God of the End - Volume 1
God of the End - Volume 1 | Chapter 3.2: Stagnating Dreams II
Chapter 3.2: Stagnating Dreams II
Rex and Flynn were to have their match at Parime Beach. With a variety of trendy stores and a boardwalk filled with a myriad of attractions, Parime Beach was one of Aztlan’s most famed tourist attractions. We always hung out here whenever the weather was nice, especially during the summer.
“The beach sure is lively today,” I commented, watching all the people entering and leaving the area.
“It is warm and sunny today after all,” Rex replied. “The perfect weather to just lie on the sand and get a tan.”
Rex and I were waiting in the parking lot for Flynn to arrive. We went on ahead while he took a quick shower. Rex was leaning against the hood of his black luxury convertible with gold decals, scrolling through social media on his phone to pass the time. Meanwhile, I stayed inside the car with the air conditioning turned on.
Rex glanced at me. “Dude, you should get a tan. You’re so pale, people would think you’re anemic.”
“Hey, that’s not true.”
“Yes, it is. I can see the veins on your wrist.”
Rex’s laugh was sincere, so genuine, that you never would have believed he was on the verge of having a mental breakdown just ten to fifteen minutes ago. Before he could start teasing me, he noticed something out of the corner of his eye.
“Took you long enough,” he called out. “Started to think you chickened out.”
I gazed over to see who Rex was looking at. It was Flynn, wearing his signature red varsity jacket with a white hoodie inside. He was riding his skateboard, doing a couple tricks along the way. He let his spiky hair down, which parted to form curtains as it fluttered in the wind. He normally gelled it up, but he was probably in a rush to get here.
“Who? Me?” Flynn hopped off his board and popped it into his hand. “Like I would miss out on another opportunity to kick your ass in public.”
“Bold of you to assume it’s my ass getting kicked.”
The two took playful jabs at each other as I got out of the car and opened the trunk. There were two training weapons inside, a sword for Rex and a lance for Flynn. I quickly grabbed them before their banter turned into an actual argument.
“Thanks for grabbing those, little bro,” said Flynn, noticing I was carrying the training weapons. He walked over and grabbed the lance from my arms. “Here, let me take some of the weight off you.”
Rex had a guilty expression on his face. He promptly took the sword as well. “Thanks, dude. We can take it from here.”
The three of us set off to where Rex and Flynn usually held their sparring matches. People dressed in all sorts of styles swarmed the area. Some were at the beach, wearing swimsuits and relaxing under the sun. Street performers entertained the tourists on the boardwalk while also making quite the profit in tips. Others were simply enjoying themselves with friends at the nearby stores.
“What took you so long? Weren’t we supposed to meet up ten minutes ago?”
“Sorry, babe. I got caught in traffic.”
The crowd’s voices flooded the air, each talking over one another. I could distinguish some conversations vividly, but not all of them.
“You looking forward to the latest shows coming out soon? I heard King of Ancients is getting an anime adaptation. Rensala is also getting its second season.”
“I’m more looking forward to Club FiVe, dude. Can’t wait to watch that when it drops next month.”
Even as the world was engulfed in an ever-turning cycle of war and peace, the people’s everyday lives continued. I suppose as normal people, there was nothing they could do except simply accept that this is the way things are and pray to the gods for their safety.
“Did you hear about the attack in the city earlier? I saw it on the news. Lord Aurelius and his demigods saved us all once again.”
“Oh dear, I didn’t even notice. I was working late last night and slept through the entire thing. I’ll make sure to thank the Aurelius family and President Moctezuma in my prayers later.”
That being said, who could blame them? I understood how all of them felt. The innate fear and dread of being thrust into the middle of this senseless fighting. No one, not even the Dei Consentes, wanted to face this problem directly. The only person I knew who had the courage to try was Rex.
“We’re finally here,” Rex exclaimed.
We stopped at the park nearby. It was filled with people either exercising or enjoying themselves on the variety of available sports facilities. There were also those who just came to relax in the fresh outdoors. Flynn and Rex had chosen an available basketball court as their sparring grounds.
