May 2024

Fox general

The White Fox – A Story of a General

Synopsis: During the Warring States period in Japan, there was a general who became a living legend at the time not only for his military exploits but his cunning machinations. Called the White Fox behind his back, Natsuyori Hojo was feared in the battlefield as he was in the Emperor’s court. However, unbeknownst to everyone, Natsuyori isn’t what he seemed. Yet, this dark secret he and his clan hides wouldn’t stop him from decimating enemies along the way, and paving the way to the birth of a new era. Scene 1: A Daimyo’s Troubles and Tragedies In this scene, the former daimyo of the Hojo clan and his subjects were preparing to welcome his newborn child into the world, but was greeted with a terrible news–and a surprising complication that would endanger the future of everyone in the clan. 1551, Japan. It was the Warring States period, and the whole country was swept in a massive war that have lasted for almost a century now. There, in the estate of an influential daimyo in a particular province somewhere in the west, an important event was taking place. For Lord Toshiyori’s son was about to be born. Toshiyori Hojo was the eleventh lord of the clan. Ever since he came into power after the untimely death of his father by his vassal’s betrayal, Toshiyori fought one battle after another. Despite having many supporters and allies, there were even more people eyeing his position, especially the members of the other branches of the Hojo clan who believed his wimp of a father didn’t deserve his ascension, much less his son. Toshiyori fought hard to stay in power, even if that meant having to destroy enemies and former friends along the way. As such, it took almost all of his life to secure his position that he never had the time to look for a wife. Then, one day, he realized, he needed an heir. The matchmaking was done hurriedly, so when he found a suitable match, he didn’t have the time to properly get to know her. Lady Fuyusaki was a young, beautiful woman with skin as white as snow. Her manners were delicate and gentle, perfect for the wife of a daimyo whose power extended far beyond the reaches of his province. There was one thing, however: she was sickly. Desperate as her father was to find a reliable ally in such tumultuous time, the marriage underwent successfully. At first, Toshiyori was quite distant with his young wife, being used to women becoming wary of him because of his cold demeanor and reputation as a brutal warlord. However, Fuyusaki was different. She was ever kind to him, and as such, his heart opened up bit by bit. So, when he learned he was going to have an heir, Toshiyori’s feelings were mixed. He was glad to finally have the heir he had always needed, but he was worried for his wife’s health. The midwife anxiously broke the news to him that the Lady might not survive childbirth. However, Fuyusaki seemed more happy than ever. She was looking forward to seeing her firstborn–their firstborn. She told him, that for the first time in her life, she would have to take care of someone, instead of being the one taken care of all the time. Toshiyori reminded her that she need not do that because the servants would have to do it for her, anyway. But she insisted, and she said that she would lovingly raise their children along with her duties as the lady of the house. Hesitantly, Toshiyori gave a small smile. On that day, the whole house was enveloped with mixed anticipation and anxiety. Finally, the Lord was going to have an heir, and everyone would get to know the twelfth head of the Hojo clan. As for the man himself, Toshiyori was pacing back and forth outside the room while his wife was giving birth. His mind was racing, worried that Fuyusaki might not survive. So, when he heard that the screams from the room have stopped, he halted his steps as well, and looked at the door expectantly. As he anticipated, the midwife indeed came out of the door. However, her grief-stricken face made his blood run cold, as his worst fear might have come true. “So?” he asked. The midwife dropped to her knees and wept. “My Lord, I am so sorry! I am so sorry. We did everything we could possibly do. I would willingly give up my life for this blunder–” The midwife kept talking, but Toshiyori’s head was reeling. He knew this would happen. Fuyusaki and him have already talked about this. Whatever happened, she said, she would love him dearly, even in the next world. But she also made him promise not to put the blame on anyone as they knew all along this would happen. Most importantly, perhaps, she made him swear an oath that he would take care and love their child no matter what. “Where is she?” he asked, cutting her off. “She–she is still inside, my lord. The nurses placed a towel above her face, and–and–” she said. “How about him?” he asked. “How is he?” The midwife’s tearful eyes looked up to him. This time, her terror was greater than how it did earlier. Toshiyori’s eyes narrowed. “How is he?” he demanded. “He is alive, isn’t he?” When she didn’t reply, he bellowed the question yet again. She visibly gulped. “Of course, of course. The child is alive and well, my lord. A healthy infant, yes,” she said. “Th-there is another problem, concerning the child, my lord.” “What?” he snapped. Toshiyori said it as if nothing could surprise him anymore. The shock of his wife’s death was too much to scare him now. If his son was sickly, then there was nothing he could do. He might just do whatever he could in the background to help his son, until he would come of age that he

