April 5th, Year B-395.
The Gilded Deserts.
I woke to the sound of Vincent Lockheart’s groaning filling our shared dwelling.
“It’s soooo hot…” Vincent whimpered, to my right.
“Shut him up before I do.” Chell growled from my left, covering her face with her hands.
“Why are we all sleeping in here?” Sokudo asked, further to my right, “It seems like this all could have been avoid-”
“All of you be quiet.” I groaned, “I’ll take care of it.”
I pushed myself to a sitting position and flexed my arms outward, blasting the rock formation of our crude shelter into dust, before using my Gravity manipulation to combine the particulates into a compressed sphere of stone levitating in front of my chest. Closing my eyes and thinking carefully, I added Darkness to the stone and forced it inside with Gravity, ultimately resulting in…
A compressed sphere of ice, which I handed to Vincent.
“It’ll take a very long time for that to melt,” I explained, “And you can drink from it too. Good enough for you?”
My Royal Guard sat up with me and sighed.
We watched my father’s shelter, some distance across the sands.
“Is His Majesty awake yet?” Sokudo asked.
I shook my head. “Doesn’t look like it. You three, pack up our sleeping supplies. I’ll get breakfast started.”
Season One: Recursion
Episode Twenty-One: At The World’s Ascent
A dense, beefy stew bubbled in a medium-sized pot over a fire. I had used my Earth manipulation to create a rough stove, of sorts, to hold the pot over the flame as our brunch stew cooked. Sitting on seats of stone I’d erected around the fire were the rest of my Royal Guard, with the seat directly across from me, facing my father’s shelter, still empty.
Vincent was shirtless, clutching the sphere of compressed Ice I had created for him to his bare chest to keep cool. On his chest, over his heart, was a black tattoo of a heart with a keyhole in it. His very own family crest.
Compared to Vincent’s very obvious suffering, Sokudo and Chell seemed completely fine with the temperature. Taking sympathy upon Vincent, I reached out my right hand and pulled upward, pulling a slab of stone out of the ground that shielded the black-haired brunette from the sun.
“Thank you, your Highness.” he gasped, “How much longer on the stew?”
“Shouldn’t be much longer.” I replied, reaching over to stir the stew with a ladle I’d left in the pot, “Cooking by fire is a little different than cooking on a traditional stove.”
“It smells amazing.” Chell said, “I didn’t know you could cook, your Highness.”
I chuckled. “Cecil taught me how when I was young. He taught me a lot of things, really…”
“Who is that Cecil guy, anyways?” Sokudo asked, “And why does he look like you and your father?”
“He’s a Cynd in all but name,” I explained, “The product of my father and a concubine prior to my birth. His role has been multifaceted…an older brother, a servant, a bodyguard, a mentor…he helped make this Royal Guard a reality. I owe a lot to him.”
“He cares for your son, too, doesn’t he?” Vincent asked.
“Yes.” I replied, “Cecil is teaching Hector all the same things he taught me. But when I get the time, I…”
I stared upward and ahead, at The World’s Ascent in the distance, shrouded behind the clouds, “I should take some time to be a better father to him.”
“If this works out,” Sokudo said, “We’ll have given the greatest gift of all to our children. To leave the valley and spread across The Mainland…I can’t imagine anything greater.”
Staring at the place we would be meeting the Great Beasts, I couldn’t shake a feeling of uneasiness. Maybe it was just Skell and the Gilded Desert, but something this just…didn’t feel right.
Right when I had gotten lost in my thoughts, my father had finally woken up and joined us around the fire. He smiled down at me, then glanced down at the pot of stew still bubbling between us.
“You have to stop doing that, Father.” I sighed, then grinned, “The smell wake you up?”
The King sat in the makeshift seat opposite me and nodded. “It smells delightful. Also…nearly done.”
“Shit,” I muttered, “I think you’re right. Get your bowls, everyone.”
After swallowing a spoonful of stew, I rested my spoon in my bowl for a moment and just…watched my friends and family eat. This was a moment I wanted to remember- me, my father, and our Royal Guard, just before we freed humanity from its chains.
To my right was Vincent, looking calm and reserved in the shade I had made for him. Despite being covered in sweat from exposure to the desert heat, he looked as refined as ever, his black hair still neatly tied in its ponytail behind his head, with not a strand of it blocking his pearly white eyes. His black leather jacket, bearing a white version of the Lockheart Family Crest, was tied around his waist. His shirt was neatly folded and on the ground beside him, exposing his bare upper body and the large, black tattoo over his heart.
