Excerpt for Decaying Kingdom, Everlasting Love by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Decaying Kingdom, Everlasting Love

Copyright 2018 Albert Oon

Published by Albert Oon at Smashwords

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Prologue – The Beginnings of Embers

The Kingdom of Fornax is home to some of the most famous kings and knights. It is known to foster great people who help the rest of the world as they stand as a prime example of the best of humanity. Their children are taught the best in philosophy and in combat at a very young age so they can be wise and strong adults. At adulthood, they become productive members of society with each one of them being able to lead in their field of choice. Fornax is the only feudal system in the world that allows peasants to be kings or nobles if they can prove they have the wisdom and strength to do so.

Cinis and Favilla are two children of their parents who were able to become royalty. Cinis’ family is a lineage of knights and he follows in their ways with chivalry. Favilla’s family is a lineage of archers and farmers and she follows their ways with her cunning and problem-solving abilities. Both of these children are close since both families do business together. They are almost always together and get into trouble together almost all the time.

Unda, the most talented of all knights, has betrayed his kingdom and is escaping the kingdom. He greyed out his shield and takes his specially made red, Roseus sword and armor with him. Though many guards and knights have tried to stop him, they cannot catch him due to his agility and finesse. He manages to get to the gates but is stopped by Cinis and Favilla. Cinis is wearing his older brother’s armor and wields his brother’s sword, Ignis, like a greatsword with two hands since it’s too heavy for him. Favilla has a bunch of rocks with her since she couldn’t sneak her bow and arrows away from her family.

“Face me, traitor!” Cinis says with his sword raised high.

“Yeah!” says Favilla while throwing a rock at the knight.

Stunned by what he’s seeing, Unda says, “Out of the way Cinis and Favilla. This doesn’t concern you.”

“Of course it does! You’re the greatest of all our knights and you’re leaving us?” Cinis states.

“You’re too young to know about this, but you should leave as well. Your parents and elders aren’t telling you everything.”

“No, we’re not traitors! I’m sure they’re telling us everything we need to know. Why would they lie to us?” Favilla asks.

“Listen to me kids, I don’t have much time to talk, so you’ll just have to trust me and leave. Okay?”

Cinis and Favilla stand their ground. Cinis keeps his sword raised and Favilla throws another rock at Unda.

“You give me no choice. I’ll have to push through you.”

Cinis swings his sword at Unda who casually dodges it while Favilla keeps throwing rocks.

“You two aren’t going to stop me. Like you said, I’m the greatest of all knights in this kingdom. What chance do you have against me?”

“Together, we’re more than a challenge for you!” Cinis says while repeatedly hitting his sword against Unda’s shield.

Favilla finds a tiny pebble and throws it through the eye hole in Unda’s helmet. It blinds him temporarily so Cinis can hit Unda on the head with his sword, which knocks him down. The guards catch up to Unda, strip him of his armor, then put him in chains.

One of the guards says to the two, “You kids got lucky taking down Unda. He would’ve seriously hurt you if he didn’t still have his knight’s code of honor.”

“It wasn’t luck,” Cinis says, “We knew what we were doing and Unda underestimated us.”

“We’re smarter than we look,” Favilla adds.

“Well you are the children of royalty, so I guess I shouldn’t doubt you. I’m sure your families will reward you for your accomplishment today.”

“They better.”

“They better make us a cake bigger than us!”

“They better!”

And so Cinis’ and Favilla’s families have a little get together and reward Cinis and Favilla. Cinis is gifted Unda’s sword Roseus and is allowed to keep his brother’s sword while Favilla is given unrestricted access to her family’s bow, Lampas and allowed to go out at night with Cinis. Cinis’ father takes the two out onto the balcony and points to the setting sun.

He says, “Do you see the sun, children? See how it always burns brightly in the sky, rises then descends into the sky, only to rise again?”

“Yes, father.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You must be like the sun. You must be a source of goodness for others and what keeps them alive with the tenacity of the sun.”

“I don’t know if we’ll burn as brightly as the sun and always rise like it does.”

“What if we don’t always rise like it does?”

“It is true that even life will burn you, but you will burn more brightly than us. It is the duty of all parents to make sure that their children are wiser and stronger than the previous generation, so humanity will be better. Sanctor will be with you through it all. Let Him guide you as you grow and journey through life.”

“Yes, father.”

“I will sir.”

After a small party, the families say their goodbyes and go to their homes for the night, but the children aren’t tired. Cinis and Favilla sneak out of their parents’ houses and go to an area just outside the gates.

“Father said we should be like the sun, so let’s make some fire.”

Cinis and Favilla try different ways they’ve heard of to make fire and they manage to do so with flint and some sticks. They set up a campfire and lay underneath the moonlight together.

“What do you think is out there Cinis? We’ve never heard of what lurks beyond the horizon.”

“Father told me not to worry about it since everything we need is here.”

“My mother told me that too. I wonder why Unda would try to leave here. It’s not like him.”

“I’m sure it’s nothing. I’m fine spending my life here with you.”

“Me too.”

The two holds hands until they hear something rustling the grass in the darkness.

“Do you hear that? Something smells around here. It isn’t you, is it?” Favilla asks.

“No. There might be a dog out here.”

Soft whimpering comes from the grass and the darkness carries with it a crying baby’s face. Multiple crying baby faces come from the darkness until they form a singular being with a body made of darkness that has four legs. The monster then begins to loudly cry. It’s an inamatus, a monster of decay born from the souls of infants that either died in the mother or was discarded after birth. It is an unloved being that forms together with others such as it. It is known to kidnap and devour children who are loved by their family as an act of jealousy when these children are alone. Cinis and Favilla light sticks on fire and try to burn it and end up lighting the field of grass on fire. This attracts the attention of guards on the wall who see the inamatus. They bring holy water and holy icons to dispel the creature, put out the fire, and bring Cinis and Favilla to safety. Once they do so, they begin to create flyers to pray for the unloved children as this is the only way to get rid of an inamatus completely.