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Airplane caught in turbulence

The Chaos Theory – Chapter I

“This is the final boarding call for flight OS502.” A man in his 30s wearing a red-and-black check polo shirt looked up from his chair in the Prima Vista Lounge at the Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy. Finally, he uttered under his breath, swerving off from his uncomfortable chair. As he stood up, he grabbed his backpack—the only thing he brought on this trip—and slung it over his shoulder. Joseph Dyer walked alongside the other passengers as they made their way to the departure gate. It was true what they say: Fiumicino is a goddamn zoo. People were frighteningly everywhere, and the sheer volume of the crowd was making him nauseous. For the first time in many years, it was as if Joe was back in his old high school hallway where people couldn’t seem to stay away from each other all the time. At least here, he didn’t have to deal with people shouting his name every few feet or so. He was quite popular as a teenager thanks to his good looks. But even then, he hated big crowds. Not that Joe was an introvert because he was absolutely not. But because, well, crowds make him feel claustrophobic. There was something about being in the midst of people huddled so close together that just disorients him. For years, he worked hard to get himself comfortable in throngs of people. He needed it. Although he could withstand crowds now, he would still avoid it if he had the option to do so. Well, now, he didn’t have to pretend to know and smile back at them, although he would still receive glances and stares from women he came across. But upon seeing him close, they would immediately stop trying to get his attention. Joe didn’t have to wonder why. Obviously, he still looked sick. Large beads of sweat dripped on his temples, he felt warm–too warm–as if heat packs were pressed against his skin. Joe glanced at the window and was quite surprised to see large gray clouds hovering above. What? That is weird, he thought to himself, blinking a few times. That is really weird. That wasn’t there when I got off the cab. Is there a storm coming? He tore his eyes off the windows and shook his head. For a while, he was worried the flight would be canceled. That would throw him off his itinerary more than it did after the risotto incident. Here he was, perspiring like crazy for some reason. Perhaps it was the humidity? But it was the middle of October already, and the cold season should be around the corner by now. So, maybe it wasn’t the crowd or the weather making him feel antsy. Maybe it was something else. He couldn’t pinpoint what was it exactly, though. Was it still the risotto? No way. He had no plans of culminating his Italy trip by throwing up on the airplane’s restroom. But even when Joe boarded the plane, he wasn’t able to shake the feeling that something was off. He looked around. Everyone seemed normal, relaxed, and even sleepy. Then, he looked outside. The skies now looked pretty normal, too. Joe’s forehead furrowed. It seemed those asphalt gray clouds were swept away somewhere and replaced by these cauliflower-shaped ones. “We ask you to please be seated and fasten your seat belts. Please secure your baggage underneath your seat and in the overhead compartments. Our flight is ready for departure.” As Joe stared outside, his eyebrows knit when he saw what was an unmistakable flash of light across the skies. He leaned in closer to look. What, was that? “Sir, we are about to take off. I’m asking you to please sit down.” Startled as if woken from a reverie, Joe glanced back confused to the flight attendant, only to realize that he was indeed standing. His seat was near the aisle so he had to lean towards the window, blocking the other two passengers next to him. The blond guy looked at him up and down. The other one was muttering words in German, which he was quite sure wasn’t a compliment. Joe gave an apologetic smile and sat down. The flight attendant nodded with a smile, and moved past them. However, he quickly glanced at the window again. Was he only imagining that lightning cutting across the sky? He shook his head and sighed. Well, he said to himself, it had been a rough day so far, so I was probably just seeing things. As the plane shuddered and moved towards the runway to prepare for takeoff, Joe leaned on his cushioned seat and pulled over his eye mask. Between Rome and Vienna, he had a couple of hours of rest to enjoy before embarking on the next stop on his Europe itinerary. Joe had been looking forward to a backpacking trip in Europe ever since his one-month paid vacation leave was approved—a vacation well-earned after many years of never being absent or late for work. It shocked everyone, including Joe, that he was able to survive his ten years working on a job that he didn’t like and in a company that he didn’t care about. It was supposed to be a temp job, but the pay was good, so he stayed on. Ten years later, he became a senior data analyst in that multi-national company as a reward for his impressive performance. In his first week of traveling across Europe, Joe visited London and Scotland, hunting for the locations of his favorite book series. Then, the weekend arrived and he was ushered into cutting his itinerary short to go to France due to a mistake in his plane booking. During the next two weeks, he split his time between Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Everything was okay for the most part. Fun, actually. He met a lot of people, saw tourist spots he had only seen on the Internet, and ate as much fine food as his money could afford. Until he got food poisoned a couple of days ago in