Beside him was Sokudo, who was much less concerned about being reserved, scarfing down his food as fast he could and groaning loudly all the while. Sokudo’s skin was darker than Vincent’s, a tan more naturally-suited to desert surrounding us, contrasting with his distinct, electric blue eyes. His hair was short, but spiked and rustled, rather unlike his best friend’s. He wore a white version of the Royal Guard long coat, with an X-shaped formation of blue-and-white lightning bolts crossed on its back.
Across me and slightly to the left was my father, the King. Our opposite skin and hair tones might lead one to believe we aren’t related from a distance, but everything else: facial structure, our blood-red eye color, the feathery quality of our hair, and our large builds were dead ringers for one another. We also wore the same outfits- white, flowing robes of the Royal Family with golden embroidery, with a black T-shirt and black jeans beneath.
On the back of our robes was a scarlet version of the Cynd Royal Family Crest, depicting a sword pointed downward, with a halo on its hilt. It was a rather similar design to what would one day be the Royal Guard Insignia, except with a halo instead of a crown.
Last, and directly to my left, was Chell Vaten. She was wearing the same outfit that she had been when we met- an amulet with an emerald wing on her chest that matched her eyes, a loose, light-green skirt with a matching shirt, completed with a pair of jet-black leggings. She looked about a decade younger than she actually was, and as I squinted and contemplated this, she made eye contact with me.
“I didn’t join up with your nerd club for you to perv on me, your Highness.” Chell said.
“I wasn’t-” I winced and raised my left palm out toward her, “I wasn’t doing that. I was just…trying to remember this.”
“So you were watching me eat?” Chell pressed.
“Well, I was watching all of you-”
“You were watching us eat?” Sokudo interrupted, raising an eyebrow.
“It’s not…like that…” I muttered.
After a moment of tense silence, we burst into laughter.
My father grinned and shook his head at our antics.
“Is everyone ready?” he asked, “The Terras are on their way.”
Off in the distance behind him, two figures in brown, hooded robes approached.
I gulped. “I’m ready.” I said.
My Guard set down their bowls and nodded at me affirmatively.
“It’s time, then.” Father said, “Time to meet the Great Beasts.”
We journeyed across the sands in silence, the Terra brothers leading our group. Vincent had finally gotten his jacket and shirt back on. After a few hours of walking, we had finally made it to the base of the world’s tallest mountain, called Calvary, the peak of which was called The World’s Ascent. Calvary extended seemingly endlessly upward, past the clouds in the sky, beyond my sight and beyond my sense of scale.
I could feel them, vaguely. Incredibly powerful energy signatures beyond my sight, at the top of this unknowable peak. The Great Beasts.
There was a stone platform at the base of Calvary, seemingly waiting for our arrival. As we all walked onto it, my father flexed his arms outward and prepared to lift us before being interrupted by the Terras.
“No worries.” The Terra twins said in unison, their golden eyes glinting, “We can operate the lift for you. It will take some time for us to reach the peak. Please, relax and come to terms before we arrive.”
“What do you mean ‘come to terms’?” Vincent demanded.
The Terras remained silent but started to move their arms, as if pulling at an invisible rope. The platform trembled beneath our feet before beginning to skyrocket upward, propelled by their Earth manipulation. It was almost like taking an elevator.
I thought of everything that had led up to this moment.
My meeting with Vincent. Our battle against Sokudo, back when he was a Lightning monster. Vincent’s battle with Cyria, and then with the Darkness that had overtaken the colony. In only a matter of months. we had established a Royal Guard, the first human settlement outside the valley, and…
“Father, how didn’t you know about all of this?” I asked, finally realizing what I had been missing, “About the Deserts? About the humans here?”
My Father was standing ahead of me and my Guard, his back to us and his arms crossed behind it. He clenched his fists as he responded, “I knew.”
“Your Majesty…” Vincent muttered, “You knew how Skell was treating humans out here?”
His back still turned, the King nodded.
“Yes.” he replied, “It’s been this way for centuries now.”
