We kid ourselves with the expression "happily ever after".
Very few times is it happy. Seldom times does it last forever. All it
is after, plain, simple, and unadultured after. All fairy tales end that
way, but life isn't a fairy tell. We must pull ourselves out of our
delusions and come to grips with reality. "Happily ever after"
Chaz Ashley lived happily ever after. At least, that's what he
planned to do. There was a huge difference between what
happened, and what he planned. He did live, if one could call his
existence living. It certainly wasn^Òt happy. Not by a long shot.
Our story begins five years after the Protectors of Algol
destroyed the Profound Darkness and freed their worlds from the
age-old curse, or at least they thought they did. Things were going
peacefully enough on Motavia and life began to settle into some
facsimile of its old routine for Chaz. Or at least as much as it could
resemble his old life without including his dead mentor, Alys
He still worked at the Hunter's Guild. In fact, he became
something of a local legend himself. Next to Alys, he was the
Hunter with the most cases completed. He saw Rika daily, as she
lived across the street from his house in Aideo, but they had drifted
apart over time and were now simply just good friends. Life was
good, or at least as good as it gets.
One morning, identical to thousands of others, Chaz walked
into the Guild. He walked up to the receptionist and inquired about
the available cases. She looked at him quizzically. "I'm afraid there
aren't any cases available at the moment, Chaz," she said,
apologetically. "Business is becoming scarce. Peace isn't all that
lucrative for Hunters. Maybe you should consider a change of
Chaz gazed at her in shock. "Change professions? I've been a
Hunter all my life. There's nothing else I know how to do," he
hesitated for a moment. "Okay. There's nothing else respectable
that I know how to do."
The receptionist stared at him, looking more than a little
puzzled. "It was just a suggestion. Anyway, you should check back
tomorrow. There's bound to be work sometime."
Chaz shook his head as he walked out the door. Times had
certainly changed. Just five years ago there would have been at
least half a dozen cases waiting for the picking. Three years ago
there would have at least been four. And just one year ago, there
wear always at least two. Now months would pass between cases.
Times of peace were certainly hard for Hunters.
Chaz cursed silently to himself. It was his fault that things
were the way they were. If he hadn't started meddling in the
strange affairs that he had found himself drawn into after Alys's
death, there would still be plenty of cases. Well, there would be
plenty of cases if Algol still existed, which was debatable. After
all, it had seemed that they had defeated the Profound Darkness at
the last possible second before it broke what little remained of the
As he entered his home, Chaz sighed. A simple titanium
sword leaned against the wall, for he had given the Elysdeon to
Rune to return to the Esper Mansion for safe keeping years before.
Chaz picked up the sword. It was a remarkable piece of
craftsmanship, that was true, but no sword would ever fit his hand
as perfectly as the Elysdeon. No sword would ever hold and edge
as well as the Elysdeon. No sword would ever...
Chaz snapped himself out of his wave of nostalgia. The past
was better left untouched, for it brought back memories he would
have given anything to forget. Memories of Alys.
Chaz slumped down into a chair and held his head in his
hands. He had started it again. The memories came flooding back,
memories that he didn't need and didn't want. Memories of Zio,
Dark Force, and Alys...
He stood at the summit of Zio's Fort, staring at the control
Android Demi. She explained to them how she had been captured
while trying to shut down Nurvus, Motavia's control center. Just
then, he appeared on the scene. He was Zio, the Black Magician.
Zio the cultist. Zio the fanatic. Zio the servant of Dark Force. Zio
the killer of Alys. Gryz turned first, his hands roaming to his ax,
for he lived to destroy Zio to avenge the deaths of his family.
Battle ensued, but Chaz found that no matter what they tried,
Zio remained unscathed. He babbled on about how his God, Dark
Force, protected him. At the time it had seemed just meaningless
pratter, but Chaz now knew that there was a Dark Force, and that it
was one of the most sinister beings known to the denizens of
Zio hurled a bolt of black energy at him, but Alys moved and
caught the blast herself. She dropped like a stone into Rika's arms.
Hahn yelled something, it wasn't all that clear now, and they had
One of the things that had stuck in Chaz's memory was the
look of Rika's face as she sobbed, "It's no use Chaz. Even Gires
won't heal Alys's wounds." It was a look of total dispair, a look
that pleaded for him to be able to do something, anything at all. He
couldn't. There was nothing he could to, except cast a Ryuka
technique to carry them to Krup. Why he chose Krup he would
never know. Perhaps it was because Hahn was standing near him.
Perhaps it was because Alys had said that she had always liked that
town. He never would know, not that he cared to. He wished he
could forget the entire thing.
The expression of pain on Alys's face as she choked out a
command to seek out Rune was awful. It scarred Chaz deeply to
see the face of Alys contorted into something so pain-filled that it
scarsely looked human any more. But he had obeyed, and had
found Rune, but it was too late. By the time that they returned, it
was too late. Not even the Psycho Wand could save Alys by that
They buried Alys at the outskirts of town. Part of him had
died that day. If it were not for Rune and Rika, he probably would
have committed suicide. And who knows what would have
happened to Algol then. As it was, he was only deeply depressed,
The next few memories that Chaz found himself reliving
were from three different places, and of three different creatures,
but they were all of Dark Force. Dark Force, Zio's commander.
Dark Force the Profound Darkness's servant. Three battles, each
won only by the breadth of a hair, and each more terrible than the
Chaz sat there sobbing as image after horrible image was
played in front of his tortured mind. It was like this all to often.
Hours later, Rika would find him attempting suicide and manage to
stop him. It was always like this.
Chaz Ashley was a husk of a
man. He sat there and waited for it all to end in the usual way, but
it didn't. Rika came by an hour later than usual and an hour to late
to be of any help. She found Chaz sprawled out on the floor, his
titanium sword drive through his heart.
Perhaps in death Chaz lived happily ever after for in life
nothing could have been further from the truth...