A word of warning. This isn't your regular Evangelion story. This is an elsewhere story, with a fantasy edge. Which means that I'll be using NGE characters, characterizations and elements, but in a heavy fantasy setting.
As the sun went down beneath the horizon, a young man, standing at the top of a windmill, put away the hammer he had been using to repair the damage from the last storm. Wiping the sweat from his forehead the man sighed and stared at the scene laid out before him. Walking towards the edge of the windmill, the young man felt a rare sense of peace as a light breeze washed over his face and the sunset bathed the sky in orange hues.
Not too far ahead the man could see the village of Edo stretched out before him, the faint sounds of its inhabitants' activities being carried to his ears by the wind. For a moment, the man felt drawn by a strange instinct, beckoning him to make one more step, as if some part of him was convinced that he would be able to free himself from the laws of gravity and be able to fly free from this place, instead of falling to his death. The fact that he didn't care much about his own existence made it even harder not to make that extra step.
Shinji sighed and closed his eyes, savoring this peaceful moment, before heading home. It was almost time to cook dinner.
Time to face reality again.
An Evangelion inspired fantasy elsewhere story
Written by Alain Gravel
Based on characters created by and copyright GAINAX
CHAPTER 1 - Prelude to destiny
It was with relief that Shinji entered his tutor's home. While he normally didn't care much about the people of the village, ignoring their anger and fearful stares was becoming harder with each day. For a moment, as he looked at his hands, Shinji wonder how long he would be able to stand it before his mind crumbled. He knew that he should have left the village, but he had no idea where to go or what to do with his life.
Or if there existed a place where he could ever be accepted.
Seeking peace of mind into his daily chores, Shinji began to prepare dinner.
- - -
Master Gwin, Shinji's tutor and guardian, as well as village elder, mayor and wise man, came out of his study room as Shinji was setting the table for dinner. It was no coincidence; it had been a daily ritual for a few years now. Shinji would cook, prepare everything, Gwin would join him, a few words would be exchanged, then both would eat before returning to their own occupations.
"How did work on the windmill go?" asked the eighty year old man without displaying great interest in the question, as he put aside his empty bowl of soup, before beginning to eat his rice.
"It was no problem. The work will be finished tomorrow," replied Shinji, with a similar lack of interest.
"Was there any problem with the other villagers?"
Shinji watched his tutor nod in satisfaction, before resuming eating in silence. Shinji did the same. In truth, it suited the young man fine. While the elder had always refused to talk about the specifics, Shinji knew that he only took care of him because someone was paying him to. Like himself, the old man was not the kind to reach out to others and while he was probably the only person in the village who showed him respect, Shinji knew that he had never cared for him. Their relationship was only one of business. Gwin had seen that he received an above average education and had gave him a place to live, in exchange for money for the village. That was probably the only reason why no one had tried to chase him away... yet.
Leaving the dishes into Shinji's care, the old man returned to his study room without saying another word.
- - -
Darkness swathed him like the warm folds of a soft blanket; darkness so complete that he could not tell whether his eyes were open or not. Many a man would fear so total a lack of light, but the permeating darkness brought him only comfort. Outside, in the rays of the burning sun, men lived their pathetic, worthless lives in chaos. They fought and bled and died for power or glory, polluting the earth with their sinful slaughter. In the dark, however, all was order and peace.
His meditations were cut short as he sensed the arrival of someone. He did not see that person, but he could tell who it was, by her familiar smell and the regular sound of her heartbeat. She was one of the few souls dwelling this underground city that that didn't fear the total darkness of this room. For the shadows were her element.
Besides... she probably was the only one of his "allies" that didn't wish him dead.
"My spies just reported movements from the Holy City of Tokyo," she spoke, in a business like manner. "The White Knight has left the city alone and is riding toward Edo."
Tabris nodded, then opened his his red eyes, his vision, powered by his magic, piercing the darkness. He stared at the woman's eyes, whom he knew could seem him just as well as he could see her, hiding his internal frown. While he had expected such news, he still found it upsetting.
