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Eun was one of these many beasts. The Nine Tailed Fox destroyed human inhabitants of the land in order to gain their souls. For you see, Eun had the ability to grow stronger through the absorption of human souls and was willing to carve it's way through many corpses to obtain those souls. It was the righteous will of the Haan family which became the hope of the humans in this empire. A single warrior of that family would stand up to Eun, leading to a battle of two mighty strengths. From that battle, the Haan family would claim it's place as a proud and might family by sealing Eun forever more---
"But how did they manage to seal Eun? Surely there must be some evidence?"
My teacher's sigh would echo through the room, amplified by the disappointed glances from my many siblings. This was all I was to them ever since my father remarried to my mother. To each of them I was an outsider, someone who was never meant to be within the Haan family. My siblings believed that this was an act against the family as I was tainting the 'noble name of Haan'. Everyone I would meet in my new family thought the same. Mother was the only one who asked me if I was alright, but I could not tell her. I believed that if I was the perfect child then my siblings could find no fault to tease me with. That they would accept me for who I was and leave me be.
"Please Ara. Quiet down so we can continue. Surely you can do this at the least?"
Every child of the Haan clan was required to learn how to fight in order to protect the seal which has kept Eun entrapped for generations. This was how it was always explained to the younger children but I always knew better. My siblings never thought of it as an honorable duty to protect those in the land. Not once did they worry about the conditions outside of the Haan family. For my siblings it was always about finding out who the strongest was, the one who would take over the family name from my father. Unfortunately, I was always the weakest of us all.
There! An opening!
Sparring was a task for me, as I always had been the weakest of the Haan children. Physically I couldn't compete with anyone like the third oldest who I was sparring at that very moment. She moved swiftly with no remorse, but that didn't mean I couldn't outwit her. My eyes would lock on to that single solid opening before dashing forward to make my strike. Surely this would work. For once... for once I could be victorious!
"That kind of lame attack won't work, stupid."
Even though today's training was the spear that I was so confident in, my elder sister outwitted me easily. With her superior speed and strength she would rat out the weaknesses in my technique and exploit them for her own means. Making her way behind me she would strike, knocking me to the ground. In my mouth I could taste blood and I knew that she had managed to strike a powerful blow.
My gaze would turn to the second eldest brother who was standing over me. His eyes were condescending - he was mocking me. Teasing me because of my weakness and failure to succeed in battle. I was beaten on the floor with an injury I was trying to hide, yet none of my siblings would come to my aid. No. I was a Haan, one of the protectors of Eun's Seal. I could not give up here because I was beaten once! So I would find a way to drag myself off the floor and stand up again.
"One.... one more time..."
Just as my second eldest brother raised his spear, a hand would fly into the air and call for silence. The Instructor could not be defied for even though he was no Haan he was stronger than any of us standing around him. In that moment I would remember my pain and cough into my hand several times, revealing the extent of the damage. My hand was covered in specks of blood so my sister had punctured something. No I could still taste blood.... I had bitten my tongue. Of all the things I had bitten my tongue. Defeat written on my face I would look up to see my instructor's disappointed face just as he spoke the words I heard each day.
"Stop. This is Ara's defeat."
I have always had a habit of dwelling on my past mistakes. That was one of the reasons I always kept my relationship with my siblings a secret from my mother. Whatever happened I wanted to try and deal with it on my own without help because 'that was what a member of the Haan clan would do'. No matter how beaten or bruised I found myself, I always wanted to be acknowledged by my father and by my siblings. Despite their harsh treatments, I wanted to belong. Never did I know that one of them was always watching over me...
It's alright.... It was for the best. Mother would be troubled if I attacked Second Brother and managed to hurt him after all....
The moment I spoke those thoughts, I knelled down on the grass as I tried to focus my thoughts. Even though I had always tried to convince myself that my defeats were for the best, something in the back of my mind claimed otherwise. I was always so... frustrated. No matter if I convinced myself that this was for the best, I wanted to prove that I could be one of them. Every Haan was strong and so was I, just not as strong as Sister or Second Brother. My fists would clench before letting out a scream of frustration that I had been holding in for so many years.
"Hey there, are you alright?"
My eyes would widen at the sound of another voice. Never had anyone approached me about anything other that to look down on my, to call me a failure to my own face. In fact I could not remember the last time I cried even to myself. Holding all my rage and sadness inside of me was something I had admittedly become proficient in. Now my eyes were filled with a fear I had never felt before - it was Eldest Brother Aren standing next to me. The heir to the Haan Clan.
