Narice hunted, Nick gathered, Rome set up camp.
Nick put his best foot forward, but when it came to survival skills in the wilderness, he struggled.
“How old are you by the way?” Narice asked.
“fifteen and a half…” Nick responded.
Pale and frail, Nick caught a bunch of scratches from brush as he attempted to gather wood, fruits and mushrooms. While mature when it came to interpersonal relations- it was funny to watch him trip and meander through the woods so tragically. Even still, Nick seemed intent on learning.
While he was pretty much a baby that they’d have to take care of in the wilderness- Narice felt that Nick would grow up. Until then though Narice and Rome would have to work extra hard.
With Rome’s magic the campfire was easy. Protected by a barrier and set up in the wilderness, they used the opportunity to regroup themselves.
Narice handed Nick the leg of a wild bird he’d caught, “here.”
Nick took it cautiously, eyeballing it as if it were an ancient treasure in a way.
Rome like all elves was a vegetarian, but even he made an effort to give Nick some sustenance with wild mushrooms and plants.
“Brother, you must get more fat,” Rome said when Nick tried to refuse Rome’s own food.
Narice looked at Nick, he wasn’t sure how to treat him. Royalty wa Narics Nick’s birthright- born to be a king, but he didn’t know much about what that meant.
“I hope you don’t think I’m gonna treat you differently – even though we found out you’re a prince,” Narice said.
“I gave up my rights to the throne. I’m just like you now…” Nick graciously took the leg and started chomping down on it. Despite the wilderness being more difficult to get food then a grocery store, for Nick this must have been a feast. Before he’d even finished the food they’d given him however, it seemed he was full.
“Thanks for the meal guys,” he said despite the leftovers. It seemed his stomach would take time to adjust to the increase in food.
Narice saw Rome had the same thought with a glance his way, so he asked, “If you don’t mind, Nicholas… what happened to the throne to cause you to leave?”
“Ah that…” Nick sat back after having eaten. He looked up, as if unsure whether or not to tell them and then looked back at the two.
“It’s a long story…”
Seventeen years ago.
‘My parents had been trying to have a child for a couple years…’
“King Rovanna,” one of his subjects, a guard knelt before the king of Jubilee, “your brother…”
The king’s brother and wife had an accident, leaving behind their son, Covian. The king and queen decided to take him in as their son.
A year later, however, they had a son of their own, Nicholas.
About the same time, a servant had a child too, Tess.
“There were three of us.”
The three grew up as friends. Covian being older, took the role of leader.
“Covian was an older brother to Tess and me.”
Laughter could be heard across the courtyard. A young Nicholas and adopted brother Covian chased each other.
Covian held up a wooden sword as he caught up with Nicholas, “En garde!”
Nicholas parried it as well as he could. Two years younger, however, Covian ended up on top with sword pointed, “aha!”
Tess sitting on the side raised her arm to Covian, declaring the winner as judge.
Covian grinned and Nicholas returned a smirk, followed by an extended hand for Nicholas to take back up.
“Oh, so you think you can just get out of it huh, Tess,” Nicholas spoke to Tess as he ran up to her, “Tag, you’re it!”
“Oh my gosh!” she spoke as she got up and started to chase the two through the hedges and grounds.’
“However…time was an enemy to Covian. Upon growing up, Covian was told he wouldn’t be anything more than a guardian to me, the true heir…”
‘Grumpily sitting in the castle grounds, isolated, Covian overlooked the kingdom from above.
“What’s up, brother?” Nicholas spoke.
“Why do you get the throne and I don’t?” his arms crossed.
“Haha,” Nicholas spoke, “I don’t really care who’s on the throne. When I become king, let’s all share it. You, me, and Tess!”
Covian turned his head dejectedly, however, still on good terms.
“Then, one day…”
“Covian!” Nick watched on as Covian stood over Tess, hand raised, a mark on Tess’s face.
“Your parents have shown their true nature, Nick,” Covian spoke darkly.
“What are you doing?” Nick spoke pleadingly as Covian picked her up and held a knife up to Tess’s neck.
