Okay, so I was going to post this story in individual parts but… Well, I underestimated how lazy I am, so I’ll post in chunks instead lmao. I’ll try to post all of Chapter 1 and 2 today, in segments of about 1500-2500 words each.
*Chapter 1: Sariel’s Guidance*
Part 1: Curiosity Trumps Grief
Azra and Yuri spent an entire hour simply crying, without any idea what else they should do. However, it was then that they noticed something strange.
“Why is his body so hot? He should be getting colder, especially with the low temperature of the cave…” The young woman’s eyes were puffy and red, but the moment that something odd occurred, her curiosity overpowered her grief.
Her brother frowned, asking “Maybe he really was a deity? Could he, possibly still be alive somehow?”
Yuri tilted her head to the side and her long black hair nearly reached the ground. She abruptly pulled her hand away from the old man’s wrinkled face and raised her right eyebrow, while her brother yelled “Damn it! What the hell is going on?!”
Both of his hands were singled from touching the old man’s arm. Then the cotton blanket and straw mat suddenly burst into flames. The two of them immediately stepped back as the blaze intensified.
“That fire is so hot that it’s actually melting the rocks beneath him! It has to be a few thousand degrees at the very least… It’s almost like his body is made out of thermite!” The corpse vanished in a white flash of blinding light, as a nearly flat, crystalline chessboard appeared floating in midair.
“Azra, this is incredibly illogical…”
“Yeah, I’m starting to think that maybe Gramps wasn’t as crazy as he seemed…”
As the two of them were talking to each other, they couldn’t take their eyes off of the dazzlingly beautiful piece of art that was hovering in front of them. The fire and Sariel’s corpse were completely gone, with only a puddle of molten stone in its place.
When the rocks finally cooled, the chessboard slowly fell down onto the ground and turned into a piece of checkered, foldable cardboard. It had sixty-four squares, half of which were white and the other half were black. The two kids cautiously examined the strange artifact, but it only took a moment for them to realize that it was likely connected to those two chess pieces that they received as gifts.
They didn’t exactly have rooms. The three of them used to live within a single large and open tunnel. At a certain point, they wanted to have their own individual space, so they spread out around the ancient caldera. Azra usually stayed on the right side and kept all of his books over there, while Yuri was on the left.
Their own belongings were some sackcloth tunics, books and those two chess pieces. Given the fact that they had known about all sorts of technologies on Earth, it was amazing that they managed to curb their desire to escape from that dreary cave for so long… However, even if they knew that there was a whole world out there, they knew that their grandfather wouldn’t have been able to go with them.
Part 2: A Note
“So, what should we do? I’m not good with weird magical nonsense…” Azra and Yuri were sitting across from each other and staring down at the chessboard in between them, which was resting on the flat stone floor.
“I don’t know… This is beyond my area of expertise as well. I have never played chess before, but I know that the kings should be placed on the center-most right squares.” The two of them were holding their pieces and debating whether or not it was wise to experiment on the strange device.
Azra muttered “Gramps must have known that this was going to happen… He wouldn’t give us these things if he knew that they were dangerous, right?”
The two of them suddenly placed both of their kings into the starting positions as if they had coordinated with each other ahead of time. The piece of cardboard transformed into a brightly glowing crystal. All of the white squares became transparent, while the black ones were merely clouded and opaque.
“What the hell?! Is that a hologram?! Woah, this is awesome!” Azra was amazed and surprised when a screen projected out from the center of the chessboard.
Yuri reached out and pressed her fingers upon the mostly translucent hologram, but her eyebrows furrowed when she realized that it was actually like a physical object. She murmured “This is very strange…”
Before they could continue thinking about how it worked, a series of words appeared on each side.
“Azrael, Uriel… I’m sorry that you had to watch me die. However, I’m still glad that I was able to raise you kids. According to protocol, I was supposed to hand the two of you over to one of the younger avatars, but I couldn’t bear to do that. I love, or loved you brats too much and I couldn’t let go. If you’re reading this, then I’m already dead. One of the other avatars will come by to absorb my soul sooner or later, so you don’t need to worry about me any longer. It’s time for you to finally live your lives… Leave this freaking cave.”
As they read that first paragraph, the two of them started crying again. In all their excitement over the strange chessboard, they had managed to calm down a bit, but it was just way too soon for them to recover from their loss. However, the note wasn’t short.
“Maybe now, the two of you will actually start believing some of my stories… I kind of wish that I was there to gloat, but we can’t always get what we want. Anyway, let’s start with the main features of this magical device. The first one is as you can see, the touch-screen projector. It’s a holographic projector, which can also create mana-barriers. The size and number of screens that you can have open at one time… There is a limit, but that limit is definitely beyond your imagination at the moment. That’s why I set some ‘soft’ limitations, or else you might accidentally destroy the world while fiddling around with it.”
