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As destiny had planned

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One late night, days before the birth of the Luminary, Yggsdrasil’s branches glowed. The light shone over the land of Erdrea, slicing through the darkness, and illuminating the land in a glow that filled hearts with hope. The darkness would rise soon, just as fate had prophesied, and with it, the luminary would rise to put a stop to it. King Irwin was sure of it, watching the light fade from Yggdrasil’s branches, and turning toward his wife. They smiled at each other, thankful they were blessed with a son that would save the world, and Queen Eleanor put a hand on her belly, a prideful grin crossing her features. The King and Queen of Dundrasil were happy, their child would be born any day now, and soon the kings of the other kingdoms would come to meet the future prince. All seemed peaceful, as one would hope, but alas; darkness seeps in all cracks of the world. Dundrasil certainly wasn’t the only one who had been bathed in Yggsdrasil’s holy light, oh no, the monsters of the land who dreamt of the rise of the darkness, had seen it too. Evil crept in the shadows, hiding from the joy the birth of the luminary brought the people, waiting, scheming. Darkness could never rise if the hero of light stuck around, whispers of a way to rid of the hero before he could ever fulfill his fate. Whispers of the fall of Dundrasil spread through the land silently, never reaching the humans. Days passed and soon the young boy was born, the future prince of Dundrasil brought into the world. His parents were ecstatic especially when they noticed a mark on the young boy’s hand, the mark of the Luminary. The other kingdoms were thoughtful of the young boy, mindful of the power he held in his hands, of the destiny that lay ahead of him. Murmurs of darkspawn came, King Carnelian deciding to put up a test to see if King Irwin was truly ready for the luminary to be his son. The other kings agreed, all coming to see the luminary themselves. Princess Jade of Heliodor was ecstatic to meet the new prince, excited to meet her new “little brother'', eagerly pulling her guards, Hendrik and Jasper along. The two follow closely, the knights tasked with protecting their king and his daughter, not a single soul who came on this day knowing what was planned. King Irwin slipped off to the Colloquy of kings, leaving Queen Eleanor with Princess Jade. The young girl happily squeaked, watching the rain thrum down outside, utterly ecstatic to have met the young hero. Hendrik and Jasper wait outside the hall, both grumbling as a storm thunders outside. Both knights stay at attention, both feeling a strange sense of apprehension. Hendrik turned his head toward a window, watching lightning flash outside, “You would think it wouldn’t storm so hard on a day like today.”

Jasper sighed, “Maybe Yggsdrasil is trying to warn us he really is a darkspawn?”

Hendrik shrugged his shoulders, watching royals walk past them, “Perhaps. Alas, we must wait to see if Irwin is convinced. We cannot go making up suspicions quite yet.”

Jasper nodded, yellow eyes resting on the storm outside, “Either way, it doesn't feel too happy around here.”

The knight beside him nodded, his bright turquoise eyes turning to the window. Silence fell between the two, a stiff silence. A tension flickered between them, both at odds with each other and unaware of it. A bitter resentment rested inside Jasper, darkness clawing at his heart and mind. Jasper wasn’t the only one harbored by darkness, shadows slowly approaching Dundrasil castle. Monsters crept in the shadows, eyeing the castle carefully, deciding to strike now, while no one was paying attention. Jasper watched as Hendrik turned off to go patrol, as they were both supposed to, deciding if he should follow. The blonde sighed, and cast one final glance toward the window, pausing at a glimmer. Maybe in another world he wouldn’t have noticed, maybe in another time Jasper wouldn’t have seen the lightning flash and reveal the creatures prowling towards the castle. He tensed, “Hendrik.”

The knight paused, having started to turn the corner, “What is it, Jasper?”

“Monsters.”

“What?!” Hendrik scurried to his partner’s side, glancing out the window.

