The legend of Rook
Theo has been an adventurer for as long as he can remembers. He grows up on his father’s horse’s back. He never really knows his mother since she passed away when he was only two year old, but that doesn’t bother him much now.
His father is a great adventurer who travels through the six kingdoms to collect magical items for a living. Theo dream was to become the most famous adventurer like his father.
It was the dream that led them here, to the deepest crystal cavern beneath the Azure Mountains, following the legend of the ultimate artifact, the Armor of Chaos. They say it can grant the bearer any power he can think of. They say it was forged under the monolith, absorbing its essence since the beginning of the six kingdoms history.
And now that piece of wonder is right in front of Theo’s eyes. On the stone altar at the end of the tunnel, he can see the faint light glowing from it.
“We did it, father, we found it!” — Theo joyously talks
“Don’t be so overjoyed yet son, if we can find it, that means others can too. The fact that the armor remains here must have a reason to it” — His father calmly looks around — “Usually a trap or a curse must be placed to prevent intruders”
“I have looked around for traps father, and my core detector cannot pick up any trace of mana around here. So no curses nor traps present here” — Theo says, as his hand reaches the armor
“It is indeed a good piece of armor, sturdy and light, nice design too” — Theo touches around the armor — “But I cannot sense any bit of magic in it. I wonder if this myth is a bust”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that, boy” — A faint voice appears in Theo’s head
“You said something, father?” — He turns around to look for his father, who is busy sweeping for traps and treasures in the room
“Nothing son, you hear something?”
“Probably just my imagination, father”
“Hahaha, it’s been a while since someone can hear my voice” — The voice appears again, this time more clearly
Theo turns around once more, just to see his father is still busy doing work. Experience of an adventurer helps him realize the situation immediately.
“A haunting spirit in the armor” — Theo speaks to himself
“Now now boy, don’t say it like I’m evil. I’m a spirit for sure, but I’m just attached to this armor for some time”
“And why is that?” — Theo thinks to himself, trying to figure out if the spirit is in his head
“I’m not sure as well, it has been a long time and my memory is all hazy. I just remember that the purpose of my existence is to find someone compatible with the armor, and form a contract with him or her”
“Contract? What kind of contract?”
“You should know the drill, boy. You are an adventurer right? The contract with the armor will give you power beyond your imagination, with the exchange of your body and your mind”
“That, and you said you are not evil?”
“Hey now, if I am evil I wouldn’t have told you that right? I am not sure what happen after the contract is formed as well. I can only communicate with a compatible person for the armor”
“Well, I am not ready to lose my body just yet. But can I take the armor away from here?” — Theo asks curiously.
“I don’t see anything preventing it. But you are lucky, if an incompatible person try to activate this armor, they will be banished to the netherworld forever”
“So that’s why the armor remains here after all those years” — Theo says, while carefully picking the armor up and put in into a wooden box
His father places a hand on his shoulder and asks “Are you speaking to the armor just now?”
“Yes father, you are right, there is a curse on the armor. It does not affect me, but you cannot touch this armor at any cost. I will tell you the details on our way out”
As they joyously walk out of the cavern, Theo tells his father everything about the spirit and the conversation. His father also thinks that he made the right choice of taking the armor along, since that would prevent further tragic incidents of people getting banished to the netherworld.
They take a rest in a village at the Azure Mountains base. The Azurehorn shamans here are famous with their rejuvenating techniques so travelers often stop by. The Azurehorn tribe also leads a very friendly and peaceful way of life.
Theo sleeps quietly. He did not show the armor to the shamans for obvious reason. He also does not know what to do with the armor yet, but he will figure it out before reaching home.
Screams wake him up.
Theo peeks out of his tent, only to witness the most horrifying scene ever in his life.
Dark crawlers emerging from the shadows. Blood sirens let out deafening screams as they land from above. And from far beyond, a Bloodmoon Priestess are raising hordes of wraithlings to overrun the village. The Azurehorn people just keep running for their lives, they are not made for battle.
“What, why are they here?”
“They must have caught wind of the armor presence” — The spirit speaks
“But that means they are looking for me, and by the look of it I don’t think I will ever make it out alive”
“The situation looks grim, boy. Unless …”
“Look, I am not turning myself into a monster with your contract. There must be another way”
“There is, a partial contract. You receive an incomplete part of the power, but you can retain your consciousness”
“How can such a convenient thing exist?”
“I told you, I am not an evil spirit trying to take over your body. And I am not too keen on losing my existence either”
“If the full contract is formed, my existence will be merged with yours, and we both cease to exist”
“Hmm, I have to ask father …. but where is father?”
Theo tries to look around in the chaos of battle, and he can see a human shape fighting from afar. His father, like all great adventurers, is also a formidable warrior. He is pressing back the crawlers, trying to way to the priestess. But he has been surrounded by wraithlings. The endless horde knows no fear, they keep on charging toward Theo’s father. And he seems worn out because of the prolonged battle, since when any wraithling falls, the priestess will raise it up again.
At the same time, the priestess has noticed Theo, and a group of wraithlings immediately move toward him.
“No choice, please make a partial contract with me”
“You have to understand this, boy. Although you can retain your humanity, once the contract is formed, you shall be human no more”
“I have to save father, please!”
“Very well, by the power bestowed upon me from our ancestors, I hereby declare a partial contract with you”
The armor shines up. Its light engulfs Theo. His size grows, his muscles get bigger, and the armor becomes part of his body. A totem falls down from sky as the light fades, right next to him.
“Pick up your weapon and fight, boy”
Theo can feel the new strength in his body. But more than that, he can feel the thousand years of knowledge overflowing as he touches the totem.
Theo jumps forward. His strength grows to the point that he can swing the gigantic totem with ease. His swing blast away everything before him. His movement becomes so swift that his opponents cannot respond in time once he get to their back. His regeneration heals up any little damage he takes. He is indeed human no more.
As the ground quiets down, Theo feels weaken as well. The incomplete power does not last long.
After that, Theo tells his father about the choice he made while tending the wounds for him.
“I’m proud of you son, you made a good choice. Not only that you saved me, you also saved this village. And with that power you will save a lot of people in future, as long as you learn the way to control it” — His father says with tears dripping out of his eyes — “I think it is about time you can journey the world on your own. There is nothing that can stop you now, go and seek your own destiny. You no longer have to follow my back”
“You think so, father? I am not sure I can do it, but I will set out to seek for a way to undo this contract and return to you”
At the next sun rises, Theo leaves the village and his father behind. As he reaches the mountain top, he gazes at the horizon silently for a while.
“Any more regret?”
“Penelope, I hope she would forgive me, I will not be able to keep the promise with her”
“Ah, that’s the name of your love isn’t it?”
“Yes. Come to think of it, I do not know your name yet”
“I think a long time ago, when I still have my mortal body… Rook, they called me Rook”
Theo looks at the castle-like totem he is carrying
“Rook, what a fitting name. Alright, that shall be our name from now on”
“Are you sure about that, boy?”
“We are going to do a lot of thing together. Sharing a common name is not something I would bother. Moreover, I don’t want to use my name again until I can undo this contract”
“Suit yourself, as long as I can maintain my existence, I will fully support you”
And they walk down the trail on the mountain, without knowing that they have started a legend that people would talk about for many years to come, about a beastly warrior that travel the world fighting evil, in search for a way to return to his human form.
That is how the legend of Rook begins.