Narice and Rei walked towards a place outside of the school grounds.
“Here seems good enough,” she said looking around and seeing no one.
He looked at her, not sure of what he was supposed to expect and went to grab the sword that wasn’t there in preparation.
“You know…” she looked at him inriguingly and with a raised brow, “we could do it you know…”
“well, now that we’re alone…”
Narice suspected something was amiss.
“What are we doing here..” Narice attempted to get back to the real reason.
“haha, i was just kidding..”
She used her hands in the middle of the air, and pulled them down. Narice noticed a line cut in the middle of the air. She pulled the line apart and suddenly there was another world inside of it.
“What is this?”
“It’s a portal silly,” she returned.
A portal? He thought.
“We step into it,” she continued and stepped inside, motioning for him to follow, “Hurry up… before it’s too late.”
Narice looked at her… oh, well. There wasn’t much holding him back. He followed suit and dove in.
As soon as he was inside she zipped up the portal behind them.
“Where are we?” He looked around and saw that they were in the middle of deep wood.
“Think of it as a safe house…” she replied.
“A safe house?”
“Yes. A warlord lives here at the moment.”
Narice had heard the term warlord before – back in the Aqayan schoolhouse.
“He seals it away with his magic. Basically, he can grant anyone he wants to have access to it. It’s the benefit of being a level three earth magic user.”
There were a lot of questions, but it was making sense.
He mulled it over. He’d studied a bit about the five major elements and their uses. Fire and ice, earth, sky, water- and Ka’atra supposedly had the power of darkness.
Fire- level one, was simply that: fire. Level two magic, however, could energize self however, hastening reflexes, mobility, and awareness, such as what he’d seen his father accomplish. Level two magic required unique attunement to the element.
Ice- level one- like fire, was simply that: in that it could freeze things. Level two could however could manipulate reflexes and slow time.
Water- level one, of course could manipulate water
Wind- of course could manipulate wind.
Earth- the ability to manipulate natural elements.
Every element had their own benefit, but a person generally had an attunement to either one or two elements- with the only exception known being Ka’atra.
Ka’atra not only had a unique element, but all the others as well.
Earth it seemed, on an extended level, not only manipulated the earth around them but warp gravity. But level three? He remembered the giant crater of his village.
“Ah…” she said when she noticed his puzzled look, “I think I can see your confusion. I’ll explain it to you. Naturally an ancient has an innate element, whether being genetic or circumstantial or perhaps both, we don’t know how. If they are both naturally gifted as well as surrounded by its influence they may achieve level two. If they are naturally gifted at one, and trained at another, they generally have level one in two elements. However, a third level is generally granted if one who has achieved level two obtains one of the five jewels.”
This brought him back to history.
“Long ago, so the story goes, there was an Ancient born from darkness and controlled all the elements. The Ancients, humans, and at the time, elves struggled with this ‘darkness’. When the darkness was about to win, The Elven king sacrificed himself to divide this Ancient’s power into the six jewels, and the immortal, dark king himself, with his power diminished, was sealed away…”
“Ka’atra…” he said to himself.
“Oh, so you’ve heard of him?” she paused a moment with a glance and then continued, “After the war was over, the jewels were divided amongst five ‘guardians’ at the time and passed down to a worthy predecessor, always kept separate in case someone released the ‘darkness’ once again.
She began to take things from her bag, including water bottles for both of them.
“Most of the guardians that were jewel holders, became influential powers, gaining a title for themselves as a warlord. A warlord is entrusted with a jewel that holds an element within it. It gives them tremendous power, and also the responsibility of that power.”
By this time they’d gotten prepared for the trek in the woods and sealed the portal.
“Well, are you ready?”
“What about the sixth jewel?”
“Ah- shadow…That was sealed away with Ka’atra… deemed too dangerous to fall into the hands of humanity.”
Narice paused as she was about to walk into the woods, “that still leaves the question… how do you know who I am?”
“Oh, that,” she stopped and thought, “Marx, the earth warlord sent me.”
Did that mean…
“We are on our way to Marx now.”
Oh wow-he was about to meet a real life warlord. Perhaps he’d get more information from this Marx. For lack of a better pun, he hated being in the dark.
Narice was pretty sure bending the fabric of space itself was high up on his strange list, but he’d seen a lot of things today.
As they were trekking through the woods, he still wanted to know, “Where are we?”
“Well, we’re in another dimension, it’s not that big… at least compared to the size of the world, just a castle in a forest inside an island,” she replied.
“How did he make all that?”
“Well, I guess he used all his earth powers and built it with materials from the dimension we live. Somewhat simpler when you’re a level three earth user.”
“I guess that makes sense,” he said without much enthusiasm.
“Well- we’re here,” she said.
“She stopped at the base of a hill and looked up.
Narice noticed stairs, on the hill and as he looked up a large castle took up the rest.
“Dang!” he said with excitement, seeing the building, “it really is a castle.”
He excitedly climbed ahead of her.
He ran up the steps to the doors and pushed them open.
Inside, he saw a grand
he saw a large collection of different objects scattering the walls and the floor. It seemed this ‘Warlord’ was an ‘artifact’ collector.
“…Waait.” he heard from behind him, Rei was catching her breath, “it’s rude to enter… a ‘warlord’s’ domain … without their permission… He may … kill… us.”
“Ohhhhhhhhh- that’s what you were saying wait about,” Narice said, “I figured you already had his permission when you broke into the portal.”
“Who’s there?” spoke a booming voice.
“Stupid,” Rei punched him, “he hasn’t met you yet.”
Rei bowed before the ‘warlord’. Narice wasn’t sure if he should bow yet, considering he’d never met the person.
Rei punched him in the stomach from her bowed position and he keeled a bit over.
“It is ‘Rei’ my lord,” Rei spoke to a large man, probably seven feet tall, dressed in robes and a large green jewel around his neck.