“You ready?” Flynn asked. He took off his varsity jacket, along with his hoodie, and threw it at me. They landed on my face, much to my annoyance.
“Ready as I’ll ever be.” Rex did the same and carelessly flung his leather jacket on my head.
Please don’t use me as a coat rack.
The people nearby noticed what was happening. I could see them glance over then quickly turn back to their friends. Some people even stopped what they were doing and came over to watch. As more people noticed, their whispers increased until even I could clearly hear what they were saying from the bleachers.
“Isn’t that Rex?”
“That’s the Aurelius heir, right?”
“I follow him on Deustagram. He’s so handsome.”
“Damn, I get to see an actual god fight. I’ve got to get a video of this.”
“Who’s he up against?”
“That’s his retainer, Flynn. The two go way back.”
“That six-pack though. If Flynn gets any hotter, I’ll start barking.”
The two of them pointed their weapons at each other. The dark wood of the training weapons gleamed in the afternoon sun. They exchanged nods, quietly assuring each other that it was time to begin. After a small period of dead silence, the two rushed in to strike. In an instant, their weapons clashed. The impact resounded around the court as the ever-growing crowd was awestruck by the raw power of their attacks.
“Not bad,” Flynn remarked. “You definitely haven’t been slacking off during training.”
“Same goes to you,” Rex responded, as he locked weapons with Flynn. “Too bad you’ll still lose to me.”
Rex mustered the strength to swipe the tip of Flynn’s lance aside. He tried to use the opening he made to slash Flynn, but his opponent swiftly dodged the attack at the last second. Flynn retaliated by unleashing a flurry of thrusts at Rex.
“You thought it would be that easy, huh?” Flynn exclaimed, the overconfidence in his voice was apparent.
Rex had a hard time blocking every single one of Flynn’s attacks. “Why you little…”
Rex plunged the training sword into the ground. Before Flynn closed in for another jab, a stone wall rose from the asphalt. However, Flynn anticipated this. As he was about to dive headfirst into the makeshift wall, Flynn slammed his foot down. Small ripples formed around the soles of his shoes. In the blink of an eye, Flynn had jumped into the air and over the barrier. He definitely used some of his limited earth divinity to augment the height of his jump. As Rex gazed up at his opponent, Flynn smirked before performing a plunge attack in the air. The assault missed Rex by a hair.
“I’m impressed you were able to dodge that.” Flynn pulled out his lance and twirled it around. “I thought I had you for a minute there.”
“Oh please.” Rex stood up from the ground. While he acted tough, it was apparent that he got rattled by Flynn’s plunge. “As if I’d ever lose to your little stunt.”
Rex and Flynn continued their fight. It was mesmerizing to see the two battle ferociously. Despite Rex’s status as a god, Flynn managed to keep up and even gain an upper hand at times. Whenever Rex used his divine powers, Flynn would find a way to use what limited divinity he had to foil Rex’s attack. Never in my life would I have imagined a demigod overpowering a god.
Flynn truly is exceptional.
Their match attracted a large audience. The bleachers where I was sitting were now filled with people watching Rex and Flynn spar. The seats on the opposite side of the court also had little to no room left. Many of the spectators were either posting the fight on social media or cheering vigorously for one of the two fighters. There was even a group of fangirls that held up a banner saying ‘I <3 REX’. Rex would sometimes notice them and shoot them a playful wink, causing their squealing to intensify at the expense of the nearby watchers’ eardrums.
“Rex is quite popular,” I said to myself. “He may be hated by the gods, but the people really love him.”
“He really is quite amazing, don’t you agree?” I heard an anonymous voice chime in from nearby.
I searched around to see where the remark had come from. It was difficult, especially with everyone talking over one another. I eventually spotted a guy staring at me from a couple of seats over. Once he noticed I was looking at him, he waved to me with a gentle smile. He stood up from his seat and walked over to where I was sitting.
The guy was tall, with shaggy black hair that the wind was blowing over his eyes. He wore a brown flannel hoodie and large rectangular glasses. He also had a guitar case strapped on his back. I could easily tell that he was just a regular human, he lacked a certain aura most gods exhibit that commands respect from those around them.