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Thane mysterious hooded blood alchemist

The Blood Alchemist: The Witch’s Tower – THANE (Chapter 2)

Several hundred yards away from the town gates, Messovia’s largest and most popular tavern was opening for the day. At mid-morning, the tavern wasn’t expecting that much of visitors. Except for a handful of patrons who stayed during the night and a couple of early drinkers, it was all but empty. Sitting in the corner of the tavern was a man draped in cloak of multiple fabrics consisting of canvas, wool, and a kind of leather that looked like it was made from a reptile’s skin. Put together, the cloak looked as if it was originally taken from separate coats and assembled in a hurry. Because of the dismal quality of his cloak, his inner clothing was more visible. Sporting a leather jerkin, vambraces, and gloves, black canvas trousers, and heavy boots, his appearance would remind any townsfolk in Messovia of a mercenary or an adventurer. Add to that the assemblage of potion bottles, rolled maps, and various weapons safely tucked into his belt, and he looked out of place. Fortunately for the owner, the regular patrons who liked to start fights against newcomers, especially those who stuck out like a sore thumb, were still too drunk to come into his tavern. It wasn’t unusual for those kind of people to pass by Messovia. After all, it was a seaside town. While it’s not exactly a large and popular port, it was a thriving fishing village. If not for the absurd taxes the nobles imposed on Messovia, it would have been far richer than it was now. But having most of its produce taken directly to Konigstadt without enough compensation, fisherfolk only had enough to scrape by. Hence, the only people who could make a decent living in Messovia were merchants who sell products sent back by big cities like Konigstadt, and of course, tavern owners and innkeepers. The tavern owner clearly couldn’t help but give the patron a side glance, a look that betrayed distrust and worry, yet unable to say anything. The man arrived in the early hours of the day, even before the headless messenger stumbled into the gates of Messovia, bearing the bad news that would shake the whole continent in a few days time. Unlike the rest of the townsfolk and the visiting drunkards, though, he was one of the few who didn’t bother to look at the commotion outside. For hours, he had drank there quietly, ordering an assortment of drinks. He even purchased the most expensive one in the house. It was as if he was trying to taste them all. That in itself was already unusual, but not as unusual as seeing a rugged man rifling through the pages of an ancient leather-bound book. Ever since he arrived, he was absorbed in that book. He never even paid attention when the drunks scrambled outside after hearing the housewives clashing their pans to wake up the townspeople, announcing the arrival of the soldier He stayed put, and ordered another drink. Then another. Then another. The tavern owner clearly showed resentment of being unable to witness the grim scene at the town gates firsthand by slamming the bottles in front of him. But the man only gave him another pouch of silver coins without a word. That seemed to improve the tavern owner’s mood a little bit, but not his suspicion. The man didn’t care. As long as he would give him whatever drink he requested and leave him in peace, then everything was good. There was no need to resort into anything. After all, he was still trying to adjust to his new life as a free man after a decade of wrongful imprisonment. And the last thing he needed was to draw suspicion. As such, he closed the book and headed towards the counter. Behind it was the bar owner, drying the glasses with towels, and looking at him rather apprehensively. He gave him his friendliest smile. *** Thane knew his long silvery hair could draw curious looks as northern folks were rarely seen in the southern territories, but there was nothing he could do about it. If he was an old man, there was no need to be bothered about it but he was merely in his thirtieth summer. The long, tortuous years he had spent in prison turned his hair into silver, and it would probably take him as long to regrew it into its original black color. As such, he decided what kind of identity to adapt the moment he set foot in the Black Rocks a few days ago. “That was all that you have, yes?” Thane asked the tavern owner as he sat in the stool directly in front of him. “The liquor?” said the tavern owner apprehensively, a sturdily-built middle aged man with a cut on his upper lip. “Yes. We gave you all of the regulars and specials that we have—sir.” He added the last word slowly. Thane assumed he was either being sarcastic or genuinely unsure of how to address him. Well, he couldn’t blame him. After all, he grabbed whatever clothes he could from the merchant’s house that he passed by earlier. To avoid being recognized as the thief, he tore some of the clothes and hastily reassembled it before wearing them. The only possessions he actually owned was the bag which contained weapons, potion bottles, and other objects he brought with him from prison. Then, at the bottom was a heap of gold and silver coins that he took during the commotion in the citadel. Of course, he needed to change his prison clothes right away. It wouldn’t take long before the news of the mass breakout would spread throughout the southern territories. If an imperial soldier would recognize him as one of the escaped convicts, he would have a hard time getting away. There was no need to get into a skirmish with them. That can wait. Thane nodded and leaned back a little, eyeing the tavern owner up and

