kunti who would not have known better, thought of Surya, and Karna was born from her ear. Fearing retribution and outrage from having a child out of wedlock, a young Kunti sent baby Karna adrift upon a river.

Surya could not wipe away the simmering emotions within him as he surmised the sequence of events, let alone at the growing implication of a third-party's interference.

The visions he witnessed, the depth, the emotions behind them, Surya had no doubt that they were real. And any doubt that would have lingered at such ridiculous notions vanished everytime Surya could feel the warmth of the sun Karna exuded.

Who did it?!

Kunti was one thing, as she was a mortal and any God with a memory related field or not, could tamper with her mind if they were determined, but to do the same with him, Surya? Even Indra and other Gods who should have known?

Surya felt as if he was stepping on the edge of a massive conspiracy of the Lower World.

Of course, Surya had not wasted time asking other Gods about their experiences with these so-called 'visions' of past and future on the day they happened. However, results varied.

Every God who bore a supposed offspring had a vision of them, but not all were willing to believe it.

They were doubtful, yes, but they couldn't allow themselves to be directed at the machinations of an errant Memory God's idea of a joke.

Indra was of the same opinion.

Surya, not so much. His intuition had always felt that there was something more to it, and this likely had much to do with the fact that Karna's own divinity when he was first summoned, resonated with Surya's own.

That's why the doubts lingered.

And here and now…

"We will arrive shortly." Karna called from the front of the convey, interrupting Surya's train of thought. "If there is nothing else, I will take my leave."


Surya still couldn't shake his thoughts, his body moving on auto-pilot until he found himself returning to the heart of Kuru's command stations where Kunti was talking with a group of military generals.

She dismissed everyone upon noticing Surya's arrival.

"You're back," Kunti let out a sigh of relief, moving to grab one of his hands. "Thank goodness, I've heard of the Horned Wolf attack by the Sarasvati- What's wrong?"

Kunit's expression sharpened instantly, in contrast, Surya's brow twitched. Of course, Kunti had noticed that something was wrong just by seeing Surya's face. She, Indra, and Surya had been working together for years now for the sake of the people of Kuru.

"Nothing," Surya could not bring himself to share recent revelations with Kunti. Rather, the fire of the sun within him was pointing its flame in a single direction.

"Where's Indra?" Surya asked, stone faced.

Kunti's lip pursed before she pouted with an increasing level of severity. "...He's still out on his task with his Familia."

"Lie." Surya pointed out immediately.

Anyone should know not to lie to a deity unless one wants to get seen through.

Kunti grumbled about the unfairness, but soon gave Surya a stern look. "What will you do if I tell you?"

"..."

"Figured as much." Kunti crossed her arms.

"Stay away from him." Surya said bluntly.

"Huh?" Kunti couldn't understand. Indra was just as important for Kuru as Surya was in keeping the kingdom alive.

But for Surya the reasoning for his words was simple.

If the vision had both past and future aspects, and assuming that Karna was the eldest born first from Kunti in her teenage years, then Kunti and Indra would need to get intimate in order to create the future Pandavas. One of which was destined to kill his son Karna.

Then, if Surya could turn Indra into a cuckold, the matter would be resolved.

Surya couldn't care less what Indra would think of this conclusion, but Surya had steeled himself. The worst of enemies aren't those that stand opposite to you, but those who stand close beside you.

Unfortunately for Surya, Kunti was forced to be a pragmatist under Kuru's current affairs.

Kunti sighed, a vein popping over her temples. "If this is still about what you and Indra were feuding over, then I'm sick of it! We need to stick together, now more than ever with these trying times! The disasters plaguing the kingdom are weakening our national strength, and the rival powers of the Kauravas are just biding their time for a coup."

"If this is about strength and enforcement, then there is another far better alternative," Surya said. "I met a wanderer who may be able to help our situation more than Indra and his Familia ever could should we recruit him."

Kunti was quick witted. She had no choice but to be as the leadership role was thrust to her in the absence of her father and his condition.

She bit her lips.

"Are you talking about the person who fended off the Horned Wolves?" Kunti asked

Surya did not deny it, rather he added with certainty.

"He alone can-"

The door burst open, both Kunti and Surya's expressions hardening. Neither were angry or annoyed at the breach of etiquette for someone to intrude on a superior's office, rather, they were pale faced.

There was only a single precedent where decorum and regulation could be put on the wayside to fast track news.

"It's another attack! A horde of monsters is charging the Southern Gate again!"

Kunti flinched. The south was where Kunti, Surya, and Indra had just been repairing before. Its defenses were still the weakest and its durability would not last. If the wall fell, the kingdom would be overrun.

"Surya!" Kunti yelled with urgency.

"I'll send a message to my Familia," Surya replied just as quickly. "They're already on route, but they aren't as high leveled as Indra's Familia."

Kunti pursed her lips. Of all times, it had to be when Indra and his Familia were preoccupied with another matter.