"O-of course I am!" I would hide my tears, my pain, away before looking up to my Eldest brother just as I always had. "I should not have showed this unsightly side of myself to you."
Once again I would wipe my eyes, this time with the palms of my hand. I had forgotten how difficult it was to return from that state. It had been so long since I last cried that I had forgotten how painful it could be for the one involved. My ears would prick up, however, at the sound of my spear being picked up off the ground. He would rest a hand on my shoulder until I managed to calm myself down.
"No. I fully understand. Everyone has days when they need to let out their frustrations."
Never would I expect one of my own family to treat me so kindly. Especially one so revered like Eldest Brother Aren. But when I saw his smile, I realized something when he handed my spear back to me - he had always been watching over me. All of my failures, all the times when I had run off on my own to recover from a harsh sparring session. Eldest Brother Aren had always been there for me and I had not noticed even once. With my spear now back in my hands I would stand up to thank him, but instead decide to leave as hastily as possible. Only the words he spoke kept me there.
"Would you like to have a sparring match with me? This is no request Ara, this is an order as the Eldest Son."
I could feel my mouth go dry as I turned to face Eldest Brother once again. There was a simple way out; I could run. Just as I always did when it came to any of my siblings I could run away and simply hope that they would not hurt me anymore. But Eldest Brother Aren's smile told me otherwise. No matter what trick I may attempt to get away he would continue to test my abilities like this. It was one of the many traits he had as Father's heir.
"Think of attacking me and nothing else, do you understand?"
All I could think of was how I would fail once again, but nodded to Eldest Brother Aren if only to satisfy him. I could hear the disappointment in his sigh and I felt an arrow pierce my heart once again. How could I focus on attacking him if my mind was full of my own doubts? Quick as always he would lunge out to me with his sword without a single show of openings. I expected nothing less of the Haan's prized fighter as he continued to pressure me, who was only just able to block his strikes.
"This cannot be all there is to your skills! Come Ara, try your hardest."
My focus was wavering more than before. Each doubt that entered my mind caused a delay in the time it took for me to block the strikes that Eldest Brother Aren made. My mind was in a whirl, I couldn't focus on what was going on. In that split second I came to the realization what I feared from the very beginning; there was no way I could win. I never had and I never would. Before I even realized what was happening my back was against a tree, completely trapping me. Elder Brother would swing again and for a split second my eyes would lock onto a weakness in his attack. Without thinking I attacked, weaving out of my position, knocking down Elder Brother and holding my spear to his chin as I puffed with exhaustion. It was.... impossible. Inconceivable. I couldn't believe my own eyes.
"H...how? Th-this is com....completely impossible..."
The first thing I saw when my gaze finally left my spear was my Eldest Brother's grinning face. Had he planned this? Impossible.... he had been fighting with all he had just like he always did. He had fought me exactly the same way he always fought Sister and Second Brother. That was the same moment that my mind became grateful to Brother Aren as not once did he see me as something to be mocked. A worthless person with no drive. He saw me as a worthy opponent.
"Amazing! I lost. This is my defeat." There was disbelief in his voice, but covered by a joyous tone and laughter. It made my heart soar ever so slightly. "I know that you are always timid from being weary of other brothers and sisters but if you continue to devote yourself to your training then I am sure there will be a day when you can truly express yourself."
The Haan family were not the only ones who protected a Spiritual Beast. In reality there were many clans who dedicated their lives to the protection of other Spiritual Beasts. You see while Eun may be the strongest known Beast in terms of destruction, many Beasts went to these families for peaceful protection from those who didn't understand. Every five years a Festival would be held not only as a meeting between these families, but also as a chance for the unmarried children of these families to compete and discover who the strongest was. This was the time I was given the chance to compete against many odds.
I will not be much help at all..... all I will do is tarnish the Haan reputation...
The lump that remained in my throat continued to grow until I had trouble breathing. However not only my throat was clenching on me. I could feel the sweat trickle down my arms as I grasped my spear in my shaking hands. My chest was squeezing my heart so tight that I could barely move a single muscle in my body. I was suffocating just by standing still, defenseless to a fault. My situation was beyond simply being scared, I was absolutely terrified. Nothing I told myself worked, my body simply wouldn't listen to my brain.
I do not want to do this...