Cinis says, “Let’s get home before-”

Cinis’ and Favilla’s parents yell their names then smack their butts publicly. They are disciplined by their parents on the dangers of using fire and going out the kingdom’s walls at night. This is a lesson they won’t forget anytime soon.











Chapter 1 – Becoming Fire

Four reformers enter a bar to convert people to their ways until Cinis and Favilla enter the bar and open the doors on them. They are now young adults who are well older not only in age but also in wisdom and experience.

“Sorry fellas,” Cinis says with a grin.

Favilla grins at them as well as the two take a seat at the bar and order two large drinks.

One of the reformers says, “I know you two. If you two will lend us your ear, the kingdom will be better than it ever was.”

Favilla says, “We know your message. That’s why we’re here.”

The reformers know what this means so they take out their staffs and ready themselves for battle. Cinis and Favilla throw their unopened drinks at two of the reformers, which knocks them out. Both Cinis and Favilla take out the other two with chairs.

“Sorry about the mess,” Cinis says as he puts a big tip on the table.

Favilla puts a reformer in a chokehold with her bow and asks, “Tell us where the rest of you troublemakers are, and I promise we’ll lessen your prison sentence.”

“I’ll never speak!”

Cinis knocks the man out then says, “Everyone here can have what’s on them. Just don’t tell the guards we told you so.”

The couple leave the bar.

“That’s the fourth place we’ve hit today and we’ve yet to discover anything,” Favilla states.

“At least we got the cool entrance this time. We even managed to land the throws this time too,” Cinis points out.

“You got a point there, but this group of reformers is causing too much trouble for us not to get rid of them quickly.”

“You’re right. We might as well rest for a bit then try some other place.”

As Cinis and Favilla walk through town, they see people putting up posters made by the reformers and guards arresting some of the more radical members. Even though this nameless reformer group has just emerged, they are causing strife in the kingdom. The reformers want the kingdom to be separated or at least to accept a prophecy that they spread. A prophesy that the world is rotting away and that it is best to be part of the rot rather than fight against it. As such, the reformers put out lights at night and fill the city with filth in order to get people used to what is supposedly going to happen. A time of darkness and decay.

Cinis and Favilla sit on a park bench where there aren’t that many people so they can be semi-alone for a bit.

“Cinis.”

“What is it Favilla?”

“Do you think we’ll ever see what lurks beyond this kingdom? Everyone we know that goes beyond it never comes back.”

“I don’t see why we would want to. Everything we could ever want is here.”

“But don’t you ever imagine what’s out there?”

“I do imagine what’s out there every now and then, but I doubt our parents will send us out there or even allow us to go out there just to see.”

“I would like just to have a taste of it someday. Would you join me?”

“I’ll join you wherever you go.”

Cinis and Favilla smile at each other. Cinis sees two reformers beyond Favilla. The two appear to be sneaking into an alley.

“Look over there, Favilla. I think we got two troublemakers.”

Favilla looks over just in time to see the two.

“Two troublemakers indeed. How about we give them some trouble?”

Cinis and Favilla silently follow the two reformers in the alleyway until they come to a secret basement that leads to a hideout full of reformers. They appear to be getting ready for a raid on the city with weapons and tools of decay.

“Man, this place stinks,” Cinis says with his nose pinched.

A large mouse runs between their legs to escape the room.

“And it’s full of trash. Not even the vermin like it here,” Favilla says with both of her hands covering her mouth and nose.

“Both literal and human trash?”

“Obviously.”

“Let’s take them out then quickly get washed.”

“You could say that again.”

Cinis and Favilla bust into the room, which scares all of the reformers.

“Who are you two?!” one of them says as they scramble for their weapons.

Cinis says, “We’re Cinis and Favilla.”

“The couple who brings down losers like you,” Favilla continues.

“Who burns trash like you.”

“Prepare for trouble.”

“And make it double.”

The couple fight the reformers in the room who try to use their numbers against them.

“You like rot and decay so much? Why don’t you wear it?!” Cinis uses the trash to blind the reformers and Favilla does the same.

The reformers get sick and stop fighting.

“If you don’t like it, then why fight for it?” Favilla asks them.

“Because they gave us a home when no one else would!” one of them says.

Another tells the couple, “We’re poor and we couldn’t make it in the world. Who else would give us a chance?”

“How about the many poor houses and churches? They offer you the chance to start again or did you want something more?” Cinis says.

“Our families started from nothing until they became royalty after the course of one generation,” Favilla adds.

“We won’t tell the guards anything if you clean up this place and your act.”

“W-we will! Thank you for your mercy,” one of them says and the rest of them agree.

“Then if you don’t mind, can you tell us what the reformers are planning.”

“A group of them left the kingdom and are coming back with an army of decay. I don’t know if they’ll find it or be granted power from the decay, but they seemed convinced they will succeed.”

“Thank you and don’t get involved in any more cults.”

“We won’t. Thank you again! We’ll get to work immediately.”

Cinis and Favilla inform the authorities of what is happening after they shower. The three kings of the three sectors of the kingdom bring their forces together and set them to defend the walls of the city. Some of their armies are stationed outside the walls while others are put directly on top of them with other guards stationed inside the city. Priest and nuns pray for the safety of the troops along with other civilians. Cinis and Favilla join the forces outside of the walls because of their skills though they are stationed near the gates.

