Thousands upon thousands of years ago, Fionarch was once a prosperous world, living in harmony. They worshipped the goddess Trancall, who created the entire universe and provided the humans with resources and peace. She loved the humans, each of them carved with her thousand arms.
This all changed when she had a daughter. Trancall, sensing her time to pass on her reign to someone else, created Modvol, who quickly overthrew her creator and seized control of Fionarch, plunging the planet into darkness and overrunning the humans with monsters.
Just when all hope seemed lost, a hero made of fire came forth and struck Modvol down and sealed bits and pieces of her into crystals, ending her reign. But Modvol split the world between dimensions, separating both the world and the hero in half, creating two worlds, Fionus and Archidus, and killing the hero in her final moments.
The resources became split between the dimensions, drastically changing the ecosystem for each world. Fionus became overrun by plants, with disgusting monsters hiding in each bush, waiting to strike, while Archidus became a toxic city wasteland overrun by corruption and creatures.
Neither side can reach the other, forever lost to the sands of time, but rumour has it that eventually the hero will rise again and search the land for all seven crystals, reviving Modvol and finally striking her down for good.
...Where am I?
My eyes struggled to open, the weight of my slumber pinning them down. I rubbed my temple as I sat up, staring at the crystal caverns that surrounded me.
I put my hands on the massive crystal that served as my resting place. Cold.
A silent yawn unwillingly left me as I stretched, scanning my surroundings. I was in a tiny crystalline room, with no exit in sight.
Well, okay, that's kinda dumb. Who am I? How did I get here?
I looked down at myself. Nude.
...Gosh, that explains the breeze, I guess. How embarrassing.
I hopped off my makeshift bed, only to be held back. Gingerly, I turned around to look at my back, two massive tubes attached to my back. A shudder went down my spine. Why are they there?
...Can they be removed? What would happen? Something bad? Does it matter?
With a yank, I pulled my body away from the tubes, wincing as they held me back again, but I continued pulling.
Ow ow ow ow ow-
I bit at my lip as I felt the tubes rip at my flesh, blood dripping down my back as they let go, me dropping to the ground during the first moments of my newfound freedom. I patted at my back, wincing at how much blood covered my hands.
So, yeah, I'm free, now what?
"Child." A voice echoed in the distance, "Come here."
I sat in silence, dumbfounded. Waking up in a crystal cave? Acceptable? Not remembering anything? O-okay... Having tubes attached to your back? Weird. But having some random voice lady talk to you in the distance without a way to get to her? Unacceptable.
My throat hurt as I tried to muster up a reply, my entire body shaking as I slowly realized that I either didn't know how to speak or, more likely, wasn't able to speak.
Tragic, my words are stuck, and so am I.
"Child!" The voice yelled, impatient, "Just run into the wall! Trust me!"
Smart kids don't run into walls at the advice of strangers. I don't know anything about my life before this point, but I'm thinking I wasn't very smart.
I ran headfirst into the wall, which surprisingly wasn't solid at all. It felt tingly as I ran though it, mouth agape with surprise. Turning around to stare at the wall again, I wiped at the sweat that formed on my brow. Holy moly.
But that's not important. Where exactly am I? I scanned my surroundings, and I would've groaned in frustration if not for my unwilling silence. More crystals. No exit.
I walked towards the nearest wall and knocked on it. Solid.
Maybe the voice will help again? Or maybe she's done? She's taught me an integral part of navigating these caves, of course.
...I have to get out. I have to get out now. My identity is a mystery that I need to solve right now, with or without a voice to guide me.
I walked towards another wall, grinning when my hand went through the wall. More confidently this time, I hopped through the wall.
Another cave with no visible exits. Wonderful.
I felt a breeze run across my nude body. Huh.
Following the breeze to a wall, I stuck my hand through the wall with no hesitation. A cocky grin spread across my face. Bingo.
I walked into the next room, and scanned my surroundings. A whole bunch of neat rows of spikes lined the room, constantly going in and out of the floor with no pattern. There was a single patch of spikeless ground near the middle, and a purple bird-creature-thing stood in the middle.
"H-help!" The creature cried out, "I fell down here, and now I can't get out!"
I looked up. No hole in the ceiling.
"I knew the walls were weird, but I didn't know the ground could be weird too!"
A rush of horror ran through my body. At any moment, I could fall into spikes. Good to know, but not good to think about.
I locked eyes with the creature, a gentle smile crawling across my face. Despite my lack of words, it seemed they understood.
"Please be careful." The creature stammered, "I don't want you to become a shish-kebab..."