Each excuses I had used previously rolled around in my head. I needed to find a way out of this tournament before the teasing from my two older siblings got even worse. But my body knew what the answer was before my mind figured it out; there was no point in running away. Events would fall into place however they decided to do so. My actions had no effect on the near future.
You were wrong Brother Aren. I.... I have no potential to grow like you say.
Step by step I would slowly make my way toward the arena where Eldest Brother was about to compete himself. But I wasn't worried about Brother Aren, oh my no. If there was anyone I should have been worried about it was his opponent. However.... earlier that day he had injured himself attempting to ride an untamed horse. With his arm remaining broken how could I not worry? Skill wise he was more experienced than any opponent in this tournament but in his current condition... he could not fight. Just a glance the look on his face - one of utter defeat - broke my heart.
"What? I was expecting more from this tournament as the Haan family is so famous! As it would seem, they are nothing special."
"I know brother. The Haan Clan was all talk. At least that man Aren looks skilled enough, although he hurt his arm. This means a complete victory for the Zhen family?"
Everything inside me began to boil from my blood to my stomach. No one had the right to speak of Eldest Brother Aren like that. If they had been speaking about myself then I could understand; I was nothing compared to my siblings. But not Eldest Brother. He was the pride of our family and the most powerful warrior that the Haan family had to offer. While his arm may have been broken he had done it in a noble way as he tried to complete a task that others had failed. But there was nothing any of us could do. Sister and Second Brother had already been defeated and it would be the Zhen family's victory if no one stepped up to fight.
"Wait a moment, Zhen. We still have our final participant."
Time stopped around me. My fear came to the forefront of my expression and my feat would not move. Why would Brother Aren refer to me... unless he was still trying to prove his point. Did he want me to compete to show me that I could have the confidence to be my own person? But he should know by not that I.... I cannot do anything even if I set my mind upon it. It was impossible for me to compete with the Zhen family, much less reign victorious.
"Where is this mysterious final participant? Did they run away? Well it should be expected from the family that protects some ominous Nine Tailed Fox."
His words rung through my ears as Brother Aren's gaze remained on me. These Zhen siblings continued to insult my family and the reason they had begun dedicating their lives to the study of martial arts. I could not bear to hear that; insulting me is fine. Insulting my honorable family is not. The grip around my spear tightened as I closed my eyes. I could not allow these two to continue insulting the way that the Haan family completed their mission. My resolve had finally steeled and my eyes would flutter open to glare at the Zhens.
"The final participant of the Haan family has arrived. My name is Ara Haan."
It was impossible not to feel the gaze of my family as they stared, dumbfounded. Their gazes bore a hole straight through me just as always, but this was not the time for backing down. I had run away too many times already. This was my chance to overcome my own doubts and as brother Aren had said, to grow. If I decided to run away now then I would prove them that I was in fact weak. But this time things were going to be different. Brother Aren came up to me and offered his hand to walk me to the arena, and I would gratefully oblige. This was going to be the most intimidating thing I had done, the last thing I wanted was to be alone.
"Do not think that I will go easy on you, 'Ara Haan', simply because you are a girl."
"I....I sincerely hope not."
As the gong sounded for the beginning of the match, I could see the rage flare in my opponents eyes. There was no way to stop him, this was not considering his build and body mass. From an outside perspective many would believe that I did not stand a chance, undoubtedly my siblings would think as such. He would lunge forward toward me, stabbing his spear so quickly that I had trouble blocking. My feet would slide back from the sheer strength of his blow. There was no chance of my victory if I faced the Zhen from head on.
He is strong... I cannot face him like this. I will get pushed back for sure.
I needed to change my strategy, but my opponent would not give me a chance to think. Instead I would drop my spear and allow his own to come at me before ducking underneath and lashing out with my own counter attack. There was no time for me to acknowledge that I had the upper hand now as this was still a battle. I could not break focus yet. The Zhen was startled which gave me the opportunity to strike again, this time we would simply exchange blows. Due to the injury I had given him he was unable to fight me at his full strength which gave the the perfect opening.
"It is over!"
After being pushed back again by his blows, I would change my strategy and instead jump over his head. While I may not have had the strength to fight, my own strength was being able to find new angles. With so many losses under my belt I did not realize how much I had truly learned from those mistakes. Once my feet hit the ground the Zhen would turn to me, only to have my spear under his throat. The gong would sound again, announcing that one competitor had been eliminated. I came back from my focused state and had trouble believing that this - in fact - had happened. My gaze would turn to Brother Aren who was grinning from ear to ear. As it turned out his smile was infectious.