A watcher in one of the wall’s towers says, “I see an army in the distance! Ready yourselves!”

In the distance, it seems that soldiers on horses are charging at the city. When the army gets closer, their true appearance is clear. The people in approaching are dead and decay is using their bodies to go to attack Fornax. Their approach is combined with the darkening of the already dark night, which makes it seem like all the light in the land is being sucked away by their presence. People who have their bodies taken over by decay are called hollows because of their hollowed bodies, the disgusting decay that’s on their body, and their putrid smell. The soldiers of Fornax light their weapons on fire and others bless them as enchantments are the best weapons to kill hollows with.

Archers from the wall unleash a barrage of fire arrows that destroys a seemingly huge part of the hollow army, but more is coming. Despite the constant barrage of arrows and number of hollows destroyed, a sizable force meets the Fornax’s soldiers at the gates and both armies clash. When a human solider falls to a hollow, they themselves become hollow and fight against their comrades. This, along with the thousands of hollows, forces Fornax’s soldiers to retreat. The gates are open and some of the soldiers retreat while others cover them. Cinis and Favilla are among the people covering the retreat though that isn’t the only reason they’re still outside the gates.

“Hurry up Cinis and Favilla! There’s not much else we can do!” one of the knights say.

“We can’t leave every out here to die!” Cinis says.

“We’ll be the last ones in. Just get out of here!” Favilla adds.

As Cinis and Favilla get every inside, the gates close on them.

“What are you doing?! Cinis and Favilla are still out there!” one of the knights say.

“I didn’t know! I thought everyone was inside! I’m under pressure here!”

Cinis and Favilla are facing the hollow army alone outside the gates.

“I’m out of arrows Cinis!”

“I’m at my limit here too Favilla!”

“Let’s go out kicking and screaming, then shall we?!”

“Let’s!”

Favilla takes hold of Cinis’ two swords along with him and the two swords light up and become one towering sword. A sword that’s as big as a bell tower and the hollows are stunned by it. They hold the radiant towering sword up to the sky like a beacon of hope.

“What’s happening?”

“I don’t know. I thought you were doing something.”

“Well let’s use this power we are granted…”

The couple bring the towering sword down together as they say, “And tear our enemies asunder!”

Their combined strike shakes the earth and cracks it. Light comes out from the cracks and devours the hollow army until none are left. The sun then rises as all of the Kingdom of Fornax cheer in victory. Cinis and Favilla are honored for their victory with a huge celebration and all three kings of Fornax bow to them along with the rest of the kingdom. As their parents would say, these embers have become fire.

















Chapter 2 – The Devil in I

Fornax is separated into three sectors just like how Sanctor is three personalities; justice, familial, and wonder. Fornax is separated by their denominations; universal, orthodox, and the ninety-five. The universal is the largest and oldest part of the kingdom and is headed by an elected king-priest. The orthodox is the denomination that focuses on philosophy and the personal experiences of the world in connection to Sanctor. Last, but not least is the ninety-five. This denomination is full of people who are encouraged to be leaders and checks on the other two denominations. Three kings rule over these sectors but act as three heads who need to act in unison for one singular kingdom.

Right now, there are arguments and talk among the sectors because of the previous attack. Some are saying Fornax should go to war with the decay, others are saying they should fortify the kingdom, a good portion is suggesting unity with other kingdoms to fight the decay, and another portion says that the kingdom will be fine now because the reformers are gone. This has created tensions between the sectors to point where violence breaks out when things get too heated. Some of the people with the most influence in all sectors have disappeared without a trace, which only escalates tensions. Despite their new position in the kingdom, Cinis and Favilla take the job of finding these members of the sectors and finding out why they disappeared.

“Let me remind you two that just because you are known as heroes, it doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to do whatever you want however you want,” a high-ranking officer says to them before they leave.

“Yes, sir,” both of them say with their fingers crossed behind their back.

The couple goes to the large church of the universals. Outside the church, there’s a large crowd arguing with clergy members while city guards watch them. This distraction allows them to sneak into the empty church. The couple fiddle around in the church offices until Cinis pulls a book that feels more like a lever. It opens a passageway underneath the head priest’s desk that leads to a hidden basement.

“Good job Cinis. How did you know that would work?”

“I didn’t.”

“Ha! At least we found something interesting.”

Cinis and Favilla go into the basement and find a library of old church teachings, letters, scripture translation, and such. Nothing here is incriminating for the universal church. The two get out of the basement and put things back to the way they were before they see two priests walking into the church. They hide and listen in to their conversation.

“Sanctor, grant us patience with these people, am I right brother?”

“You’re right about that. What happened to the brothers we sent to the orthodox and ninety-five?”

“I don’t know. It’s been a couple days since we heard from them.”

“We actually heard something from them?”

“We did, and it wasn’t good news. Our brothers were talking about people in the other sectors taking over our portion of the kingdom.”

“Now why would our other brothers and sisters do that?”

“I don’t know. There shouldn’t be any cause to worry until we hear more.”

“Tell that to other churches. I was wondering why they were strengthening their ties.”

“They’re just paranoid. Let them do what they wish while we calm the crowds.”

“Back into the fire then.”

After the priests leave, Cinis and Favilla go to the orthodox sector of the kingdom.

“Where do you think we can find a place for information?” Favilla asks.

“Probably the most expensive looking building.”

“Probably.”

Cinis and Favilla go to the most expensive looking church building to see that guards are breaking up a fight outside of it. They then go into the building to find it full of people conducting a normal mass. They use the shadows of the church to sneak into the back of the church. In the back, they find a tunnel underneath a church that appears to be a fire escape of some sorts.