However, greed set in. Covian’s soul had grown darker… in a harvest of seeded jealously- Covian and his ambitions led him to usurp the throne by threatening a servant girl that Nicholas cared about, Tess. ”
“If you want me to spare her life…” Covian said, “You will denounce our rights the throne.”
“You can have it!” Nick responded, “I don’t want the throne at the cost of this!”
“I want you to swear- publicly.”
And that was when he made the declaration. He said that it was out of friendship that he let us live, however…
“Following this, he went to my parents…”
Narice looked on as firelight illuminated Nick’s downcast appearance.
“You don’t have to tell us…” Romani spoke.
The rest of the story was told to me by Victorious.
“If Nick understands, why can’t you?” Covian spoke to his parents.
“Covian… we love you just as mu-”
“If you loved me then you’d give me, the oldest the throne.”
With a small following of servants, guards, an assassin- usurped the throne by killing his parents.
‘Young master, you must away…’ Victorious, the ever faithful butler told me. He helped me in my escape, in the back of the closet, down a drainpipe, to the outskirts of the city.
I stumbled upon the local urchins in the slums at the time, and from there, decided to take care of them- hiding my identity. We begged, and at times, we stole, we managed, to survive.”
“Right about now…” he thought in retrospect before prefacing. “While the years that followed were good to us, I never thought that raising up a bunch of kids on the streets was best for them…the night you two headed out of the city walls, I made my way to a lady friend and older gentleman who’d always been kind to us urchins… they’ll be taken care of properly.”
“Ever since,” Nick said, “I waited to see what would become of the nation… instead of getting better, it grew cold. Covian’s reign was filled with fearful tyranny, and that was when I decided… I’d stay… to see it through until his reign was over.”
“What happened to the girl?’ Narice asked immensely absorbed in Nick’s story.
“She and her parents left to an undisclosed location,” Nick said.
The three of them sat in silence for ten or so minutes.
Narice was first to break the ice, “So, Romaniii. Do YOU have any interests?”
Romani thought about it.
“I think it’s been twenty-four years now since I saw my wife.”
“How old ARE you?”
“Oh, i’m barely thirty-five.”
“We can live up to a thousand years,” Romani spoke, “so proportionally speaking…”
Narice thought about it. that would make Romani like 3 in human years, although he was pretty sure that wasn’t how it worked. Anyway he looked in his teens for a human.
“How did you get married?” Nick asked.
“It was arranged when we were both ten,” Romani said explaining. Narice thought Romani would probably make a good teacher, “When elves start a family, it starts somewhere between fifty and two-hundred.”
The concept was foreign to Narice. Ancients’ marriages were more similar to humans…”
“After the marriage, she waits for me in the village, learning wife duties, while I joined up with the protectorate.
“Was there anything for you to do in between?”
“Oh, plenty, we spend years honing our skills, our magic. The protectorate is generally isolated training. Meanwhile the womenfolk spend their time with their families practicing the healing arts and such, learning to be proper wives.”
“Do you know anything about your wife?”
“Not yet,” Romani said.
Perhaps it was better that way, but Narice thought that it was strange.
“It should be warming up soon, which will make it easier for the city to restructure itself,” Nick spoke looking back, “So, where are we headed now?”
“That’s a good question,” Romani answered, “we have a camp setup on the outskirts of the forest out of here, but as far as where to go from here is up to ‘leader’.”
Narice looked at the ‘jewel finder’. After adjusting for the jewels found, it pointed somewhere to the west.
“Well, I guess we’ll go somewhere to the west…” he said.
“Narice you had a dream right?”
“Yeah… I did, I was thinking about pursuing that too, but I’m not sure what to do. The girl told me to get the ‘mist clearing flute’ to open the secret forest, but I’m not sure how far away all that is and even if it’s real.”
“The ‘forest of mist’ is actually somewhat close” Nick replied, “-and as for the mist clearing flute, there’s a legend about it…’A certain tree in the forest of mist can be discovered using the mist clearing flute to clear a path to it. Supposedly, if one can unlock the tree, the have an access to the past, or so the story goes.”