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A medieval town

The Blood Alchemist: The Witch’s Tower – ERDEN (Chapter 1)

The news reached the taverns before it did the palace. By early morning, the drunks who, up until that moment, were lying spread eagled across the floor, tables, and bar counters, were woken up by the sound of clashing pans. A lone soldier from the Imperial Army was seen at sunrise riding briskly towards the town of Messovia, a good hundred miles away from the capital city of Teutonia. An Imperial Army soldier was a rare sight in a backwater town, even if it was close to port, especially one who had been riding on his own without a backup. Unfortunately, Imperial Army soldiers were known to be cravens who were only as good as their status and numbers. Alone, they make a good punching bag. As such, early risers in the town of Messovia immediately gathered around the town’s gates. The early risers woke up the regular risers, and the regular risers woke up the late risers. Including the overnight residents of taverns. Everyone who was awake, voluntarily or begrudgingly, waited at the gates with apprehension as the soldier came closer. The crowd was eerily silent. Yet, as the horse and its rider came up closer, waves of gasps and yelps filled the morning air. The Imperial Army soldier whom they were so eager to test if he was the usual arrogant, craven bastard they could turn into a punching bag, was headless. As soon as it reached a few feet away from the gates, the body which was clearly hoisted and tied onto the horse, dropped to the ground. Some people started screaming, while others began to run as if the headless soldier would suddenly stand up and attack them. But of course, the corpse remained immovable. It was a grim sight, and the children who waited with their parents in the gates were immediately thrusted into the back. However, some still managed to squeeze their way through the crowd of adults, especially street urchins who didn’t have anyone to stop them. “Out of the way. Out of the way, you!” a pot-bellied man with an absurdly big mustache pushed the onlookers aside. He wore a faded red coat and emblazoned on his chest was the sigil of Teutonia. When a street urchin refused to move, he pushed him aside, pointing a finger on his dirty face. “Get back to the ol’ woman. That hag has been looking for ye since yesterday. Her cow’s gone, and it’s all thanks to you!” The boy spat in his direction, and then ran away when he saw him raise his mace. “I’ll deal with ya later!” he yelled after him. The constable shook his head and turned his attention towards the crowd, now closing in the headless corpse. His stomach clenched. As the constable of a town known for its numerous taverns, Erden had almost seen it all. Bloody brawls and duels that end in death were commonplace. Most of the time, however, he dealt with drunkards and crooks who were slashed, stabbed, or shot to death, but never beheaded. Still, it wasn’t an easy job. He couldn’t count the times he had to transport a body from the taverns and inns to the rocky cliff, where their bodies would be dropped to the cold, raging waters below. As a poor town far removed from crowded cities with huge population like Konigstadt, Messovia just didn’t have the money to pay for grave diggers and delegate plots of lands to turn into cemeteries. It had always been this way, despite being under the jurisdiction of the most powerful nation in the continent. So, if anyone came to Messovia looking for a drunkard family member, he would immediately tell them what could have possibly happened to them. When he was a young lad, a reeve and an apprentice to the former constable, Erden found this practice heartless and unforgiving. But when he soon saw how frequent violence and death were in towns like Messovia, he realized that things like this were sometimes unavoidable. Well, in his defense, as soon as Erden became the chief constable, he tried to keep the bodies in a shed for seven days before dumping them to the sea, so the bereaved could still have the opportunity to claim their family member. No sooner than he did, a group of corpse eating wraiths stormed into the shed during the middle of the night and feasted on the carcasses. Sure enough, when he returned the next morning, the remains of the body which now only constituted of severed hands and feet, weren’t a pretty sight. Erden thought it would be better to bury them at sea than letting them be the food of the wraiths. Who knows what those wraiths would want next. So, when that little act of mercy didn’t work, Erden thought of the next best way to give grieving families closure: sketch the faces of the newly deceased and keep them in the constable’s office. That way, if anyone came looking for a missing family member days or weeks after, they would have a way of knowing whether the person they were looking for really died. It wasn’t much of a consolation, but at least, Erden thought he tried his best in this forsaken town. Now, he would normally ask one of his reeves, Karl, to sketch the faces for him. But, as luck—or rather, misfortune—would have it, this one in front of him doesn’t have a face. “Should we draw the body instead?” Karl said beside him. Erden turned to him and looked at the gangly young man like he would at a dead bug under his shoe. He shook his head and moved towards the corpse. “Just—keep notes.” Kneeling down, he started inspecting the dead body. Of the many corpses he handled during his time as a constable, this was the most badly mangled body he had ever seen—even more mangled than that of poor Ansas who was thrown off from the church tower.