I gave them a quick thumbs up, reassuring them I would be alright. Wish I could reassure myself.
The pattern of the spikes was erratic and quick, and I literally just woke up from some sort of... coma? Sleep? Something. This was unfair, to say the least.
I took a deep breath and ran towards the spikes, somehow managing to sprint between each tile gracefully, hopping onto each safe patch with a surprising amount of ease.
"You go!" The creature cheered, "You're doing great-"
My relatively short life flashed before my eyes as I tripped. Everything seemed to be in slow motion as I watched myself fall helplessly into the spikes below me. I closed my eyes in preparation, not wanting to see my gore.
I opened my eyes. I'm... okay?
I gasped in realization as I watched the spikes pass harmlessly through my body. They're not real.
"Y-you..." The creature gasped, "You did it..."
The creature waddled towards me as I stood up, a happy look spread across their little plucky face.
"You passed the test!" They cheered, "You don't know me, and you might never will, but call me Statpuff."
I stared at Statpuff. Test?
"My child." They said, their voice suddenly changing into a familiar tone, "You have done well. Come."
They took my hand with their flipper and led me to the other side of the caverns, leading me through the next wall.
I stared at our surroundings, more crystal caves.
"Can you not speak?" Statpuff said gently, "Do not worry, child, you know not of your power."
They dragged me through room after room, walking through more walls than I could comprehend. I stared in awe at our next room, a long hallway with a massive chasm on each side.
"Do you want something to wear, child?"
I nodded, I was kinda cold.
"Do you trust me?"
I squinted at the bird. What a suspicious thing to say. Gingerly, I nodded.
"Across this walkway, beyond that wall, I have stashed some clothes. They're just your size."
...Why does this creature have clothes? Exactly my size, too? That's a little too good to be true. What is Statpuff hiding?
Statpuff glared at me, snapping their beak impatiently.
"Well? Child, you must trust me."
Reluctantly, I made my way down the walkway, making sure to check if the floor was solid before each step. Everytime I took a step, I felt the anxiety in my stomach grow, as if I could drop at any moment.
I sighed in relief as I reached the end of the room, stepping through the wall.
The room was tiny, like a closet. On the ground laid a red shirt, some grey sweatpants, some black shoes and even some undergarments and a hairtie. I clumsily put them on, not really knowing how to do so.
I stared at the crystal walls as I attempted to put in my ponytail, using my reflection as a guide. One attempt, two attempts, five attempts, eight, twelve...
A quick smile ran across my face as I stared at my blonde ponytail. Not bad.
Admittedly, I'm... cute!
I skipped out of the room, and promptly fell down into the abyss.
The walkway was gone, and so was Statpuff.
It hurt, hitting the ground so hard. I laid there in agony, cursing at myself internally for trusting that bird. Clothes is not worth almost dying.
I groaned as I staggered to my feet, noticing a sheet of paper nearby. With a sigh, I picked it up and read it, noticing how fancy it was.
The paper had a lot of big words that I didn't understand, but one line of text made Statpuff's intentions clear.
"The goal is simple: that kid cannot survive. If Proton lives, then everything will go down the gutter."
Proton? Is that my name?
...Okay, this is weird, why does a bird know my name, but I don't? Why are they trying to kill me?
Should I keep that name? Is it really my name?
...I'll think about it when I get out.
I grinned as I realized that Statpuff failed their little goal. Haha, one for Proton! ...Probably. Maybe. Me, at least.
Shoving the note in my pocket, I ventured forth, walking through another wall.
I froze as I stared at the girl in front of me. Tall and black, with a dirty blue sweater and red curly hair. The only thing that grabbed my attention more than her still-bleeding scars were how she nervously picked at them.
She stared back at me, or at least I think she did, considering her eyes were covered by that mess she called hair.
"B-back, monster!" She stammered, waving around a stick, "You don't know who you're messing with! I'm Berry, the greatest warrior in my village!"
Berry took a step towards me. Of course she would be aggressive towards me, just my luck.
I glared at her as I felt my fists burst into flames, a warm sensation running through my body. Huh. I can do that?
She whimpered as she stared at the fire, slowly walking backwards.
"I..." She cried out, "You w-wouldn't hurt a child, would you? Please don't! You gotta try to be good, monster!"
I took a step towards her, causing her to cringe.
"C-c'mon..." Berry stammered, "I promise not to hurt you, trust me."
Yeah, that's why you instantly threatened me. Tides are turned here, sicko. I stretched my neck threateningly, loud cracking echoing through the cave.