The two young knights watched in horror as lightning flashed, revealing shadows prowling in the night, both of them nearly frozen in place. The two had no idea of the true jeopardy of the situation, their actions very much shifting the ties of fate. Hendrik’s voice boomed across the Dundrasil corridor, yelling out a warning. Action was taken immediately, guards and soldiers scurrying to stop the incoming army. Hendrik and Jasper turned towards each other, eyes meeting, grimly nodding towards each other before splitting ways, bolting to help win the fight for Dundrasil. Monsters began to flood the kingdom, pouring in through the castle gates, the two knights scurrying to warn as many people as they could. Hendrik stayed inside the castle walls, his voice booming across the halls, pushing soldiers to fight, citizens to seek shelter, and royals to evacuate. Chaos broke loose, Jasper running outside. Rain pelted down, slicking his hair to his skull and dampening his cloth uniform, helping lead the defense against the monsters. Lightning flashed, the storm raging on, as the fight began. Though Dundrasil may have gotten the upper hand in those extra moments of warning, the monsters weren’t after the destruction of the castle. No, they wanted the Luminary. They were after blood. A soldier burst into the Colloquy of kings, barking out a feeble warning that monsters were approaching. The kings all swallowed and immediately began to flee, scurrying to escape the castle. Dundrasil could fall. All that mattered was that the young luminary, the young Eleven, survived. The royals tried to flee, monsters breaking past Jasper’s last stand and slipping past Hendrik, King Carelian and Lord Robert deciding to stand their ground. King Irwin thanked the two for providing him cover, scurrying to find Queen Eleanor and Princess Jade. He bolted down the halls, hurrying to find his wife and smiling when he finally finds them, safe in their quarters. Princess Jade lets out a soft squeak, looking up at him, “King Irwin! There you are! We were so worried!”

Queen Eleanor let out a soft whimper as she looked at her husband and son, “You’re alive! Oh, thank the heavens! When we saw the monsters coming, we feared the worst for you both!”

King Irwin shakes his head, “Nevermind that now. We need to get out of here. All of us.”

They nod, knowing every single second counts, fleeing the room as soon as they could. They waste no time, attempting to leave through the front door, the three gasping as a monster bursts through the door. The beast inhales sharply, “I feel his presence… I sense him… I! I smell him… The luminary!” They sneer, “Give him to me! There can be no escape!”

His majesty plants his feet, drawing his weapon, “Just you try and take him!”

The monster lets out a roar and charges, fending off bravely by the king of Dundrasil. It's a rather quick defeat, Queen Eleanor letting out a whimper, “The monsters are everywhere! What are we gonna do, Irwin?!”

The king of Dundrasil turns to his wife, “if they’ve made it this far round the castle, they must have the place surrounded. We’ll have to use the tunnels, this way.”

The group press on, heading into the dungeons of Dundrasil. The king very carefully shfited a bookshelf, opening the secret exit for them. They head into the dark, quietly trying to flee from monster’s sights. It doesn’t last, a group of beasts scurrying after them. King Irwin grits his teeth, standing between them and his family, “I’ll deal with them. Get out of here, quickly.

The queen lets out a feeble whine of compliant, which is hushed by them being pushed along. Irwin spares them one glance, “Run! And don’t look back!” and closes the door, allowing them time to flee.

The queen carefully holds Eleven tightly, making sure princess Jade stays safely at her heels as they flee, leaving irwin to stand against the beats. He finds victory but it is no easy feat, weak from fending off the three powerful monsters. He holds his arm, huffing and panting as he turns to follow where his family had gone, pausing when a familiar voice booms through the dungeons. King Carnelian comes streaking through the castle, catching Hendrik’s attention, who was doing his best to aid the Dundrasil soldiers. In another life, he may not have noticed his king running after his daughter. In another world, he may not have responded. But in this one, Hendrik is not too far behind, following his king just in case. King Irwin starts to run the opposite way of his family when he hears the King wail in search for his daughter, “King Carnelian? Over here, your majesty!”

Hendrik and Irwin skid into the dungeon at the same time in yet another twist of odds, the knight gritting his teeth where the king lets out a soft squeak, “King Carnelian?! What in the-”

An Evil fiend has the king of heliodor in his clutches, smirking at the royal. Irwin draws his sword, “Who are you?! What do you think you're doing?!”

The man smirks, malicious Mordegon eyeing the king of Dundrasil in amusement. He then turns to Carnelian, the fiend having intention to possess the man in his grasps. But, Irwin isn’t alone in this life. Hendrik dives to separate the man and Carnelian, sword drawn and teeth grit, “I will not allow you to set a hand on my king.”

Mordegon snarls as his plans fail, the brickwall of a man blocking him from taking the Heliodorian king. Hendrik plants his feet, “Go! King Irwin, King Carnelian, go now!”

The two hesitate but wisely flee, leaving the knight to stand his ground. Hendrik meets Mordegon’s eyes, “You’ll have to go through me to get to them.”