"It is unusual behavior for the White Knight to leave Tokyo alone. Therefore, she must be carrying out a mission of the highest importance for the royal crown. No doubt she had been sent to retrieve one of Lilith's Chosen. High Mage Gendo is making his move faster than I had expected. It seems I have underestimated his abilities. He must be aware that we will soon be ready to break the seal."
"Do you wish for me to destroy the White Knight and her quarry?"
To say that she seem to be enthusiastic about the idea she had proposed would be an understatement.
"No. While the current White Knight is significantly less powerful than her predecessor, we should not underestimate her. And there is no telling how powerful her quarry is. No, I believe the time has come to use our sleeping allies. My power should be sufficient to revive one of them now, with your aid. Sachiel will be a perfect choice."
He smirked at the look of surprise on her face.
"You'll send one of the Unholy Ones after the White Knight?"
"No. I do not care about the White Knight. The boy's death, however, would be welcomed. And it will be the perfect opportunity to test our opposition."
"I suggest notify your spies to increase their watch. This is an opportunity that we shouldn't miss. After all, the moment your people waited for three millennia is nearly at hand."
Further instructions unnecessary, the woman seemed to fade from view. Tabris closed his eyes, total darkness enveloping him like a warm blanket, and began to plan his next move. Whether or not Sachiel succeeded in his mission, the fact that High Mage Gendo was aware of his projects was bound to create problems. Tabris' initial plan had been to strike before his enemies could prepare themselves. Since it wouldn't be possible anymore, he would have to change his plans.
No matter. The outcome would still be the same.
- - -
As he laid on top of the roof of the village temple, the young man looked at the stars, losing himself in the contemplation of the constellations. This was his favorite spot in the village -- for a reason he couldn't quite explain, he had always liked high places -- and this exercise had always had a soothing effect on him. The sky wide open before him, the stars burning bright, the cold night wind almost making him shiver; somehow these always brought him peace whenever he was troubled, these calm moments had kept him from losing his mind.
From as far as he could remember, Shinji had lived most of his seventeen years of life in Master Gwin's home. Some would say that he had been brought to the old man's care when he had only been an infant, but Gwin had always been reluctant to talk about his past. So young Shinji knew nothing about his origins. There were rumors; based on the sums of money Edo's mayor was receiving, many had speculated that he was the unwanted son of one of the kingdom's lords.
But they were just that... rumors.
So Shinji had grown up, knowing that someone somewhere had abandoned him to be raised by someone who didn't care. He was an outcast, who never tried to integrate himself into the life of a village which had never been interested in him in the first place. Adults had been indifferent to him, some even angry at him for monopolizing the skills of Master Gwin which their own children could have profited from instead. This attitude had reflected on the village children, who had never accepted Shinji and either ignored him or picked him as a good target for teasing and bullying.
But now, the habitants of Edo feared him. Shinji didn't really know which was best; being an outcast or being feared.
Realizing that keeping such a train of thought wouldn't bring any comfort, Shinji looked up at the sky again, trying to ignore the people inhabiting the town spread before him. Moving into a sitting position Shinji took up his flute, which had been laying at his side. His eyes gazing at the moon overhead, he began to play. Music was one of the rare passions the young man had and playing the instrument was to him a source of joy and comfort. He was aware that he wasn't very good at playing it, but each time he did, his mind just seemed to fly away. Finally setting his soul free through his music, Shinji managed to gain some piece of mind, even if only for a short time.
- - -
Sachiel materialized on the roof of Edo's windmill, standing almost at the same spot Shinji had been hours earlier, Edo spread before him. Recently awakened from his sealed sleep, Sachiel had a hard time believing that the human race had managed to spread in such numbers in the three millennium that his imprisonment had lasted. Yet, proof was standing right before him as his eyes and ears pierced the darkness to witness the humans nightly activities. Like cockroaches, it seems that man was a plague difficult to be rid of.
But he had no doubt that soon his master would be able this time to get rid of the human threat.
Pulling a dark crystal from a pocket, a gift given by his master to help him locate his target, Sachiel held it in front of him in his opened hand. Slowly, the crystal began to float, first a foot in the air, then slowly toward the southern part of the town. Sachiel followed the crystal, his floating body unnoticed by anyone in the night sky.
