To the Gods, Humans are social animals. They preferred the power of unity more than the Gods did. Despite being weak, they were capable to create great civilizations. However, in the history of Human, the strong created and plundered, while the weak obeyed and subsisted. It was unity that drive people to sacrifice themselves for the wish of others. History remembered the strong. Books recorded the aristocratic. Once formed, the hierarchy lasted until a few generations came by, when the weak gained the power to create and the strong could only obey.
There would always be rebellious ones throughout different eras in history. Instead of sticking to the doctrine of unity, they had been longing for the lifestyle of beasts, which allowed them to actualize themselves and appreciate freedom. Before their adulthood, they would forgo the warmth from their families and the security provided by habitations, and to the wild they went.
All creatures but Humans were blessed by holy spirit. Human was fated to take risks. Risks were the greatest blessing of all given by the Gods. Though the Gods had always preferred ideological independence, they could never leave their clans to look for adventure alone. They called these lonely adventurers “Paladin”, regarding the life they led as the ideal one for the Gods.
The young Paladin had left the village for years. His superior archery ensured his survival in the wild. Before his companion had taken the order to rid the realm of the elf, the young Paladin had been travelling across the realm with him. They roamed freely, revealing one secret after another, until the night when they stepped into a monument from time immemorial.
Young Archer: Gotcha. Dinner’s here.
Young Warrior: I am going to grill the wolf!
Young Archer: I will take it down with one single blow.
Young Warrior: Hold on. Did you hear the wolves howling?
Young Archer: Shh. Put out that fire on you. Fall back!
Young Archer: The wolves are here.
Young Archer: Such an amount... There must be someone behind this.
Paladin King of Earth: I am the guardian as demanded by the Court of Sagittarius.
Paladin King of Earth: You will suffer the consequence for trespassing.
Paladin King of Earth: The Armor regards you as its owner. I am free!
Paladin King of Earth: From now on, you are the Paladin.
Paladin King of Earth: But the freedom it comes with will make you lost.
Paladin King of Earth: Always bear in mind –
Paladin King of Earth: The owner of the Emerald Armor is the warrior of the Court of Sagittarius!
In the dark, the young archer could feel that he was inside the Emerald Armor. Fusing in him was the power that made him feeling free and unconstrained.
Freedom could sometimes be a disaster. On the endless plains, the Paladin knew the direction he should be heading, yet no signpost could be found. At first, he enjoyed a life of freedom, but he soon lost his way in loneliness. In the past, he always explained that his reason to stay away from people was freedom. Now, he wondered that was true.
He became frustrated, regarding living as aimless and a waste of time. He had been spending time in the wild, refining his skills of surviving and archery. Later, he understood that what he could do in the wild alone was no more than building a house for shelter and helping people whenever they were in need...
With the power of the Armor, the Paladin was then more unrestricted. It was then he began to long for the sea, but he could never figure out why he could never figure out why an image of a ruin, half sunk in water, always appeared in his mind. In the following decade, the Paladin lived on a deserted island. Following the image in his mind, he built a dyke with stones, forming a reservoir. He was carrying stones day and night, in attempt to build a castle existed in the past.
With the construction nearing completion, the island was struck by a storm. His dyke was fragile as was his castle. The paladin stood on the fallen dyke and fell into deep thought. He could not feel the changes of his body in the Emerald Armor, but it was clear that his willpower had became weak. He decided to set out for a journey to see how much time had passed, as well as to learn the origin of the Emerald Armor from the Court of Sagittarius.
The Court of Sagittarius never receives those not fated to learn ancient wisdom.
Defeat the guards to prove the wisdom embedded in the Emerald Armor!
Terra Archer: This should be an incarnation.
Terra Archer: If I can meet the real Court of Sagittarius,
Terra Archer: I will have answers to all my questions!
The Court of Sagittarius received the Paladin as his guest for he had defeated his incarnation. Led by the Court of Sagittarius, the Paladin came to his collection room, where fragments of Emerald Armors scattered all over the ground.
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: Paladin, I know what you are going to ask.
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: Look! The Emerald Armor I had forged with wisdom found in the ruins
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: Yet they all crumbled.
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: Everything is just a remnant from the past.
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: The intention of the creator no longer matters.
Terra Archer: Then, who gave me those tangled memories?
Terra Archer: And who gave me my power and freedom?
Terra Archer: And why he left me lost on the deserted island, wasting life...
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: Mortal, I can’t tell you how to live your life.
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: But you must understand that being powerful does not mean being strong!
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: If the Armor doesn’t tell you the reason, then you must find out yourself!
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: Freedom is not to let you run around and howl like a wild beast...
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: ...but realizing what decision to make when a choice comes up!
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: With prejudice, you make a bet and give your best!
The head of an arrow was locating its target. Arrows were shot from the Paladin's bow, but none of the target hit in the heart was able to figure out the origin, as he never shot an arrow standing. Despite his heavy armor, he moved swiftly in the bushes. When he released the arrows, he was already prepared to step out and dash to another spot. When the arrows were shot into his targets, the next shot was ready from afar. There was no match for the Paladin when it came to guerrilla warfare, as the woods were always his best cover.