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Boy using dark magic

The Blood Alchemist – Prologue

The long and eerie silence was punctured by a sharp, pained gasp. Bloodshot eyes flickered open in the darkness. The boy, gasping for air, fought to steady his breathing, even as he coughed up bits of blood. With his vision reeling and head pounding, he strained to make something out in the canopy of darkness that covered him. Desperately, he tried to reach out for the familiar comfort of his blanket that had accompanied him during nightmares and bouts of illness, only to grasp at the cold, empty air. As his vision cleared, the harsh reality dawned upon him: there was no blanket, no bed, no roof above him. Instead, he was lying in the midst of rubble, with only the sky above him. Everything came flooding back to him at once. As the eldest son of a wealthy railroad merchant and a lesser noblewoman, the boy had everything handed to him since birth. Being the firstborn, tradition dictated that he would inherit his family’s fortunes and business. Yet, fate wasn’t at all lenient to him. A delicate constitution made him fragile, than even the slightest work would render him sick for days. His childhood was spent confined to his room, but upon discovering books, he requested his father to let him go there as he pleases. It delighted the merchant to discover that despite having a weak body, the boy’s intellect was sharp and he was quite wise for his age. It pained the merchant to think that had he been physically able, his son would perhaps surpass his achievements and might have been the biggest merchant in the entire continent. Because of his deep love towards his son, he hadn’t uttered a word about it. However, the boy knew. Even if his parents lovingly supported and encouraged him, the opposite was true with other people. The servants weren’t shy talking about it. Once when he was recuperating, he sneaked to outside to get fresh air but he heard them whispering. They said his illness was getting worse by the minute, and the doctors weren’t expecting him to make it past his twentieth birthday—that is, if he was lucky. Everyone was already of the opinion that his younger brother would soon replace him as the heir. It hurt, and made him feel useless. But he wanted to prove them wrong. The boy loved his family, even his brother. Especially his brother. Despite how others perceived them, his younger brother and sister were not only his siblings but his best friends. Both even promised to do everything to help him recover, so when that day comes, he would assume the role within the family that was expected of him. To him, they were more than siblings; they were his only true friends, the sole sources of unwavering support. Motivated by this bond, the boy committed himself entirely to his family’s welfare. He promised to do everything to become stronger in any way possible. He would protect them. He would be there for them. Only for everything to come crushing down one fateful night. One late summer evening, as the sun dipped in the west, the boy and his siblings were gathered near the fireplace in the family drawing room. Nights like this was usually spent in study, but today, their father permitted them to play longer. As long as his eldest son didn’t stress himself out, then it would be alright for them to do so until dinnertime. But then, he heard his parents arguing quietly in another room. Their voice were hushed through the thick walls that separated the study and drawing room, but the boy knew what they were arguing about. He had heard about it for weeks. He even read about it in the letters his father left in the table of the study. A nobleman wanted to purchase a rare object from his father, who, in turn found it in his expeditions in