Gritting her teeth, Kunti suddenly tore the bottom seam of her dress up to her upper thigh and began kicking off the heels she was wearing.

Surya had a second to process Kunti's actions, then another for it to dawn about what she intended to do.

"Where are you going?!" Surya blurted.

"To the southern walls!" Kunti yelled, sprinting, not even looking back.

"What can you do on your own?" Suyra had no choice but to follow. Even weakened and restricted in the Lower World, his honor would not allow a friend to risk danger while he stayed in the side lines, let alone the woman who bore him a child.

"I have hands, I have feet, and I can't stand and do nothing!" Kunti increased her pace, and Surya cursed the limitations of his divine vessel while panting to keep up.

Surya chased after Kunti with mixed feelings, warring between focusing on her safety, or her goals until the southern gates were reached.

Thankfully, the horde had yet to reach the walls, but anyone could see from the unease in the air, and the panicked expressions, that there was little hope in stopping this charge.

Kunit was running like a moth to a flame. (Surya cursed how literal that thought was not even a few seconds later)

In the end, none of Surya's consideration mattered as Surya noticed Kunti running in a blind sprint towards a familiar figure who inadvertently wandered on her path.

W-What was he still doing here?

No, given the extent of Karna's capabilities and the decision to keep those he was protecting safe, there was no way Karna would not have sensed the horde of beasts approaching. He would have naturally stayed to insure that Kuru could at least defend itself. However, Karna would not have been aware of the dire state of the southern wall until now.

'Of all people she had to bump into, it had to be him.'

Surya could only watch as Kunti crashed into Karna, the taller of the two deftly stabilizing Kunti's fall and prospering her back up without injury. Hosever, this only gave time for Kunti's quick observations to note Karna's appearance.

"I-It's you," she said, seeing embers of hope rekindle.

Kunti recognized the descriptions from the report. White hair, heterochromatic eyes, and a presence that exuded a comforting heat.

If what was said about Karna and the Horned Wolves wasn't exaggerated, then if Karna cooperated with Kuru's forces, the chances of survival could increase from certainty to uncertainty.

Kunti was willing to take that gamble despite how selfish it would be to put a stranger in a position where his choice could save many or leave many for dead. It was a choice made not solely for her, but for those relying on Kuru's protection.

'No. No.'

Surya could hear the words in his mind as he noticed the expression that came over Kunti's face.

'Don't do it. Not you whose words turned into another shackle in a string of fate's curses.'

The words that forced Karna into only battling the Third Son of the Pandavas.

Surya tried to call out, to stop things before they could begin, but the woman he was competing against was Kunti.

"Please. I've heard of it, your capabilities!" Kunti bowed her head to Karna. "Please lend Kuru your strength!"

Time seemed to freeze.

Surya could only imagine the kind of audacity Karna must have been feeling, but irrespective of anything else, Surya knew the answer his son would make.

He who would give up his armor and earring at the request of a disguised Indra without hesitation.

His son was tied by vow, pride, and honor.

The Hero of Charity, boasting a generosity acknowledged on either side of a long war.

Whenever he was asked to give, he always did. Never did he say he had nothing to give, be it an item or a plea for aid.

The Golden Hero of Benefaction sharpened by crimson flame

Despite whatever reservations flickered over Karna's expression, the moment he closed his eyes and opened them, the outcome was already set.

[Lancer, regroup. Relay unit Ortlinde has made contact with-]

"One should practice what one considers one's duty…" Karna ignored Assassin's silent transmission. He would have to delay his plans with the others for a bit longer. The Dragon could wait. The Dragon's collateral damage and poisoning of the area were more of a risk to the innocent.

It shouldn't take long.

"Kuru will not fall on this day."

Karna gently sets Kunti aside while glancing at Surya's ashen expression.

In this single instance, Surya had so many things he wanted to say, to admit to, but what came through the silence was Karna's unwavering gaze.

The path he set, and the one he still walks is what guides him.

Karna began moving, irrespective of any plan Kunti was trying to persuade him with until she grew frustrated.

"W-Wait, what are you doing on your own?!" Kunti could accept Karna's noble act, but she couldn't accept recklessness when others were at equal risk of death. "I've heard that you're strong, but it's best to rally with Kuru's army and-!"

.

.

.

Karna quietly filtered out all obstructions in his mind, focusing on the endeavor before him.

Was this how it would have been like to fight as a Pandava had he not been abandoned at birth?

There were no feelings of attachment left for his original mother, rather, they were stronger for the family of charioteers who had adopted him in his youth. Nevertheless, for this moment, he'd indulge in a theoretical 'what if,' scenario.

-Karna the Eldest of the Pandavas-

A wry smile graced his lips from the irony of the thought before he refocused.

His stark figure walking through the southern wall's defense forces was impossible to remain ignorant of even in the chaos. For each step he took, the acrid scent of blood and sweat wafted up his nose, and for each measured action, the phantom echo of screams and grating metal graced his ears.