This was getting a little surreal for Narice. “Uh- it is I, Narice,” he spoke. He wasn’t really sure about how to address warlords.
Beside the warlord, another came up, “Rei!?”
The man was clad in red and white garments- some sort of uniform.
Then he noticed Narice, “…and other…”
Narice wasn’t quite sure what to expect as the man in red and white him up and down while circling. Narice took a stance when he noticed Jarin holding onto a short-sword on his side while circling. Then Jarin came to a stop after circling once and he took his hand off of it.
“He’s clean,” he spoke and nodded to the ‘Warlord’.
“Jarin is my most faithful guardian,” the warlord spoke.
“Uh hey,” Narice said.
To be a guardian, Narice knew that it would require a few more years of education followed by his experience. Jarin looked to be about nineteen or so. Brown hair and golden eyes. Not only that, but he was in shape. Narice himself was only fourteen.
Rather than respond, the man once again spoke to Rei.
“I haven’t seen you in ages!” he said, “how is school?”
Rei smiled politely, “uh- it’s ok.”
“Hmm…I know that it’s boring for you now,” Jarin spoke, “well- try and hold out.”
Narice thought Jarin somewhat rude to pretend he wasn’t there, or at least not to respond to himself.
“Well, now that you’re here, Rei. I have much to discuss,” the warlord spoke.
Jarin responded first, “I know fair well that Rei is a prodigy…” he said directing his attention to Marx, “but if I may my lord… let me test this newbie. I don’t see how a kid like him could be useful to our cause.”
The ‘Warlord’ looked at between Narice and Jarin.
Rather than say anything else he ushered them in and told a servant to take the extra supplies they were holding and then told another to prepare a meal… As if he really were royalty, he seemed to have luxury, servants, and authority amongst his kind- it seemed he even had his own ‘guard’- the only difference it seemed, was he was without a kingdom.
Narice in the waiting time that it took for the group to get situated found himself in a grand entrance hall. A staircase led to another story in two directions, while it seemed different rooms branched from the large central room.
After everyone had been somewhat situated inside of the castle, “Very well, Jarin. He is due for a ‘trial’ anyway.”
The ‘Warlord’ nodded back and then spoke to Narice, “Seeing as you don’t know me yet, my name is Marcus Leinez- but I go by Marx- it’s easier. This here is Jarin, as I mentioned before,” he motioned to the man that had just circled him, “and in this room,” he pointed off to an adjacent room to the left in the front of the hall, “Are a selection of different arms you may you to fight Jarin and his ‘Daragon’. If you can best him or at least prove your worth then we will move ahead. It could very well be that he is right to suggest you’re not a proper candidate.”
Narice felt that the warlord was being liberal enough- however he had no idea what they had planned.
He saw a few swords lined up against the walls of the room. In fact, many of the weapons here seemed very impressive.
As he walked along the rooms- he noticed one shining more brightly then the others to him. A proper silver blade- a white and brown sheath, and magic handle- he suddenly felt a connection with one and heard the words, ‘pick me’.
It felt good in his hands as he pulled it off the wall.
Is it normal for swords talk? Narice asked the sword with his thoughts.
Only if they’re the chosen ‘guardian’… Don’t worry, I’m the strongest by far. Despite what the others might say.
He pulled the sword off the rack. Marx, the warlord eyed him curiously.
“Interesting choice of weaponry…” the warlord said.
“I don’t know…” Narice responded. “I just felt it was a good fit.”
He positioned himself in the middle.
Jarrod stood across from him.
“It’s been a while since I’ve used a sword…” Narice said feeling the weight in his hands.
“Well, take your time, I’ll be here all day…”
Narice tossed the sword back and forth between both hands.
You’re going to make good use of me aren’t you?
“You’re distracting me…” he said aloud to the sword and dove at Jarrod.
Jarrod was taken aback by the rush- but Jarrod parried his first charge and brought his sword down to hit Narice. Narice seeing an opening to get a hit in, instead dropped his sword, elbowed Jarrod in the arm, tripped him and then pushed his elbow against his throat.
Jarrod tried to struggle free by twisting and Narice pinned his arm behind his back. Jarrod, being a bigger man, pushed Narice up and rushed off to the edge of the center as Narice stepped to the other side.
The two began to circle each other, Jarrod with a bit of blood from his lip and Narice with a little bit of heavy breathing himself.
Narice watched as Jarrod began to flame burst both of his hands… when he shot them at Narice, Narice raced through the flames and pushed him to the ground.
“How did that not burn you-?” Jarrod spoke before being interrupted by the slam to his stomach.
Jarrod pushed himself upward with air from one of his hands and threw a twister at Narice, which Narice did a backflip over and spin kicked Jarrod who blocked it with his hands.
“Firestorm!” Jarrod yelled as he put two hands together pointing at Narice… a burst of fire mixed in a wind blast started to circle in his hands, as it was shooting at Narice, the Warlord called out, “Stop!”
“He caught me off guard…” Jarrod said with a pout as the flames went down again.
“My father beat me up every day for 3 years…” Narice replied, “if I couldn’t take that…”
“Hahaha,” the Warlord bellowed a hearty laugh out at the events transpiring, “Alright you two…”
“Three years huh?” Jarrod pondered for a moment the implication- then continued, “None-the-less… good job,” Jarrod stuck his hand out to Narice after sheathing his own weapon.
Narice scratched his head, surprised at the change in attitude. But he decided to go with it and took Jarin’s hand, “It was a good fight.”
Rei had long since left ahead, holding little interest whatsoever in the combat.
Jarin turned to Narice, “You have some gusto, Narice. Let me show you to the grand hall.”
Narice picked up the sword again.
“You may keep it,” the warlord spoke.
You just threw me down like a rock! I don’t want-
“Quiet you,” Narice said to the sword as he tucked it away. He wasn’t sure if he should mention the sword talking or if they would think he was crazy so he decided against it. Jarrod was already walking away and Narika sheathed the sword and ran quicker to catch up.