the deep west. It was said to be either a powerful artifact or a valuable item from the ancient times, but the boy eventually knew what it was. It was an object so dangerous that his father was reluctant to hand it over. He thought it was best to the Church where it belonged. However, his mother had another idea. She wanted him to sell it. Not because they needed the money or she was tempted by the prospect of immense wealth it would bring, but because she knew the nobleman. The boy heard her repeatedly saying how powerful that man was, and denying him the object would only put them in harms way. She even told him a rumor about another merchant who went against the nobleman and was found dead a fortnight after a very public argument. His mother warned that if their father continued to refuse to him, their family could be very well in danger. But the husband continued to refuse, insisting they were doing the right thing. The object, if in the hands of someone as greedy as that nobleman, could very well endanger the world. The boy then saw his father leave the room. When he passed by his children and noticed his eldest child looking up, the merchant smiled sadly and patted his head. Meanwhile, the boy could still hear his mother sobbing softly in the other room. After they were tucked into bed, the boy fell into a deep sleep for the first hour or so before being jolted awake by another loud argument. This time, it wasn’t just his mother and father’s voices that filled the air; there were others involved as well. The boy’s gaze immediately flew to the window where the noise came from and noticed his younger brother was already there, observing the scene below. His brother and sister, although they had rooms of their own, sometimes insisted on sleeping together with him. They said it made them feel safe. It seemed he woke up before he did. His brother’s face

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The Blood Alchemist

The Blood Alchemist – Synopsis

The world tree is dying, and nobody knows what to do with it. Meanwhile, a powerful and mysterious alchemist is wandering throughout the Middle Continent. Feared by the ordinary folks and hunted by authorities, he was said to be searching for something: the Soul of Ymir, which is apparently, the only thing that can also save the entire nine worlds from collapsing and keeping the Beast of Apocalypse from being unleashed. But, what does he intend to do with it? *** After escaping from the world’s most dangerous prison, former high-ranking military man Wintory Thane was hellbent on one thing—assume a new identity and live a normal life as a well-to-do farmer of a vineyard in the southwestern part of the Middle Continent, all away from the action that destroyed his life a decade before. However, before that, Thane had to do three things: One, is to find the people who framed him in the king’s murder and make them pay. Two, is to retrieve the Sword of Destiny—wherever that is. And three, is to secure the Soul of Ymir. The first two are goals he made for himself. The last, was the only thing his savior asked him in return. Thane was only able to survive and escape the hellish prison in Apelipisia Island thanks to an enigmatic old man who taught him blood alchemy—the ability to do magic with blood, whether it was his own or from other people. He asked Thane one thing only: retrieve the Soul of Ymir and return it to its rightful place. However, being a wanted fugitive and wielder of a dangerous and lost form of magic, Thane knows the path to freedom—real freedom, won’t be an easy one. Especially that he isn’t the only one interested in claiming the Soul of Ymir, because whoever wins it, will have the power to restore or destroy the world.

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