The great fort that laid just a few days travel south of the
great city Hahn Nova was going about its usual bustle of activity.
Soldiers, clad in steel armament, patrolled the outer walls
as the shine from their armor flickered in the last rays of
the fading twilight. The hammers of the workers echoed in rhythm
as they continued to reinforce their current outpost to help
keep out the occasional monster. Both solider and civilian alike
performed their duty with great pride, because they were serving
under the world's greatest hero and leader. He was born under
the name Gustave the XII, prince and heir to the throne, but
he had soon earned the more fitting name: Gustave the Steel.
As the history books still and always will tell, at young Gustave's
"Firebrand" ceremony he was found to be without anima, thus
proving him to be unworthy of the throne to his own kingdom.
He was cast out of his own kingdom along with his caring mother
by his father. "Trash", "filth", "good for nothing", Gustave
lived with these insults in his ears for most of his life. Upon
reaching the age of twenty, Gustave, along with a handful of
brave friends, began a campaign to seize his birthright. After
conquering the anima-using armies of his brothers, Gustave underwent
a change. With the help of his companions, Gustave began to
mold into the leader that the people could take pride in following.
After the construction of his first new city, Gustave began
a campaign to expand his empire and to rid the people of the
monster threat. He stationed his forces at the very fort where
this story takes place.
The gates flung open as Gustave returned from his recent journey,
along with his top advisor, carrying a wounded man inside the
fort, who was clutching his side. With a stare as sharp as his
sword, Gustave commanded the nearby soldiers to take the young
man to receive medical attention. As his arms were quickly hosted
over the shoulders of Gustave's men, the young man raised his
head to speak. "I can already see why they follow you." said
Johan. Gustave offered the man a nod. "Just rest and heal for
now, then I'll have to ask what you were doing to get yourself
like this. And I don't take no for an answer either, understand?"
Gustave then left everyone to retreat to the privacy of his
own quarters. The fiery-haired leader then unsheathed his massive
steel blade and gazed into the shining metal. The sword itself
was a legend. Forged by Gustave himself but only known to its
creator, it was tempered more with memories than with strikes
of a blacksmith's hammer. He then placed the weapon in its sheath,
and reached for the chain around his neck. He opened the secret
locket he had placed there, revealing a small picture of a lovely
woman. "Leslie" he whispered mentally. She was the one of the
few who confronted Gustave when he was on his childish rants
as a very young man. Maybe it was admiration of her courage
against the strongest man in the world or the smallest spark
of affection Gustave saw in her whenever she offered that metal
melting smile to him. Dismissing such emotions for about the
hundredth time, he tucked the locket back inside his shirt below
his armor. It was getting late and Dirk had yet to arrive. He
strode out of his room in time to catch the last rays of the
sun. But the day wasn't the only thing that would end.
"Dirk's arrival is late isn't it"? He said to a guard standing
"Yes sir, we haven't heard a word since the message saying
that they had run into a pack of monsters. Our scouts are on
the move as ordered" the man replied.
Gustave thought a moment and spoke. "It's too dangerous to
move now, wait until daybreak". He turned to his lifelong friend,
Flynn, "Relax, Flynn, Dirk is quite accomplished, unlike his
father" with a teasing smirk. Gustave never lost his old habit
of poking fun at his timid friend.
However, dawn never comes.
Gustave was awoken by the shouts of battle and the screams
of his men. Smoked filed his nostrils as he put on his armor
and strapped his sword to his side to investigate. When he opened
the door, the vision was that of hell. Monsters of all types
were coming over the walls in swarms and many of his men lay
dead or dying inside the raging fire. He ran to the middle of
the fort where his advisor Ventarbre and Flynn were waiting.
He ordered them both to escape and was met with the insistence
that they stay beside and fight. He was not about to let their
deaths become an insult to Gustave's teacher, Master Cielmer.