“Aren’t you one of Rex’s retainers?” he asked, as he sat down beside me. The people who were already sitting there made room for him as he politely apologized to them.
“Wait, you recognize me?” I wondered. “Not a lot of people do.”
“Yeah, I remember seeing you on his Deustagram story. You’re the new guy… Keith, if I remember correctly?”
I nodded in confirmation.
“I’m Theo.” He pointed to himself. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“A pleasure to make your acquaintance. Are you a friend of Rex’s?”
“You can sort of say that. We went to the same high school, even used to hang out back then, but we drifted apart when we graduated. I went off to college and he became a general for Lord Aurelius’ army.”
“Oh yeah, Rex did mention he went to a public school rather than the private schools the gods’ children are usually sent.”
“Yeah, it caused quite the stir when he transferred. Everyone wanted to be his friend. All the girls, and even some of the guys, were fawning over him. After all, it wasn’t every day you get to see a god attend a school for normal humans.”
I remembered what Rex told me about this. When he was still in private school, he would always cause a lot of trouble because he didn’t care for the gods’ stuck-up rules and social cues. He was the stereotypical class delinquent who everyone avoided. Regardless of how much trouble he got himself into, the school always had to pardon him, unless they wanted to anger Lord Aurelius.
However, on one random day, Moctezuma himself issued Rex’s transfer to a public school in downtown Aztlan. Maybe it was because of the sheer number of complaints he received? Or maybe, Moctezuma had an ulterior motive? Only the God of Earth himself knows the answer to that question.
“Rex was practically the king of the school,” said Theo. “But he never let all the popularity inflate his ego. Contrary to his wild personality, he was genuinely kind and treated everyone like a friend. He’s the only god I know who’s willing to be one with us commonfolk. With the amount of people surrounding him, I was lucky to even get close to his inner circle.”
“Flynn and Blake…” I added.
“Those two never left Rex’s side. Even though they’re all different ages, Lord Aurelius pulled a couple strings to get them all in the same grade. Those two were as chaotic as Rex in their own right. They got into so much mischief together.”
“I bet, especially Flynn. Was he always competing with Rex even back then?”
“Oh, that never changed. Rex and Flynn were always trying to one up each other in high school. No matter if it was in art, sports, or even in grades, Flynn always beat Rex with ease.”
“Wait a minute, did I hear that correctly? Flynn beat Rex… in grades?”
“You didn’t know? Flynn was always at the top of his classes. I don’t think I ever saw him leave with a grade that wasn’t an A+.”
Flynn’s actually smart?! No offense to the guy, but he did not give off the vibe of being academically gifted. I thought he would’ve gotten the lowest grades of the three. Wow, I need to give Flynn more credit.
“To think there was still so much I didn’t know about Rex and them,” I giggled. “I should ask them to tell me more stories when we’re free.”
“You should, but in the meantime…” Theo focused his attention on the match. “Go Rex! You can do it, dude! Beat Flynn’s ass!”
Despite his cheers blending in with the crowd, Rex and Flynn spotted Theo watching the match from the bleachers. They glanced in our direction before resuming the fight. I noticed a slight smile on their faces, recognizing an old friend of theirs sitting beside me.
“Theo, you bastard,” Flynn called out, as he continued his barrage of attacks. “I thought we were bros. Why are you cheering for Rex?”
“Guitar Hero’s here.” Rex continued to block every single attack, throwing in a couple of his own whenever he found an opportunity. “Nice to see you, buddy.”
“I bet you bribed him with a wad of cash to cheer for you. What are you? Some sort of friend-thief?”
“Oh please, of course he’d be on my side. We both know I was the popular one in high school.”
“Then how come I was able to pull more girls in a week than you ever did in an entire school year?”
“Cause I’m not a fuck-boy like you.”