“I don’t…” I whispered, “I don’t understand, Father, you raised me to believe that it’s our duty to protect humanit-”
“It is.” Father interrupted, “It was this arrangement that allowed humanity to exist at all. I may be the first human, but I…I didn’t create humanity alone. I needed his help. And Skell…Skell would not create anything that wouldn’t serve his purposes.”
“So, in return for Skell helping you create the first generation of humans…” Chell said, “He was allowed to keep some to himself?”
“Yes.” Father replied, still unmoving, “They became the Terras you see today. Their purpose is to occupy the Desert, to feed, to train their power, and to feed themselves back to Skell when they’ve reached their peak. Skell gave them life, but only if it returned as something greater to him at the end.”
I watched the Terras, still pulling at the air, propelling us up the mountain, not saying a word. Surely they had something to say about this?
“That’s monstrous.” Vincent muttered, “How could you…let something like that happen?”
“It was this or solitude.” Father replied, “Without humanity, I would have nowhere to call home, no one truly like me. Either humanity would exist, and some of it would serve Skell, or…humanity would not exist at all. Those were my choices, Lockheart. What would you have done in my position?”
Vincent stared at his feet and didn’t respond.
“I thought so.” Father said, after a long silence.
“Father,” I asked, “Who else knows about this?”
The King unclenched his fists and allowed his arms to fall at his side.
“The other Great Beasts.” he replied, “And Cecil. Cecil knows…everything about what I’ve done. I’m not…I’m not the angel you think I am, son.”
“I understand why you made your choices, Father,” I said, “But what I don’t understand is why you hid them from me. Why didn’t you tell me any of this before now?”
“I was scared.” Maximilian Cynd confessed, “Scared that you would see me differently. Since the day you were born, Max, I…I’ve always wanted to earn the love I saw in your eyes. It’s why I’ve spent years trying to make things right with the Great Beasts, so…so I could be the man you thought I was.”
“But you’re not.” I sighed, “You’re only human, Father. We all are. We can’t be perfect, all we can do is…be.”
“Your Highness, Your Majesty,” Sokudo interrupted, “It’s okay. Really.”
“How is it okay?” Vincent hissed.
“Everything back there, in the Desert, in Blusk…” Sokudo explained, “That’s in the past now. We’re moving up, climbing higher, to a bright new future. We can do this. We’ve proven that humanity has worth, that humanity has power, that we have just as much right to The Mainland as the Great Beasts. That they agreed to this meet at all means all we need to do now is make one more push.”
“So you’re saying…” Vincent trailed off.
“Whatever the King had to do to get us here doesn’t matter anymore.” Sokudo declared, “What matters now is now. We make peace with the Great Beasts. We free humanity. Brooding over the past solves nothing.”
My father chuckled.
“You were wise to choose him.” Father said, “All of three of them, really. Even you, Vincent, angry as you are. You’re the advocate that humanity needs, just as hot-blooded and prideful as Cyria.”
Vincent winced at being compared to his rival, but said nothing.
“Thank you all for being here.” my father said, “For centuries, I’ve been trying to solve this problem alone. But having my son and our Guard here…it truly feels like we’re on the verge of changing things.”
We began passing through the clouds.
I nodded affirmatively.
“Is there anything we should know before we get there?” Chell asked.
“Meiro, the Serpent, is on our side.” Father explained, “She’s my wife. Cyria and Skell should be our only real opponents. As far as I know, the other six Great Beasts are neutral or undecided on the matter of humans…you may even be the first humans they meet. Aside from me, of course. Be polite and respectful, and they should take our side.”
“So it’s first impressions.” Chell muttered, “Shit. I don’t even have my skateboard.”
Sokudo giggled and Vincent rolled his eyes. My father’s shoulders shook as he replied, “That…would probably just confuse them. Try smiling and eye contact. You’re quite beautiful.”
It was Chell’s turn to roll her eyes. “First Sokudo and now the King himself. Sure glad I don’t have a boyfriend anymore, he’d be seething by now.”
“You’re single?” Sokudo asked, “Shit, I need to tell my wife when we get ba-”
“Sokudo.” Vincent growled, “Stop. Being. Thirsty.”
Sokudo crossed his arms over his chest. “I can be as thirsty as I please, Mister Black Leather.”
“I- That was one time-”
I chuckled. “Both of you, cut it out. We’re almost there.”
A few moments later, the lift came to a sudden halt.
“Scratch that,” I corrected, “We are here.”
Above the clouds.