- - -
The woman sighed as finally Edo was within sight. She had been riding for hours now and felt really bored to death. And quite sore too. The sooner she'd retrieve the boy, the sooner she would be back to Tokyo. While she was aware of the importance of the boy, she couldn't help but feel less than enthusiastic about such a baby-sitting job.
Besides, she had more important things to take care of.
Suddenly, she shivered as her trained senses picked up a magical aura in Edo that shouldn't have been there. Something dark and very powerful, more powerful than any evil she had ever felt before.
Without a doubt, it had been sent to kill the boy.
Cursing, the woman urged her horse to run faster, not caring if it was dangerous for the animal's health. Better lose a horse than the boy.
- - -
Finally, the crystal stopped moving, immobilized in the air thirty meters above the head of a young man. For a moment, Sachiel doubted the crystal as he could feel no power from the boy. He looked like any other human, sporting aged and dirty green pants, a gray tunic and a sash that probably used to be white around his waist. Undoubtedly a human of inferior social status, which contradicted further more the hypothesis that this boy had any power within him. The crystal, however, had been given to him by his master so its abilities were not to be doubted. Most likely, the boy had not yet learned to tap into his powers. Sachiel grinned, revealing a row of sharp teeth. An easy job.
Sachiel pointed his index finger toward the boy and let the energy gather at his fingertip. Slowly, a sphere of dark power grew, until it reached a diameter of one meter. It was a lot more energy than what was needed to kill a single boy. The boy's death, however, was important to his master and so, Sachiel was not willing to take any chances. Besides, he was doing this world a favor by annihilating most of this village in the process.
He was about to release the lethal sphere when suddenly, a
powerful blast of spiritual energy hit him in the small of his back,
tore through his body, and burst out his upper chest. Sachiel let out
a soundless cry of pain and, his concentration shattered, released
the accumulated power. However, the blast that had hit him had also
changed the angle of his body in the air, making his completely miss
his intended target.
The sphere of black energy raced down toward the southern border of the village, reducing a house to cinder before impacting against the ground.
- - -
The peace of Shinji's evening shattered around him. A bright light blinded him even as a gust of wind blew him off the roof of the temple, then off the roof of a house on which he had landed. He thudded heavily against the ground, keeping the presence of mind to roll himself away from the debris thrown by the buildings collapsing around him. In the space of an instant, nearly a quarter of the thriving village vanished, leaving in its place only ash, corpses, and the wooden skeletons of once-happy homes.
Shinji groaned as he tried to get up. He had been lucky that he hadn't fallen directly from the temple's roof, but still, if the subsequent fall from the house had not been enough to kill him, he was hurting all over. But pain was soon forgotten as Shinji felt something grab his neck and pull him high enough so that his feet couldn't touch the ground, choking him.
Despite his tear blurred vision and the fact that his aggressor was wearing a heavy black cloak which hid some of his features, Shinji managed to see his face and immediately regretted he had. It looked like a man, but Shinji knew better than that. The skin was dead white and the eyes were of an inhuman dark purple glow. Fangs and pointy teeth showed clearly through the angry hiss. His level of education was not necessary to know that the thing about to kill him was a demon. The gaping hole in his chest where a strange darkness seemed to swirl and knit together bones and burned flesh was also a good indication.
The grip in his next increased and Shinji would have probably been howling in pain if he had been able to. He was sure his end had come when suddenly, he heard a shout coming from behind him.
From the corner of his eye, Shinji noticed a blast of energy shooting straight toward him and the demon. The demon appeared to have noticed too, but it was too late, as it severed the arm that had been holding Shinji at the elbow and ate through most of the right side of his chest. Shinji fell to the ground, what was left of the demons arm still choking him. He saw the demon fell to his knees, intense pain obvious on his features. Then he suddenly teleported away, apparently scared of the blurred figure slowly walking towards them.
"Damn coward!" shouted the newcomer angrily.