The grand hall was a larger chamber- filled with relics and sculptures and such. In front of him- a large staircase went up the center and extended upwards to a floor that seemed to circle around the first. A railing and a walkway circled the edge of the entire floor- in similitude to a mall. In the center of the second floor was a large gap so that the ceiling opened up to the first. There were probably four rooms on each wall of the second from what it appeared- however they were already walking away from view of it. Above that were probably two more floors as well- which made him quite curious about everything.
Instead- Jarrod began showing him the individual rooms on the first floor. He started with the first room on the left side opening up to a kitchen of sorts. Inside one of the maids shoved him out immediately.
“I guess they’re busy…” Jarrod replied.
They continued on. Jarrod showed him a guest room on the first floor. Behind the firt
Afterwards- they checked out another room.
It turned out this was where Marx was waiting. Jarrod watched Marx playing a game on some sort of magic board against an invisible opponent, the pieces were moving against him on their own.
“Who are you playing?” Jarrod asked.
“Oh- just the duke of Everdawn…care for a game?”
“I was showing Narice around the castle…”
“Ah…” Marx responded sadly.
“What’s it called?” Narice asked noticing the unusual layout. Instead of one, there were three layers.
Marx responded thoughtfully, while moving one of the many pieces, “It’s gone by many names along the millennia… I think it’s known as Jalla now.”
Narice wondered how old Marx actually was since he wasn’t able to remember the current name of the game. From looking at him, he looked about five-fifty, middle-aged for an Aqayan.
Narice was actually somewhat interested and stood slightly behind Marx in interest.
“I just finished,” Marx spoke noticing the two behind and moved a piece to the other side of the board inside of a black strip. In response to the move- a box appeared on the side to which Marx opened and took out several golden coins.
Jarrod sat down, “well, since you finished…” as the box itself disappeared into thin air… Narice found it quite impressive use of magic.
“That duke must be upset,” Jarrod responded taking a place across from Marx.
Marx bellowed out a hearty laugh as he waved his palm and all the pieces moved into what Narice figured was a starting position.
Rather than ask about it, Narice decided just to watch. To start- (initially Menka is a two player game) they pressed a glowing round orb that floated in front of them. Marx pushed it and it turned green, Jarrod pressed it and it turned yellow.
“Ah, you first,” Marx replied while Jarrod nodded and moved a few of his pieces forward, up, down.
“Does that mean that Jarrod has the advantage then?”
“Actually the person who goes first isn’t allowed to attack first…” Marx replied. Jarrod nodded.
Narice kept watching.
Narice watched a lot of positioning take place without any pieces captured. Narice had no idea what they were doing- it seemed that the two of them were both pretty good. It looked like a sort of strategic war game.
Jarrod placed a piece up very close to Marx’ side.
“You forced me…” Marx spoke as he took the piece.
“Ah yeah, that’s an old gambit,” Jarrod replied, “I think it was invented by Aarock?”
They kept playing. Narice watched as wall looking pieces were added to the board and broken down as well. He watched pieces get taken off the board and others get added on. He watched on as Jarrod moved forward slowly and Marx attempt some interesting maneuver. It looked like Marx gained a big advantage in an attack on the ‘chief’ piece.
Jarrod responded by leaving the piece completely open however, advancing every other piece multiple steps, taking some square with a crystal and then moving a basic piece against the center towards the black strip.
“Oh wow…” Marx replied. “You would lose ‘chief’ next turn, but then win the game. Even if I stalled by defending, you have gained position too much to be able to win within two turns.”
Jarrod replied, “Actually, it’s my one redeeming skill. I’ve never lost a game.”
“I’m quite rusty it seems,” Marx replied. “It feels like I haven’t played an opponent of skill in quite a long time.”
Narice wondered why the two had never played before.
Marx seemed to be a little upset but followed by continuing the game regardless, “where did you learn to play?”
Jarrod took an advance with his non-soldiers after Marx completed the take on the ‘Chief’, “I studied a lot of games when I was in school.” He replied.
Marx sighed a he moved as well as he could in defense. Just as Marx described, Jarrod won on the next turn.
Marx offered Jarrod some sort of reward. After rejecting however… Marx put it a different way. “Consider it my cost for lessons…”
“Ah… very well,” Jarrod replied and took a couple coins.
“Another?” Marx replied. Narice liked his attitude. It seemed humble considering their positions.
“Master…” Rei walked in.
“Ah right. Supper’s ready!” Marx clapped. He then waved and the game went to its respective place alongside the wall.
Provisions were made by a couple of the maids whilst the group sat at a large table. Whilst it seemed large enough to seat at least then- seats were only placed for the five of them.
The meal seemed to start in courses. At first they offered a beverage to Narice and opening food.
With such a great display, Narice wondered how much one meal costed. Regardless he nodded each time food came out to the maid or butler that offered it to him.
“So what’s up with that sword anyway,” Narice said in between bites.
“Have you no manners?!” Jarrod said.
“I never had the luxury,” Narice said ignoring the comment.
“The sword you had was originally owned by a great guardian…”
“Why’s it talk?”
“I don’t know…” Marx responded before continuing, “The personality of the sword is a magical replica of the original guardians to choose future guardians based on compatibility- it enhances based on its compatibility.”
“So,” Narice responded, wondering the “what’s this one compatible for?”
“That sword was chosen only once before… but it was so long ago, that its affinity was forgotten…”
“It’s said that the original owner of that sword was the leader,” Jarrod cut in.
“Oh I see,” Narice spoke somewhat proudly, however, still between bites. Rei jabbed at him. Narice just shrugged.
“So, you’ve lived here for fifteen years?” Narice said, trying to get the story behind the island.
“Yes. After the last warlord passed down the jewel to me, I took over the position eight years ago. This island had been here for the past four-hundred years actually, that’s why it’s built the way it is.”
