Vladimír Holý

Shuffle Heroes: Voice from the Darkness

Česky | English
Act I
Act I | Act II | Act III | Act IV | Act V | Act VI | Act VII

Act I

Echo of Another World

It's snowing again. Why am I here? What brought me to this cold deserted place? I don't know. I hate snow. And apparently, there is nothing else. Just the ruins of a long forgotten city covered with a white blanket. I will not find anything valuable here. All the treasures were taken away by thieves and adventurers. People who used to live here left no legacy behind. Nobody knows what brough their doom. One day, all the residents just disappeared. It is said that the only thing left were pictures on the walls painted with their own blood. But even those are gone now. There is nothing but stones. So what am I doing here?

I have nowhere to go. I'm wandering without any aim. But I feel that someday, I will discover my purpose. Maybe today, maybe here. There could be more to this place than it seems at first sight. As if time has stopped here. It's because of the cold. And because of my solitude. I haven't met a soul for many weeks. I never needed company. And nobody desired to spend time with me either.

What was that? I heard something. I could blame the wind, but it's suspiciously quiet everywhere. Certainly I'm alone. I will look around more. I don't want to leave yet. I feel like there is something waiting for me. I just don't know what.

"This place is not yours", said the voice behind me. I quickly turned around and saw a shrouded figure. It was suprisingly close to me. Under a shabby cloak and a pointy hat was a woman. She looked young. At least in the face. But she was dressed as some kind of vagabond. However, her appearance was not the most strange thing. How did she get here? There were only my footprints in the snow.

"Who are you?" I asked terrified.

"Me?" she halted. She had a faraway look. Her eyes were twitching from side to side as if they were watching hundreds of different things. Yet she never looked at me.

"I'm not. Was. Will. Nothing else will."

"What's your name?"

"Fiera? Yes, Fiera. That is what they called the first one. That is what they call all of us. If they are able to talk. No one spoke for a long time. Talking is useless."

"What are you doing here?"

"Thousands of worlds, thousands of shards, thousands of reflections."

The woman apparently lost her mind. She could be dangerous. I found my dagger under the coat. She didn't even notice it.

"This place is not yours", she repeated. "Nobody is supposed to be here. Just Fiera. Just one. Just.... Just this Fiera."

"I'll leave. I'll leave immediately," I tried to reassure her.

"You will not leave. You will disappear", she screamed. For the first time, she looked directly at me. Her eyes were empty. A chill ran down my spine. I took a few steps back. Maybe I'll manage to run away.

Too late. She held out her arms to me and they burst forth with orange light. Or at least I thought it was light. Everything happened so fast. Two giant bright orange claws grabbed my whole body. They clenched me so tight that I could not move, not even scream. They violently pulled me and dragged me down to the ground.

I must have lost consciousness. I don't know whether I was awake or not. Around me, only darkness. I tried to breathe, but I could not. The orange claws disappeared, but something still clutched my throat. A terrible noise was yelling to my ears. It had no source, it was coming from everywhere and it didn't stop. The sound was deep and high at the same time. Like if everything I've ever heard was pieced together and released at once. This is my end....

I didn't die. Even after a few endless minutes of helpless gasps, I'm still alive. I tried to move my arm. To my surprise, I managed to do it. Too much actually. My hand shot out with supernatural speed and hit me in the face. I tried to clamp down on the ground, but in vain. There was nothing. I just floated in emptiness. In the darkness. And my every move was greatly amplified. I don't know how long I spent in this state. Hours, perhaps days. Hard to say.

Suddenly the blackness changed. It formed a shape. I'm not alone anymore. Something came to me. Or someone? The noise grew louder. I don't know how this is possible, but I managed to see something. It was still very dark, but I saw clearly. Directly in front of me, a vast body spread. Or rather a hundred mutilated bodies joined into one. Somewhere, I saw human hands and feet. Other had to belong to animals. And some could not come from this world. My world, that is.

Everywhere I looked, eyes were staring at me. My whole body was filled with some kind of energy. The presence of the creature quickly intoxicated me. I was filled with a feeling so unnatural yet so amazing. For the first time in my life, I have met something truly spectacular. But only for a moment....

Again, I was caught by the orange claws. They ripped me out of the blackness back to the snow-covered stones of the ruined city. The grip faded and I immediately collapsed to the ground. After thousands of unsuccessful gasps, I felt the freezing air.

I looked up and saw an incredible tangle of colors. The ruins of the city looked completely different. As if they were brought to life. In the snow and on the rocks, strange devices radiating bright beams were deployed. From each device, one color. All the rays then met in the sky and created a rainbow storm. I've never seen anything like this.

In the middle of all loomed the mysterious woman. Fiera. But this time, she was not alone. A short distance from her was another woman. They looked alike. The same faded coats and even the same hats. In fact, I don't even know which one is Fiera and which one is the newcomer. Their faces.... Their faces were also the same. Exactly the same.

"What you do is not permitted", said one of them.

"What I do is the only choice", other replied.

"What you do is a path to the end."

"The end is the only choice, Fiera."

"Your end, Fiera."

Suddenly, they both held out their hands against each other. The air was filled with missiles. No, it was not missiles.... Rather cracks. As if they unraveled our world and let in the horror from another world. Both women tried to avoid those cracks. But one of them was faster. The other didn't manage to dodge. She just slid limply to the ground. The snow around her body was flooded with blood. The cracks slowly disappeared. The surviving Fiera came to the dead one and pulled up her sleeve. She had a pale thin arm. Soft like the snow around.

"This one was new. No challenge", she sneered. Then, the woman pulled up her own sleeve. Her arms were covered with black scars. It might have been twenty, maybe more. She dug her finger into her skin. Violet light surrounded her for a while and then she gained another black scar.

"One less complication," she said to herself. So far, she remained oblivious to my presence. But everything must come to an end, in that, she was right.

"This place is not yours", she turned to me promptly.

This time I did not wait for anything and I began to run away. I don't know if she followed me or not. I was afraid to turn around. I was afraid to stop. I just kept running through the ruins on and on.

Suddenly, I tripped and fell into the cold snow. I remained lying. If she followed me, there was nothing I could do anyway. I was expecting to be taken away by the orange light again. I wanted it to happen. The visit of that strange place was scary, but I was looking forward to going back there. To experience the unreal again. To meet that creature again.

But nothing happened. No orange claws, only the white snow. I looked up and finally saw him. This time, he was all crimson. Stitched together from thousands of bodies. But something wasn't right. I realized that I was just staring at a painting on a wall. Breathtaking, yes, but not the meeting I desired. I got up and looked closely at the picture. I completely forgot about Fiera. Everything around here lost its color and meaning long ago. Only this painting glowed and attracted me. I stared at it for hours.

I know what caused the downfall of this forgotten city. I know who.

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