Beneath an empty sky.
At The World’s Ascent.
Now that we were there, The World’s Ascent wasn’t too remarkable in and of itself. Aside from its location, it looked rather plain. That might’ve been because it was surprisingly flat, likely terraformed in preparation of our meeting.
But there was a problem. Six problems, in fact.
Six missing Great Beasts.
Only three were present.
Cyria, the Wolf, a golden mass of Light energy and scarlet Lightning on the opposite side of the peak from us.
To our right was a massive, white-furred panther with bright green stripes- Lamass, the Great Beast of Wind, and not at all a bird, like one would think he is.
To our left was a gargantuan mass of bones, like tiny snakes, slithering around and over each other as they tried to find a form. Giant, skeletal hands grasped the side of the mountain as the mass leaned forward, the bones forming a massive face resembling that of a human skull. Skell’s face twisted at us with what I assumed to be a smile.
“Where are the rest of the Great Beasts?” Father asked.
“Where’s my mother?” I demanded.
“They aren’t coming.” Cyria responded. “They chose to…sit this one out.”
“Meiro…” Skell cacked, “Well, we didn’t want her to get in the way of a fair negotiation. It’s us you need to speak to, humans.”
“Lamass?” My father asked, looking toward the panther, “What is the meaning of this? I thought you were in favor of humanity-”
“You were mistaken.” Lamass replied, “Your kind disgusts me.”
“And me.” Cyria continued.
“Boys, boys,” Skell chuckled, “No need to be so hostile. Humans are delicious with the right amount of work put in.”
“Did you just call this meeting to screw with us?” Vincent whispered.
“Screw with you?” Cyria howled with laughter, “Not at all, boy. How’s your back?”
“How’s your chest?” Vincent shot back.
The wolf growled. Vincent placed his left hand on the handle of a blade I didn’t recognize strapped to his back.
“Where is my mother!?” I demanded.
“Sleeping.” Skell replied, “I couldn’t kill her if I wanted to. And don’t worry. I wouldn’t want to. She’s like a sister to us.”
“What is the meaning of this?” The King repeated, “Why did you call this meeting? Why here?”
“I want to show you something.” Cyria replied, beginning to advance on his paws in our direction, “And an explanation by itself wouldn’t do it.”
Cyria leaned his head back and howled at our moons.
Scarlet lightning- Howl– surged from his body as he did this, crashing into some invisible barrier above the sky and branching out in all directions, like shattering glass.
“What the hell is-” Father muttered.
“Look.” Cyria said, “Look closer, humans.”
Past the scarlet Lightning suspended in the empty sky, I could see them.
Pinpricks of white light, far beyond the known cosmos. White light that turned red, then expanded, and disappeared. Stars I’d never seen before in a sky that never had them.
“What…what is…” I stuttered, “What-”
“Other worlds.” Cyria replied, “Other timelines. Other universes. All beginning and ending before we ever see them. Hidden behind a veil of Meiro’s creation.”
“I don’t understand-”
“Of course you don’t.” Cyria laughed, “Humans never understand. Our world is but one of many. But I’ve seen them. I’ve pierced Meiro’s veil, and I’ve seen the worlds beyond our reach, past, present, and future. And do you know what I’ve seen?”
“What have you seen?” Father asked.
“Proof.” Cyria replied harshly, “In every world I’ve seen, every scattered universe, humans left unchecked destroy the world and each other. Consuming the resources of every planet they live on, spreading their cancer to the edges of every reality before it’s brought to ruin. Every. Time.”
“At first,” Skell said, “We thought we could prevent that here, by keeping humanity in its place.”
“But you proved us wrong.” Cyria continued, “You showed us that you have power, that you’re all growing stronger by the day. Strong enough to rise against us. Strong enough to be…unchecked.”
My heart skipped a beat.
“No…” I whispered.
“We called you here for one very simple reason, Maximilian Who Sinned.” Cyria said, facing my father directly, “To gather the strongest humans in one place…”
“And bring you to ruin here.” Lamass finished, the panther lowering its stance and preparing to pounce.
“It’s five on three,” I said, “We have numbers!”
Chell brandished her bow, forming an arrow of solidified wind and aiming it at Skell on my left. On my right, Vincent unsheathed a new weapon- a large, white claymore- and brandished it in Lamass’ direction. My father held his hands out toward Cyria, still attempting to make peace. The Terras- Orcus and Hades- were nowhere to be seen, and Sokudo was standing at my side, fists raised, body crackling with electricity as he prepared for the first attack.