"See? What did I tell you. It all came down to a matter of time Ara."
Soon after the end of the festival there would be an attack upon the Haan Family. Demons from the south came to our home and began to attack all who stood in their path. It was impossible for them to have found their way there on their own, thus father came to the conclusion that someone had lead them here. That would be the sound of war between us and the Demon army but I would never be concerned about such things. For there was only one thing on my mind at this time.
The walls shook as the battle ranged on outside. It had only been for a few days since the attacks began yet my family was already running out of time. I would never say it to my father, my mother or even Brother Aren but I was terrified. I did not wish to die yet, no matter how noble the cause may be. To my relief I had been assigned to the protection of the house itself alongside Eldest Brother Aren. I could not understand why he had not been assigned to the front lines, but that was the decision of my father. I could not change the facts which had been presented.
The walls cannot hold forever. No matter how we may fight the Demons will rise victorious...
Ahead of me I heard a noise that could not be human and I felt my entire body seize up. The demons could not have defeated my entire family yet... that was impossible. The Haan Clan were all trained warriors who were prepared to battle the likes of Eun, surely demons could not be that different. I was getting ready to retreat back and protect those further inside the building until I heard a familiar voice calling my name. No. No he could not be there because if I lost him then I would lose everything.
I began to run as fast as my legs were able to carry me. Compared to many others in the Haan Family I was lucky in that I refused to wear much of the armor provided. I preferred my simple orange tunic, but this was no time for noting my attire. Tears would form in my eyes as I ran down the halls of the once-peaceful building until I saw it up ahead. Eldest Brother Aren had engaged one of the leading demons of the army. It could only mean one thing. Somehow the entire Haan Family had been defeated. But I did not make it that far as I was attacked by a demon myself, being launched into the floor below.
At the time I did not realize that I had been knocked unconscious, only once I felt the pain did I understand. My mind had - in fact - played tricked on me. The person I had seen fighting the demon was not my Brother Aren, it was another member of the Clan. I had forgotten important details of the events that had transpired before the attack on my home. Brother Aren had gotten a hand on the Dark El and... and he had become a Demon himself. He had been back in that room, but he had been the demon. Not the one fighting them.
Wh....where am I?
I was unable to open my eyes. Pain surged through my body as I tried to, I could feel the blood trickling down my forehead. No. No that meant that I had failed in protecting my home. How many people had died while I had been unconscious? There was no way for me to know nor if my mother was one of them. In front of me I heard a crunch, out of fear forcing myself to open my eyes. Much to my dismay it was the last thing I would ever wish to see in my entire life.
His eyes were not those of my Brother's. They weren't the eyes of the kind man who had helped me to find myself. This could not be the same person who had laughed with me and been so proud of me whenever I managed to do something right. This was not the man who had stood up for me against his own flesh and blood. My suspicions were proven correct when he started chuckling, then laughing as my heart broke in two.
"Aren? No girl, my name is Ran."
Ran. The man's name was Ran. I gritted my teeth as my hand reached out to try and find my spear. Surely it must have landed somewhere nearby as this room was not large at all. My eyes flicked to each area around the room trying to figure a way out before Aren got any closer to me. But there was nothing that I could see that had even the slightest use to me right now. That is... until I saw the item that my father had always warned me and my siblings against going near. The pin that was known as the Eight Tailed Fox Pendant. The demons would never get their hands on it. I could not let that happen.
"Brother. I promise that I will save you."
As I saw the rage on his face, I grasped my spear and made a dash for the other side of the room. If I managed to make it there then I would surely find the pin I was looking for. Using it's power I could return my Brother to his senses. That power could give me all the strength I needed... but it would not control me. I knew that Eun which rested inside would attempt to do so but my need for that extra strength was too great. My entire life was crumbling around me while I simply lay on the floor ready to accept it. Sister and Second Brother were undoubtedly gone now, father was still fighting and mother.... I did not wish to think about mother. My hands would wrap around the pin and I heard something enter my head. A voice that promised me everything and before I realized what was happening, Brother Aren was grinning wildly.
"So this is the power of the Spirit Beast. Incredible!"
