FreedomSwap Remix – 0. Prologue

In a rustic little kingdom to the north, all was quiet and calm. Vast waters rippled softly, stars twinkled overhead. Against the landscape of greens and blues stood a large, powerful structure: the kingdom’s Royal Palace. It overlooked the city as a symbol of strength and protection, a reminder to its denizens that all was well. For a time, in this place, the world was peaceful.

That was, until the peace was broken.

From within the palace walls, the earth began to shake. Soldiers standing guard looked around curiously, and, as the tremors grew stronger, so did they grow panicked. Soon the ground had given way beneath them, crumbled stone falling away into inky abyss, taking the soldiers with it.

Those who remained looked on in horror as a monstrous, golden metal paw lifted itself from the chasm and gripped the floor with ferocious claws the size of a dozen men. As it pulled the rest of its enormous feline body into view, the air was filled with sickening laughter that echoed up and down the corridors. The soldiers raised their guns, opening fire on the mechanical monstrosity before them, but try as they might, they couldn’t so much as make a scratch. The visor over the contraption’s face lifted slowly, revealing a gleaming green light that resonated with energy. For a moment, there was quiet as the soldiers stared up at the light, almost as if entranced. And all at once, it let loose a devastating laser beam, ripping across the ground, through the soldiers, and up the wall. Everything in its path was gone.

The wretched mechanical beast stomped across the palace, the cackling it gave off filling the throne room. As the doorway collapsed to make room for the intruder, the King of Shuigang rose from his royal seat, battle axe in hand. He looked on as a click came from the robot, and its cockpit lowered, revealing the figure at the wheel. The laughing faded as the figure stood, staring down with striking reptilian eyes. Donning heavy armor and gripping the robot’s controls with metal hands attached to metal arms, the creature grinned a twisted, fanged grin.

“Hello… Your Majesty.”

Continue reading “FreedomSwap Remix – 0. Prologue”

The King’s Heart – Part 1

“The ship is docking, King Dail!”

King Dail. He was still getting used to that title. For as long as he could remember, it was Prince Dail. It was what the castle staff called him, it was what his subjects called him, it was what the other Kingdoms called him. He had always been Prince Dail, to everyone, to himself. Of course, he had always known that there would come a day when that title would change, that he would become King Dail of Shuigang, “Mighty and Beloved Ruler of the Water City” as he had once heard it put. Perhaps Dail had just figured that day wouldn’t have come so soon. Then, he had always imagined that his father would be there for the coronation.

“I’ll be there in just a moment!” he called. He knew that he couldn’t be too long, but he needed another moment to collect himself.

In the mirror, Dail stared himself in the eyes. No matter how many times he fixed his hair or straightened out his robes, he still looked like a mess. Or at least, he thought so. Maybe it was just the nerves getting to him, he couldn’t really be sure. But he was certain that he felt like a mess. The title of King hadn’t brought him might or love. All it had brought him was responsibility. Ever since he was coronated, Dail was swamped with work. Repairs from the invasion, peace treaties with the other Kingdoms, and hardly a single break. As King, he ate, slept, and breathed work, and it felt like it would never end.

Though he knew that he was still technically here on a work trip, Dail couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief. For the first time as King, he was away from the castle, away from Shuigang. Away from paperwork and royal decrees. Even though he was only going to be here for a couple of days, he wanted to take what opportunity he could to relax. Perhaps, even, while he was here, though this may have been wishful thinking… he could discover something new.

As pleased as he was going to be with his appearance, he placed his hand on the door handle. He hesitated for a moment, then took a deep breath.

“Here we go.”


At the gates of Shang Tu Palace, at the end of many lines of guards, stood the Magister and his associates, patiently awaiting the arrival of Shuigang’s leader. Then again, “patiently” may not have been the best choice of words.

“What the heck is taking so long?!” Carol groaned, slouching lazily. “The ship has been here for like half an hour.”

“It has not been half an hour,” said Lilac. “Stand up.”

Carol grumpily did as she was told. “It still feels like we’ve been here forever…”

A staff was pounded on the ground beside Carol, and she flinched back, eyes darting up. “You would be wise to watch your tongue, Carol.” Neera addressed her with stern eyes, and Carol narrowed her own. “Regardless of how much you’re enjoying this, the fact of the matter is that this is important. Perhaps you could learn something from Milla’s example.”

Carol looked to Milla, who was stood as straight as possible, arms pinned to her sides. Her brow was furrowed in concentration, and despite the relative lack of heat, sweat poured down her forehead. Carol looked back up at Neera skeptically. “She looks constipated.” Lilac suppressed a chuckle.

Neera, with a roll of her eyes, explained pointedly, “Milla is making an effort to keep up an acceptable appearance. Not only is this the first Tri-Kingdom conference since the invasion, it’s also your first appearance as representatives of Shang Tu. You should be taking this seriously. Isn’t that right, General?”

Apparently, at some point while they were standing here, General Gong had dozed off, because he was now snoring loudly and drooling down the front of himself. Carol smirked at Neera, who pressed a palm against her forehead. With a flick of her spear, she fired a small but very cold blast of ice at Gong. It whacked him upside the head. “Gah! The monster has growing pains!” Gong, startled awake, quickly glanced around. Met by Neera’s icy stare, he nervously straightened himself out and cleared his throat. “Uh, yes. I agree with… whatever Neera said.” Lilac and Carol giggled.