The food was delicious, “where do you get all this?”
“Well, Rei and Jarrod are my liaisons to the outside. They take care of the provisions, so I’ve given them access to the portal. Rei, I’ve known since she was about eight, Jarrod was personally selected from the academy of ‘guardians’ for his high scores and dutiful nature.”
A lot of this was news to Narice. Academy of guardians? He knew about further education in the city but it seemed perhaps that there was some sort of place where defenders were trained- Narice still had a lot to learn.
“Over the past five years however, a lot of troubling things have happened. It seems that ‘Ka’atra’ has been awoken- many ‘guardians’ from the academy have been put on alert.
The ‘Warlords’ have been forced into hiding and across the globe after the first two warlords were attacked.”
“Is that why I’m here?”
“Yes, you, Rei, and Jarrod have been recruited in response against Ka’atra. We are lacking manpower at the moment- and are looking for potential candidates for a mission so that we can keep the ‘jewels’ safe. It’s each warlord’s responsibility to protect a certain area, in this jurisdiction an enemy has made an appearance and taken one of the jewels for themselves to rule over the district through force. Once you return the jewel to me, I will keep it safe while the next warlord is chosen to hold onto it by the council and then give it to them.”
Narice thought about it for a moment. It all seemed to make sense, how would he handle school after this? Wait! Weren’t they supposed to be in school now?
“Hey wait, do we have time for all this? Aren’t we going to be late for our next class?”
“You never played hooky before?” Rei said.
Narice thought about it. It was one thing to miss a class, but something like this, a few classes, a few days even- would be difficult to explain.
“I can take care of your parents,” Rei said.
“How’s that?” Narice asked.
Jarrod explained it to Narice, “It’s a long story… but, Rei has the power of shadow. A simple memory spell is easy enough for her.”
Oh. That explained why Rei had little worries about classes. It seemed easy enough to erase their memories and get around with that, but how did she inherit it?
“Isn’t shadow a really rare trait?”
“Well…” she replied, “Before Marx rescued me… Ka’atra did raise me.”
Narice looked at her, surprised. Why would a dark lord make an effort to raise a child? And besides that- how did she get out of his clutches? And if he raised her then… why would she betray him?
“Before you ask all the questions…” she said replying to the wheels turning in his brain, “It wasn’t all peachy. I was pretty much a captive- locked away from the world in a closet of sorts. He would come home sometimes to give me food and after I begged him for something else to do- he would bring me books. That was it.”
Oh, so that explained why she was so smart after all.
Jarrod replied, “I’ve known her since then. We’ve had to help her adjust to normal society…so school and stuff. She’s way ahead of the classes.”
“Well,” she said. “Marx found me and helped me escape when I was eight. Since then, I’ve been under his protection and recently, I’ve been helping him collect artifacts and secure them for safekeeping.”
It seemed like it was a long story. Something that Rei didn’t seem like she wanted to tell and they didn’t have much time for anyway.
“Well ok, we should head back now,” Narice replied.
“Yeah, we’ll meet up at night, I’ll come over and help you make your parents not remember you for the next few days, and then I’ll give you the details of the mission. I’m assuming you meant that as a yes,”
“Yeah… it sounds like a plan.”
The dinner finished, the four of them had gotten up.
“This way…” Marx said to Rei and Narice, Jarrod also walked beside Marx. They reached a mirror inside the castle, but instead or reflecting themselves, it showed the school grounds they had just entered into.
“This will take you to the last portal you came from,” he said. “While not noticeable from your dimension, you can see it through this mirror.”
Jarrod gave Narice a ‘nice-to-meet-you’ good bye while standing next to the portal. Rei gave Marx a ‘see-you-later’ and then went into the portal Narice following.
“Well,” Rei said. “This is where we split up.” as she left for her class.
Narice gave her a nod and they both headed to their next class. Narice looked at the time on the wall, he’d missed three classes. Even though Rei said she’d take care of it, he wasn’t looking forward to the grilling he’d have in the meantime.
“What!?” his foster-dad said. “You missed three classes?” as he got home.
Narice bowed his head down, “yeah… well. I can explain…”
His foster-mom continued the rant that his father started, “do you want us to call foster-care?”
The bell rang.
“Just go to your room while we answer this,” his foster- father said.
“We’ll sort out your punishment later…”
“Oh, hello you lady…”
Narice watched Rei acting shy at the door from the stairwell, “Um… is Narice here? We were planning on going to the movies…”
“Ah… that explains a little.” his foster father said, “look here young lady…”
Suddenly the room got dark and Narice watched as Rei looked at both of them,
“You don’t know of Narice, nothing happened, you two are having a pleasant day at home. On our return- you will let Narice back, you will only remember that everything is fine.”
Narice was surprised by the ability she possessed.
She looked at Narice and waved, “Do you have everything?”
Narice replied, “Yeah,” as he grabbed his sack of things and walked to the door. His foster-parents were still in a daze at the door.
“Remind me not to make you angry…” Narice said and closed the door behind as he stepped out onto the walkway.
Narice stepped up onto the platform to walk onto a large metal boat.
“What is this?”
Jarrod looked at him from the bridge.
“Hey Narice, Rei,” he said- wheel in hand.
“Hey Jarrod,” Narice said in return unsure of what to do.
“Have a seat!” this avin seemed to have a more peppy personality than when he’d first met him. Or perhaps not. It was, after all, Jarrod’s responsibility as a guardian to be skeptical first. The initial confrontation with him may have been due to this reasoning.
Narice took a seat that Jarrod had pointed at.
“So what are we on a ship at night for?”
“Well, we need to stop a warlord’s apprentice who killed the warlord and took off with the ice jewel,” Rei said.
“Oh okay” Narice returned, “just the norm.”
Jarrod laughed at his sarcasm.