Rex and Flynn were nearing their limit. Their attacks were slowing down. Sweat was pouring down their faces as they heavily panted, both trying to catch their breath as quickly as possible. Bruises were already starting to form around their bodies as small cuts leaked droplets of blood onto the ground. Their wooden training weapons were also immensely chipped and scratched all over. They could probably only withstand one more hit before shattering into a myriad of fragments.
“How you feeling?” Flynn asked Rex. “Got all the stress out of your system?”
“It’s still there, but boy did this match lift up my spirits.” Rex lifted his shirt to wipe the sweat building up on his face. In the background, the fangirls screeched until one of them promptly fainted.
“C’mon, I’m your best friend. I always know how to cheer you up, one way or another.”
“I can’t thank you enough, man. I owe you one.”
“Now then, let’s finish this match with a bang.” Flynn shifted into a fighting stance; his lance ready to strike at any moment. “Put all of your anger and frustration into this last attack. I want to hear you declare your resolve to everyone present. The Dei Consentes will fall before you and you will become everyone’s savior. You got it, bro?”
Rex took a deep breath. He readied his sword and opened his eyes, now filled with a burning passion. “Yeah.”
The cheering suddenly came to a halt. All that remained were the distant background noises coming from the beach. The crowd silently waited in anticipation. Everyone was on the edge of their seats. I could hear Theo muttering his support for Rex; however, his voice was so faint that I had difficulty hearing what he was saying.
The silence was broken by two vigorous battle cries. Rex and Flynn’s final attack had begun. They rushed in from opposite ends of the court, each hoping they would be the winner of this match. Amid their onslaught, I could see them imbue their weapons with divine energy. All of us watching were captivated. We couldn’t take our eyes away for even a second. As soon as the two reached each other …
Huh?! What in the…?!
A stone wall erupted from below yet again. Rex and Flynn ran headfirst into it, bouncing back from the sheer force of the impact. Both looked dazed as they tried to comprehend what just happened. The crowd was equally as confused. I ran down to check if they were alright. Theo followed. I went to Rex’s side, and he helped Flynn get back on his feet.
“My foolish son,” a domineering voice echoed. “Instead of aiding in the city’s restoration like a responsible heir of the Aurelius family name, here you are brawling like a manic berserker in public with everyone filming. Such a disgrace.”
We turned to where the voice came from. No surprise, it was Lord Aurelius. He was standing at the edge of the basketball court with a long ebony cane, although he’d never had any difficulties with walking. An assistant accompanied him, holding up an umbrella to shelter him from the sun’s rays. He walked over with poise befitting of a god, his assistant barely keeping up with him.
“Move along now,” he said to the crowd with an irritated tone. “The fight is over. I’m sure you all had better things to do before my son disturbed your day with his shenanigans.”
The people left in a hurry. No one wanted to be around when Lord Aurelius was clearly in a bad mood. Who knows what sort of earthquake might occur when he and Rex start fighting again? Within seconds, only Rex, Flynn, Theo, and I were left on the basketball court.
“You ruined the fight, old man,” Rex grumbled as he stumbled to his feet. “I had it in the bag.”
“It wasn’t a matter of whether or not you won.” Lord Aurelius coldly stared at Rex. “This kind of behavior is shameful for a god of your stature. I expected better of you, Reginald.”
Rex hated his real name, and it was obvious from his expression that he cringed upon hearing it. Flynn snickered, but he was abruptly silenced by the glares of both Rex and Lord Aurelius.
“Is that all you came here for?” Rex questioned his father with a dismissive tone. “Just to ruin my fun. Then, great job. You did just that.”
“To be frank, I don’t care what you and your retainers get up to in your free time.” Lord Aurelius grabbed an envelope from inside his suit jacket and handed it to Rex. “I’m just here to deliver a message. From President Moctezuma.”
“Oh? The great Lord Aurelius reduced to a mere errand boy?” Rex opened it and started reading the letter inside. “What’s this?”
“You’ve been summoned to Teotihuacan Temple this weekend.”
“Huh? Why do I have to go all the way to Quetzalcoatl City?”
Lord Aurelius smirked. “Isn’t it obvious? President Moctezuma wants to see you. Personally.”