Summary: Everything fell apart when a dark cloud descended over Rune-Midgard. Will Shujiri, Zira & co be able to stop the evil Satan Morroc and pick up the pieces or are they doomed to fail? More importantly, can they remember who they were along the way? m/m, m/f
Author's Note: This chapter comes from my dA friend, SephirothThePure, who said it was okay to add his chapters to my story since essentially we're now doing a collaboration. xD So that means I'll be reversing some of the orders of the chapters that were already posted in order to fit these in. (He'll be tackling most of the battle scenes, since they're my absolute and true weakness, so it's a necessary evil to combine it. Otherwise this story just wouldn't make much sense, since you'd be getting bits and pieces that at times seemed completely out of the blue.)
Chapter One: Shujiri Reborn
Shujiri floated serenely through the nothingness of the void. He couldn't feel his body. Indeed, it didn't exist any longer.
Huh. Is this what it's like to die? What happened to Rune-Midgard? Zira..- Where are the others? I don't understand what's going on, but I'm okay with that, I guess..
A piercing light broke through the emptiness surrounding him, and his body took on form again, outlined by the light. Are you truly ready to give up so soon, brave warrior? A female voice asked from somewhere inside his mind.
In a flash, he was suddenly standing on the ground in the middle of a beautiful garden. Flowers of every color, size and variety, including many he'd never seen before, surrounded him. Their heavenly fragrance scented the air and added to the sense of serenity and unquestionable peace. In the distance, he could see a palace made from the whitest marble he'd ever seen.
Puzzled, Shujiri pushed aside a lock of his dark blue bangs. "Valhalla?"
Turning around, Shujiri saw woman, more beautiful than any he'd ever seen before. Her long flowing hair seemed to levitate slightly, and upon further inspection Shujiri noticed that her whole body was floating. His eyes took in every inch of her body, from her feet up to her face, which he swore he knew. Suddenly he realized who he was in the presence of, and dropped to one knee.
"Milady Freya." he said reverently, bowing his head.
Freya's feet soundlessly touched the ground, and she walked over to him, her footsteps silent as they moved across the supple grass of the garden floor. Gently, she pulled his head up to look at her.
"Honestly, my child. Do you think you need to avert your eyes from me? After all you have done in the service of the gods, you have nothing to fear." Her lilting voice sent waves of soothing calm through his very soul.
"But milady, I'm an Assassin. My hands are stained with blood. I don't deserve to look at someone as pure as you."
Freya's laughter rang out like a bell across the grounds of the garden. "Don't think me so pure as to avoid taking up the sword myself. I have taken just as many lives, if not many more. When you fought, did you do so for personal gain?"
Shujiri shook his head, his long bangs falling over the left side of his face again. "No, milady. I wield my weapons for the people of Rune-Midgard - for the people I love and care about. My friends, and my guild mates." Shujiri thought a moment, then asked, "Milady, what happened to Rune-Midgard? The last thing I remember, I was fighting off monsters near Morroc and then I was floating in an endless void."
Freya nodded her head sadly. "The Rune-Midgard you speak of has fallen to the forces of evil. Perhaps one day it can be restored it to its former glory. But, it is only one of many such worlds. This is why I have brought you here, Shujiri."
Shujiri stood and tilted his head. "I'm afraid I don't understand."
Freya turned to gaze into the center of one of the nearby flowers. "The universe is comprised of many different worlds, all similar, but none identical. These worlds are all known as Rune-Midgard, but to the gods, they are distinguished with other names. The Rune-Midgard you have come from was called Void. As it's name suggests, it was closest to the void at the edge of the universe." She turned back to Shujiri. "It cannot be redeemed at this point, and so I have pulled you from that world and am sending you to a different Rune-Midgard. But I felt I owed at least one of you an explanation."
"One of...?" Shujiri shot her a questioning glance.
"I've moved the souls of many of your comrades, as well. However, most of them will have little to no memory of Void." She smiled mischievously, "In fact, only one smart-mouthed little bird will even remember that Rune-Midgard as Void. At least, to begin with."
Shujiri smiled fondly. He didn't need any other description to know Freya was referring to Pharin, his friend Ghebriel's mouthy homunculus, who had no problem telling everyone and anyone who'd listen exactly what was on his mind. Shujiri looked up at the azure sky.
"Why won't they remember, too?" he asked, confused.
Freya's face became a bit more serious, and the look in her eyes was suddenly guarded - closed off. "There are some things that must remain a secret from even you, brave warrior." she replied, her gaze falling to the flowers once more. As she inspected them, she gathered her thoughts and then continued, saying, "All will become clear to you in time, Shujiri."
After a few moments of silence. Shujiri gathered the courage to ask, "So why pull me out and explain all this to me? Surely there are other stronger and smarter warriors you could entrust with this information."
"Of course there are. And more experienced as well, I assure you." She laid a hand on his shoulder. "But you are honest and devoted to your friends and ideals. You are a born leader. By far, you are the best choice for this."
Shujiri blushed at the unexpected praise.
"Now," Freya clapped her hands together, and a whirlwind started to form around Shujiri, "I am sending you to another Rune-Midgard. You will find a few of your old friends are already there. Some may have changed a bit, and some will look exactly the same." The whirlwind gained intensity, and Shujiri struggled to keep his eyes focused on his guardian deity. "However, few of them will remember more than glimpses of their lives in Void. For some, other memories may return over time. For others, very little will be returned. One thing they will never forget, however, is the friendships you have all forged. Seek them out. They will give you strength, just as you will strengthen them." The whirlwind grew so fierce that Shujiri was forced to close his eyes as the maelstrom tore at his clothing, shredding it. He heard Freya's last words to him echo in his mind.
You will become stronger than you ever were in Void. Make me proud, my warrior.
Then the world went black.
When he awoke, Shujiri was in the middle of a town he'd never seen before. Spotting a guard, he asked where he was.
"Ah, a new adventurer, eh? Welcome to Divination! We have many amenities for novices, including a job changer, and a training room, where..."
Shujiri gradually tuned the man out as he went on to describe the architecture and history of the city. Glancing down at his clothing, he realized he was a Novice again. He tried recalling his favorite skills and found that none would come to mind. Hanging his head, he decided it was time to start training again.
To Be Continued...