The Wondering Flames
“Wow…” Ignatius thought. “This is amazing, fantastic even! Oh boy, I’m at a loss for words to describe such awesomeness!”
“For starters, why don’t you close your mouth before the people around you start thinking you are a weirdo,” Furon said wearily.
Ignatius realised he had his mouth open as he looked up at the advanced technology and objects around him which he had never seen before. He quickly closed his mouth as he noticed the passer-by’s glanced at him with curious looks.
It had been several minutes since he had arrived at the city of Maradingus. After thanking the driver and conductor, bidding farewell to his fellow passengers on the bus he went on his way. At first he went through the security checks where his belongings, mainly his bag, were checked. Once he was cleared, he gathered up his belongings, packed his bag once more and walked into the city. He was immediately taken in by the magnificent sight of the advanced technology, objects he had never seen before and the sheer size of the crowd.
“You can’t blame me Furon,” Ignatius said indignantly. “This is the first time I’ve set my eyes on something out of the ordinary.”
“This is ordinary around here you goof,” Furon said, sounding amused at Ignatius’s behaviour.
As he walked around and observed, he was shocked to discover several of the check-in ladies were actually androids. He discovered this when the customers the ladies served used that term when he spoke to them. He would never have known it since they looked so human like and spoke in the same manner.
“They have androids working here?!” He asked in surprise. “Unbelievable!”
“What’s the deal with this… android thing?” Furon asked curiously.
“You mean to tell me you… don’t know about androids?!” Ignatius said in disbelief.
Furon became annoyed and said “Of-course not. I used to live 1000s of years ago you know…”
“Well, an android is basically a robotic machine which is given the form of a human by the developers. It functions depend on its purpose, objectives and task/mission. Oh, they also require energy of some sort like how living beings require consuming food for energy. Most of the time people use the term android, but others also use the term ‘humanoid’.”
“That’s ridiculous!” Furon said, alarmed, startling Ignatius. “What were those stupid developers thinking in making artificial life forms look like human?!”
“I have no idea.”
“Tsk…” Furon said in annoyance. “Anyway, what are you planning to do now that we’re here in the city?”
“I don’t know. I was going to follow your lead,” Ignatius said. “So, any ideas where to go from here?”
“Oi… oi… Seriously?” Furon asked in exasperation. “If you keep following my lead then you are nothing more than a doll and no brain of your own. So, are you a doll or a human being?”
“I am human!” Ignatius said firmly. “It’s just that… I don’t know where to start making decisions and what to do after I made them.”
Furon sighed as he realised he was being hard on him. It had to be noted for a fourteen year old, the kid had a strong will, mind and strength, but he is still a kid still to learn much about himself and all around him. Realising this, Furon decided on helping Ignatius develop his thoughts so he won’t rely too much on anyone and to make decisions for himself.
“So, let us begin, then,” Furon said as Ignatius sat in a vacant chair outside a building with people going in and out at regular intervals. “Do you have any idea where we are going to stay in the city?”
“Um… a hotel?” Ignatius said, although it sounded more like a question.
“Why are you asking me like it is some sort of test?” Furon asked in a puzzled voice.
“Well… I don’t want to get the wrong answer,” Ignatius said in a low voice. “I mean, it’s embarrassing if I got it wrong or get scolded for not getting it right.”
Furon burst out laughing, which caused Ignatius to become embarrassed.
“Sorry for laughing but that was quite funny, really,” Furon said in a bright and cheerful voice. “This is not a test and I definitely will not make fun of you or scold you. Here’s a tip which will help you out, I am sure. Whether your answer is right or wrong fearless and answer firmly. Although that is true for the most part, there are some things that require you to be aware of not answering bluntly. Take for example the question of ‘What is love?’ The first answer that any idiot would give will be ‘Sex’ which is ridiculous because love is not sex! Maybe when ‘making love’ but not love in its true form.”
There was a pause before Ignatius spoke in his mind.
“What is sex?”
“Err…” Furon hesitated, wondering if he should talk about it. He was also wondering if he is the right person to talk about it. Then he remembered Ignatius was only fourteen years old and knew he was too young to understand that word. So he simply responded accordingly.
“You are not ready to understand what it is but, believe me, as you grow older you will come to understand it. Keep in mind, though, it is very special and must not be experimented with until the right time arrives.”
“Ok…” Ignatius said and he sounded disappointed, but Furon felt relieved since he didn’t want to talk about it.
“Anyway, back to topic. You said a hotel? That’s right!” Furon said. “We need to stay in a hotel as long as we stay within the city. So, now the question is where?”
