Authors: Brandon Chen
Age of Darkness
Copyright 2014 by Brandon Chen
Copyright 2014 by Brandon Chen
Researched and written by Brandon Chen
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The boy was dazed. The world seemed to
spin, turning his peripheral vision into a hazy white mess as he hit the tiled
school floor. A fresh red bruise, the result of a powerful punch, bloomed on
his cheek, and the young boy grunted, his breath heavy. Long, spiky black hair
fell over his face, shadowing his dark brown eyes. He was only fourteen, yet
this harsh treatment was normal for him. Salty blood gathered in his mouth, and
he realized that he had bitten his tongue when he had fallen.
His name was Keimaro, and he abhorred every
part of his dull, abusive life. Each day was the same, dragging on and on with
his tormentors and the townsfolk always putting him down for no particular
reason, as if he were some kind of monster.
Even his own father—of whom he wasn’t
exactly fond—ignored him. In fact, whenever he came home with a bloodied nose,
a split lip, or a bruised cheek, his so-called father pretended not to see
anything. It was as if his injuries didn’t matter at all.
Nevertheless, Keimaro was forced to face
the cruelty of his harassers, and their punishment was brutal. He would’ve run
away from this terrible village, but something stood between him and his
freedom. Surrounding the village was a massive force field—a giant invisible
bubble encasing the entire village of Bakaara. It allowed nothing to come in and
nothing to leave. He had heard rumors that it had been placed there a couple of
weeks before Keimaro was born and that it was originally meant to contain him.
Though, he knew that those were merely lies. The village elders had set up the
force field as a giant ward to prevent beasts from invading and killing the
inhabitants of the village.
Outside of the village was the Forbidden
Forest, where dangerous beasts dwelled in silence, waiting for night. Then, they
would slither out from the shadows and hunt, eager to break through the wards.
Few had ever seen these beasts before, but there were rumors of shadow beasts
that fed on the flesh of human children. Again, those were only rumors. The
forests’ enormous trees, that stretched to the very clouds, dwelled in the
distance, creaking and groaning at night. Sometimes it seemed as if the forest
itself were alive, trying to reach for the village. However, the force field
had been up for fourteen years. There was no reason for it to come down.
The force field was comparable to a jail
cell—at least, for Keimaro, it was. He felt confined, like a caged animal, incapable
of seeing the world. What was the point in educating himself if he wasn’t even
allowed to leave? Besides, staying in the village seemed like suicide. Everyone
hated him. He didn’t even know why, and he found no valid reason for the disrespect
that he received from those around him. He had learned to adjust to this, but
he simply felt segregated as an individual. Isolated. Hated.
Keimaro pushed himself up from the dusty
ground, brushing grit from his cheek with the back of his hand as he sniffed
back tears. He was grasping his diaphragm, which had taken several blows from
the boys at his school, trying to refill his lungs with air. He glanced at the
teacher, who had simply watched the spectacle without stirring to stop the
bullies from attacking him. Instead, the teacher gazed at the scene before her
with profound interest, her arms folded as if she were actually enjoying the
Burning hatred coursed through Keimaro’s
heat-filled veins, and his heart pounded with a burst of adrenaline that sent
energy channeling through him. Keimaro’s lip was bleeding, and he exhaled
audibly, his ribs aching. The pain dragged out, and his injuries pulsated,
creating a sort of mismatched rhythm of pain. He didn’t know why they hated him
or why they always beat him up. All he knew was that they did it every single
He turned around and glared at the main
bully with a look of pure hatred in his eyes. His name was Buu, and he had
curly brown hair and glistening blue eyes that resembled the color of the
morning sky. The ladies loved him, though Keimaro didn’t understand why. He was
the one who led the assault on Keimaro each day. Oh, how he detested this boy.
He couldn’t even count the number of times that he’d imagined driving his fist
solidly into Buu’s gorgeous face. But, would that solve anything? His anger,
his hatred all boiled down to the fact that Buu existed. Having such strong
negative feelings was sometimes disconcerting, but it was unavoidable. These
feelings had built up over many years of abuse. He was sick of it!