Cinis whispers, “Big creepy tunnel? There has to be something down here.”

Favilla picks up and lights a torch as she says, “Hopefully nothing too bad.”

The couple travel down the underground maze without finding much. Cinis tries to find a hidden switch like he did last time but doesn’t find anything. The two then see a light coming down the tunnel and find a small passageway to hide in. Favilla puts out the torch. They can hear the people with a torch talking as their voices echo. It seems like there are at least three people.

“Hey!” Favilla whispers as she slaps Cinis’ hand, “Watch your hands!”

“Did you see that?”

“It’s probably one of our guards. We’ve got them patrolling these tunnels daily.”

“When do you think one of the sectors is going to have a sit down with us? They haven’t even sent one of their brothers yet.”

“And we haven’t heard from one of ours that went to there’s yet.”

“They’re probably indifferent to what’s happening.”

“The universals might be, but I’m not sure about the ninety-five.”

“What makes you say that?”

“They were always hypocrites in my opinion.”

“Well, what are we going to do? Are we just going to keep controlling the crowds or go to each sector ourselves?”

“We should prepare for the worst.”

“Yes, we already have other brothers and sisters listening in to what the other sectors are planning. If we have to take drastic action, we will.”

The three then go quiet for a few minutes, so it appears that they’re finished talking. Cinis and Favilla are trying to feel their way out of the tight spot they’re in.

“Man, it’s so dark in here,” Cinis complains.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” Favilla whispers back.

“I don’t think purple is the best color for you.”

“What?! It’s my favorite color and you’ve always said I look pretty in it!”

“You look pretty in everything. I just don’t think that purple is the best color.”

“Why didn’t you say so?”

“What am I going to say? You don’t look pretty? You would’ve killed me if I said that.”

“True.”

“Then what do you suggest I should’ve said.”

“I think you should’ve said-”

Cinis and Favilla fall down a hidden hole. Cinis holds onto Favilla and breaks the fall for her as they land in a sewer.

“Thanks,” Favilla says as she holds onto Cinis, “Don’t let go of me! I’m not ruining another outfit.”

“And my light armor doesn’t matter?”

“It can be more easily cleaned than what I have.”

As Cinis and Favilla find a way out of the sewers, they see two pieces of a letter floating down from one of the grates above. Favilla catches it and reads it.

“It’s a letter talking about how some people are going to get the three sectors to fight each other. They’re saying the plan is going as planned and something should be happening tonight.”

“We should inform the authorities before checking up on the ninety-five.”

“And you should bathe before we go. You stink.”

“And so do you.”

Cinis plunges Favilla into the sewage water for a quick second before lifting her up again. Favilla has a livid expression on her face and her fists are clenched.

“Hey, you would do the same.”

“Point taken, but you’re still paying for this!”

“You’re still the prettiest girl I know.”

“Complimenting me will get you nowhere.”

Cinis and Favilla inform the authorities of what’s happening and bathe before they go out to check on the ninety-five. Messengers are dispatched to spread the message to every sector, so no further fighting will happen between the sectors.

“Let’s not make getting dirty a thing for every assignment,” Favilla says.

“You got that right,” Cinis agrees.

The area around a ninety-five’s church is calm and collected as a messenger has reached them before Cinis and Favilla could get there. A head-nun sees the two and walks to them.

She says, “Cinis and Favilla, thank Sanctor you’re here. I’m here to tell you that the ninety-five harbor no ill intentions towards our brothers and sisters from the other sectors.”

“How can we be sure you’re telling the truth?” Favilla asks.

“I am one of the heads of the ninety-five and I watch over everything that’s said and planned.”

“I guess we’ll have to take you on your word then,” Cinis says, “But what is your opinion on what’s happening right now?”

“I know the other sectors mean well, but they do slip every now and then. That’s where we come in. The ninety-five keep the other two in check as they keep us in check as well.”

Some of the priests and nuns around them transform into hollow-looking goats who attack the people around them. Cinis and Favilla along with the surrounding guards and armed civilians fight them. Fighting is then heard throughout the rest of town. They try to clear as much of the sector they are in as possible, but it seems that the hollows have somehow infiltrated the kingdom to the point where animals are affected by the decay and become hollows as well.

A messenger comes to them and says, “We managed to find out that certain members of the clergy from each sector were plotting to give the city over to decay through the powers of Senium. Once they knew we had them figured out, they decided to attack us despite not turning the sectors against each other as they planned.”

“Senium!” a captain guard exclaims, “Blasted devil, Prince of all Decay! Cinis, Favilla! You two got us out of the last sticky situation. Do you have anything now?”

The couple has been praying with their eyes closed and open them when they have an idea.

Cinis says, “The sun’s rays purify the world every day.”

“Then let its fire cleanse the kingdom of all decay.”

Cinis and Favilla hold hands while holding Favilla’s bow and shoot a single arrow up into the sun that’s directly above them. After a few passing seconds, fire pours down from the sun onto the kingdom. It burns away the rot and decay but doesn’t harm the kingdom itself nor the people in it nor the animals and plant life. Once all rot and decay are gone, the fire subsides, and the sun shines brightly in the sky. The kingdom cheers for Cinis and Favilla and honors them as the wielders of fire they are.

“I hope this fire cleansed that outfit you dirtied,” Favilla says.

“Are you honestly still upset about that?” Cinis says with a sigh.

“Yes.”

“Pfft…women.”

“What?!”

“Love you.”

“I love you too. Now go and buy me another outfit.”

“And I’ll take you out to dinner as well. How’s the restaurant with a balcony view of the sunset sound?”

“You know exactly what I want.”

“Of course I do.”