“How about the one in front I’m sitting opposite to?” Ignatius asked.
“Ok, then go!” Furon said brightly.
Half an hour later Ignatius opened a door and walked into a luxurious room. In front of him, he saw a king-sized bed facing an LCD television set with a remote placed in front of it. Placing his bag on the bed, he looked to his left and saw a kitchen which was spotless as he examined it. Attached directly to the left of the kitchen was a hallway. Along with it, he saw two doors; one was the toilet and the other was the bathroom.
“Pretty comfortable,” Ignatius said comfortably as he lay on the bed and pressed the power button on the remote to turn the television on.
“Why are you speaking out loud?” Furon asked.
“Well, no one is around and I was getting tired of speaking in my head,” Ignatius said bluntly. “Talking in your own head is far more difficult than you realise.”
“Speak for yourself,” Furon said. “Anyway, I will take your example and do the same.”
Then he appeared before Furon in his spirit form, arms folded and looking at him while smiling.
“For a spirit you appear like a real living being, you know that?” Ignatius asked casually.
“Who knows,” Furon said as he softly sat on the bed space beside Ignatius and watched the television. “Anyway, I am more concerned about how much it will cost you this comfort.”
“Comfort cost? What do you mean?” Ignatius asked lazily.
“How much is it costing you this luxury each day?”
“Mmm…” Ignatius said as he remembered the cost of daily stay. “200 azures a day.”
“Ok,” Furon said, nodding. “How much do you currently have?”
“Ok. Now, calculate and tell me how many days you can stay here?”
“Um… I don’t understand?”
“So it costs 200 azures a day for a stay and you have 600 azures in hand. Tell me how many days you can stay in this hotel?”
“It’s simple!” Ignatius said confidently. “You divide 600 azures by 200 azures which gives you 3 days to be exact.”
“Excellent!” Furon said. “I see you are good at maths.”
Ignatius looked proud of himself as he lay back on the bed.
“So after three days you will be out of money, right?” Furon asked.
“Well then, what then?”
“Excuse me?” Ignatius asked, confused by Furon’s question.
“What will you do once you run out of money?”
“Um…” Ignatius hesitated before saying “call home and ask for more money?”
“Not a bad idea, but just think what your parents will assume if you called them after a mere three days. Don’t you think they will assume you cannot survive on your own? Wouldn’t they assume you’re hopeless at your journey and want you to return home immediately?”
“Ah!” Ignatius said as he realised what might happen if he went with his initial idea. “That’s bad…”
“It’s not bad, but let’s keep that as your last option, ok?”
“Ok, sounds good!” Ignatius said, but he suddenly became worried. “What will I do, though if that will be our last option?”
“Why… you will work off-course!” Furon said firmly.
“Work? Me? Do you think there is a work for someone like me?” Ignatius asked apprehensively.
“Oh, I’m sure there is work out there for a young man like yourself,” Furon said cheerfully. “All you have to do is search around the city for any vacancies for jobs.”
“Alright!” Ignatius said, powered off the television and getting off the bed once more. “So, what are we waiting for? Let’s go job hunting!”
So Ignatius embarked on his mission; to find a job. This, however, was proving to be more difficult than he anticipated. Everywhere he looked the people were either already full of workers or didn’t want underage worker amongst them. There were several places he could’ve worked in, but the workplace was so horrible he ran out of the place and never looked back.
After what seemed like the ninety-ninth time, Ignatius returned to sit on the vacant chair facing the hotel he had taken to stay at.
“I must have the worst luck…” Ignatius muttered as he leaned back in exhaustion. “It’s already evening and I still couldn’t find a job.”
“Don’t give up yet Ignatius,” Furon said firmly. “I am confident you will find a work which suits to your liking.”
“Yes…” Ignatius said absent-mindedly.
Just then a shadow fell over him, which was cast because of the setting sun. He looked to whom the shadow belonged to and saw a man observing him with a keen eye. Ignatius quickly straightened up and stood up, apologised to the man and started to walk back to his hotel room.
“Are you looking for work?”
Ignatius turned around at the word that ended with the question. As he looked closer at the man, he realised he was wearing black clothes including the hat he was wearing along with what looked like spectacles perched on his nose. He clearly saw the man appeared old, probably in his sixties as he was leaning on the cane on his right.
“Yes, I am,” Ignatius said quickly. “You don’t happen to have one, sir?”