“We’ve been tracking his movements but only recently found his hideout. We’re taking this cargo ship and pretending to be merchants to get through the border that separates our territories- and then we take him down. And that’s about that,” Jarrod continued.
“Makes sense,” Narice replied. It sounded complicated, but the explanation was actually sound.
“For now we relax,” Rei said as she leaned back and set her things on the side.
“What makes you think I’ll be of use? You two obviously have exceptional ability,” Narice said.
“You don’t give yourself enough credit, you beat me didn’t you?” Jarrod returned.
“I guess…” Narice said, “But I don’t have any abilities.”
“Well, that can’t be helped,” Rei returned, “we’ll just deal with it as is… besides, you seem to have a sort of magical resistance anyway.”
“I don’t know what that means to you really…” Narice said unenthusiastically. He really didn’t think it compared.
They took it easy sitting in the main cabin as Jarrod drove the ship to the port into the territory of the ice thief.
“With all three of us- this will be a piece of cake,” Narice said.
“Yeah, you relax…” Jarrod responded, “We’ll be there soon enough.”
About an hour and a half passed by as Narice took a break and closed his eyes. He liked his naps.
“We’re here…” Jarrod pulled into the port. Rei got up. Jarrod pulled in.
“Just stay back until we give the word, they aren’t expecting more than two.”
Narice stayed where he was. Rei stepped up to the door of the cabin.
Narice heard a knock on the door.
Jarrod opened up the door with he and Rei ready to greet the guard.
“We need to check your boat,” the guards spoke.
“You don’t need to check anything, everything looks fine,” Rei said looking at them with a sort of Jedi wave. At least that’s what Narice thought of.
“Nice try young miss but that won’t work on me,” then he turned his attention to the other guard his “inform Raven.”
“Fine,” Jarrod spoke then to himself, “I didn’t expect everything to go easily, anyway.” He pushed a gale of wind towards the guards- forcing them to stay inside of the cabin.
Rei it seemed, used a blinding magic on their eyes.
“I can’t see!” Narice heard them say then watched as Jarrod simply knocked them over the head making them fall unconscious.
“Sleep…” Rei took one of their headsets. Jarrod took the other and tossed it to Narice.
“Well, let’s go,” Jarrod smiled.
Narice was more than a little impressed with the confidence and experience.
Narice followed them as they swiftly ran into a warehouse.
“We only have a limited window before Raven escapes…” Jarrod spoke, “and if he does, it may take another year and a half for him to resurface.”
Rei continued with the explanation as they ran, “We’ll need split up- one to unlock the doors from the control room and two to take on Raven. I’ll be heading towards the control room since that’s my specialty,” she said.
Narice watched her run off at an intersection. It seems that they had this sorted out very thoroughly.
“This way…” Jarrod led him into another hall.
They came across a few guards.
“These are Ancients!” Jarrod spoke as he charged at them- energizing himself.
Narice watched as they all began to cast one spell or another. Jarrod moved in ahead and knocked out one, and wind burst them across the hall.
“…but not very experienced ones.”
As they met another intersection, Narice heard Rei’s voice over the headset, “Enter to the right passage.”
“This won’t be a walk in the park,” Jarrod handed him a jewel necklace. Narice looked at it. He wasn’t sure, but was he just handed one of the six jewels? It had a burning red glow inside.
“The warlord told me to give this to you for this battle.” Jarrod said.
“But I don’t even know how to use it. Why don’t you-”
“As long as you wear it on you, it should work.”
“Wouldn’t it be more effective if you had it?”
“I asked him the same thing, but the warlord insisted,” Jarrod responded, “If you’re going to be a guardian, you may as well learn to use it.”
Narice put it around his neck- he suddenly felt a sudden surge of energy and an intense flame seemed to explode inside him.
He pushed his hand out and focused on bringing out a flame and it burst out way above him.
“Whoa…” Jarrod said.
“Is this what it feels like to have an ability?” Narice asked.
“Yeah…” Jarrod paused for a moment in surprise, “something like that.”
He once again turned his attention and ran.
They looked ahead as the main door opened.
Inside were a few guards.
“We won’t let you take it,” one of them said.
“Of course you won’t,” Jarrod pushed them back with wind.
Narice felt the earth beneath him start to give way… and the other guard seemed to be ready to cast some sort of fire spell. His own body began to accelerate within him and he charged across the hall. The scene almost felt like it was in slow motion with the speed that he went. He pushed his way towards them and knocked one down with a hard hit across the neck.
“What was-” he heard him say before passing out.
The other tried to pull out a gun and shoot him, “enchanted sho-”
Narice knocked the gun from his hand and the bullet harmlessly hit the wall, he followed with a high knee into his chest.
“Weapons aren’t toys,” Narice said.
Jarrod looked at him with awe.
Narice heard Rei’s voice over the com,
“You two ok?”
“Just fine,” Jarrod said loud enough for Rei to hear.
“Well, where to now?” Narice spoke.
“The next door should be the main one,” Rei said. “Raven’s probably inside that room attempting to escape…”
Narice watched as the light above turned from red to green and Jarrod pushed against the door.
As they entered inside, Narice took a look at the scene.
“I’m surprised you found me…” a man dressed in black overcoat with a cool blue trim.
“Raven, I presume…” Jarrod spoke. “You’ve been a hard one to catch.”
“Your pursuits end here…”
The room began to get cold.
Narice watched as Raven began to close his eyes and hold his hands together- a blue necklace circling around his neck began to raise and enhance Raven’s own magic.
Narice saw Jarrod slowed beside him as Raven begin to move towards them.
“I suspect you planned on stopping us with that,” Narice said
Upon noticing Narice was unaffected, Raven halted.
“So you’re a double fire user huh?”
“I don’t know anything about that, I just know that the ice necklace doesn’t belong to you.”
“Really now?” Raven looked at Narice with a sort of smile, “You’ll have to take it if you want to prove otherwise.”
Narice charged towards Raven, flames in hand.
