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A Gaze Towards Nothing

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Caked in mud and stars, that lonesome wanderer sets off yet again on his ill-fated journey. Small raindrops speckled his form, yet he remained stoic. As he silently trudged through the dusty roads of a small village, small whispers bubbled from the lips of the children. From their foggy windows, tiny eyes closely watched the stranger. However, they stared not at his empty face or haggard clothes but his right arm. His arm was covered in tiny slits that glowed a soft green, and when one child made the mistake of running out and meeting the man the slits revealed themselves. Tiny eyes with shining starry pupils glowered at the traumatized child, who fled as fast as he had come. There was no doubt in their minds as they watch him pass undeterred. The ravaged arm was the mark of a Sorcerer.
“We need no Code, my dear children. We need only our wildest dreams.”
Such naive words were spoken from one of the world’s most powerful Sorcerers. Hailed for his skill, but berated for his foolishness, that Teacher was an enigma to all. The people of this world lived in constant fear of the monsters that claimed so many lives. Depravity had won out during these times, and people stopped at nothing to get what they wanted. The Sorcerers knew they could not stop humanity’s greed. Yet they fought to protect such a flawed life, with Teacher being one of the few who still believed in a greater future. Teacher taught his students to never give up, and to laugh in the face of danger. As a fiercely loyal member of the Sanctuarium, Sorcerers who purify souls rather than absorb them, he was kind and merciful to even his enemies. Whether that was an illusion or not was never known...

Only one person had a small idea to Teacher’s inner machinations. Noel, a young budding Sorcerer who had become a “son” to him, wandered the empty halls of barracks in search of his Teacher’s room. Once found, he slowly opened the door only to be greeted by a blinding light. For an instant, Noel could barely see the outline of a flying chalice before it had disappeared. Teacher was nowhere to be seen. A letter was all that was left at his work desk. When they teary-eyed Noel took the letter and read it, he found most of the page to blank save for a sentence written at the bottom.
“That shining kingdom...I will create it!”
Noel had left Sanctuarium in favor of the Grimm faction, a group that leaves the fate of their enemies to chance. As with all Sorcerers, his desires slowly ate away at his arm. The more magic he used, the more deformed his arm would be. Another of those tiny eyes would appear, with the same star-shaped pupil. His arm was unique, as most forms of desire were easy to spot like the jewel encrusted arms of Greed or the pulsating growths of Lust. One day, a fellow Sorcerer questioned him about it.
“What could you yearn for that would bear eyes on your arm?” Noel gripped his arm tightly, then gave a tired smile. His answer echoed his teacher in mysteriousness.
“I want to see that kingdom he created...or perhaps I want to be blinded so as to never lay eyes on it.” His own two eyes were fixed on the darkening skyline, burning slow and submitting quietly like ashes.
One of the many missions Noel had been tasked with sent him far north. Not a person nor animal for miles. Only the sparkling ice and frosted remains of the dead greeted him. As he callously brushed aside the bones, he took noticed to the fissures in the ice, as well as the gargantuan pit they stemmed from. It was the tell-tale sign of an Archfiend, a being born from the power of the White Chalice and a being’s one twisted desires. Every Archfiend had brought him back to the memory of Teacher and the chalice in his room. Had Teacher become one of them? What lifeless souls meander about in that shining kingdom of his?
“Well, at least dealing with this one will be easier,” Noel said to himself as he prepared his Offerings, bringing him back to reality. “Fire spells to melt that cold heart, Sir or Madam?” The stale quip had not gone unanswered, as a loud shriek ruptured the ice. From beneath, the Archfiend’s hulking form burst forth. Most of the Archfiend was encased in hard ice covered with hairlike icicles, save for the titanic arms that carried blue and purple effigies resembling women. Within the “belly” of the main body revealed a frail and small figure, resembling a fetus. Noel had come face to face with the beast only known as “Yeti.” Yet the young Sorcerer merely scoffed at the monstrosity.
“Have been trapped here for imitating the Gods?” He asked mockingly, crushing a red bone with his right hand. The arm quickly grew into a giant’s arm, coated with flames. “It matters not. If you don’t have what I seek, then I shall simply defeat you and move on.” He charged towards the beast, but a quick slam into the ground cracked the ice surrounding them into pieces, causing him to leap back. It would only take one plunge into the icy wastes to end Noel’s life.
“....WHERE...IS LIFE....?” A voice rang out. While the humanity of the Archfiend was lost, the voices of their hearts could still speak clearly. Yeti slammed his effigies into the ice one after another. With no choice, Noel quickly hopped from block to block, flinging flaming arrows at the belly. Not one shot did much to melt it. Desperate for a weakness, he circled around to the back to find any sort of flaw. The entire “back” of Yeti was also covered in thick hair-like icicles, some of which shot at him. However, he had quickly noticed that one of the effigies had been turned to face him in the back.
“So those are your eyes? Quite a lonesome fellow you must be.” Noel fired countless fire projectiles at the effigies, burning them up. Without his “eyes” to guide him, Yeti’s arms pounded and swiped blindly at Noel to no avail. In his rage, one of his arms had crashed into its own belly, exposing the being inside.
“NO...! WHERE...ARE YOU...?” Yeti wailed childishly. With the true weakness revealed, Noel wasted no time in using his projectiles to hit it. Within moments, Yeti’s death knell cried out, and it collapsed. The form quickly melted into a black goo, revealing a pale man in a dark blue coat. A sinister aura leaked out of his body, yet he was able to reach out his hand towards Noel. It was a scene too familiar to the Sorcerer. To live or kill? Fortunately for him, he didn’t need to decide.
“ me...” The man pleaded weakly, his throat choking out words through labored gasps.
“Only if the heavens let me.” Noel raised his arm towards the man. The eyes burst open as he cast the spell. The darkened aura began to dissipate from his body, and a gentle light was absorbed by both the man and Noel. “Oh, good for you. You have been spared.” The man stood up, offering a warm smile to Noel who returned it with an awkward half-grin.
“Thank you for saving me. My name is Hiver.” The man patted the snow from his clothes, while Noel noticed the soft blue glow from his right arm, the proof of Sanctuarium member. “Let me return your kindness by--”
“Stop right there,” Noel interrupted. “This is just part of my duty. I care not for you or what you do afterwards.” Upon turning to leave the area, Hiver merely followed suit.
“So you care not if I follow you from now on? Or help you in any way?”
“Or if I told you of my tragic past?”
“Well if you don’t care at all,” Hiver quickly jumped in front of him and did a small twirl. “Then I’ll come with you.” He poked playfully at the unamused Noel’s nose. Noel could only manage to sigh.
“Wonderful,” He replied sarcastically. “I’ve always wanted to babysit a child.” With that, the two returned to base where they quickly earned the collective title, “Papa Star and the Moon Child.”