While Gong tugged anxiously at his collar and Carol waved a hand in front of Milla’s face, Neera approached the Magister. “Your Excellency,” she began, “forgive me for interrupting your thoughts, but I was hoping to ask—”

“About the job I’ve given you?” the Magister cut her off.

Neera blinked. “Um. Yes.” She scratched her head, then readjusted herself.  “It’s just… Wouldn’t it be better left to the children? It would be a fine addition to their training, and—”

“I have my reasons for selecting you, Neera,” the Magister interrupted coolly. “I understand that it isn’t the kind of work you are used to, but rest assured that this will be a good experience for you.” As Neera lifted an index finger in preparation to protest, the Magister added, “A better experience for you than it would be for the dragonblood and her friends.”

Neera lowered her hand defeatedly. “I… understand, Your Excellency. I won’t speak of it any further.”

“Good,” said the Magister quaintly. “Now then, I believe we have a foreign dignitary to greet.”

“Announcing King Dail of Shuigang!”

Continue reading “The King’s Heart – Part 1”

Last Beginnings

Blood spilled over the streets of Shuigang. In a dark, empty corner where there lurked only those who were looking for trouble, unconscious bodies scattered the road. They were hurt, but breathing. Beyond them lay another, just a child, whose blood pooled beneath him and painted the concrete crimson. Small footsteps rushed over at the sound of his pained groans, and a short figure stood over him.

“Hey, mister! Are you okay?”

He clenched his teeth and painfully opened a single eye in the hope of getting a look at the person who had addressed him, but his vision was blurred, and his head ached. “Do I look okay to you?” he growled.

“No… No, that looks bad.” The person reached out to him, and spoke in a high voice, “Here, let me help you…”

He swatted their hand away. “No. I don’t need your help.” He tried to sit up, clutching his gut and bloodying his hand. Ultimately he just ended up flopping onto his back again. “I don’t… I… don’t…”

A moment later, he was supported into a sitting position. “Yes, you do.”

He paused for a moment to steady his breathing. Something was being tied around his wound, slowing the blood loss. His vision corrected itself, and he was able to see the group of bodies on the street. “What… What happened to…?”

“I saw them hurting you, so I came to help.”

His brow furrowed in confusion. “What…? So you’re the one who… who took all of them out?”

“Yeah, that was me.”

“But how? You’re just… you’re just a…” He looked to the person supporting him, and he cut himself off. She was a girl, smaller than him, with two little horns sticking out of her head and a pair of long tendrils dangling behind her. She looked concerned. “…a dragon. You’re a dragon.” He rested his palm against his forehead. “Sure, why not? Ugh…”

“I’m going to take you to the hospital,” the girl said insistently, attempting to lift him into her arms.

“No!” He pushed her away, and she stared at him in confusion. “No hospitals!”

“Well I’m not just going to leave you here!” she exclaimed.

He sighed. He looked down at his torso to see what she had used to tie around his wound, which was inevitably her own jacket. “No… No, I guess you’re not. Come here.” She knelt down beside him again. “Listen. I need you to take me somewhere else. I can point the way.”

“I’ll do it,” she said determinedly, and she began to lift him into her arms until he grunted and scolded her.

“No, put me down.” She did as she was told. “I can walk just… fine. I only need you to support me.”

“Oh. Okay.” She lifted him to his feet and helped to hold him up. Carefully, they took a couple of steps forward. He was unsteady, but she had him. “By the way… My name is Sash. What’s yours?”

“My name is—” His answer was cut short by a fit of coughing, during which she stopped and gripped his shoulders. He wiped his mouth and huffed, then looked up. His eyes met hers. He paused for a moment before trying again.

“My name is…”

Continue reading “Last Beginnings”

Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 1: Riveredge

Lilac the Dragon Girl stood at the top of a cliff overlooking a small village below. It was built beside a long river, which stretched away from the little town’s territory and into the vast beyond. Not far from this village, the target: an enormous yellow machine, spherical in shape and packed to the brim with artillery, wandering aimlessly across the landscape.

She stepped out of the way of the motorcycle that zoomed up, sending off a cloud of dust as it skidded to a halt. At the handlebars was Carol the Wildcat, wearing a gleeful grin and looking rather energetic. Seated behind her was Milla the Hound, clinging to Carol’s waist and now glancing uncertainly over the cliff they had just barely not fallen off of.

“Took you long enough,” said Lilac, though her tone was pleasant.

“Yeah, whatever,” Carol responded, smile unwavering. “What have we got?”

Lilac raised a hand over her eyes for a better view, a motion which Milla mimicked. “Something big,” Lilac answered, “and probably stupid. A little too close to that town for comfort, though. We should have been here sooner.”

Carol chuckled. “Don’t sweat it, Heropants. We’ll clean this up no problem and be home in time for my mid-midday nap. Got a plan?”

“I think so…”

“Good enough for me!”

Continue reading “Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 1: Riveredge”