Darius set the metal cylinders back on the desk. He had lost, and he knew it. Even though there was little more to be said, the eldest clerk scoffed, “To think that the likes of you swarm these halls like vermin each year. Disgraceful! We won’t tolerate your filth anymore! When you return to wherever it is you come from, I want you to tell everyone there to never show their faces in this noble and honorable guild ever again!”
Darius cringed as he looked at the massive surrounding crowd, hoping for some empathy, but all he discovered was a sea of cold, uncaring faces. He slunk into the distance, salty tears streaming down his face. It was a long walk back to the entrance through which he had come from, and Darius felt that he couldn’t escape fast enough. Far in the background, he heard the clerks processing the other, more worthy applicants.
Within a large decorated office sat an old man meditating on his chair. His office was illustrious, the walls lined with incredible weapons, medals, gifts, and other regalia. The old man paused his meditation and opened his vigilant eyes. The moment they opened, an expert’s aura washed over the room. “This doesn’t make sense; why did he give up so easily? Last night, he completed ten thousand refinements with ease, yet he now gives up so easily? Truly odd! Also, he barely has any spiritual essence affinity. Just how many refinements must he have gone through to achieve his current state? Amusing! Truly amusing! This old man will follow him and find out, haha!” With those words, the old man’s body flashed, and his body disappeared.
A few hours later, Darius brooded alone on the hill, blankly staring at the castle he had dreamt of for more than six years. His tears had long since dried, and he now sat with his legs folded. Inside, he felt broken. The dream he had fixated on for so long had shattered with one five-minute conversation.
He felt a plethora of feelings rushing through him. He felt hurt and abandonment and despair in this harsh and unforgiving world in which he had been left broken and desolate. His breathing deepened as he watched the sunset and the great doors, behind which lay a better life from which he had been barred, sealed shut.
Darius could feel the miniature anvil in his pocket. It felt heavy and warm as the sensation heated his right leg. It was time to strike it again, but in his current state of mind, he rashly pulled it out of his pocket, before staring at it and tossing it over his shoulder finally ridding himself of the accursed thing.
Much to his dismay, it simply grew to its original size; this was all it took to push him over the edge. Various new emotions surged as his face contorted from immense sorrow to immense rage.
As he gazed at the large anvil, motionless yet mocking him in the soft, green grass, Darius’s breathing grew ragged and audible.
“Fine, then,” He spat through clenched teeth as he ripped his hammer out of its strap and strode for the anvil.
In a fit of uncontrolled anger, he hacked at the anvil, fiercer than ever before. Shock-waves rolled through the air from where he struck like ripples resonating through the air.
Darius gave it all he had; loud and clear, the sound boomed like thunderous canons.
Instead of wallowing in despair and self-pity, Darius now burned with rage, yet more than that, he felt cheated. He had played it safe his whole life, and what had that gotten him? Absolutely nothing.
His breath came in rapid gasps as a ring of bare earth expanded around the anvil. He was no longer the same cowardly Darius who had been bullied by everyone at the orphanage and merely accepted it. He wasn’t the same Darius who had allowed everyone to trample him. No, he was now the real Darius Omen, and nothing would stand in his way.
The anvil burned red due to the heat generated from the rapid impacts. As his furious energy waned and the anvil drained his anger, his strikes became less precise, but he didn’t care. He kept slamming his hammer harder and harder until it all became too much for him.
All his emotions poured out in a single, desperate shout as he threw the hammer and fell to his knees, panting. A new man. A new Darius Omen.
Slowly, he rose off his knees and shrunk the anvil back down to a pebble. It was still warm from the hammering it had just taken. Placing it back inside his pocket, he picked up his hammer and walked over to the sign he had found earlier by the rail.
He took out the taxi button Prince Lionel had arranged for him the previous night and pressed it. He had never in his life felt more alive and determined that right now. It wasn’t long before a silver sphere hurtled toward him.
As soon as he had entered and the hatch had reassembled itself, he said without any hesitation, “The Imperial Dragon.” He truly felt like some noble scion.
The taxi took off and headed straight for the restaurant where he would contact Prince Lionel. As it took off, the silhouette of an old man stroking his beard materialized and trailed the taxi. “Interesting! Just who is this boy? I need to take a closer look, haha.”
This time, Darius didn’t even notice the view, his thoughts scattered in a million different places as the pod descended and halted in front of the pathway that led up to the establishment’s main entrance.
Much to Darius’s surprise, two different female attendants: a brunette and a redhead rushed to greet him.
“Good evening, Mr. Omen. Prince Lionel told us to expect you today. We will inform him of your arrival immediately.” The brunette gushed.
“Please let us take your bags for you.” The redhead insisted with her head bowed slightly.
“This way, sir. You will be dining in the royal booth again.” They spoke in unison as they gestured toward the front entrance.
Darius walked in, now confident and proud. Although he still wished that he didn’t have to resort to this, it was his only choice. He walked over to the booth and sat at the table that had already been covered with all sorts of foods.
“The prince will be with you shortly.” The brunette announced as she slid the booth doors shut.
The sight of all the food made Darius realize just how hungry he was because he had not eaten the whole day.
He immediately scarfed down all the food in front of him, with the appetite of a man with a recovered vigor for life.
At that moment, the prince arrived inside the booth. His face beamed down at the eating Darius.
“I knew you would make the right decision; I just knew it,” he chuckled as he sat down opposite to Darius. “May I ask how it went at the guild?” he questioned with a smug look. Lionel could tell that something was different, something inside Darius had changed.
“I think you know full well how it went,” Darius replied, still stuffing his face with food.
Lionel looked glanced at this changed man. Indeed, Darius had changed much since their last encounter.
“So then, what do you think?”
Darius stopped eating and took a long, hard look at Lionel, his face serious as he said two words that would alter his fate.