Shinji didn't really care, however, as he was still being choked by the severed arm. The other person apparently realized that, as she went to his aid, prying long bony fingers off his neck. Shinji coughed as finally he was able to breathe and then took this opportunity to study his savior. He blinked as he realized it was a woman. She seemed in her late twenties and was by far the strangest woman he had ever seen.
She was of medium built for a woman, but still standing slightly taller than him. She was wearing a uniform of the King's Royal Guard, or a slight variation of it, if what his tutor had taught him was correct. The normal dress of the Royal Guard was composed of a white long-sleeved one-piece shirt, almost reaching the knees. Cinched at the waist by a broad sword belt, the shirt formed a sort of skirt, which covered the dark red pantaloons underneath. The hands were covered by tooled leather gloves, dyed in dark red, thick bracers of leather and metal sticking out from underneath. Emblazoned on the front of the shirt was the crest of the Royal family, over the Holy Cross of Lilith. Hers, however, defied that well-established norm. Certainly, no normal member of that elite cabal of knights had ever worn anything quite that revealing before. Not even when they escorted the King on his visit to the village so many years before.
She still wore the standard white shirt. However, unlike the ones her peers wore, hers clung tightly to the curves of her body. The shirt itself seemed to have been converted into a one-piece tunic of sheer fabric, the short 'skirt' having all but disappeared. Her trim waist was still girded by the same thick sword belt, though the old sword sheath itself seemed to be missing, the belt-buckle's shiny surface still revealing the half-maple leaf insignia of the King's Men. A long loincloth hung from the belt, its surface decorated by golden braid work, though Shinji couldn't figure out if its purpose was one of modesty, covering her privates, since it seemed to only heighten the almost sensual allure of the outfit.
The customary sleeves and pantaloons were gone as well. In their place were a pair of long white open-fingered gloves and red high traveler's stockings. Her long, shapely legs were enclosed in knee-high traveling boots, their well-worn leather surface still showing a bright sheen despite apparently being used for extensive wandering.
A long, high-collared white velvet cape completed the rather unorthodox uniform, its two silver shoulder guards making it look more like something a nobleman would wear rather than a common Guardsman.
Holding the traveler's cloak together was a large brooch shaped in the Cross of Lilith, its golden cross shining a slight but noticeable light. Perhaps the most odd adornment of the woman's gear was the long, curved sword sheathed at the back of the cape. Shinji had never seen anything like it; its length far surpassed the size of any blade Shinji knew of. How this woman was able to use that as an effective weapon, Shinji had no idea.
Any well-bred woman would have fainted right away just being caught wearing such an attire. This person, however, apparently didn't have the same problem.
Funny, for some reason or another, Shinji found himself blushing slightly. Shaking his head, he focused his gaze upon the woman's face.
She was what you could describe as 'handsome', if the term could ever be applied to a woman. She had soft brown eyes, and long hair of the most exotic purple hue, almost unheard of in these parts, tied in a loose ponytail high behind her head, her face seemingly more used to smiles and other softer expressions. However, looking into her soft brown eyes, he saw the vaguely-hinted at steel hidden behind that peaceful look, and was immediately convinced that she wouldn't hesitate to fight if she needed to.
"You okay, kid?"
Shinji tried to answer, but he found himself unable to. Just breathing was difficult. The woman appeared to notice and inspected his injuries. She then put her palms on the boy's chest and forehead.
"A few more seconds and you'd been dead. Hold on, I'll get you fixed up. Lilith, Mother of all life, I call upon you! HEALING!"
Shinji felt a rush of warm energy spread through his body. It was a strange, yet very nice sensation, unlike anything he had ever felt before. Then, a few seconds later, it was gone... as was the pain. He blinked, raising his hand to massage his throat, which only felt sore now. He realized that the strange woman had used a healing spell. Magic users rarely left the Holy City this day. It was strange, but not as strange as the rest of what had happened to him.
"Yes. Many thanks to you, miss. You've saved my life."
The woman smiled then her eyes narrowed as she seemed to appraise him. For a moment, Shinji felt like a piece of meat under that gaze. Clearly, the woman didn't find what she had been looking for, as she looked disappointed, despite some efforts to hide it. Not that Shinji really cared; he had never really filled any expectations people had in him. Not that there was much to expect of him in the first place.