“A numbers advantage doesn’t matter.” Cyria boasted, “You’re fighting against gods. Five mortals against three beings beyond your power, beyond your comprehension. Such rudimentary thinking will not help you here.”
Skell chuckled. “If you were smart,” Skell jeered, “You’d lay down and let me eat you! I promise to make it quick.”
I placed my right hand on Sokudo’s left.
“Take it.” I whispered, “Channel it. Right between his eyes.”
With a surge of Lightning, Sokudo leaped over my father’s head and hit a three-point landing with his feet and his left hand. Aiming his right in a gun shape, Sokudo fired a bolt of Lightning.
“Lightning!?” Cyria laughed, “What do you think that’ll do-”
The bolt turned black as the end exited Sokudo’s extended fingertips. He had channeled the Darkness energy I’d given him through his left hand and out of his right, fusing with his bolt and forming black Lightning, which crashed into the Great Beast of Light and caused him to howl in rage and agony.
“HOW DARE YOU, HUMAN-”
Vincent had leaped, claymore raised over his head, grasping it with both hands as he prepared to swing it down on Cyria.
A gust of Wind blasted Vincent out of the air, sending him crashing to the ground. The Panther rushed for Vincent, but Sokudo, shrouded in a cloak of Lightning, met Lamass with a clap of Thunder.
“You’re fighting me now!” Sokudo shouted in thunderclaps.
I stood at my Father’s side. Chell hadn’t moved yet, but then neither had Skell, who was watching the three of us with what I could only assume was amusement.
“If you’re worried about a fair fight,” Skell taunted, “Don’t be. The three of you won’t be a challenge for me.”
“Chell.” Father said, “Protect Max at all costs.”
The archer nodded and joined my side, Wind-arrow prepared and aimed in Skell’s direction.
“Father, what’re you-”
Maximilian Cynd stretched out his arms, forming the shape of a cross with his body. Endless, white, silvery blades burst from his sleeves, which he broke off and grasped without a handle. The left-hand blade pulsated with purple-black Darkness energy, and the right-hand blade glowed with white Light energy.
“This is my fight.” Father said, “My burden to bear. This is the end. Max…run.”
The sound of Skell’s cackling filled the night around us as my father leaped at him, countless spears and tendrils of bone protruding in the King’s direction.
“You heard him.” Chell said, “We need to go, now.”
“No!” I shouted, “We can’t leave them behind!”
Vincent was in battle with Cyria.
Moving faster than I had ever seen him, the swordsman was slashing the claymore one-handed, meeting the golden wolf’s strikes as Cyria blasted at him from every direction. Darkness was oozing and lashing out from the claymore as Vincent did this, seemingly making Cyria slower each time he made contact with it.
“What the hell is this!?” Cyria demanded.
“This is Murzim!” Vincent shouted, “A weapon I made just for killing you!”
Sokudo was just as fast- if not faster- than Lamass. The speedster and the panther were blasting around the arena, through the clouds and the air, creating surges of deafening thunder and crackling lightning whenever they clashed. I could barely keep up with it.
My father slashed his blades through Skell’s body, but it didn’t matter. As my father leaped from foothold to foothold on Skell’s gargantuan form, the sheer scale of his opponent became clear. Skell’s body extended well beneath the clouds, from the Gilded Deserts beneath us, an ever-growing tree larger than any man could ever hope to cut down.
Even as my father kept destroying his body, Skell couldn’t stop laughing.
“Is this the best you’re capable of!?” Skell taunted, “I expected better of you, Maximilian! What did Meiro ever see in you!?”
Skell went silent for a moment, then spoke with a low, serious growl.
“What did Meiro ever see in you?” Skell repeated.
From Skell’s chest, a massive spear of bone blasted outward, impaling my father through the chest. Dozens more smaller spears protruded from Skell’s ribcage and aimed for my father’s body, falling limp-
“NO!” I screamed.
My father was impaled by dozens of spears of bone, from all directions. Before his regeneration could kick in, dozens more joined them.
Skell lifted my father’s mangled body above the arena. I looked up at my father, impaled and mutilated, held in front of our two moons as his blood splattered to the ground before us, painting Skell’s spears red.