I wanted to lunge at him. I wanted to attack and make right the wrongs that he had committed. That was what the voice was telling me to do but... that wasn't my way. Never would I harm Eldest Brother, never would I harm someone for a reason such as that. My entire body was shaking with the willpower that I was showing Eun, somehow it got through. In my mind I saw the Fox smirking before granting me control of my body once again and taking one last look at Eldest Brother I would leap out of the room where I had fallen. Out into the world once again and there I would run. The screams still surrounded me but there was nothing I could do. Someone needed to survive and tell those who needed to be told about the events that had transpired.
"Do not worry Brother Aren. I will find the El that can cure you."
I never realized how long I would end up running after that. From my home of the Northern Empire all the way to the South of Elrios. The path had been one of the most difficult feats I had ever encountered as I had never ventured outside my family's house. Each new piece of land was difficult to traverse, but I managed to pick up valuable skills along the way. Soon the landscape made way to trees and life which would astound me to no end, unaware of the tasks that were ahead...
Exhaustion washed over me like a wave. It had been several days since entering the forest region of the south yet I had not come across any human life. From the rumors I had heard, Elves were undoubtedly watching my every move as I tried to survive despite the thirst. This was their home after all and I was the invader this time, not the demons. I was not meant to be there, but if I stopped for even a second then everything I had sacrificed so far would go to waste. Inside my head, Eun would still call to me. trying to convince me to change my path. But this was my will. I could not let something so simple as words drive me from it.
I-Is that..... could it be...?
My eyes widened as I heard the sound of a river straight up ahead. After all this time I had finally found one of the things I needed most, which immediately quickened my pace. Surely this was my luck looking up. It could be the beginning....a sign that there was a chance I may be able to save brother Aren. No. I definitely would. He was not himself. Since I was there it was my duty to save him both as his sister and a member of the Haan family. Leaning down at the river I would lift the water graciously to my lips and sip it down. However when I opened my eyes I saw something unexpected.
"That is...." A town. From how far I have traveled... perhaps the beginning of the Elrios?
Without tearing my eyes from the lights ahead, my hand would drift to my spear as I swung it onto my back. That light...... warmth. Company. Hope. Light itself had never meant anything to me until this moment because I never had a reason to see it. I was always hopeless, useless, not worth a second glace due to my failures. But here I was, closer to a new world than any of my siblings had been before. On a quest to save Brother Aren. The problem was no longer whether I was good enough, it was now having the resolve to do what needed to be done. So I began my walk toward the town.
I have to.... keep moving....
For some time now my feet had felt like led. Each step felt like I was fighting the Zhen Family all over again. As though I was once again sparring against Second Brother. I was completely exhausted as I had not stopped even once along this long journey. There was still so much at stake.... I needed to find the El as quickly as possible before Brother Aren was lost forever. Knowing that my kind Elder Brother needed me like that was the single thought that kept my legs moving, even if the voice in my head was telling me to just give up. I was Ara Haan. A member of the Haan Family Clan who had protected Eun for so many generations. I was not about to give up now.
My travels were never easy. Each step was a challenge and I dread to mention the trials I faced. The village I found was named Ruben and they kindly accepted me into the town. I had collapses at their gates but they never once held that against me. During my stay I assisted with all kinds of troubles that the villagers had, including chasing after a certain 'Bandit King' named Banthus. He put up a good fight and in the end, he got away...
If i did not make it in time then he would get away! Moving my feat faster I would make my best efforts in order to catch up with the bandit I was currently chasing. He had not only stolen the El from Ruben village but was already many miles ahead of me. If I had even a ghost of a change to catch him I would need to increase my pace twice, if not thrice as much. I gritted my teeth as I reached up behind me to grasp my spear. This was after all the road to the next town. If the bandit managed to get there then many innocent people would get hurt. I could not allow that. Ever.
No doubt that the thief was too far ahead to hear me. Despite the kindness that each of those townspeople had shown me I could not repay them. Their El had been taken and I could not catch up to the one who had stolen it. I would acknowledge that yes, there were others chasing down the Bandit. I had heard whispers about them, that they had been in Ruben at the same time I had been. But they were no allies of mine if I could not trust them. I did not know who they were thus I had no reason to fight beside them. I was a member of the Haan family. I could fight on my own.
How much father.... ahead is... he?
My spear clanged against the ground. But... that must mean that I had left the dirt roads I was traveling along. It had been such a very long time since I last remembered walking upon stone as the paths of Ruben were all lain with dirt. The last time I could remember was... home. Back at the Haan family house. However I did not wish to think about such things as I did not want to dwell on the past. My mission was currently to apprehend the Bandit, then achieve my ultimate goal of saving Brother Aren.