He ordered them again. Again they protested, but the doors nearby
swung open and there appeared the wounded young man. "I will
look out for Master Gustave."
Ventarbre protested, "Johan! What can you do in your weakened
Johan then unsheathed his blast sword and replied, "I'm sure
I can fight far better than you, even in this state". Gustave
then gave the order for the two to flee, and they reluctantly
complied. "Are you sure about this Johan?" He was, both battle-hardened
men knew that he had not long to live with his injuries, and
known only to Johan, the poison that was slowly eating away
his life force. Gustave gave the order. "We will meet again
Johan" and he closed the door behind him, hearing only Johan's
brave and final challenge to the swarm that was soon upon the
slowly dying assassin.
But Gustave had his pride, and would not be spoken of as a
coward. He turned away from the path that would be his escape
and charged a nearby patch of monsters attacking his fort. With
strikes from his great sword they soon fell, yet more came.
Wave after wave, Gustave continued to hack and slice through
the wall of monsters yelling battle cries that would make the
rest of history's conquers seem meek. He fought his way to the
outside, cornering a giant labor ant who made it's biggest mistake
by attacking Gustave from behind. "Weaklings, all of you are
- you'll all go to hell where you were spawned from!" as he
leapt into the air to bring the final killing blow upon the
enemy. But before the blade connected he was intercepted by
a strong blast of anima from behind and fell onto the dirt.
As he fell, his pained eyes saw a second blast fire at his sword,
knocking it into the sky and landing behind the fort walls.
He picked himself up, wiping the crimson from his mouth. "So
who has the courage to strike me from afar and behind?" he shouted
after spiting a goblet of blood to the side.
His answer came as a cackle of an old man who smelled of dirt
and mud and who was suddenly in front of Gustave. "That would
be me. Monsters of this type are simple to control - anima manipulation
is such a thrilling hobby".
Gustave clenched his fist in anger. "Why? Are you one of those
anima cult members? I thought I finished you!"
The old man smiled, and then frowned as if suddenly experiencing
disappointment. "This will not do, for the rumors of you lacking
anima are true. You would never make a sufficient host for me."
Gustave stood ready to lunge at the old man but paused. "Host?
What are you talking about!!??"
The man cackled again, opening his hand to reveal a shiny egg
-shaped object. "For me of course, but a good for nothing like
you would never do for a host, it's a pity being in control
of you would be perfect. Using your name and reputation, I could
go about fulfilling my desires as I pleased. You are strong
- strong enough to almost finish me with your little raid on
the anima cult, but luckily this old man digging for quells
had found me. He's a tad too old but I'll solve that problem
shortly" and the man laughed again.
Gustave growled, "I don't have any idea what you mean, but
you're going to pay for this" and he lunged at the old man in
order to remove a random vital organ with his bare hands.
But the old man lifted the egg before Gustave and released
a concentrated beam at the warrior. "You're strong against anima,
but not invincible," the old man cackled again as the struggling
warrior fought against the attack, walking towards him slowly,
his armor shattering and his skin getting hotter and hotter
with each passing second.
Gustave knew he wasn't going to make it and shouted his final
words "One day...in the future someone using my 'good for nothing
power' is going to send you to HELL!!!!!" Gustave gave no scream
of pain, nor shout of anguish. He opened his arms to welcome
death's embrace as his mortal body dissolved into ash and was
taken to flight by a soft breeze.
The next morning, Gustave's friends returned to the charred
remains of the fort. Shouts for their friend's and great leader's
name filled the morning sky, but to no avail. The great hero
had passed on. Ventarbre, Flynn, and Dirk shifted through the
ruins to find some sign of life. Heavy hearted, Ventarbre looked
to see a shining object imbedded in the ash. He slowly reached
over and yanked this object out, and was humbled by its sheer
weight. Was it the enormous mass of the sword Ventarbre pulled
that made him slightly falter on his feet? Or was it the weight
of the influence that the dead leader would hold in the future?