Keimaro suddenly sprinted forward, his fist
clenched tightly as he rotated his body, hatred throbbing in his heart. Buu
turned around just as Keimaro’s fist shot forward, his knuckles smashing
solidly into the bully’s cheek. A crack resounded as the boy’s body twisted. His
legs left the ground, and his body went airborne, spinning wildly. He slapped
hard against the tiled floor with an unnatural thud and was left motionless.
Keimaro’s fist burned from the impact of
his punch. He shook it animatedly, as if the rapid movement of air would cool
it. His heart raced as the teacher stared at him in absolute shock. “I-I….”
What was he supposed to say? That this boy
deserved it? As if anyone would believe him. They were all against him. Every
last one of them. He looked at the other boys that gathered around the body of
Buu. He heard whispering amongst the girls.
A bead of sweat formed on his brow, and he
took a few steps backward toward the door, their words echoing loudly in his
ears. Outsider, freak, monster! He spun around and broke into a sprint, racing
out of the door. He could hear the boys scampering after him, but he wasn’t worried
about being caught—he knew that he could easily outrun anyone in the village.
He bit his lip, trying to keep from crying, but he could already feel the tears
coming as he sprinted off.
The young boy dashed along the dirt path
that led to the marketplace, the more industrial part of Bakaara, leaving the
rural area where the school was placed. The tall, dull wooden buildings towered
off in the distance, but Keimaro wasn’t going in that direction. Instead, he
broke off from the dirt path and plunged into the lush green plain that
bordered it. The right side led to the farms, the left to the border. Keimaro
took a left.
The boys had stopped behind him and were
watching him from the edge of the dirt road. They leaned forward and placed
their hands on their knees, gasping for air, either completely out of shape or
simply exhausted from the long run. No one dared follow him away from the path
of the village. The kids had been taught—at an extremely young age—that
traveling outside of the village would result in someone’s death. The force
field didn’t just prevent monsters from coming in; it also prevented humans
from entering or leaving. Bakaara was a self-sufficient village and had all of
its resources nearby within the magic walls. They had no need for outside
resources and always had everything that they needed.
Bakaara was an independent speck on the
continent, surrounded by the empires of Sparta, Athens, and Faar. All three of
these empires were massive and fought each other for domination over the entire
continent. Each of the empires could send a simple squad to Bakaara and would
probably still be able to wipe out the entire village without any problems at
all. But the shield was what truly stood as the only reason Bakaara hadn’t
already been conquered, dominated, and wiped out. Bakaara itself wasn’t an
empire. It was far too small. It was a simple, neutral village that had not
been dominated by any of the human empires. Yet.
Something that Keimaro had always wondered was
how it was that certain small critters were able to squeeze in and get through
the force field. The other villagers thought that the animals were simply
breeding on village grounds, so they never really questioned where the critters
came from. Nevertheless, Keimaro was curious. In Bakaara, they never feasted on
huge animals unless they were bred. Typically, there would be small animals
like squirrels, wild boars, or prairie dogs that roamed about. One day when
Keimaro was twelve, he saw a small, unrecognizable critter. It was an
interesting orange squirrel with miniature antlers that poked from the top of
its head. It scampered about, running in the direction of the force field.
Intrigued by its exotic antlers, Keimaro stalked the foreign creature, making
sure to keep his distance. However, as he tried to follow the small squirrel,
he finally hit a wall. The force field. Upon striking the barrier, a surge of
energy exploded into Keimaro’s body—not enough to harm him, but enough to
deflect him backwards. The young boy had been absolutely confused, wondering
how it was that the squirrel surpassed this barrier and was out there striding
across the free fields outside Bakaara. After many attempts of trial and error,
Keimaro finally poked his foot through an open hole in the force field. It took
hours, but he finally found it, a place to fit through the barrier and escape. After
attempting to escape through different parts of the force field, he realized
that the squirrel had found the only crack in the barrier. And that was his only
The young boy, drenched in sweat, slowed to
a jog as he reached the force field. Keimaro threw himself through the weak
spot in the barrier and walked out of the village without a sound. He was
outside of the perimeters and knew that he should’ve been scared. However, he
wasn‘t. Not one bit. He wouldn’t have cared if a massive monster came and
mauled him—or swallowed him up, for that matter. No one would miss him. No one.
