The chief spoke as they began walking down a path away from the village square.
“I heard of Ka’atra once before we were completely sealed from the outside world… when i’d first heard of him..”
Narice listened to what the chief had to say. He was curious who his enemy was – if it were true that the chief were alive during Ka’atra’s rule- it was possible that he could gain some insights that he was unaware of, “at the time…his influence had just begun, so i thought nothing of it.”
“I was told this…Ka’atra was an Aqayan with extraordinary powers… he had served underneath one of the council members and did missions as a guardian with overwhelming success.
“He was a guardian?” Narice replied.
As they walked, Narice noticed that the path became more sparse, until eventually, there was no path at all. However it seemed that the Chief was familiar with this location as well as Romani who was walking a step behind.
“From what i’d heard- he was a great guardian who became corrupted…That was the last thing i knew…i’d also heard a tale about his past- although it was just a rumor.”
They approached a tree in the middle of the wood. Unlike the other trees however, It was giant and an opening seemed to be inside.
“Although his mother was Aqayan- his father may have been a demonos..” the chief replied.
Was that even possible? Narice wondered.
Inside of the tree a sort of jewel resided. However Narice could tell that a giant protective force seemed to protect it.
Narice watched as the seal protecting the round gem vanished.
“If Ka’atra is immortal like i presume- To defeat Ka’atra, you must use this…” the old man picked up the gem.
“This will be the seal that defeats Ka’atra…”
Narice watched as the old elf suddenly started to glow and a power of him went through his arms into the sphere.
The old man seemed to transmit a sort of energy as a glow flowed from his palm as the orb started to shine.
“Wait!” Romani said. He tried to put his hands on the old elf to break the enchantment, but the old elf pushed him away with a spell from one of his hands.
“Very few artifacts can seal an Aqayan’s powers…” the old man explained.
The gem began to glow as he held on to it. Eventually it began to shine while the yellow aura around the old elf disappeared.
Narice watched as the old elf fell to the ground with sphere in hand.
“No!” Romani said.
Narice picked up the glowing sphere from the fallen elf’s hands. He bowed his head.
Suddenly the old man got up from the ground.
“I’m not dead yet young elf…you’d think I’d die from a simple recharge spell?” he said.
“Yes… this was already enchanted to be a seal, i just had to recharge the energy it’s lost since it was made. Anyway…” he noticed that Narice was holding the sphere. “Let’s head on back for now.”
With Narice’s and Romani’s help supporting the old man- they walked back. Along the way they talked a bit more.
“It seems i’m not as young as I used to be…” he sighed, “I’ll have to make you an artifact finder…” the man spoke while breathing heavily. “but i’ll have to craft it over the next couple weeks.
“That’s ok,” Narice spoke, “i needed some time to relax.”
“In the meantime you should hone your magic… If they aren’t busy Romani and Talaena should be able to help you with that.”
“Well, yeah, that’d be good, but I really don’t have any magic.”
The old man stopped, “Even if you don’t have an element like other Aqayans, I sense magic in you- so for now, you may be able to draw it out with a channel or weapon.”
“Well… okay…” Narice replied trying to give the chief the benefit of the doubt- despite doubting his words.
Despite being the head protector of the village – Talaena was all too quick to volunteer to ‘help’ Narice learn magic.
Narice was quite suspicious. In fact. After having led him to a clearing in the woods- it seemed like the common place to train the elves he guessed- Talaena gave him a sly smile as he held up a weapon and handed Narice his own sword.
“It looks like we’ll have to give you a crash course.”
Elven magic…. it seemed was varied and powerful. Unlike Aqayans who were limited to their respective elements, Talaena showed signs of multiple elements and unique processes not tied to elements.
It seemed impenetrable. He wondered if there was even a chance as he was once again bested and knocked down.
Once again he was reminded of his past beating from his father.
Narice spent the next week and a half training himself trying to get good at using his sword and also trying to learn how to channel his magic through it- the fire jewel that he’d been holding onto around his neck didn’t seem to work anymore- even the red that had been in it had faded.
Narice practiced quite often against Talaena- who seemed intent on testing himself against Narice.
Eventually two whole weeks past this way.
Narice had been her two weeks. Despite how pleasant the recourse was, that meant that eight weeks had passed in the outside world. The longer that he waited, the more powerful Ka’atra was likely to become.
He went to the chief’s hut to say goodbye.
Once again he fixed a cup of tea for Narice and Romani.
The old elf sighed, “Are you sure you can’t stay longer? no?”
As Narice shook his head.
“Okay then…”He pulled out an artifact. “before you go… you’ll want this.”
