As night ascended, a flock of white crows flew across the slum of Bodgane, the worst place there was in the vast kingdom of Moorwick, as eyes from below glared above, witnessing the beauty and horror that comes with their wings of snow. These messengers of Death descended upon the slum, feasting on remnants and remains, robbing what little food the slum-dwellers had left. Within a local churchyard, a boy lay beneath a withered tree, holding his book over his face, covering the night sky spectacle. For him, he didn’t even take a slight notice at the crows, he was captivated to the papers and its words and drawings, he grinned and hummed to the melody of the chilling night-breeze all while he read, as the lantern-dangled on the tree rocked back and forth to his rhythm. Just as he was about to finish reading, one of the feathery mischiefs sunk down and plucked the book away. The boy let out a loud screech when the book was suddenly pulled away from him. He abruptly rose up and noticed the crow on the ground, struggling to lift the book up. Give it back! The boy desperately shouted as he took one side of the book and started pulling. An unexpected game of tug-of-war played out, as both sides tried their best to take the prize. The boy, despite being four times the size of his opponent, his arms were frail; his cheeks were caved in, revealing his jaw; and all throughout the desperate struggle, his stomach rumbled louder than the clashing wings of the crows. Reaching a stalemate, after both sides took a break, as the boy stopped to regain his strength, he closed his eyes and wiped off his sweat with the dirty rag that he had on as clothes, but when the boy opened his eyes, both the crow and his book were gone. He started to panic, he immediately threw his face to the sky, and there the crow was, flying to its flock with the book pinched between its talons. Goddamn you! I’ll fry you the next time I see you! screamed the boy, panting between sentences as he did. The boy, tired and ransacked, went back to his tree and just as he was about to lay down, snickers in the bushes behind him could be heard. “Who’s out there?” the boy shouted out as he slowly walked backwards
Three kids, all were larger and taller than the boy, walked out from their hiding “How ya’ doing Lyon?” the largest one of the three, faced the beaten Lyon
“What do you want, Dick?” asked Lyon
“That’s not very nice now is it.” jested Frisk, the boy on Dick’s left, as the three started laughing
“You’re not funny.” pointed out Lyon with a straight face
Dick rested his elbow on Lyon’s shoulder “Well that fight between you and that chicken sure was.” The three began to laugh even louder
“Well I haven’t seen you won against any chicken either so you can’t really say much now can you?” responded Lyon as he shrugged away Dick’s arm
“Fighting with that crow you mean? Please.” scoffed Dick “Even if it were to fly away, my Peerless Marksman ability would have easily taken it down.”
“Using your Title against a chicken. Seems fitting for your character. Can’t say I’m impressed though.” mocked Lyon, as Dick’s friends lightly sneered behind his back
Embarrassed in front of his pals, the quick-tempered Dick vehemently pushed Lyon, almost falling him “Well maybe you will be after a proper fight. C’mon, I won’t even use my Title. Hell! I won’t even use my right arm!” The arrogant boy challenged Lyon
Dumbstruck from his stupidity, Lyon turned around and started to walk back to the church house Whatever. It’s not like you’re allow to anyway. He whispered beneath his breath
“Hey! I’m not done talking yet!” Dick called out to Lyon but was completely ignored. Frustrated, the boy picked up a rock from the ground “I said I’m not done yet!” He violently rocketed the pebble, aiming at Lyon’s skull. Due to Dick’s prior shout, Lyon promptly turned around and with the rock just feathers away from his face, he instinctively dived over to the side, moaning and sweating as he contacted the dirt, for him the pebble seemed like a boulder at such distance. Yet when Lyon finally managed to lift himself up, he saw the very same pebble which barely skimmed pass his cheek, floating midair at the very spot where he leap from. Then, as if the nugget was sentient, it faced Lyon while still levitating and launched straight at his forehead, promptly knocking the boy to the dirt once more. That fucker! He grunted to himself as he held his bleeding head, while staring at the rock that knocked him, it was no longer floating instead it was now swimming in a puddle of blood. “What the fuck, Dick?! You are not allowed to use your Title without Father’s permission.” Bellowed Lyon in pure anger and animosity as he rolled over and held his hands atop his skull, yet his fruitless hostility didn’t seem to bother the three boys at all.