Nostalgia or reminiscence, Karna could not decide what to feel as he continued forward under the growing attention of those who noticed his advance.

Nevertheless…

Further and further still, he was moving towards the very edge of the southern wall until in a single stride, he leapt off of it and directly in the path of the charging tide of mutated beasts.

His view was met with a horde of great elephants the size of behemoths possessing armored scales, and stags with bloodshot eyes and protruding horns lined with a dripping poison.

"You fool!" Surya rushed past a shocked Kunti and right towards the edge of Kuru's southern wall.

He'd never felt his heart beating so fast, or experienced the sinking feeling in his stomach so strongly as he did now.

Clasping the edge of the wall, Surya tried to climb over, but was forced back by a guard who couldn't watch another ally commit suicide let alone the leader of the Surya Familia.

Surya glared daggers, but a glint of shimmering gold drew all attention back to Karna's descent of the wall.

Fierce whipping winds had blown off the shoddy excuse of a cloak he was wearing, and the rising heat around his body had already burned away any loose fabric aside from a tattered red cape.

A pair of metal earring clinked distinctly as Karna made his landing, followed by the manifestation of golden armor that adorned his body.

Kavacha and Kundala.

Light itself took shape, a very symbol of the Sun marking Karna as Surya's own. They were proof of birthright, and proof of heritage from the very parents who abandoned him.

How did things come to this?

Surya swallowed, thoughts coming to a halt.

A soft wind blew, the tattered cape worn on the lapels of Karna's shoulders igniting with fire as he channeled his mana.

"Life is a journey of struggle that differs for all."

Karna raised a hand, clasping at the air before a divine spear appeared in his grip as he focused on the approaching enemies. Looking more like a ginormous tipped arrow that ran the length of a spear, the appearance denoted an impossibly heavy weight that no mortal could wield. In its sealed state, only Surya knew what the spear was and even then, it was because of the visions he saw.

"Sons raised in the bosom of their parents and showered with wealth, status, and opportunity."

Striding forward, Karna began to enter a sprint while the others watched the madness of a single man charging a horde.

"Other sons left to crawl from the mud, seeking a strength so strong that one can save one's self when no one is there for you."

With a mighty heave, Karna swung the divine spear, and a swath of charging beasts vanished into clouds of blood and strewn sinew. The confused cries of pain quickly turned into a hollow silence.

"Do not hold pity, contempt, nor envy."

The charge of the approaching beasts paused as primal instinct rooted their feet to the ground in the aftermath of a single swing.

"Proper duties, rights, laws, conduct, and virtues despite all else is Dharma."

Ah, Parashurama, the guide that tutored Karna in his youth; Karna still remembered the words and the gift bestowed upon him by his teacher.

From the beginning, he had no intention of swinging his spear countless times against the beasts before him, mutated by the One-Eyed Black Dragon's draconic energy.

"O'Brahma."

The bangs of hair over Karna's right eye lifted to reveal a dazzling glow hidden within the pupil that gradually grew brighter and brighter. A torrent of flames surrounded him at the center, rising from around him and creating the blazing image of the Surya Familia in the sky.

Surya flinched at the look of wonderment that flickered across Kunti's face as she glanced at him.

"There is no mercy on the battlefield."

Karna reached a hand towards his right eye, and gently willed out what was concealed within. Like pulling on cloth, the coalescing energy poured out of Karna's eye and gathered into a glowing mass over his palm.

"Behold the immortal blade!"

That which was granted to him by the Brahmin, Parashurama!

A keening echo reverberated like a charging current of electricity. Its true form was that of a projectile denoting the concept of 'Astra,' but in Karna's hands, its form varied by class. Arrows if he was an Archer, a hidden sheath as a Saber, and in this case as a Lancer, sealed in his right eye.

"Honor will be upon you if you can endure it, destruction if you cannot!"

Having brought out the tool concealed in his pupil, Karna willed the energy to funnel and take form while the natural instinct of the mutated animals had them begin to panic.

What Karna held was an ultimate tool reeking of potent divinity that none in Surya's pantheon would fail to recognize outside of its concealed form.

A white hot chakram of light now floated at the tip of Karna's outstretched palm, the air distorting as the heat of the sun's divinity was funneled through. A sphere was formed, pulsing violently like plasma. Metal warped, and ashes began to rise from trails of billowing smoke within the vicinity.

"Cover the earth."

and become the weapon of the righteous that smites down evil.

"Brahmastra!"

A beam of incineration far larger than what Karna had revealed himself capable of against the Horned Wolves blasted out from in front of Kuru's southern walls.


('Servant Launcher')

('Servant of the Laser Beam')

-Jinako Carigiri


Thanks for reading, and thanks to my newest patrons: SZL

Next update: Birth of a Legend V2

P a treon. com (slash) Parcasious

Book links:

Fatedlegacydark. ca

The Lonely Peak

New Book: Out on Amazon (Remove dash on link)

Survivor's Log Reflection: Amazon.c-om/dp/B08VDDGN7Z?