Chapter 3 – Vices

Things are truly simmering down in Fornax with both external and internal threats dealt with. The three kings and sectors can now peacefully debate on what they should do next, which gives Cinis and Favilla some downtime. Politics isn’t exactly their thing even though they were taught to be involved in it. Their new and improved positions allow them to disregard their parents’ advice, but not be scolded for doing so. Regardless, they walk the kingdom’s streets to find somewhere to relax.

“Where do you think we should go?” Cinis asks.

“I know a perfect place, which is at the top of one of the universal’s churches. It has a nice garden roof that we can spend some time at, but first, we have to eat lunch first.”

“It’s brunch. We haven’t eaten breakfast.”

“You can call it whatever you want as long as you pay for it.”

“Of course.”

What Cinis and Favilla don’t know, is that there are two agents of decay who have snuck into Fornax to eliminate them. Since the decay has a hive mind, they’re able to seamlessly give each other information. The couple picks out an outside restaurant that they like going to. One of the nearby stores has a sale on bracelets and accessories.

“I’m going to quickly go see what they have,” Favilla says.

“And I’ll wait here, but whatever you get, it comes out of your pocket.”

“That’s fine. You’ve already given me tons of gifts.”

“Exactly. I’ll wait here for our food to come out and call you over when it’s here.”

“Thanks.”

Favilla kisses Cinis on the head before heading off. One of the agents of decay uses this opportunity to draw Cinis away from Favilla so she can kill him.

“Mind if I sit here for a second,” she says, “I’m a bit tired from walking.”

“Go ahead. You’ll have to leave when my girlfriend gets back though,” Cinis responds.

“That’s fine.”

Cinis looks at the woman to see a beautiful maiden. She has blond hair, perfectly smooth skin, a pink dress, blue eyes, a beauty mark on her face, and lots of makeup. Despite her beauty, Cinis can’t help but feel that there’s something odd about her face. He looks away so if Favilla comes back, she won’t suspect him of ogling at her.

“You’re Cinis, aren’t you?”

“That I am. Are you a fan?”

“I am. Do you always carry your two swords with you?”

“Yes, because they give me a sense of pride and I’ll never know when trouble will appear.”

“That’s true, especially with these times. Why aren’t you looking at me?”

“I’m seeing what Favilla is doing,” he says as he can barely see her in the store.

“I’m not a fan of her.”

“Why’s that?”

“Don’t you think she’s a spoiled brat? You seem like a loyal man, so you must buy her stores of gifts.”

“That’s right. I do buy her stores of gifts. Is there something wrong with that?”

“There is if she takes advantage of you.”

“I’m sure she’s not,” he says with a sour expression as if he doesn’t believe what he’s saying.

“Why don’t you walk me home? I’m not that far from here. You’ll be back before your girlfriend comes back.”

“I’m sorry, but I told her I’ll wait here.”

“But I’m a fan. I thank you every day and honor your name among the heroes of this kingdom.”

“I thank you for that, but I have to stay here. How about I sign something for you so you’ll have something to remember our meeting by? A waiter must have a quill pen around here. Huh?”

The agent disappears after seeing that she wasn’t getting anywhere with Cinis.

“What are you looking for Cinis?” Favilla says as she walks back empty-handed.

“One of my fans was here. I wonder where she went.”

“You have fans? I wonder where mine are.”

“I’m sure they’re around here somewhere.”

“You think so?”

“Who wouldn’t be a fan of an archer who shot an arrow at the sun and made it pour down cleansing fire?”

“Well, who wouldn’t be a fan of a knight who put two swords together and made one towering army destroying light sword?”

“I think we’re both pretty great.”

“Me too.”

After eating brunch, Cinis and Favilla travel to the universal church with a garden rooftop, but since it’s quite a far distance away, they decide to make a couple stops. One of the stops is a small street celebration for the recent victories the kingdom has had. Cinis and Favilla find a few of their fans and show off their skills to them. A selection of Favilla dolls catch Favilla’s attention and she checks them out. An agent of decay has made them to get her attention.

“Do you like them? I made them myself.”

“Thank you for making them. I wonder if someone made dolls of Cinis too. Can you make them?”

“Possibly, but they probably won’t be as popular as the Favilla dolls.”

“Probably, but I’d still like to give one to Cinis and his parents. They’d love it.”

“Why are you still with Cinis? I’m sure the man is tired of buying you things.”

“I’m sure of that. I cool down every now and then because I know he tries to keep me happy.”

“I can do more. If you want the kingdom or even the world, then you can have it if you lend me your ear.”

“I might want a lot, but I don’t want that much. Thanks for the offer.”

Favilla puts the doll of herself down back where it was and finds Cinis. She leads him to where the dolls were, but they’ve disappeared along with the agent of decay. Children dressed in Cinis and Favilla outfits find the couple and shower them with praise and ask for their signatures. A small, shy girl walks up to Cinis and gives him a doll of himself as a gift. Favilla gets jealous and looks around to see if she can find the stand where the Favilla dolls were. Cinis then makes a Favilla doll with the help of the little girl. It’s not as well made since they made it in a short amount of time, but Favilla loves it anyways.

After enjoying themselves at the small celebration, the couple leaves to go to their original destination until they get sidetracked again by a group of knights are sparing in a large public space with gates around them. Cinis leaps into the ring to show off to Favilla. What he and the other knights don’t know, is that one of the knights is an extra member and an agent of decay. After humiliating three knights, Cinis faces off against him.

He uses two knives against Cinis’ two swords. Both fight using mostly offense and counter attacks. The agent of decay is fighting for real and tries to kill Cinis.

“Hey watch it, man. We’re just sparing,” Cinis says.