Eun....grant me your strength.
Closing my eyes I would allow the Spirit Beast who now possessed me to leak into my own strength. The alien presence inside my body always felt uncomfortable, I doubted that it would ever fade. It was now fighting for control but I pushed Eun's consciousness down. All I needed at this point was the power that the Beast granted me. I was not weak. Even though my power may not be as strong as my siblings once were, my will would carry me through to the end. My hair would become bleach white and energy tails would form behind me before my eyes would flicker open again to reveal two slits.
This is my power.
I would never find the Bandit named Banthus. But the path that I walked would lead me to something else, something to make me even stronger. For you see my trials had reached the ears of those living in the first city that I would visit. The place known as Elder was my next stop and whether I liked it or I did not, I would gain the acknowledgement of the people there. It was their faith in my strength, in my own power and nobody else, that gave me the strength to chase my next goal...
As I had been unable to catch the one I had been chasing, I had offered to help the residents of Elder. If I could not protect them from the danger of Bandits then I decided to assist them in any other way possible. Some wished me to do simple delivery jobs which were different from my normal line of work, but enjoyable. Others wished me to find certain objects from the monsters who lived nearby. Each task was enjoyable as I knew that the request would bring smiles or even a meal to families. They were simple tasks but my joy of completing them came from the grateful thanks I would receive afterwards knowing that I had done something to help them.
"So you're the one they call Ara Haan."
My head whipped around and I drew my brand new spear when I heard a voice come from behind me. Never did I expect to see the man I had helped out so many times waving happily at me. If I had attacked him my conscious would never have been able to handle it and although Eun had been quiet for some time, surely the Beast would take advantage of my weakness. Slowly my spear would lower and I accidentally let the sadness and regret show upon my face. Elder Hoffman obviously saw it as he gave me a sad smile of his own.
"You've done so much for us and not once did you wander from your own path. That is a feat of true honor and strength. Please, let me do something for you."
I could not accept. The offer was one of the kindest that I had ever received but I did not wish to put any of the residents in danger as my quest was to be a long one. In the far reaches of the land I had heard rumors of demons overrunning the city known as Hamel. Before I lost all hope of saving my brother I would need to get there as soon as I was able. As I looked up into his eyes I saw that he knew exactly what I was about to say before I had uttered a word. Elder Hoffman would raise his hand for silence and gave me yet another kind smile.
"I understand. But I don't wish to send you on your way without a gift. Before you say anything I don't mean a physical gift. This is... more personal. You have done so much to help us... fighting so valiantly for your justice. This is a title that the people of the Fluone Continent give those with a just and righteous heart. Ara Haan, Little Hsien. May your heart guide you on your quest."
His words felt like a dream I had long ago. One where I hoped that one day people would see me not as the weak youngest of the Haan family, but as a noble warrior fighting for what I deemed was right and just. Never did I expect for this dream to one day become a reality. As I stood there in shock, Hoffman would hold out a new attire to me. I did not know what to say. He had granted me a title, a new attire and above all he had given me hope. Wiping the tears from my eyes I would accept the fabric and bow to the Elder.
"I thank you Elder Hoffman. This is more than I deserve."
I would leave him, changing into the outfit that he had commissioned just for me. While new, it was far more maneuverable than the attire I had worn for such a long time. My old outfit bore memories I did not wish to see and I needed to look to the future. Not the past. Taking a deep breath in I would leave the outfit on the bench of a shop, hopeful that it would bring them some form of income. Now my gaze was turned to my ultimate destination, Hamel.
I am coming for you brother. This time I shall not falter.
Many battles were behind me by now, but none of them would ever be able to prepare me for what was about to happen. For you see along the road to Hamel I had witnessed a group traverse the same path that I was now walking. I did not approach them, but they seemed to have the same will to succeed that I had. People called them the 'El Search Party' and they had been the ones to defeat Banthus. To overcome the obstacles that I had failed to overcome on my own. They were also headed to the Temple of Water to confront Brother Aren, but I needed to get there before they would make it. Otherwise.... they would eradicate my Brother from the planet.