Instantly, Skell retracted all of the spears.
Running as fast as I could, I barely caught my father’s body before it hit the ground.
He’s a Cynd, he can regenerate, just like me–
But he wasn’t.
Maximilian Cynd, the first King of Trine, my father, was dead in my arms, mangled beyond all recognition. Cynd blood, while incredible, had its limitations. Hundreds of years of life meant countless regenerations, and damage this severe, this instantaneous, all over the body, all at once…
Was too much.
I couldn’t even recognize his face.
“Father.” I croaked, eyes flooding with tears, “Father…Father, please…”
Skell cackled maniacally. “Pathetic! Are you really crying, boy!?”
“Father…” I whispered hoarsely, “Father…”
“Don’t worry, boy.” Skell said, his voice turning low, serious, his tendrils of bone beginning to extend in my direction, “You’ll join him soon…”
A massive spear of bone shot for me, before being blasted to pieces by one of Chell’s Wind-arrows.
“Your Highness!” she screamed, “We need to leave!”
“Father…” I muttered, “Father…”
“He’s dead, Max!” Chell shouted.
I stood to my full height and looked back at Chell.
She was frozen in terror.
“Max-” she started, “Your eyes-”
I wiped the tears from my eyes with my right forearm.
It was smeared with my blood.
I glared up at Skell.
Countless skeletal faces formed in Skell’s body, and they laughed at me in unison. “What will you do, boy!?” Skell taunted.
“I’ll kill you.” I said simply, “I’ll devour you.”
Skell laughed even louder. “You?” he spat, “Devour me?”
“Yes, me.” I replied, holding my arms outward in his direction, “You and everything else. You’ve taken my father, my peace, my people…”
I glared up at the Great Beast.
“You’ve taken everything.” I snarled, “Now it’s my turn.”
I screamed at the top of my lungs, releasing a rage and an energy deep inside me, from the core of my being. A tiny black speck exited my mouth and slowly floated in Skell’s direction, causing the Great Beast to laugh maniacally as it approached him.
“What is this!?” he demanded, “An ant?”
All at once, a third of Skell’s face, a chunk of the cliff, and a blob of Vincent’s Darkness energy fell into speck, which surged dangerously with Gravitational energy.
“What!?” Skell screeched.
At The World’s Ascent, the black hole came to life and started to devour everything in sight.
The singularity dragged my father’s corpse along the ground. I reached my arm out to grab him, but he slipped away from my grip before I could save him. I watched as my father plummeted backward, into the void, never to be seen again.
“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE, BOY!?” Skell screamed in terror.
“Devour.” I whispered.
“Max!” Chell screamed, “What the hell are you doing!?”
I didn’t reply. I only smiled.
I felt the black hole start to pull at me, even as it was devouring Skell piece-by-piece. The skeleton monster screamed in terror as it tried to escape my gravitational pull, but not even Skell was capable of that. The black hole grew in size as it continued to feed on Skell and the mountain, and finally, the other Great Beasts took notice.
“Lamass!” Cyria screamed, “We need to leave, now!”
I felt a rush of Wind coming for my back. I closed my eyes and outstretched my arms, preparing for the Panther to crash into me, to drag us both into endless oblivion-
With a surge of Lightning, Sokudo pulled me out of the way of the Panther’s leap.
Lamass disappeared into the singularity. Sokudo screamed in pain as he tried to pull us out of its range, but its pull grew ever stronger as it fed more, and more, and more…
Cyria vanished in a flash of golden Light.
I stared into the abyss ahead of me and smiled.
“This is the end.” I said, eyes full of blood and tears, heart full of peace, “This is how I die.”
“Max!” my Guard screamed, pulling at me, “Max, you need to stop this!”
“I don’t know how.” I confessed.
My feet left the ground as the singularity grew ever larger.
Just a little more, and it’d pull us all in…
A woman in black robes landed from the sky, between me and my black hole.
“Max!” Meiro shouted, “I’m here!”
My head exploded with pain as the black hole grew in size, then exploded with white light.
Silhouetted by the blast was my mother, standing in front of me with her arms outstretched, having dismantled my black hole herself.
The black hole expelled all it had absorbed at once, exploding outward in a sphere of white light, blasting us off The World’s Ascent and into the clouds below.
Surrounded by my Royal Guard, I closed my eyes as we fell into the sky.