“Oh, is the mighty Cinis of a real challenge?” the agent says back.

“It’s on then!”

Cinis fights for real and every knick and small cuts is a deep cut for the agent of decay since Cinis’ blades are infused with fire and light. He kneels to Cinis and gives in and quickly runs to away to try to heal but becomes dust in an alley. Meanwhile, people cheer for Cinis’ victory. Favilla enters the ring to congratulate him and kisses him. The two embrace and kiss in front of the crowd then Cinis thanks the knights for the honor of fighting and the crowd for the honor they give him.

After that small distraction, they are distracted again by a victory parade accompanied by a crowd who’s following them. The couple stands by the side and watches the parade pass by. An agent of decay stands just behind Favilla.

She says, “It’s been a great day, hasn’t it?”

“It has. Have you been following us? Are you a fan?” Favilla says.

“Sort of a fan. I’ve been following you and I’ve noticed your style.”

“Do you like my fashion sense? Cinis always says I look beautiful?”

“But does he really mean it?”

“He better.”

“Don’t you think you’d look better with a little makeup on?”

“What? Did my mom send you? I don’t like wearing it. Cinis says I look better than all of the other girls who wear makeup and I agree with him. Girls who wear makeup are ashamed of their natural looks in my opinion.”

The agent feels a bit insulted, but she continues talking, “I could help you look even more beautiful than all of the women in the kingdom. You’ll be even more beautiful than the flowers in the king’s garden and the women who model for clothing in paintings.”

“Thank you, but I’m fine with the way I look.”

“Are you sure? This is a one time opportunity.”

“Cinis, what do you think about the way I look?”

“You’re the most beautiful woman in this kingdom. There’s no one here that can compare to you. Why?”

“I just needed to hear that again. So yeah, I…”

Favilla turns around to see that the woman has disappeared. The agent leaves the kingdom as she has no more tricks up her sleeve. Plus, she already knows the strength and miracle capabilities of Cinis and Favilla. Now that they’ve finally reached the roof garden, they take in the midafternoon sun, lean on each other, and hold hands.

“Cinis-” “Favilla-”

They stop and laugh a bit as they’ve said each other’s names first.

“No, you first,” they say together again.

“No, you.”

“Cinis…Don’t get me-”

“Fine. Things happened today that made me feel like I’m not truly worthy for you.”

“What are you talking about? It’s me who should be telling you this.”

“Wait, what are you talking about?”

“I’m sorry if I come across as self-absorbed and needy. I’m just obsessed with you giving me love and attention.”

“I should be the one admitting to that. I was the one who showed off the most and drew in the crowds at the sparing fight. I wanted to impress you with all of it and reassure you that I’m the man you want and need.”

“You don’t need to impress me. Nothing you do will make me love you more or less than I already do.”

“It’s good to know that…I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“But I love you more.”

“No, I love you more.”

The two go back and forth until they laugh then kiss. They spend the rest of the day in peaceful bliss with each other with the reminder of the love they have for each other.














Chapter 4 – Lionheart with a Burning Soul

Senium, the Prince of Decay, comes up with a plan to destroy all of Fornax.

“Because they draw power from the sun, we will blot it out,” he says to his minions.

He creates a dark cloud that constantly covers the sun. An army of hollowed men and animals assault the kingdom’s walls once the sun is fully covered. The knights and guards at the walls try to hold off the army while the kings and generals come up with a plan. They talk about moving civilians out of the city so they don’t get caught up in the fighting, but the kingdom is completely surrounded. Though the sun is blocked by a cloud, they can still fight against the hollowed army, but then again, there’s too many as the lands around Fornax is littered with hollows as if all of them are here today. The kings and generals try to mix these two plans together to come up with a solution but can’t manage to come up with something that won’t cost the lives of hundreds of thousands to succeed.

Before they can decide, a messenger comes in to tell them that the walls surrounding the city have fallen. Everyone in the meeting room says a prayer before getting their weapons and fighting alongside their troops. Cinis and Favilla are among the troops inside the kingdom fighting against the decay until they realize that they are outnumbered. Favilla as already tried to shoot an arrow at the cloud to try to remove it, but nothing happened. They tried to combine Cinis’ sword together, but that didn’t work either. The couple takes a quiet moment to reflect and come to an answer that requires faith.

They say together, “The fire within our souls burn brighter and hotter than the sun, therefore, we light our weapons with it.”

Cinis and Favilla pierce their chest with their weapons and the weapons along with their bodies light up not only with fire but also with Holy Light.

They then say, “Put your faith in Sanctor and let Him fight alongside us.”

When Cinis swipes his swords the light and flames reach beyond the blade. Favilla no longer needs to use her arrows because she can conjure arrows of light and fire from the bow itself. The arrows reach a far distance and hail upon the enemy when she fires them up into the air. Their light and fire dispel the rot and decay that infests the town and rapidly spreads throughout the town. The army of hollows retreats as the fire and light come alive to turn them to dust. Cinis and Favilla lead the charge as the army of Fornax is reinvigorated and are given the same blessings the couple has. Once they reach the destroyed gates of the kingdom, Cinis and Favilla put all they have in their next attack.

As they charge their attack, they say in unison, “Darkness can never overcome the light nor can evil overcome good. Let us light up the world as Sanctor lit up the universe with one, singular action.”

Cinis sticks both of his blades into the earth, which lights up the land as bright as the sun while Favilla unleashes a barrage of arrows that rain down from the stars. This dispels the remaining hollows in the area and once everything settles, the dust of the hollows creates flowers and plant life where there was once death. The kingdom thinks it has achieved victory until a gray, skeletal, serpent dragon of decay comes out of the cloud that was blocking the sun.