"My, a polite boy I have here. This will be more pleasant than I thought. Am I correct in assuming that your name is Shinji?"
Shinji blinked yet again, as the woman helped him get on his feet. How did she know his name?
"Yes, it is."
"Good. Then let's not waste time here and be on hour way. My blast hurt that son of a bitch good, but he's not dead. He's delayed for now, but he'll be back for you, so the sooner we reach Tokyo, the better."
Only then did Shinji actually took notice of what was going on around him. The southern area of the village was in flame, people were crying and screaming in pain and fright.
"What's going on here? Are you saying that... this happened because of me?"
The woman looked straight at him, her expression now serious.
This seemed so strange. Why would someone want to kill him? He was insignificant, had never done anything to cause anyone harm. Not in such a way, anyway.
"Because you're the one of Lilith's Chosen, Shinji. After three thousand years of peace, the Kagenoshi have come back and are trying to revive Adam, the Accursed God. And the only thing that can stand in their way are Lilith's Chosen."
Shinji rose an eyebrow at that. Him? It didn't make sense. He had read about the Accursed God Adam. Most people didn't know the tales and stories surrounding the evil god, his name having been erased through centuries of peace, but Shinji had found a mention of Adam in one of Gwin's oldest books, relating how Adam had nearly destroyed Gaia. Only the courage of Kaworu the Brave had prevented the world from being consumed by darkness. And this woman here was telling him that he was to fight Adam's minions?
He laughed, the whole thing obviously ridiculous.
"That's absurd, miss. I don't think it's rather tasteful to
joke around when this village is burning. Now, if you'll excuse me,
I'll go see what I can salvage from my home before the flames gets
Shinji was about to walk away when he felt a strong grip on his shoulder.
"I'm very serious, Shinji. Whether you believe it or not, this is your destiny."
"I'm sure you have the wrong person. I don't want to get involved in this. Not if I have to fight."
The woman's features hardened.
"Look around you Shinji! If you don't do anything, the entire world will look like this!"
"Like I care..."
Before he realized what had happened, the young man felt his face tilt to the side, then a burning sensation on his cheek. Slowly, he looked back at the woman who had just slapped him, indifference versus righteous anger.
"If *you* care, why don't you use your magic to help those people?" asked Shinji.
"I'd do it if I could. But if I start healing someone, I'll get stuck here and my duty is to get you to Tokyo." She sighed. "I really wish I had the time... but if I don't get you to safety, none of this will matter. Eventually, everyone here will die, along with everyone on Gaia."
That argument did get Shinji's attention.
"So basically, if I don't go with you, we all die, me included, correct?"
Slowly, Shinji picked up the broken remains of his flute, which had obviously not taken the fall as well.
"I don't care very much about living... but I'm not really eager to die yet. And someone has to pay for this," added Shinji as he gave one last look the broken musical instrument, before throwing it away. "But you'll probably regret taking me with you. You don't want me to fight at your side."
Shinji ignored the woman's surprised expression as he walked toward Gwen's house, ignoring the chaos all around him.
"Hey! Tokyo isn't that way!" noted the woman as she caught up to him.
"I know. But I'd like to get some stuff before this whole place is gone."
"Oh... Well, fine, but we've got to make that quick. The sooner we're gone, the safer the people here will be."
There was a heavy pause, as the woman followed Shinji's steps. It didn't last long, however, as it appeared the woman was determined to make conversation with him.
"By the way, I'm the White Knight of the Royal Guard, but you can call me Misato..."
[To be continued...]
In the next chapter:
"I have no idea know what suddenly happening to me. One day I am outcast, and now I am told that I'm one of Lilith's Chosen. I have no idea what Lady Misato expects of me, but I know that I'll be useless. I don't want to fight. Not again."
"But what am I to do when Sachiel returns, stronger than ever, to kill me? Can I really die without even trying to defend myself? Can I stand and do nothing as when Lady Misato is ready to die to keep me safe? Is it possible that my life is more important than I thought?"
"And who is that strange blue haired girl who's been following us around since yesterday?"