1 Kingdom Arc: A Fresh Start

"Honey, can you turn it down a little?"

A white Honda civic cruised on the East Nippon Expressway in Hokkaido. A family of three was going home from a camping trip.

"Darling, you know I love K-pop. Besides, our son Yuri loves it."

"Daddy, louder…louder."

"See, darling, our son loves it. My son will marry a K-pop Idol someday and make his dad proud."

She sighed. "Fine. Just keep your eye on the road… HONEY! WATCH OUT!!!"

A truck had crashed into them and sent their car flying. It flipped in the air and landed on the side of the road, with the car parts flying near the forest line. Blood was everywhere. The woman crawled out and carried her child.

Her body had managed to cushion the momentum from the impact leaving the little boy with minor bruises on the legs and arms. She took her last look at the upside-down car. Her husband hung from the seat belt of the driver's seat, lifeless.

"It's alright… papa and mama love you-."

The child doesn't scream or move a muscle. A tear fell down his cheek, but that was it.

Ambulance and Firetruck sirens sound near the area. A policeman rushes to the bodies.

He finds a little boy as still as a calm river, holding his mother on his lap, with not an ounce of expression on his face.

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Yuri Hayashi

Age: 6 years old

Father: Shogo Hayashi (Deceased) Nationality: Japanese

Mother: Ju Hayashi (Deceased) Nationality: Chinese (PRC)

Closest known relative: None

(Registered for St. Therese Home for the Children)

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On the front porch of a building with Gothic Architecture, a man pats a little boy's head.

"Alright, little boy, this is where I have to leave now," Akira said. The little boy looked at him teary-eyed. "Aren't you going to give Akira a goodbye hug?"

Little Yuri made no reaction. Diagnosed with selective mutism, any form of debriefing by the psychiatrists had no progress in helping him.

"You'll get there, little man. Someday, you're going to grow up and live a happy life. The way your parents wanted you to. Now come here."

Akira gave the little boy a tight hug and went on his way.

St. Therese Home for the Children was a private orphanage funded by private individuals and supported by the Japanese Government. There were hundreds of children being taken care of there. Adoptions were not that popular in Japan. Most of the children grew up without ever getting adopted. This fact would be apparent to many of the orphans being taken care of there.

The headmaster walks into the reception and approaches little Yuri.

"Come on, little man. I am going to introduce you to your new family."

They headed to the cafeteria. The headmaster called for everyone to be quiet.

"Alright, everyone. We have someone new in the family. His name is Yuri. I want everyone to greet him later and make him comfortable."

"Yes, headmaster," the children uniformly respond.

"Go on. Move along now. Finish eating your lunch. Botan, come here."

"Yes, headmaster," a chubby boy named Botan said.

"I need you to show Yuri around. Be nice to him. And he doesn't talk much. Don't pressure him."

"Yes, headmaster."

Botan grabbed his hand and guided him to the boy's sleeping area. He showed him the extra bed and said, "This will be your bed. Mine is over there at the other corner. All the boys share this big room. And all the girls are in the other big room. We're not allowed there."

Yuri only stared at the dead air.

"So, where are you from? I'm from Chubu, or that's what the letter says. My mother left me in a basket in front of the door. What about you?" Botan said.

He stared at Yuri and looked into his eyes.

"Did your parents leave you too? It doesn't matter if they leave us. Who needs parents anyway? Even if we don't get adopted, when we're old enough to leave, I will be a policeman someday. I'm going to fight bad guys, save Japan, and save little kids like us."

Botan had gotten annoyed with Yuri.

"You're weird. I don't like you very much. Whatever, I'm going to finish my meal in the cafeteria. I don't wanna be friends with you anymore."

He left disappointed. His attention caught elsewhere with the smell of his favorite meal in the cafeteria. Although an annoying thought had dwelled in his mind.

"What's his problem? Did something happen to him? Oh well."

Yuri dropped his things on the floor, lay on the bed, and hid under his cotton blanket.