“You’re probably ready as much as you can be…” the old elf handed him a sort of stone compass with a pointer on top. This will help you find the artifacts and jewels- of magical properties-unless you set it with a finder’s spell, it’ll point to the nearest one- quite crude, but it’s all we can give you.
Narice bowed as the old man transferred it to him. He put it in the sack that Romani was holding.
The warrior elves went with them to the edge of the village as guides, “It’s good to know you, take care of the village,” Romani said to Talaena.
“Of course, you take care of Narice and yourself, friend,” they both did a sign on their chest with a bow then clasped hands.
Narice gave Talaena a handshake, “thanks for putting up with me.” he smiled.
Talaena responded, “I’m still skeptical.”
Narice stepped up the path leading out the forest and the village vanished behind them. Romani appeared behind him after a few steps.
From here it seemed the path split, one leading into the forest of birds and one a path through the forest into the regular one.
He wouldn’t mind Ka’atrahawk’s help flying to the next jewel if it was supposed to be far away.
“Do you know where this compass is leading…”
“I think that will lead us to the water jewel… it was supposed to be held by a human ‘guardian’ who might be in the city north of here…”
Narice wasn’t sure where that was…. but it was as a good a destination as any.
“Ok… that’s our destination…” he said looking at the compass.
“Err, just how far is it?”
“At the edge of this forest, probably a hundred miles or so north of here…”
100 miles! Narice thought for a moment.
“Actually, let’s take a detour.”
Narice walked up into the forest of the birds.
Ka’atrahawk flew up to him.
“So you’re leaving?”
“Uh could you help us out…?”
“I can get you to the edge of the forest…”
Ka’atrahawk stretched his wings out. A sixteen foot wing span spread across the sky.
“We’ll fly as a flock,” he said. “I’ll fly you Narice. My friend will fly your elf friend, he’s big for an elf.”
Narice smiled as a friend of Ka’atrahawk flew next to him.
Romani looked a little impressed, “err- I haven’t done it before, but I’m not sure if I’d feel safe flying along your friend…”
“Hey, doing things that you’re afraid of are part one of adventure!” Narice said a little too enthusiastically…
Romani hopped on the bird.
Narice climbed up on Ka’atrahawk.
“Well, here goes…”
Ka’atrahawk checked to see if they were ready and then blasted off into the sky.
Half an hour later, they’d reached close to the edge of the forest and Narice pointed to a place where they could land.
Narice could see the city, it was huge and stretched across a whole skyline… to think, they’d have to find a small jewel somewhere in there.
As soon as they landed-Narice said bye and thankyou to Ka’atrahawk as they flew off again.
Romani said bye to his bird his thanks as well.
“It was a smooth ride, thank you friend!”
“See,” Narice smiled sheepishly “you didn’t hate it.”
Romani held up a finger and then threw up on the ground.
Narice walked to find a good clearing.
“It’s probably a good idea to set up a base here and get a good camp while I check out the city,” Narice said.
“Yeah, I could go invisible if you wanted help.”
“That might be a good idea,” Narice said.
They walked around and found a clearing they thought would be suitable. Romani set up a magic barrier around it and then started a fire with another spell. Elf magic WAS useful. Otherwise they would have been a lot worse off.
Narice looked at the compass… it pointed somewhere in the heart of the city. After things were situated he picked up the supplies he needed and stood up.
“Alright, I’m ready, how about you?”
“One minute…” Romani said as he got his own things together. He cast a spell on himself.
“You could just disguise yourself as a human…”
“Yeah, I could… that would be a lot easier,” Romani cast a different spell and his ears changed and his height increased slightly… at least it looked like it might have. He was still short to Narice.
“You’re still short.”
“Yeah, well…” Romani tried to think of a comeback, “You’re bald.”
Narice looked at him and scratched a full head of hair, “that was just lame.”
“Not if your hair were to fall off in your sleep with an anti-hair spell.”
“There’s a spell for that?”
“I recommend that you don’t mess with an elf…” Romani bowed smiling slightly.
They walked to the edge of the city slowly. Narice looked around. It seemed to be snowing- the weather was a lot colder up here.
“Why’s it so cold?”
“The Warlord here should be human and holding the water-jewel… the ice-jewel is now with Ka’atra right?”
“Yeah.” Narice nodded.
“then, I’m not sure…”
Narice walked around the city edges. The gates were heavily guarded alongside the top and the entrances, however it seemed the guards were facing inward instead of outward. It seemed that it was meant to keep in people more than anything. Something about the city seemed to be off…
Hesitantly, Narice and Romani walked through the gate.
“Oi!” a sales lady standing outside despite the snow called to them. “Are you two travelers?”
“What about it?”
“Come inside, we have hot tea and warm rolls.”