His mother and younger sister were the only exceptions. Definitely not his
“Now, this is quite a surprise,” a voice
said from behind Keimaro.
Keimaro blinked as he slowed to a stop and
turned to see another young boy standing there behind him. All that stood
between the two of them was the invisible wall. The boy had flowing, dark-brown
hair and blue eyes that were like sapphires. His hands were in the pockets of
his baggy, ripped pants, and his brown shirt had some soot on it. His name was
Yata, and he was the most intimidating boy in the entire village. He was known
for picking fights with everyone, even the teachers. It took five guards to
restrain him, and he was sent to jail on a daily basis—only to get bailed out
by the leader of the village himself, who was forced to support Yata since he had
been orphaned. No one really knew why he picked fights with everyone, including
the bullies of the village, but he was similar to an untamable beast. No matter
what the authority, he would fight for whatever he believed in or wanted.
“Tch,” Keimaro muttered, looking Yata
directly in the eye. His hands were balled into fists at his side, and he
raised his head high as he spoke to the boy. “And what do you want?”
Yata raised an eyebrow at Keimaro’s
attitude and whistled, “Oi. Aren’t you a bit aggressive? Didn’t seem that way
only a moment ago. Think you can act so tough because you’re near the border of
the village, huh? Just because you landed your first punch on a kid at school?”
He cracked his knuckles and pulled back his fist with a smirk on his face. “Well,
I’ll show you the difference between your punch and mine!”
His fist rocketed forward and slammed
solidly into the force field. The transparent wall seemed to absorb the punch.
There was a ripple in the shield for a moment before a surge of invisible force
smashed into Yata and sent the boy flying backward through the air. Time slowed
for the boy as he felt his body thrown off of his feet, his eyes widening as he
slammed heavily into the grass, the field cushioning his fall. The boy blinked
a few times, looking at the blue sky in a daze, not sure what had just
After a few seconds, he pushed himself up
slightly into a sitting position and gulped back his fury. “That….” His eyes
went from the disappearing ripples to the boy and back to the force field. “You’re
beyond the barrier?”
Keimaro’s heart was pounding a bit from
shock. However, a part of him just wanted to burst out laughing at the sight of
Yata being knocked back like that. He smiled lightly, noticing that he had the
upper hand against Yata. He knew, though, that he couldn’t piss off Yata too
badly; otherwise, when he came back into the force field, his life would be over.
But a part of him also wanted to share his knowledge. Even though this was the
most intimidating boy in the entire village, Keimaro felt willing to share his
discovery with someone. Anyone. As long as he wasn’t alone. “Eager to see how I
got out of here?”
Yata nodded his head curiously. “How did
you do it?”
Keimaro pointed to the weak spot in the
force field in front of him and stuck his foot through with a chuckle. “It’s
just a little hole in the wall. I don’t know if there’s any more, but this was
the only one that I found. You wouldn’t understand how long it took for me to
find this hole.”
“You spent time looking for it?” Yata said
with a laugh as he crawled underneath the force field and popped his head up on
the open side of the world. Fresh air. It was brilliant. “Why would you do
“I’ll explain later,” Keimaro said simply
and stuck out his hand toward the boy before him. “My name is Keimaro Hayashi.
It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“I’m Yata,” the other boy said and grasped
his hand gently with a nod as he began to walk with his new acquaintance across
the lush green plains that had yet to be touched by human feet. All of this
freedom, it was all for them.