She nervously played with her hair, gripping her stick as hard as she could.
"I lied." She said, "I'm not a warrior. I'm a doctor. I couldn't hurt you if I wanted to, swearsies."
Berry shook heavily, afraid of what I could do.
"You might look human, but those powers are wicked. Are you a demon?"
"You don't know what you are?" She giggled, taking a step towards me, "Well, guess we're in the same boat. I'm Berry, nice to meet ya. Can you please get rid of the fire?"
I looked at my hands. How exactly do I get rid of the fire?
"Do you... not know how?"
My gaze shifted away from her nervously.
"Does it hurt?"
I shook my head. It's warm and surprisingly pleasant.
She took another step towards me.
"You have a name?"
I nodded. Proton is the closest thing I have, so I might as well use it. I don't think I would be able to make a good new one.
Berry cocked her head in confusion.
"What's your name? ...Wait, can you speak?"
I shook my head sadly. The warm feeling in my hands suddenly left as I focused less on them.
"Oh, you got rid of the flames!" Berry cheered, taking another step, "Anyways, can I guess your name? Does it start with D?"
I shook my head.
Excitedly, I shook my head.
I shook my head, making large movements with my arms.
"Is that close? Um... Proton?"
I shook my head excitedly, she got it!
She took another step, grabbing my hand into a firm handshake.
"Nice to meet you, Proton." She giggled, "Berry Stein, pleased to make your aquaintance. I came out here to get some medicine-related stuff. Do you live here?"
I shrugged. Beats me.
"You... don't know? How can you not know where you live?!"
Again, beats me.
Berry gently dragged me along, guiding me through another wall.
"C'mon, Proton." She said softly, "I'm taking you to my place. I'll teach you sign language or something, then we can speak better."
A feeling of relief washed over me as we exited the cave, rain hitting my face the instant we left. The forest was dark and overgrown, with the random screeching of monsters lurking from within the greens. Berry's hand never left mine as she guided me through the woods, expertly navigating through the trees.
"Proton?" She said, "I, uh, also kinda lied about having a village. I'm kinda alone."
I realized what she meant as we entered a clearing, a small, rundown, wooden shack smack dab in the middle of it. She opened the door and led me in, the floor damp with rain. The ceiling leaked, everything was dirty and poorly put together, and the air smelled of mildew.
"You're not supposed to depend on people." Berry sighed as she walked across the one-room house to her bookshelf, "Trusting people leads to betrayal and death."
I thought back to Statpuff and internally seethed.
"You seem... different. You have an undying innocence lying in your eyes."
Berry handed me a well-used book, years of wear and tear on it. "Learning Sign Language" was on the cover, right next to a picture of a hand.
"There's not much for me to do." Berry said, "So I've memorized that book. Open it and try!"
I opened the book, various complicated looking movements entailed inside, with various pictures to show what to do.
Hesitantly, I attempted to sign.
"Berry..." I slowly signed, stopping after each motion to look for the next one in the book, "Thank you..."
"No problem, Proton!" Berry giggled, "M'kay, so what's your story? C'mon!"
"Woke up in cave." I signed, "No memories. Found bird. Trusted bird. Fell. Met you."
"You don't remember who you are?" Berry gasped, "That's awful! But it's also... intriguing."
She grabbed another book, giving it to me. It read "Mythos of Fionarch".
"What's Fionarch?" I signed, making sure not to do anything wrong, "Is that some kind of castle?"
"Oh, you really do have no memories..." Berry cringed, "Don't worry, I'll teach you. At one point, Fionus and Archidus were one-"
"What is a-"
"Two dimensions that were split apart by Modvol. We live in Fionus."
"Our god. She was killed by Modvol, but Modvol's kinda deadsies now so it doesn't really matter."
"The hero of flame killed her. Unfortunately, they got split in two and sent though the dimensions. ...Wait."
Berry stared at my hands.
"Are you the hero?"
"How would I know?"
Berry continued teaching me about everything she knew regarding Fionus; their history, culture, and people.
Fionus was overgrown with plants and filled with animals, with humans being scarce and mostly violent. People lived by themselves, but Berry's dream was to reunite humanity and create another civilization like her old books detailed.
She had planned it all out. Berrius: the first town in millennia, name not final. It would be big and beautiful with friendly faces everywhere. Berry wanted to become a doctor in her town, curing people's illnesses.
I didn't know much about this place besides what Berry told me, and I knew it was extremely farfetched, but...
For some reason, I believed in her.