“Well, I felt different. You shoulda known not to mess with a Title Bearer like me in the first place.” boasted Dick
“Damn cowards! All of you! Wait ‘till Father hears about this!” screamed out Lyon as if he was a spoiled kid awaiting his dad
Dick approached the quivering Lyon once more “Shut the fuck up. Trash like you doesn’t even deserve Father’s mercy let alone his amity.” He viciously jolted Lyon’s stomach. The kick caused Lyon to vomit out what little food he had all over Dick’s feet. Eww! What the fuck! The boy shrieked, then rapidly stepped away from the splash. He then glared back at Lyon, who’s still on the dirt now submerged in his own blood and putrid retch. His long black hair was now dyed to a mixture of brunette mud and scarlet blood alongside the already ungodly ghastly rag he was wearing. The now livid and rancid Dick picked up another rock that was nearly twice the size of the previous one and again aimed at Lyon’s visage. “You fucking-“
“Stop this right now!” as the boy was about to swing his arm, an old, grey man in a black robe walked out from the church’s entrance and at the mere sight of his presence, Dick instantaneously stopped his arm. Father. Lyon murmured as he’s battered on the ground. The Father, Rickshaw, steadily walked towards them, despite his forwarding age he still towered over all the boys “What’s the meaning of this?!” shouted Father as the three boys stood stun, trying to come up with excuses
Rickshaw slapped the shivering Dick across the face before he could even lie “If all you’re going to tell me are lies then it can wait until tomorrow, so will your punishment-” Seeing the chastised Dick weeping and holding his swollen cheek, Frisk attempted to quietly sneak pass the raging Father “-all of your punishments.” He glared at Frisk with scorching eyes, forcing the boy to stop where he was. Father then turned his eyes to Sam, the third boy of the group, throughout the entire time, he had remained relatively quiet, despite being in Dick’s line of friends, he seemed rather mature and composed “I assume you didn’t do anything? Am I wrong?” asked Father
Sam shook gently shook his head.
“Then why are you not leaving?” further asked Father
“I still laughed and didn’t try to stop, and I am still apart of the group, so at the very least I’m willing to share the responsibility and partake any punishment at hands alongside them.” Sam calmly answered, and to which Father only returned with a smile and then nodded.
“That’s enough! All three of you head back inside. I’ll deal with you three tomorrow.” commanded Father, as the three speedily tiptoed their way inside the church like sheep, with Father being the shepherd. After the three wretches were finally out of sight, Father hurried over to Lyon, still on the ground, covered in all sorts of waterworks. “Are you alright, Lyon?” he gently helped the boy up.
As Father was about to give him a piggyback like he used to when he was little, Lyon lightly pushed him aside, and forced himself to walk “I’m alright now. Thanks, Father.” flustered Lyon as he stumbled all over the place
Father gave off a concerned look, but soon switched to a pleasant grin “You’re one tough bastard, aren’t ya’, kid?” laughed Father “Well, make sure not to fall. Or I’m gonna have to get the boys to carry your ass inside.”
“Honestly, I still don’t know how you became a head priest, talking like that and all.” said Lyon as he wiped the blood off his forehead with his forearm
“It’s pass working hours so it’s all good.” guffawed Father as the two slowly started to walk “Now c’mon. Let’s go inside and get you fix up.” He fasten himself and outpaced Lyon, heading straight for the church’s entrance.
As he reached the door, with his hand on the handle, he turned around and saw Lyon was still standing at where he was, his face downed and gloomy and soulless, almost ghostlike “I don’t want to go in yet…” he quietly murmured, yet somehow Father was able to hear it.
Father hurriedly let go of the door handle and returned back to Lyon. He put his right hand on Lyon’s shoulder, and hunched himself to meet Lyon’s eyes “Is it because they’re in there?” gently asked Father
Lyon faintly nodded.
Father sighed and gently patted Lyon’s shoulder “Yikes! My back is killing me from all of these priest work.” He unconvincingly stretched himself in front Lyon “Would be great to take a walk before going to bed.” yawned Father “Wanna join me for the walk?” he softly asked Lyon
Hearing that, from the one of the few people he has ever considered as a friend, Lyon only smiled and tiptoed behind Father as he began to walk around the church.