Mordegon huffs, “very well…”

Hendrik gasps as the beast swings at him, narrowly dodging. Claws dig through his cloth armor, snagging skin. A cry bursts from the knight’s throat as blood bursts from the injury, skin burning in pain. He grumbles, gritting his teeth and struggling not to succumb to the urge to turn tail and flee from an enemy so much stronger than him. But, it is his oath to remain loyal to his king, to protect him with his dying breath. And Hendrik would be damned if he failed his kingdom, the kingdom who had given him so much. He grips his sword and lunges forward, swatting Mordegon back, though his advances do very little. He swings, snatching skin very few times, the monster much faster and cunning than him. He fights with all he has regardless, refusing to let him pass, much to Mordegon’s amusement. He puts his hand up, Hendrik letting out a soft pant, “Had enough, fiend?” He spits.

Mordegon eyes him, “I have no quarrel with you, Zwaardsrust boy.”

The knight freezes at this, feeling his stomach drop, “How do you-”

He smiles, “I remember a purple haired boy when I destroyed that kingdom. Saved by Heliodorian forces, a mercy no one else had. This makes you loyal to a fault, doesn’t it? It does feel strange to encounter you again, boy, so I’ll let you slither away with your life. My darkness creeps in all corners, your closest allies are tempted, Zwaardsrustian, mark my words. The luminary bloodline ends here.”

Hendrik’s chest aches at the words, a violent flash crossing his mind, This same man, at the bloody destruction of his birth kingdom. It's quick, the seconds unbearably painful for the knight. Hendrik snarls, “I-I’ll kill you!” He rasps, lunging forward with all his might.

The knight stumbles, a blow with enough force behind it to kill hitting the ground instead of its target. Hendrik hisses and spins, freezing when he realizes he’s alone. Mordegon was gone, without a trace. He let Hendrik have his life, resuming his search for the Luminary. The man looks around feebly, chest heaving with the effort from the fight and the unpleasant memories forced to surface. He shakes his head, turning his attention to where the kings had fled, carefully running that way, determined to keep them protected and trying to catch up.

 

Jasper keeps his sword steady, carefully parrying a monster’s attack. He swiftly moves forward, landing a fatal blow, chest heaving. His body ached with exhaustion, slowly trying to retreat back, wanting to at least keep his life. He turned his head, wondering what happened to Hendrik, his majesty, pr- Out of the corner of his eye, Jasper spots a lone figure bolting out from the underbrush, feeling his breath catch in his throat. The knight flees from his spot immediately, following the figure, “Princess Jade!”

The young girl turns, her eyes wide with terror, stumbling and nearly dropping the basket in her arms, “J-Jasper?’

Jasper runs over to her, gently squatting down beside her, heart aching as the young girl breaks into tears, so relieved to see a friendly face. She clutches Eleven in her arms, the knight before her worriedly eyeing her and the child, “Where is Queen Eleanor?”

“I-I don’t know…”

“Your father? Irwin?”

“I dunno…” She sniffles, tears pouring down her face, hair slicked with rain.

“Hendrik…?” Jasper asks, tone both filled with a sickening worry and scorn.

The princess offers no answers, just shaking her head and clutching the knight, Jasper carefully starting to lift her into his arms, “No matter, i’ll get you somewhere safe, princess.”

He pauses when the young girl screams, a headless honcho quickly approaching the three. The knight doesn't hesitate to shove the girl behind him, rain continuing to pour down, his sword reflecting lightning, “I shan’t let you hurt the princess!”

The honcho rasps, “The Luminary… Hand him over to me!”

Jasper grits his teeth and lunges forward, Jade feebly bolting for cover, having promised Eleanro to keep Eleven safe no matter what. She flees for cover, convinced Jasper would not win against the headless honcho, terror filling her senses. The knight bravely fends off the monster, the battle no easy feat. Exhaustion claws at him, heaving in pants as he watches the monster fade, turning to find Jade again. He catches up quickly, grasping her hand, “Let’s find your father, okay princess? It’s alright, i’ve got you…”

Jade holds his hand tight, holding the young hero close in her other arm, as the three carefully slip through the shadows to find the others. It doesn't take long for Jasper to find Queen Eleanor, who is hurt but alive, a good sign. Lord Robert had managed to show up in the nick of time, the two watching jasper and the princess carefully. Rab takes the baby from Jade, the princess grabbing onto Jasper and holding him tightly, pressing as close as she physically could. He pays her no mind, “Where is King Irwin and King Carnelian?’