This was Narice’s first real match against an ice user. He knew the theory. Ice users and fire users were opposite but similar in nature- both of them manipulated energy. Ice users could slow energy, while fire could excite energy. In a way, it balanced out.
In this way they were similar.
Raven threw icicles shards at Narice.
Narice shot flame waves melting the icicles before they reached him.
Raven began to surround the room with ice. Narice encircled himself with an aura of flame to reduce the chill effect and ran towards Raven.
Raven put a wall of ice breaking through the floor in the form of a spike. Ice users had to use water to make such walls of spikes- If there had been no water near the docks- then Raven wouldn’t have been able to cast such a wall.
Narice had to dodge quickly and avoid it.
Narice noticed that Jarrod was gaining his momentum again. Raven looked at Jarrod as he seemed intent not to get hit by the slow effect that raven could use- enhancing his own abilities.
This would once again be a 2v1.
“What you don’t know…” Raven said when they began to take a stance to hinder his movements.
A large pool of water came from underneath the floor and began to fill up the room. Narice could hear pressure building up from outside as well. Ice users could move water only when creating ice, but water users had the ability to completely manipulate free moving water.
It didn’t need to be said, but Raven told them regardless, “My second element is water…”
The both were suddenly caught up inside of the pool of water, surrounding their feet. And making it difficult to move forward. Jarrod attempted to push it back with a gale of wind, however the water out pressured the air as the small bubble collapsed. Fire would have little effect against a water user.
The water lifted over their heads and entrapped them inside of a large water orb. Narice and Jarrod tried to escape the orb, however Raven began to freeze the edges of it encasing them inside.
They held their breath during the entrapment as well as they could.
Raven attempted as hard as he could to secure them inside however, holding his hands up and focusing all his energy against their struggling.
“Now freeze!” Raven began to freeze the circle of water around them.
At this rate, they wouldn’t drown, they would be turned into blocks of ice.
Narice felt a heat arise inside him as he struggled as well as he could.
His mind became changed as he erupted inside.
His body no longer was that of a human, he was completely engulfed in flame- and his shape took on that of a phoenix. Jarrod watched in awe. Not only had the ice completely melted – the water was pushed back by the sudden pressure- steam began to arise from the edges that the water had been pushed to. Suddenly the air was very dry.
“Level three?!” Raven said as he backed off, “how…”
Narice’s form constantly changed- Narice pictured a shape of a claw and he became more of a dragon shape than a fire bird. His hand stretched out choking Raven with a claw of flames. He could only watch as Raven struggled inside.
His opponent suddenly appeared very fragile inside of his grip- and after seeing this Narice’s fire form cooled off down to his human shape with a flame surrouding him.
Despite having power over water and ice, it seemed that Raven had still had been lightly burned.
Narice rushed to check up on him afraid that he’d done ‘too’ much. Rather than that however, it seemed that Raven was only going unconscious.
“You win,” Raven choked out as he fell unconscious.
Narice stood there shocked by what he’d just done. Was that really him?
Rather than say anything, Jarrod simply walked up and carefully pulled the jewel off of Raven’s neck.
“In the Academy, we were in the same class…” Jarrod said, “I don’t know why he turned bad. He was placed as a guardian to the last warlord of ice, while I was placed to the warlord of earth. He was responsible for protecting the warlord, but he suddenly changed and killed him, stealing the jewel…”
Jarrod carefully laid Raven’s head back in place as he cast some sort of purple x shaped mark on him with his finger.
“What’s going to happen to him…?” Narice asked noticing the mark that Jarrod had left, finding it unorthodox to simply leave him there.
“He’ll live,” Jarrod said after checking his vitals, “…It’s pretty serious- but we would have lost our lives if you hadn’t done that.”
Jarrod tried to reassure Narice- Narice understood this, but felt better because of it anyway.
Narice suddenly realized how drained he felt.
Narice and Jarrod walked out of the warehouse.
“Where do we lock up Ancients?” Narice asked on the trip back from the ship.
“A special place… a negazone… where magic is stripped and they’re forced to live out the remainder of their lives in isolation. We need only to mark him with a spell and bind him… the council will come soon enough.
Rei snapped him out of his train of thought, “So…” she paused for a moment of brief, “how was it?”
Jarrod remained quiet while Narice filled the void.
“Well, we both almost drowned, froze, and then got impaled,” Narice replied with a shrug and then held out the necklace, “but we got this thing.”
“Heh…” Jarrod said still looking ahead. Rei noticed that there was obviously a sense of comradery between the two there hadn’t been before, but noticing their more solemn attitudes kept to herself.
Jarrod steered quietly for a minute before speaking again- “It seems our Narice here has a unique gift. He seemed to get us out of almost certain death.”
“Oh?” Rei asked, responding more cordially then surprise.
“Yeah, I thought that we were going to lose when Raven got the upper hand…” He continued looking ahead on the sea, trying not to show too much expression, “Narice ended up using a level three magic with a phoenix form…”
Rei looked at Narice shocked, “Hmm, all you had was the jewel?!”
“Yeah,” he replied, “without the jewel though I still don’t have any magic which just makes it the jewel that’s impressive…honestly isn’t your gift more impressive?!”
“Actually, my shadow is only at its weakest form,” she replied- this was the first time she’d heard of her shadow ability as a gift, “These memory spells are the peak of my potential right now.”
Narice noticed her modesty- she was the second person ever to have shadow. He wondered what others would feel about it.
“Perhaps they’ll even consider Narice here as the next candidate for the fire warlord?” Jarrod said.
“I doubt it,” Rei said suddenly a shift in her mood, considering the suggestion and then brushing it off, “Warlords generally have a lot more experience before they’re considered.”
She hopped off the bench and walking up to the rails to get a view of the ocean breeze. Narice stayed where he was relaxing in the seat.
“Alright then, for now I’d better take back the fire jewel to return to Marx,” Jarrod said.