“So why did you guys fight?” asked Father as they calmly strolled across the church’s contour
“Well... it’s kind of a funny story…” hesitated Lyon “…They saw me getting my book stolen by a crow and decided to give me hell for it.” He pretended to scratch his head and laugh it off, despite his trail of sweat and popping veins. “Afterwards, we badmouthed each other, and before I knew it, he started throwing rocks. Pretty funny ain’t it?” he started to laugh harder, shadowing and distracting Father away from him shivering.
“Not really, no.” bluntly answered Father, to which upon hearing, Lyon completely dropped his façade. “I’m gonna be honest with ya’, I do not like that Dick kid.” He pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a box of match from his back pocket. He picked out one from each, and lighted up his cigarette. “I don’t even know how a twerp like him even acquire a Title in the first place. Lucky-born I guess.” said Father as he smoked
“Well twerp or not. With a Title, he doesn’t have to mind what others think of him.” murmured Lyon “A privilege of the strong you would say.”
“Strong? Just because his power allows him to never miss his target?” scoffed Father “I can think thousands of different ways to kill that runt, not that I ever would… because I’m a priest and all.” Father nervously sweated as he laughed it off “Let me tell you something, Lyon. While it’s very nice to have a Title and all, if you think of it as your only source of strength, then you will never be stronger than the next person. Titles aren’t everything.” he patted Lyon’s head
“Now that I think about it. I’ve never asked but do you have a Title, Father.” Asked Lyon out of pure curiosity
Father sheathed his hand “No, I haven’t been so unfortunate.” smiled Father. Unfortunate? thought Lyon. “Well, I would be lying if I say I haven’t been trying to get one.” His false laughter mismatched the desperate scowl he had on “It’s a shame too. My parents, my brothers, my sisters, they all had a Title, some of which didn’t even make sense…” sighed Father “… but I guess from time to time, a black sheep is born.” As he finished his cigarette along with his rambles of self-pity, he looked up to the sky, almost bending his neck, he blew the last smoke he had left in his mouth, the fume covered his entire face, but it could not hide the disappointed aura he emitted. Seeing the best man he knew, saddened; Lyon simply returned the favor and gently patted his back. Upon feeling Lyon’s palm pressing against his back, Father slapped himself and quickly regained his composure “But as if I’m gonna let something like fate stop me! Besides with Titles, if not born with one, you can always earn one, or so they say.” The man started laughing and proclaiming, to the point shouts of complaints could be heard from outside.
Seeing the stupid grin on Father’s face, Lyon just couldn’t help but to join “One of these days. I’m gonna earn one too!” shouted Lyon and for the first time in his life, he laughed and teared and promised like any other kid his age does. “You believe me, right Father?” innocently asked Lyon
“Do you want a desirable answer or an honest one?” said Father with concerned eyes
“…An honest one.” Lyon hesitated for a moment
Father pulled out another cigarette and lit it “Well, what you just said was quite a grand and usual claim for a kid. I’ve heard hundreds of kids before you said the same thing. No matter how big their motivations or ambitions are, the moment something doesn’t go their way, they panic, they screw up, they quit, and so does their determination.” said Father as he smoked “But nonetheless, it’s good to have dreams, just don’t mix them up with delusions.” As painful and frustrating it may sound, a part of Lyon ached listening to Father, his face pouted, but he convinced himself to not be discourage.
Lyon stared directly at Father with fiery eyes “I’m different.” claimed Lyon
Father blew smoke at Lyon’s face “Sure you are, you’re skinny and weak, and you don’t know the first thing about fighting. And all you do all day is read that picture book of yours.” Father ridiculed Lyon as he squinted his eyes from the blurring fume.
They’re actually manga. Lyon pouted but couldn’t muster up the decency to correct him. Lyon abruptly knocked the cigarette off Father’s hand “I may be weak now but mark my words I will get a Title and once I do, no one will call me weak again!!” Fuck. What kind of cliched-manga shit did I just say. His face bloomed as red as the dawning sun but just as fierce as one, nonetheless.