Queen Eleanor swallows, “Irwin was not far behind me… But, he had stood up to a rather large group of monsters…”

Lord Robert looks down, “aye… it would be wise not to waste any time waiting.”

Eleanor nods grimly, Lord Robert carefully leading the group away from the flaming Dundrasil, trying to lead the group to safety. They all look up when a voice booms, all turning to see king Irwin, “Eleanor!”

The queen runs to her lover’s side, the two groups reuniting. Jasper smiles to see Hendrik alive and well, even if hurt, gaze falling on King Carnelian who is rather rattled but otherwise unhurt. Lord Robert hands Eleven to the knight beside him, running over to speak to the other royals, all amazed to have survived. Jasper opened his mouth to object as the child was pushed into his arms, the young luminary babbling as the royals discussed what to do. He grumbled and tried to hand the child to princess Jade, watching as she bolted to hug Hendrik, letting out a soft wail to see him safe. Jasper sighed and shifted Eleven in his arms, hearing Dundrasil continue to burn in the distance. He couldn’t help but scowl at the child, the darkness in his mind convincing him he held a bringer of evil. He grumbled as he watched the royals before him ignore him, believing they were idiots for praising the young boy. The luminary had brought on the destruction of his own home, had his parents nearly killed, and cost so many innocent citizens lives… How could they just ignore that? Jasper seethed with resentment as he watched those he served, glaring down Hendrik and Carnelian, the sad look in Hendrik’s eyes as he looked back upon the destruction of Dundrasil only further angering him. He thought of seeing the terror in Jade’s eyes, the tears that glimmered as she looked at him and had bolted to Jasper’s safety, the child of evil tight in her arms. It reminded him of a young Hendrik, blood boiling. He scoffed under his breath, “Some hero.”

“Ah!”

Jasper looked down when Eleven squealed, the baby reaching for his nose. His lip curled when the child grabbed him, yellow eyes widening when light began to shine from the mark on his hand. A strange warmth flooded through his body from the child’s touch, the light fending off the darkness that ate at Jasper, if only for a few moments. His eyes fell on the royals, finding very different thoughts filling his head. A relieved Jade that was merely thankful her loved ones had survived, a rattled Carnelian who had both nearly lost his life and daughter, shaken King irwin and Queen Eleanor who had lost their whole kingdom and nearly their lives, and Hendrik… The man of Jasper’s resentment, a man who gave the darkness in his heart something to fester on. His turquoise eyes are troubled, pained to watch yet another kingdom fall, hurt from defending their king from evil clutches, and mind receding deep into the dark of his past. Pity filled Jasper, no longer feeling the bitterness he had felt toward his oldest friend for so long. Eleven’s hand faded, the child teething at his fingers and squealing, unaware of what a turn of heart he had just given the knight. The darkness tried to swallow him once again but Jasper saw through it, realizing how foolish he was. Eleven’s eyes brimmed with innocence, unaware he was wanted dead for a gift he couldn’t possibly grasp. The knight cleared his throat, “Hendrik.”

The man in question nearly jumped out of his skin, “Y-Yes sir- Ah, Jasper?’

“You haven’t got to see him yet, have you?’

Hendrik shook his head,”No, I have not.”

Jasper smiled and carefully handed him the young boy, carefully guiding the knight to hold the baby properly, “He’s rather friendly.”

Hendrik was caught off guard by the kindness in Jasper’s tone, having not seen this side of his friend in a long time. Meanwhile, Jasper felt pride flicker through him, knowing he had distracted his friend from terrible memories, the two sharing a smile they thought had been lost to them. Hendrik smiled at the child of light, very carefully rocking him, “He’s rather cute.”

“He’ll make a good prince.” Jasper nodded thoughtfully, glancing to where Eleven’s parents spoke of plans for the future, their kingdom destroyed after all.

When King Irwin gently took his son from the knights, the group all having decided Heliodor would be the safest, they all turn away, Jasper left lingering for a few long moments. He stares at the fires, watching buildings crumble, unable to shake an uneasy feeling of how lucky they were. How slim these odds had been. It felt strange but pleasant, pausing when he hears Hendrik’s voice, “You coming, Jasper?’

For once, he didn’t grit his teeth at the man’s voice. Instead, he turned, letting out a soft yes as he took his place beside Hendrik’s side, the two equal once again, their friendship turning a new leaf. Dundrasil may be in ruins but it can be rebuilt. Everyone lived. A new fate set. Just as destiny had planned… or so one would think.