Part 3: A Divine Computer
“This is awesome!”
“It is certainly very intriguing…”
Both Azra and Yuri were fiddling around with the screen controls. They changed the resolution, color, opacity, moved them around the room and created one that was so large that it hit the ceiling. However, the larger screens didn’t have any physical form, only the smaller ones did.
“Now that you brats have screwed with the screens enough, try to calm down. There’s a lot more that I need to explain. Whether it’s in the cardboard or crystalline state, this chessboard is virtually indestructible. Since it’s bound to you, it will never be lost as long as you’re alive. In order to deactivate it, simply remove all the pieces from the board. Wait, don’t do it now, or the screen will disappear!”
They were both touching their kings and preparing to move them, but they decided against it once they read that last sentence.
“Okay, I know this will be extremely difficult for either of you to understand or believe… But one of the main functions of the chessboard is as a storage space. Where do you think that I got all of those bags of rice from anyway? You thought I was stealing them? Even after I was bedridden, I still gave you kids giant bags of rice every month! What about all those freaking books?! They aren’t even from the planet that you’re on! I got them from Earth!”
Azra smiled wryly, muttering “Ugh, this really pisses me off for some reason…”
Yuri crawled over to her brother’s side and hugged him, while whispering “It’s okay to be wrong sometimes.”
He sighed, complaining “You were even more adamant about magic not being real than I was!”
The twins continued reading their grandfather’s message.
“There are sixty-four squares on the chessboard, but every single one of them can be used to store vast amounts of space. In fact, it could be said that there’s a tiny and flat world within the chessboard. However, we’ll get to that in a moment. First, I’ll teach you the basics.”
The screen suddenly split in half and moved slightly apart from each other, but both were still facing the twins. On the left was the simple word document, while the right was a picture of a gigantic golden fox with several planets and stars orbiting around it.
“This is the desktop, or the main display screen where you access everything. When you activate the chessboard, this is what will usually appear before anything else. The background picture can be changed to anything you want. Right now it’s on a loop, going through some images that we took back in the olden days… Just because we don’t remember back then, doesn’t mean that we couldn’t keep records, right?”
The background picture switched to an enormous sakura tree, which had pink flowers blossoming all over it. Each of the petals was the size of the Earth and there were several massive stars being devoured by its roots.
Both Azra and Yuri were shocked and confused at what they were seeing, but they somehow managed to stay focused on the left screen.
“Yes Little Azrael, this is one of those computers that you were always pestering me about… It can process information and you can interact with it through the touch screen, but it’s best if you don’t try to mess with it too much. There are only a few shortcut icons on the desktop at the moment, while all the other programs can be located in the files menu at the lower left corner. On the lower right side is the current time, volume settings and various programs that are currently running in the background.”
Of course, just because the twins had read books about computers and all sorts of other types of ‘modern’ technologies from Earth, they had never actually seen any of them in person. Thus, even the normally calm and composed girl was smiling ever so slightly. While her brother was grinning and giggling uncontrollably.
“The first icon opens up a map of everything within the area. The chessboard can even navigate the Chaotic Void, so nothing on Elysium can escape from your sight. Of course, the proximity influences how well defined the 3D rendering will look. Also, there is a lag depending on the distance. Within a ten mile radius though, you can see everything very clearly. There’s also a 2D map of the planet.”
Azra immediately tapped the map icon twice and the screen displayed two options: ‘3D Rendering’ and ‘2D Map’. When he touched the former, he almost jumped back in shock. It actually showed a 3D holographic projection of the room that they were in, down to the finest detail. It wasn’t limited to a flat screen, but was literally three dimensional. The rendering was so impressive that it appeared as if there was a tiny version of the twins and that chessboard floating in the air.
Yuri reached out and her fingertips penetrated inside of the orb of projected light. However, when she pulled her hand away, the image zoomed out and showed the entire cavern. There were hundreds of different tunnels and the one that they were in, was one of the largest and near the bottom. When the two of them touched the gigantic hologram at the same time, it shrunk back down to its previous size.
“I’m sure you two would love to play around with the map, but try to contain your excitement for a little while longer… The second icon will open the storage space menu. You can put pretty much anything inside of there and it won’t age at all. There’s a safeguard to prevent you from accidentally entering inside or sucking up objects that are really big though. Plants and animals can be stored to a certain degree, but there are limitations… Well, you can experiment with that crap later. The size at the moment is pretty small, but you can make it bigger eventually.”
Chapter 1: Sariel’s Guidance