“Narice looked at the lady with a short, “No thanks,” and walked forward.
“Wait,” Romani spoke, “We may as well check it out.”
Narice figured he’d give his advice a chance.
They walked inside to find a very full restaurant. It seemed that others had the same idea.
“This way please,” a lady ushered them to a table. They were located somewhere in the middle of the crowds of others in the restaurant/cafe-esque food court.
Narice looked around and noticed most of them looked to be the upper-class types, nobility even.
He wondered if they knew about the war going on, and the Ancient race as a whole. After all, most humans were unaware of the existence of Ancients.
Narice looked at the price-board, they seemed pretty steep.
“Well, this will cost a pretty penny…” Narice said.
“I have it covered,” Romani replied pulling out a sack of gold coin.
“I don’t want you to pay too much,” Narice said.
“Then you don’t have to order anything,” Romani responded.
A young lady came to their table, “hi there, gentlemen.”
Narice figured this was as good an opportunity as ever to get some information.
“What can you tell me about the city?”
“Uh,” she paused with a deep expression on her face, however, she pulled herself together again “well, right now- it’s going through some trouble… “She suddenly changed her tone to a forced smile, “but I wouldn’t leave for the world.”
Trouble… that explained why businesses were so intent on their marketing.
“So can I get you two something?”
Romani took the role of leader for this, “We’ll have fresh rolls and I’ll take a coffee…” he said.
“Coffee for me too…”
As she left Romani quietly picked up the conversation.
Romani responded to Narice, “The king, I’d heard, was a friend to the people in my generation… and Edgeville was a flourishing trade city.”
“King, huh?” Narice said. “I’m not used to a feudal system…” he responded.
“Yeah, well, it has its advantages- but it depends on the king. The past king was a good ruler for the most part- so the people here benefitted as well. As it looks now, I suppose someone came to power with a less than righteous objective.
The lady brought the bread rolls.
“Thanks…” Narice said.
The girl smiled, “oh, you’re sweet.”
The elf looked at her.
“What about me?” with an intriguing look.
“You’re too short.”
“Hahaha!” Narice laughed.
I’m tall for an elf, he thought to himself.
“Ok, not bad…an elf.” she smiled, “clever.”
“You heard that?”
“Well, of course,” she smiled. “We’ve got two,” she said. Suddenly the police came.
“Oh goodness, I will not be leaving you a tip,” Romani said as they got pulled away.
Romani nodded, “that sounds like a good idea.”
Narice threw down a smoke bomb…
What it is with police and restaurants, Narice thought as they ran out of the building.
“That way!” Romani pointed towards the inside of the city.
Narice followed suit and they made a run for it.
Eventually they were able to get in a group of people and then took a left into some alley.
Narice looked around to find that they had come to the slums.
“It would be less suspicious if we were divided…” Romani panted a bit.
“We’ll split up…” Narice said.
“Let us meet at camp before nightfall if possible…”
Narice nodded and Romani left a separate direction.
Narice left in the opposite direction, then took cover in an open home as he heard the police run towards him. Maybe he could hide out here while the police were chasing him. These slum houses were more like shacks. Hopefully the police wouldn’t come here.
He approached the door when a youth a couple years older than himself came out. He was pale, scrawny and wore glasses. He held out a wooden bat.
He held it up to him and Narice picked up a piece of fallen off wood from a nearby building. The kid charged at him. Narice was used to reading his opponent but the young man came at him with a fluid drifting motion. He was swift and threw out his a whack with the rod. Narice dodged it barely, getting scraped on the arm, and tried to bring down his own chunk of wood. The youth stepped sideways instead of trying to block, moved with the motions and spun- the rod whacked the wood Narice held to guard his neck.
“Why are you here?” the youth stopped his.
“Uh, sorry…”Narice spoke, “I just needed a place to hide.”
Narice looked at the person. He was a pale looking, thin, but in his eyes were a fierceness of fire, like he had something he was protecting.
“Uh…” Narice wasn’t sure how to respond to make him trust him, “I’ll leave right after, I understand you don’t want me here. I was trying to get away from some bad guys.”
Narice looked at him with quiet resignation, “yeah.”
“Get in,” the young man as he held open a hanging drape that doubled as the door entrance.
Narice looked at his new acquaintance. If the police came now he would have no escape if the man wanted to turn him in. However, he took his chance and passed through the curtain.
Footsteps ran across the walkway outside of the shack. Upon hearing the steps he motioned to be quiet to Narice as he opened the door to the police, pointing a different direction, he spoke “I saw him go that way.”
Narice watched him point away from the city.
“If you run you could catch him…”
The police pursued the direction of the extended finger as the youth closed the drapes.