“Why, of-course young lad,” the old man said with a smile. “However, it is hard work, but pays well. “
“Awesome…” Ignatius thought. “Looks like I’ll finally get a job!”
“Don’t go blindly accepting jobs left, right and centre,” Furon said sternly. “Find out more about this job this man is offering. Like what it is and how much you get paid for it?”
“Um, sir… what sort of job is it and how much do I get paid for it?”
The old man sat down on the chair and sighed contentedly while Ignatius sat beside him.
“The work isn’t actually the work you might be thinking,” the man said which surprised Ignatius. “It’s the World Battle Tournament for fighters to compete against each other and be titled as the world champion.”
Ignatius was indeed surprised. Fighting has been never in his job agenda. He wasn’t sure, but kept listening as the man continued.
“Each city is hosting the tournament where each fighter competes until there are eight fighters left from each city. Then they move to the World Central where the finals tournament will take place. The reward is a hundred million azures. Mostly for the reward, many great fighters from across the world come to compete. The other is to prove themselves as the strongest fighter in the world.”
“Wow…” Ignatius said despite himself at the fame and glory that presented with such an opportunity. “So, what made you suddenly decide to speak to me about it, sir?”
“Well…” the man said and then looked up at the darkening sky. “I guess you could say your legendary warrior spirit did.”
“How did he know about that?” Ignatius thought, but Furon said “After the spectacle with the sand bear, I’m not surprised. Word must’ve spread quickly in a city as large as this one.”
“I heard of your exploit against the sand bear and possibly with the aid at the village Saradinium,” the man said smiling.
Ignatius for his part simply laughed it off and scratched the back of his head in an embarrassment.
“However, you reminded me of the time when I was your age. That was when I started out on my journey around the world.”
“You did, sir?” Ignatius asked, surprised.
“Oh yes I did, but I lacked experience and money. That was when the first World Battle Tournament was held. So I entered the tournament thinking about all the money and fame would get me. I was such a fool, though since I never considered all the strong fighters who also compete to take a shot at the prize money. In my very first match I was defeated, which opened my eyes to the truth; I was weak.”
“It must have been difficult to swallow…” Ignatius said sadly.
“It wasn’t the defeat I was rather sad about my lack of skills was what disappointed me,” the man said. “So I worked it out by training every day, perfecting moves and improving my skills as I slowly climbed up the ladder to the World Central. Naturally, I lost in the first round of the World Central tournament, but I was satisfied. I had earned a lot of money, gained respect in society and, most of all, learned to harness my skills and strengths.”
Then he looked at Ignatius and smiled.
“Since then I didn’t allow others who were thinking in my lines to enter the tournament, including my own family members,” he said. “But you are different. No ordinary person would be chosen to wield the very powers of nature itself, the flames of protection; the legendary warrior of flames.”
“Thousands of years ago, it was the legendary warrior of flames who banded together with the nine other legendary warriors and fought against the evil one, Zefer. Since then he had become a symbol of courage and hope to all those who believed the warriors will return to protect us.”
He smiled at the surprised Ignatius, who had never met someone as frank and honest as the old man sitting before him. He really wanted to do a normal work, but this opportunity seems like a total waste to ignore.
“Ignatius, agree to do it,” Furon said to him, trying to urge him on. “I don’t feel the man is lying and quite frankly, I feel this is an excellent opportunity to sharpen your skills and gather the legendary warriors.”
“Are you sure? It feels like he’s simply trying to gain a good impression of him within you.”
Furon laughed and said. “Perhaps, but I feel this man is speaking from his heart. So, agree with the man’s desire to see you enter the tournament. Remember, he said he lost the first round of the World Central tournament, but he was satisfied with his progress. He had chosen to concentrate on sharpening his skills which he did as I am sure.”
Ignatius understood and turned to face the old man smiling expectantly at him. Then he nodded and smiled at him.
“Sir, I understand what you are saying and I will enter the tournament, not to win but to sharpen my skills. However, you can’t blame me if I win while my mission is to sharpen my skills and techniques.”
“Good lad!” the man said firmly, hitting him on the back with a strong hand.
Ignatius recoiled as he wasn’t expecting such a strong force when the man hit his back. He realised that perhaps the man has aged but his power has not diminished, just like Furon.
“So, let us exchange names and recognise each other as friends,” the man said, grinning cheerfully.
“My name is Anthony Prince. What is yours young man?”
“My name is Ignatius Links.”
They shook hands firmly and smiled at each other. Little did Ignatius know, Anthony Prince, would later become one of the big supporters of the ten legendary warriors.