The next day, the kids played outside to enjoy the hot summer in Tokyo. Under the shade of a Maple tree, Yuri sat, hoping he could muster up the courage to talk to the other kids.

Left alone, thoughts of whether it was his fault that his parents were gone would enter his idle mind. Yuri struggled to socialize and find new friends. He didn't want to be isolated from the other children in the orphanage.

Botan threw the ball at Yuri. He hit his head, and it bumped into the tree. Yuri couldn't speak even if he wanted to.

"Yuri, pass the ball," Botan said.

"Nothing? No reaction? You've been like that the whole time you've been here."

"Let him be. He isn't bothering anyone," a girl said.

"Not bothering anyone? With that sad look on his face? Sulking like he is the only one that has lost family? Stop looking so sad with you staring at nothing all day!"

Botan walked closer to Yuri. He kicked him in the leg.

"Pass the ball… Pass the ball!"

Yuri wanted to help himself, but his body would freeze every time.

"Stop it, Botan!"

"If you don't pass the ball, I will punch you. I'm not joking."

The headmaster called from near the building, "Children, time for lunch. Come back in now."

"Yes, headmaster," all the children replied, and then they all went back inside.

The girl from earlier approached Yuri. She was seven years old and had black straight hair and a fair complexion. Her parents were still alive, but she didn't know why her mother put her in the orphanage.

Looking at Yuri, she smiled and said, "Yuri! Can I call you Yuri?"

She sat down on the ground with her legs crossed. "It's such a beautiful day. Spring just ended. And the birds make lovely chirps along with the blow of the wind," the girl said. "You know what I like to do when I'm sad and thinking of many things? I write."

She pulled out a notebook and a pen from somewhere and gave them to Yuri. While putting the pen in his right hand, she said, "Go on silly, write what's on your mind?"

Yuri's face gave a slight sign of frustration.

She noticed this. "Oh, I get it... silly me. You don't know how to read and write, don't you? Well, that's alright. Want me to teach you?"

He nodded his head. The girl smiled because she knew this was the first time Yuri opened up to someone. "My name is Gaia. I know. It's not a normal Japanese name. It might be because of my father. I like it. It's unique," she said.

"Gaia?" Yuri asked.

She clapped her hands. "Yuri, you got my name right."

The headmaster walked toward them, carrying two full plates of food with extra dessert. "Here you go, you two. You don't have to eat at the cafeteria for now. Have fun. Okay?" he said then smiled.

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12 YEARS LATER

Yuri and Gaia walked along a road in the Marounochi Business District in Chiyoda. They were two miles from the Tokyo Station. They took a shortcut through an alley to get to their destination faster.

They had both turned eighteen and could leave the orphanage for good.

The two best friends had planned their whole lives together and the first step was to go to College.

"Do you sometimes see things that other people can't?"

"You mean like ghosts or Kami?"

"No, Gaia. Nevermind."

"What is it?"

"There has been something that I've wanted to tell you since the beginning," Yuri said.

Yuri had fallen in love with Gaia and wanted to be with her for the rest of his life. He had never cared about getting adopted as long as she was with him, he would be happy.

"Yuri, the train is leaving. We are going to be late for our first day in class."

"It's okay. If it leaves, I'll ask Akira to give us a ride."

Gaia punched him on the shoulder. "Ouch! That hurt," Yuri said.

"Catch me, you cute... tall... skinny boy. hahaha," she teased him.

"Stop running, Gaia, or you'll slip. I wouldn't know what to do if anything happened to that beautiful face of yours."

They laughed and Yuri thought that nothing could ever destroy his current happiness.

Gaia had grown to be a beautiful Japanese woman, and her hair had grown long but she liked tying it up in a ponytail. Rarely did she wear a full dress but thought today would be the perfect day. While Yuri grew up to be skinny but tall and would be satisfied wearing casual clothes to school.

"Oh, Yuri. Would you not love me anymore if my face was full of scars?"