Narice already felt a change from it after he’d used the phoenix form- it had a light glow and after he took it off and handed it Jarrod the inner energy he’d felt before completely vanished. It really was all the jewel.
He had no magic, he remembered.
Narice laid up in his bed. They’d passed on both jewels to the warlord, and now the warlord had a collection of three- two of which would be returned to the council when they found a proper candidate. He wondered if Marx holding onto three had any significance.
It took him a while to go to sleep after that night.
Rei had done just what she said and wiped clean the memory of his parents. For now they were watching T.V. but tomorrow would be business as usual for them. He wondered what was in store for them at school now after what they’d been through.
Rei and Jarrod walked up the steps to the ‘castle’.
“How did it go Rei?” Marx replied upon taking back both crystals.
“It’s as you say…”
However, a week and a half passed by and nothing eventful happened. Rei went back to pretending to be somewhat normal without knowing Narice at all. Narice went back to being bored, making up for it by exchanging smartass comments to teachers for detentions.
He’d spend a little time with his one friend Jonathan- doing something called ‘video games’ every so often. He would generally stay up studying his homework trying to get the hang of it despite trying to pretend not to care in class.
After so much action, he felt a little down.
Being involved in something meaningful just reassured him that he wanted to be a guardian.
He wanted to meet this ‘council’ sometime soon. Perhaps Jarrod and Rei, or even Marx could set up a meet. He wondered if there was more he could do that just wait around to protect his ‘territory’ or whatever. He wondered if his new fake ‘family’ was a target for ‘Ka’atra’ and what the Ancient with the power of darkness had in store now.
Now that he thought about it, Ka’atra probably assumed he was just a high school student now, having no recollection of his own potential as a ‘guardian.’ but if Narice stuck out too much, the dark lord might figure out that he’d been had.
Regardless, he made up his mind that he’d pull Rei aside and see if she could help him.
After fourth period he caught up with her in the hall.
Rei was with a group of girls as Narice walked up to her, “Hey Rei, do you think I could talk to you after class?”
A girl giggled. Rei looked around as if he were talking to someone else, “Do-I-know-you?”
To which Narice replied with a “yeah whatever.” he said, “I need some help with one of our classes together- if you could meet up with me after school.”
While Rei may have had popularity, she was also known as the class ace and wasn’t above helping her lower classmates, so her status would remain the same if she did, “I’ll see if I can make time.”
The group walked off together with chuckles and Narice walked off to his own class.
“You’re too nice, Rei… lending your help to some nobody…”
Narice shrugged it off and went back to his class.
“Hey, what’s up?” Rei said as Narice stood outside of the entrance to the side hall.
Narice couldn’t care less about the whole school hierarchy, so he completely ignored the change in attitude- he did need her help anyway.
“Hey,” he replied. “I wanted to see if I could take the place of a ‘guardian’. Do you know if there’s a way I could get to the council or whatever?”
Rei looked around to make sure there was no one else around. The ‘real’ Rei came out, “I’m not sure if you’re the type they’re looking for…” she paused.
“Why?” he asked, but deep down he knew it was because his ability had faded as soon as he didn’t have a jewel. It must have been some sort of fluke.
“It’s not really that you don’t have an ability…” she replied noticing his concern.
“Well, what is it then?”
She waited a minute in thought looking slanted upwards, then responded, “You’re not really a conformist type.”
She continued trying to reassure him, “that can be good thing in a practical way for lots of reasons, but they want someone they can depend on to be by-the-book.”
“Like Jarrod right…”
She smiled and paused, “I’ll let you know if anything comes up.”
“Okay, thanks,” Narice said, then realizing there wasn’t much else to say, “…well… see you.”
“Wait…” Rei replied. She went up to him and gave him a peck on the cheek.
“You kiss every guy who asks for help with their classes?”
“Damn you,” she gave him a small punch in the shoulder as he rubbed his cheek.
They parted with a wave as Rei went to the woods and Narice went back to his house.
“What are you so happy about?” Jonathan said on the bus as Narice looked out the window with a grin he couldn’t hold down.
“Uh, just thinking,” Narice replied.
“What, you got a girlfriend or something?”
“Uh… something like that…”
Jonathan looked at him for a moment, “Hey, you’re not lying?” with a little surprise in his tone and a smile as he leaned back and thought about it, “so, who’s the unlucky girl?”
“Rei maybe. I think, but it’s nothing probably.”
“Rei? She’s way out of your league,” Jonathan said. “I think you’re lying.”
“Yeah,” Narice thought. Based on the current social status- it was inevitable that Rei would continue to pretend not to know him in school. If that were the case- Narice felt it best not to start anything. He’d tell her next time they were alone, “it’s probably better like that.”
Jonathan gave him another glance and a shrug.
The next day at school as Narice walked slowly out of the bus- Rei was standing there.
“Uh, hi” she gave a small smile and wave.
“Hey,” Narice spoke as he stood still- surprise in front of the entrance of the bus.
“Yo Narice move u-…” Jonathan stared as he saw Narice talking with Rei. He looked between Rei and Narice for a moment.
“Dannnnng…”Jonathan just stood there a sec.
“We’re not together…” Rei spoke, “I’m just going to help him study…”
“Yeah, yeah,” Jonathan said and he patted Narice’s back, “It was nice knowing you.”
Jonathan’s prediction came soon enough. Narice had spent less time with Jonathan as he got more tutelage from Rei.
It wasn’t that he was stupid- but the language barrier had set him back a bit. Even though he now knew English- he still had to catch up with most of the concepts that Aqayans had never studied- so in that regard, he was actually doing well.
Rei was way ahead of the class. It seemed like she was sitting around half the time waiting for the assignment to end, finishing her homework before the lesson even ended. She’d of course play it off- pretending to be studying- but Narice knew enough to realize that she wasn’t just smart- she was a prodigy.