“There’s always more,” Cinis says.

“And we’ve always got more than they do,” Favilla says as they ready themselves.

“I’m positive you have more than they do.”

“I’m not talking about my collections of gifts you gave me.”

“I know.”

Favilla shoots a barrage of arrows at the dragon while Cinis slashes waves of burning light at it. It dodges the barrage and lifts the couple into the air. They land on the dragon as it comes for them. Favilla is almost eaten by it but managed to use her legs to catch herself at the tip of the dragon’s mouth. Cinis lands on the body and cuts off its wings. Favilla shoots three arrows into the dragon’s mouth, which makes its skeletal inside burst with light. Cinis and Favilla fall from the dragon with Cinis holding Favilla as they fall to the earth. Since the fall wasn’t that high, Cinis and Favilla are mostly unharmed when they land though Cinis’ armor is damaged.

The dark cloud disappears from the sky and the sun shines brightly once again. Senium is outraged and starts another plan from scratch. Cinis and Favilla are given crowns as they have achieved the highest honor imaginable through their recent heroics. What were once embers then fire is now a blazing light that rivals the sun.

After the crowning ceremony is done, Favilla asks Cinis, “Now that we’ve gotten these positions, do you think we can cause trouble without getting in trouble with our parents?”

“We should be able to,” he says as both of them deviously grin.

The two then try to pull a few pranks on the people at the celebration and be jokers but are quickly reprimanded by their parents who slap them upside the head. They are reminded this night that their parents will always have some kind of power over them despite their position of power in the world.






Chapter 5 – Venturing Far Beyond the Horizon

As the kingdom is being rebuilt and dead are honored, Cinis and Favilla are sent far from Fornax by their parents and the authorities. They are sent to eliminate a creature of decay that’s been causing trouble for the scouts that Fornax sends out to reach other kingdoms. They are given a map to guide them to the location of the beast along with a small supply of food as the trip will be long. They are also told to camp at night because it can be dangerous to move around at night. The couple agrees without question and heads out on horseback around midafternoon.

Along the way to their destination, Favilla asks Cinis, “Do you think that we agreed too easily to accepting this task?”

“Probably. This is the first time we’re outside the kingdom and it feels immensely freeing. Don’t you agree?”

“I do. What do you think this creature is like?”

“It must be dangerous if they want us to go after it. It could be as dangerous as the dragon or even worse.”

“I can’t imagine worse, but I’d like to.”

“That dragon was no match for us.”

“Heh, who or what is?”

“I know, right?”

As Cinis and Favilla make their way through the lands, they comment on the beauty of it all until they come to a point where they see nothing but decay. There is not a plant or animal that lives past the kingdom’s borders. The map they have doesn’t show or mention the rot that they are now seeing. The couple also notes at how the sun seems to shine dimmer here. They make small talk about it but ignore it for the most part.

“Do you think Fornax will be fine without us?” Favilla asks.

“I’m sure it will,” Cinis answers, “Why wouldn’t it be?”

“We’re the ones who saved it multiple times. I’m not sure if any of the knights or soldiers there can do what we did.”

“They weren’t trained like we were, so I see what you’re worried about. I still don’t think they’re going to be attacked anytime soon after our victory.”

“But don’t you think that because the walls are down, that the decay will take advantage of their lack of defense?”

“If you’re so worried about it, then let’s get this assignment done faster.”

“Let’s get it done. We’ll make short work of our target.”

“Now isn’t that obvious?”

Eventually, Cinis and Favilla find the location of the creature and leave their horses by a nearby tree as they hunt for their target. They find strange hoof marks on the ground and follow them to see the creature. It has the head of a white horse, the right arm of a lion, the left arm is a snake, the body of a bear, and the hooves of a goat. It sleeps in a pile of hollow’s dust with decayed trees surrounding it. When the couple get closer, its ears perk up and it awakens. It roars like an elephant before attacking them. It’s fast, agile, and hits hard with its hooves. It also tries to use its head as a ram, its claws, and its snake arm, which appears to have a mind of its own. Cinis cuts off its snake arm first as Favilla shoots arrows into the creature’s horse head to disorient it. This allows Cinis to cut at the creature’s heels to stop it from moving the finishes it with a dual stab to the head.

“Well that was something else,” Favilla says as she picks the many arrows she put into the creature’s head.

“But we didn’t even need to our special abilities. This thing doesn’t even seem like it’s a threat to the kingdom since it was just sleeping here in the dust.”

“Maybe our parents know something about it that we don’t.”

“Whatever the case is, we better make it back to them.”

“Yeah. I’m still worried about them.”

“Me too a bit.”

The couple travels far before realizing they can’t make it back since it’s getting really dark out. More dark than usual. Since they don’t want to upset their parents by coming home at dark, they set up camp and eat the food they were given as they sit under the night which curiously doesn’t have any lit-up stars in it.

“I’m kind of upset that I can’t see any stars tonight,” Favilla says.

“Why?”

“Because they’re beautiful to look at and they’re fun to look at with another.”

“They don’t compare to your beauty.”

“Well, they don’t compare to your handsomeness.”

“Does that mean you just want to stare at each other for the rest of the night?”

“We might as well.”

The couple stares at one another with smiles as they try not to laugh. Cinis kisses Favilla as they finally burst out laughing from staring so deeply into each other’s eye.

“Hey, do you remember that song or poem that your parents taught us?”

“I do. You don’t want to sing it, do you?”

“I was thinking about that since no one is around here to judge our singing voices. I think it’ll help lighten this dreary place.”

“Okay then, but I’ll still be judging you.”

“Dang, haha.”

Cinis and Favilla hold each other’s hand as they sing together.