I was out of breath and having difficulty understanding what I saw before me. The condition of Brother Aren had worsened since my travels to cure him began. Horns now sprouted from his head and his skin was as black as night... the El had truly influenced him now. The eyes that I had once seen all the kindness of my world within were as cruel as the demons I had been fighting. Yet I could not lose hope here. Elder Hoffman believed in me, all those i had met also believed in me. Whatever my goals were they may not understand but they still stood behind me. I could not betray that trust.
He does no recognize me... the El has taken over his mind. Clouded his judgement.
The grip I had around my spear would tighten as I prepared to begin this fight, but I would not get to fight on my own for at that very moment another party entered the Temple Summit. From behind me a redhaired boy, a magician, an elf, a nasod and two boys would emerge as my eyes widened at the sight. They were undoubtedly the ones I had seen not long ago. The El Search Party. But if they had arrived then my Brother was in danger. I could not let them harm him. As if they had read my mind, the boy lashed out with a long range attack and I did the one thing that burst into my mind.
He was strong. This boy was no novice fighter I could tell. But I could not let them harm Brother Aren so I had leaped in front of his attack and absorbed it myself. Tears streamed down my face as I realized I could not have this both ways. Either I protected my brother or I fought alongside the El Search Party against him. Neither were the path I wished to take as I would end up fighting the other. Once the attack had been reflected I could feel Brother Aren's stony gaze upon me as he threw me across the room toward the Search Party. Each of the bones in my body ached as new bruises formed and blood once again trickled down my forehead. I had been struck down by demons again, but this time I did not have the courage to get back up again. Before I had the chance to make another decision, two hands were placed on my shoulders and the redhaired boy appeared in my cloudy vision.
"Don't give up! You've got a goal you need to reach right? How could you stop moving forward when you haven't reached it yet?! It gets tough sometimes but those tough spots are the ones that make you stronger!"
Those words rippled through my heart as I realized that.... he was right. My one thought had always been upon saving Brother Aren but... perhaps there was no point. From what my eyes told me now he was gone forever. All that remained was the Demon General Ran. The El had become a part of him and it could no longer be removed. If he had been putting up a fight then perhaps there was a change I may have been able to save him but not when he fought manically against the Search Party that had helped me so. Gathering all my strength, I would rise from the ground and feel Eun lend me more power. This time however I was in full control. I was stronger than I ever had been.
"Thank you Elsword. But this is my fight."
Without warning I sped past the El Search Party at speeds I had never achieved before, launching myself at Brother Aren - no. Ran. He needed to feel the strength I had earned through my travels for I was no longer the weak sister that would always cry where no one could see her. I was Ara Haan, Little Hsien. No. I was more than the title that Hoffman had bestowed upon me now. I was Sakra Devnam, the goddess. It was a title I had only heard whispers of during my travels as something that many called me. But now it was one I was willing to accept. Because as of today I had broken free of my past. It was time for me to look to the future. With a final finishing attack, I launched myself at Ran only to see.... nothing.
"Dammit! He got away!"
"Come on Elsword! there's no need for that language. Especially when our new member is nearby. Right Ara?"
The words of the magician touched my heart and without meaning to a smile would grace my battle-worn face. Despite the fact I had deflected their attack at first they were willing to accept me for the person I was now, not the person I had once been. Perhaps I had been hasty to assume that nobody would want me. To think that I would always be the weak girl I had been back at my family estate. Now I had people who would rely on me and I could rely on them in return. I would nod slightly and reach out to grasp Elsword's hand... but then there was darkness.
I was taken from my home world and placed within another. That is where I am telling you this story now. It was a mysterious place where I knew no one and no one knew about my own exploits. Perhaps it was better that way as it gave me a chance to truly begin anew. But I was required to leave behind the new allies I had just found. It was daunting and painful, but nothing is easy. If you want to achieve something you need to reach out and grasp it with your own two hands.
Reaching something with your own power and your own will. Perhaps that is what true strength is.
Her hair becomes bleached white, her eyes become red and something that appears like whiskers appear on her cheeks. There are also changes representing foxes such as white ears and nine tails appearing as energy in their places on Ara's body.
A Dank River Valley Near You
Nara, my dear, this app is beautiful. I have never seen Elsword, but I have heard of it in passing... But what I read of Ara, she is such a tragic and determined soul, so willing to overcome her fears for a brother that means so much to her, even when the rest of her siblings were not as kind as he was. The depths she went to try and save him from the beast that possessed him, the power she gained... It's all so beautiful and tragic. I love her already. I hope she finds a home in Ipsum, because like it or not she is here now!
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