As she continued scheduling appointments- she no longer pretended not to know him. Rather, she would say hi in the halls at least. After school too, she’d meet up with him at least once or twice a week. It seemed that she understood the difficulty of his situation and him not being as blessed as her in brains, she felt inclined to help him with his studies.
“No…” Rei pointed at the math problem that Narice was having trouble with. “You have to carry that, then divide it by seven afterwards…”
Narice besides trying to focus on his work – wondered how many grades she could skip if she wanted to.
Narice felt that asking her for help was like a two year old talking to Einstein. It seemed she’d already grasped any concept within a few minutes of a lesson- by then she’d completed her homework. He felt like he had to do something to return the favor of her tutelage.
“Hey,” Narice responded, “I’m hungry… let’s go get a burger after this.”
Rei looked at him for a second, “Okay,” she said as she sat back in her seat.
Narice looked back down at the problem the last few had been the hardest trying to finish it before getting up.
“Uh, but is this a date?”
Narice responded as he held up his finger trying to finish. After he finished he thought about it and looked at her and noticing her hesitation responded, “We’ll just be two friends getting sandwiches.”
“Friends…” she thought for a moment and responded cheerfully putting on her own jacket, “Okay…” she nodded thoughtfully.
Narice looked at the Menus handed to them by a server.
“Considering all you’ve done to help…” he told Rei, “it’s my treat.”
She pondered over the menu for a second.
“I want that!”
When he looked he immediately regretted his decision. He got an allowance- he didn’t really spend it, but this would definitely set him back a bit.
“Hum…” she said noticing his quick doubtful expression.
“It’s fine- it’s fine,” he said playing it off with an assuring wave and a smile, secretly dreading the prospect.
“Can I get you two anything to drink?”
“Hum, a shake and a… soda?”
“Eh, just a water.”
“Sure, sure,” the server spoke writing down the order and walking off to the next table.
Rei went back to her menu, but Narice could sense that she knew how he felt, even though she smiled unnoticing.
Upon return, the server got the orders and Rei went with her initial decision.
Regardless- he accepted it with an inner sigh that it’d take a bit and moved on. If it had been her profession to tutor him- he would have owed her lot more.
This was the first time he was with Rei for no reason other than her company. For a second, he suddenly got a bit unsure of himself.
“So…” he tried to come up with a topic, “Rei.”
“Shhh…” she said in response. She had a good sense of things. “It’s ok.”
She then looked outside at the sunset in a content silence.
Oh right. This wasn’t a date- he didn’t have to make her feel any way. He’d just let things be natural which right now was just silence.
The kids they were, Narice ended up folding his napkin into a paper football-
“Yo,” he said, and flicked it at her.
In response she held out her hands to achieve a goal.
“I bet I can make it more than you…”
She responded in turn taking her own paper napkin- and folding it-
“I’ll give you ten tries…” she smiled as she held up her hands. Suddenly instead of one goal- Narice saw 9 different Rei’s holding her hands.
“You know I don’t have any…” Narice said with a deject frown. Narice ended up getting it in twice instead of ten times.
Rei was in the middle of responding when they got their burgers.
“We’ll call it a tie,” Rei smiled naughtily. She’d already tied him with the first three shots when Narice had the good fortune of the server returning.
Narice quickly agreed.
“So…” Narice spoke while eating. They’d been talking a little bit about school and homework and friends and trends.
Rei looked up.
“How did you escape?”
“Oh…” she thought for a moment. Feeling that it was reasonable to answer-
“Ka’atra has raised me since I can remember…”
“?” Narice wan’t sure that Ka’atra was capable of such kindness.
He waited for her to continue, but for a bit she just sat there.
“Why would he do that?”
“I think he felt responsible…”
Narice wasn’t sure about this side of him.
“What was that like?”
“I was pretty much isolated- locked away from anyone else… like I was his one weakness that he didn’t want anyone to find…”
He wasn’t sure why Ka’atra would have a weakness or anything- he hoped to find some sort of information so that he could stop him- what his past was.
“I’m sorry that I can’t help you…” she replied, “he’s my father – even if he’s a bad one.”
Narice knew she would have helped if she could-
“Did he do anything to you?”
“Not much, except teach me…” she said. “
“Narice wasn’t sure what he would have taught.
By this he could tell she didn’t know much else. If she had.
“Why are you helping Marx?”
“Father isn’t completely evil… he even thinks he’s doing the right thing – even if we have to lock him away, I want to save him…”
Narice found this perspective interesting. He wondered if they’d be together for a while and what would come to pass when they finally confronted Ka’atra.
They sat in silence for a while.
Narice tried to broach small talk again while they finished their burgers. They went back to the more lighthearted topics of school and friends.
After getting their fill on the burgers- the server handed them the check.
It was the moment of truth.
Rei whispered a offer, “just hand him any two bills and I’ll make him see that it’s two twenties instead.
Narice frowned at the thought- he was pretty sure that Rei was capable of doing it with her magic, there was no way he’d be up to that…
“ahaha,” she said nonchalantly, “just kidding.”
Narice wasn’t sure after looking at her if she had been joking. Even though he had fun together, that was the second time he’d suspected her of something suspicious.
He pulled out what he’d saved from his allowance and left a decent tip, 20% – after which they both got up with her joyfully walking behind him.
“Alright,” Rei said afterwards, “I’ll see you off here.”
“Er- but what about the test-” Narice replied.
“I believe in you…” she said and smiled as she walked off. “Maybe next time you can take me to the movies? There’s something I wanted to see…”
Narice nodded and then she turned around.
Wait- was that a date?!
“Alright,” Rei said afterwards, “I’ll see you off here.”
“Er- but what about the test-” Narice replied.
“I believe in you…” she said and smiled as she walked off. “Maybe next allowance- you can take me to the movies? There’s something I wanted to see.”
Narice nodded and then she turned around.
Wait- was that a date?!
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