During the day, the Paladin would always overflow himself with endless tasks. As long as there was an occasion to use his power, he would journey there without hesitation. Together with other heroes fighting for justice, the Paladin protected the weak by defeating the thieves and ridding the realm of demons. The villains would surrender for that they feared of the famous Paladin.
There were more and more people under the protection of the Paladin, including thieves and tricksters who decided to start with a clean state, yet they could hardly make a living after abandoning their livelihood. They begged the Paladin for food and shelter, but he could do nothing except slashing their enemies.
At night, the Paladin could not cast off the memories from the antiquity. The scenes flashed back over and over - There was a city covered in water. If he looked into it closely, he would be able to observe every single detail of it. The Emerald Armor was passed from a family to another, that everyone in all the families added different features to it as if they were scrawling graffiti together. The Armor sounded as being forged countless times...
Upon the sound of clanging swords, the Paladin opened his eyes. Hearing some screams, he hastily took his bow and arrows hung on the wall with him. He left the camp only to find the leader of a thief gang standing on the bodies of those protected by the Paladin together with his members, ready for a deadly duel with the Paladin.
Angry Leader: I taught my men to fight, yet you tell them to be sissy!
Terra Archer: Robbing civilians is what cowards do! Let go of your blade!
Angry Leader: Those fortunate will never understand! We are making a living!
Outside of the camp were several bodies. Those who bravely resisted had already taken their last breath and died under the blades of the thieves. The leader was in imminent danger of death. The Paladin pulled the arrow out of him, and blood gushed out of the wound.
Angry Leader: We are no different from the farmers. We must fill our stomachs!
Angry Leader: And you! With your power, you are free from mundane matters!
The leader grabbed the Emerald Armor with his last bit of strength. His anger triggered the memory belonged to the ancient humans, which then swelled into the Paladin’s mind as the picture was getting clearer.
Anyone could help protect history, yet most of them would rather devote themselves into strugglings that could push history forward. No matter which side one tended to stay aligned with, the strugglings could never come to an end, for the world was maintained through an everlasting struggle.
It was dusk when the last afterglow reached the sea, across which jade-colored ripples spread. Those living near the harbor often regarded it as the proof of existence of a monster on the island, so no one ever dared to approach the place. In fact, the Paladin could never take off the Emerald Armor; therefore he would soak half of his body into water, while the other half would reflect sunlight as he floated.
By now, the walls of the castle were fortified, and the streets in the town began coming into shape. Climbing out from the water, the Paladin returned to the deserted island. He was determined to rebuild the ruins he had seen in his mind this time.
Those the Paladin had been protecting betrayed him at last. They wanted the life of luxury more than peace. It was the second time the Paladin exiled himself to this deserted island. Nothing changed but his hair and beard, which gradually grew white. As a celebration for his aging, the Paladin built himself a hut in the middle of the town. Hauls of fish had reduced when compared to the past, therefore he would swim to the forest on the shore to hunt. On the days when the market would be open, he would bring along his hauls to trade for stone and tools used in his construction.
The wrath of the angry leader had further sharpened the memory in the Emerald Armor, that the Paladin could now clearly see the whole image of the city. After spending half of his life training his mind, he finally learnt how to commute between the vista of the past and present. “The dyke should not be destroyed the second time.” The Paladin endeavored relentlessly to obtain necessary assistance from the masses, while he himself focused on recalling the appearance of the ancient town.
As the construction neared completion, the stopped time began to elapse again.
Soldier of the Town: The Demons are here. Get ready, guys!
Terra Archer: The civilization is stuck in a time warp...
Terra Archer: in the manner when the town was drowned.
The soldiers in the ruin finally realized that they had faded away and had become part of the town. In the town, time was stopped as if frozen at the moment before the doom arrived. Despite the gorgeous appearance of the town, you could see the fears implanted in the cracks of the deteriorating city walls - In the next second would it fade, for it no longer exists. It belonged to the past, to a destroyed civilization.
The golems left behind were guardians since time immemorial. They had been telling adventurers about the history of the town.
Emerald Monk: You were so down in the dumps looking for an answer when you were young.
Emerald Monk: Yet, you have grown lost in your golden years. Is it worth it?
Paladin King of Earth: If the ancient peoples still want to be remembered,
Paladin King of Earth: I will be the tailor of time.
Emerald Monk: No, they wouldn’t. All they want us to know is that no empire is permanent...
Paladin King of Earth: The only way people could learn the existence of these fallen countries...
Paladin King of Earth: ...is to let people know of their existence in the ever-changing nature of life.
The Paladin told him that ruins were the crystallization of life, yet they were no more than a moment of stubbornness in the fabric of time. As such, it faded; it decayed. Just like his obsession in victory over defeat but never being able to find out the result, now all he could do was to focus on the past and mend the rift of ancient stubbornness.
The Paladins were angels destined to protect the past and reassemble the fragmented history. They have been looking backwards in time the moment they put on the Emerald Armor. However, the tempest blows in the present had always been striking their wings, pushing them towards the future they had their back against. They could only end up being lost in the gap between the past and the future, rendering them unable to face the growing obstinate rubble.