I'll always be with you


Don't live the lie of your weakness

Fight the pain within your soul

Take my hand and I'll lead you to victory

You are my treasure, mocked and discarded by others,

But I can see your true value and it is more valuable than gold


You are my everything

Though you are broken

You are my invaluable treasure

Though you fall

I will love you forever despite it all


Don't give in to what they say

They'll tear you apart till nothing is left

Follow my voice

Take my hand

And I will lead you to eternal happiness


You are my love

Though you doubt me

You are the beauty of the world

Though they say you're ugly

I will never let you go despite it all


Discarded Treasure

Left to a dying world

Let me give you all of me

Because you are more than your faults

Because you are more valuable than the treasures of the world


Because...

Because...

Because most of all...Because I love you”

The two kiss each other after singing.

“How well was my singing?” Cinis asks.

“It was okay…,” Favilla says.

“You trailed off there.”

“Pfft.”

“I’d say you were okay too…if you didn’t sound like a dying horse.”

“What?! Well, you sounded like an old dog!”

“You know I thought someone with a beautiful face would have a beautiful voice, but I was wrong and that’s all I’ll say. Goodnight.”

“No, you’re not going to sleep until you tell me the truth!”

“I was telling the truth.”

“Stop messing with me! I know you’re kidding with me.”

“Then go to sleep.”

“Tell me something different then.”

“I’ll never let you go and I’ll always love you.”

“That’s better.”

“Even if you have a terrible singing voice.”

“Cinis!”

Favilla and Cinis play fight with each other before tiring themselves out with Favilla falling asleep on Cinis. They hold each other as they sleep near the campfire.











Chapter 6 – Coal for the Fire

Once Cinis and Favilla wake up, they get up and travel back home. The sky strangely looks only slightly brighter even though it should be morning. As the couple keeps traveling, they notice that the terrain doesn’t change as the only thing they see around them is rot and decay. Though they can see the sun, it seems to have dimmed and greyed. Even the horses seem worried and a bit sick. Eventually, they see Fornax in the distance covered in rot.

“Oh no,” Cinis says as he and Favilla make their horses hurry along.

They make it to the fallen walls of Fornax before their horses collapse due to exhaustion. Rot takes them over, so Cinis and Favilla put them down. The entire kingdom is filled with hollowed humans and animals with no normal people in sight. Cinis and Favilla try to power up their weapons, but only get a slight buff in them. Favilla is at least able to conjure arrows, so she doesn’t need to worry about running out.

“This isn’t much for what’s ahead of us,” Favilla says.

“It’s good enough,” Cinis says as he charges ahead.

The couple doesn’t worry about clearing out each sector of the kingdom as all appears to be lost. They head back to where their parents are supposed to be. Along the way, they are chased by every hollow in the kingdom though that doesn’t stop them from reaching the command center of the Fornax, which is one of the biggest castles in the kingdom. There they barricade the doors before searching for their parents inside. Hollows infest the halls of the castle and some of them are faces that they remember. The two eventually come to the throne room where they see empty armor sets and clothes that their family members would wear along with sword on the ground. What happened here is obvious to Cinis and Favilla as they try to contain their sadness. A note among the hollow dust catches Cinis’ attention. He reads it to Favilla.

“We’re sorry for lying to you our children, Cinis and Favilla. We sent you out so you wouldn’t need to fight needlessly against our inevitable demise. We were the only kingdom left on earth and there aren’t many people left out there. Things may seem hopeless now, but the light of hope still burns. There is a passageway here in this castle that leads to the center of the earth. Go down there and reignite the flame that will burn away the rot and decay of this world. It will also ignite the sun and its radiant light. We kept this from you so that you could train your skills and mind to be strong enough to complete this task. Remember, that no matter how dim and cold things may get, your fire will never fade away. I know you’ll make it through this. We all love you.”

“Why couldn’t they tell us this?” Favilla asks.

“Because we probably would’ve just stayed here. It also seems like they knew it would end this way eventually. I guess they didn’t want us to see them die or they didn’t want us to go through the pain of putting them down.”

“Well…I guess we have no choice but to go to the center of the earth.”

“Yes, we have to save the earth and make our parents proud.”

Before they can quietly mourn their parents, the hollows break in. The floor where their parents’ clothes were falls and hollows start coming out of it and the throne room’s doors. Cinis and Favilla are able to power themselves up further and prepare for a long fight since there is no way out. They seemingly have to destroy the entire kingdom in order to survive. Hundreds upon hundreds of hollows assault the room as Cinis and Favilla hold their ground. Even though they’re the best soldiers in the kingdom, they doubt their chances of survival. A few hollows get through their defenses and rip off some of Favilla’s dress and even tear through Cinis’ armor, but thankfully they don’t receive any physical wounds. Hours upon hours of fighting passes until all the hollows of the kingdom are slain.

Cinis and Favilla collapse in exhaustion as the floor beneath them and the other floors beneath that collapse as the couple fall down to the center of the earth.








Chapter 7 – The Long Fall Down

After the long fall, Cinis and Favilla wake up underneath the earth. Without saying a word to each other, they know they must continue on no matter how they feel. They descend down into the earth to find a small, forgotten city that spirals down further into the earth. Its inhabitants are dirty, meager, and don’t appear to be aware of what is happening on the surface. The couple has heard legends of this place when they were younger. This place is simply called the Spiral City where the lost and forgotten go to live out the rest of their days. It is said that kings of kingdoms across the earth sent their most vile criminals here to be exiled. Other legends say that this is where one of the first heroes emerged from and that everyone here is trying to be like them. Of course, it is no easy task, so no one really comes out of this city a hero.


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