Yuri blushed.

Walking towards them was a group of delinquents, calling themselves the Valhalla gang. They were a bunch of high school students that liked to cause trouble where ever they could. They passed by the two, and their leader had taken notice of Gaia's beauty.

As he passed by her, he grabbed her left arm and said, "Hey pretty face. Where are you headed?"

"Let me go!"

"Let you go? Sure, I'll let you come with us. We are heading to our hideout."

"Leave her alone!" Yuri said.

The two delinquents held Yuri back. He couldn't overpower them.

"Come on guys! Grab her and bring her to the base!"

"Noooo!"

Both of them couldn't scream as they covered her mouth, and the leader had knocked Yuri out unconscious.

Yuri woke up. It's night already.

"Wake up!" A well-built man in a suit shook him awake.

He punched the man in the face but it was weak and easily dodged.

"What's going on? Where have you been? The school has been looking for you. You never showed up," Akira said. It was Akira, his lawyer since his parent's accident.

Recovering his consciousness, he panics and said, "Gaia. Gaia! Akira, they took her. They took her. Help me find her, please."

"Alright, let's go to the police."

They quickly drove to the Tokyo Police Station.

"We are doing everything we can, sir," the cop said.

"Make sure officer. The girl is in extreme danger. We need to find her fast!" Akira said.

"We have already dispatched all units to search for their hideout."

"YOU'RE NOT DOING ENOUGH! SEND THE ARMY, THE NAVY! CALL THE FUCKING AIRFORCE IF YOU HAVE TO!"

"Young man! I don't like your tone. Calm down, we will contact you once we find her."

"Akira, they won't be able to find her in time. We need to look for her ourselves. Please. I beg you."

"Alright, son. Let's go."

Akira and Yuri scoured the entire city to look for her or any of those delinquents, but they couldn't find anything. The sun rose and morning came but they still found nothing. "We need to go to the gas station, son. The tank is nearly empty."

Akira's mobile phone rang.

"Answer it!" Yuri said.

"It's the police. They said they found a..."

Akira looks at the boy with a sad look in his eyes. He still saw Yuri as that little boy who lost his parents in an unfortunate accident. He couldn't bear to tell him the news.

"What is it, Akira? What did they find? TELL ME!"

Yuri grabbed the phone, and the cop told him everything.

"no... no... no. NOOOO! This can't be. I need to save her."

Yuri poured out tears for the first time in his life. "Noooo... why Gaia? why? Why did they have to take her away from me too?"

"Come. I'll take you to where the police found her."

They arrived at the scene. Yuri saw her, laying on the ground, surrounded by police lines. He pushed away everyone to get to her. "Gaia, wake up. Wake up. We have to go to school tomorrow. Didn't you wanna learn to play the violin? I was going to learn the piano, right?"

He hugged her tightly and kept crying. He held her ripped clothes together so he would cover her naked body.

"It's alright, Gaia... I wanted to tell you my secret. That I-" Yuri said. But he knew it wasn't alright.

"If only I was strong enough. I could have stopped them. I could have saved you. If only..."

Some unknown darkness had awakened inside of Yuri. His eyes burned with fury and pure malice.

"I promise, Gaia. They are going to pay. Pay for what they've done a hundred-fold, a thousand-fold. They will regret the existence of every fiber of their being. They will curse their mothers and fathers forever bringing them into this world. I will find them. They will all pay. I promise."

Yuri put Gaia down and covered her with the police blanket. His vision turned black.

He went wild and the police ran to detain him. They struggled to hold him down. A cop tasered him. He shoved two cops away and they fell to the ground. Four more policemen grabbed him, one of them head-locked him, cut his flow of oxygen, and he lost consciousness.

But before he did, a screen message appeared before Yuri.

[Magitek System Initializing]

[Welcome Yuri. You are registered as a Magitek System User. Gain Mana points to level up and unlock skills, weapons, technology upgrades, and Magitek Abilities to help you achieve your ultimate objective]

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