He continued, “It’s a story passed down to all the ‘guardians of the five jewels’ so it must have some merit, although I’m not sure I believe it. If someone had access to the past and could change the course of history… even with magic, it seems a little ridiculous. I mean… who could make a spell like that? Or why would they? And if they had access to it in the past, why wouldn’t they have used it to stop the war that occurred eight-hundred years ago.
As for the harp itself- it was lost among the course of time as well.”
“I don’t know,” Romani replied. “But if some mystery girl wants to ask Narice in a dream to go there, I guess it’s worth putting into the plan…”
Narice said, “‘Flute of Time!'” he called to the compass, however- nothing changed. The direction pointed the same.
“Well. I guess we’ll stick with what we’re going for right now. And that’s the next jewel.”
“Well, if memory serves,” Nick spoke, “the pointer is probably point towards sky city… it exists in a ‘realm’ above earth- we’d have to get there through a portal on the earth that will teleport us to the sky. They have the school of wizards there.”
“Yes… wizards were part of the old war, a powerful race. Most of them sided with Ka’atra. Their magic requires the use of a channeler- books, chants, objects- to access ‘pure’ magic- not limited to specific elements. They consider it the highest form of magic and think themselves better than other races. Only someone like ‘Ka’atra’ with every element was worthy to lead them.
The ones that were on the side of ‘good’ hid away with the ‘air’ elemental jewel and covered ‘sky city’ with their magic. So now they’re hidden in the skies.
“How do you know all this?”
“It’s a guardian’s job to be passed down the information of the war, while most know nothing of other races, guardians were informed about the truth.”
“What if they have a kid?”
“Kids of wizards- generally end up either wizard or human, based on the strength of their magic. Once a wizard adapts his magic, he is no longer an elemental and thus doesn’t pass on the element, instead passing down the energy or lack thereof.
“Ok, lead us the way…” Narice said.
Nick led them through the forest.
“It’s a big world, so it may take a while to find the portal,” Nick said.
“It’s ok,” Narice responded. “We do what we can… unless you have some sort of spell or equipment to go faster.”
“No, nothing like that.”
They started to walk through the forest. They’d supposedly be having to go from here to a harbor town where they could take a ship or something that would lead them across the ocean to the portal. How would they pay for a boat?
“Well, let’s go to sky city’ then,” Narice said. “We’ll leave first thing tomorrow- although how to get there is beyond me…”
“Use the ‘finder’ to point to the quickest route.” Romani said, “It doesn’t always have to point strait to the item itself, but the quickest route to get there with some adjustments.”
“Wow,” Nick looked at it.
“Elf magic…” Narice said.
They set it up and went to bed, the elf magic again helped them with the fire. It seemed that Narice wouldn’t have access to magic except his channeled weapons, Nick could use water, and Romani could use his elf magic- so between all three of them, they were doing ok. With a ‘wizard’ what else would they be able to do?
As the morning sun broke through the chilly day, Narice picked up the ‘finder’. This time it pointed ‘west’.
“It’s pointing to the harbor town, Gemstone. That should lead us to a boat and the portal that can bring us to sky village,” Romani said.
Narice watched Nick put together his stuff and Romani put out the fire and dispel the barrier. He was curious how Romani kept it up all night.
“How much magic do you use?” Narice said.
“Well- our magic is limited by life force, but it can recharge after a while. Plus spells that stay up are generally ones that only need an initial catalyst. I don’t use my energies to keep them in place- and afterwards I just take it down… just like the fire. If I light it, the wood will keep it going afterwards. I don’t need to do things to keep it up,” Romani said.
“Well, you make good use of it,” Narice said.
“I try,” Romani said.
“Yeah, it’s really useful,” Nick responded.
“Thanks, but I’d prefer to be known for my character rather than magic. That’s one of the prides of an elf. They don’t determine their worth through the powers they have, but what they do with it,”
Narice looked at the ‘finder’. He started walking in the direction they had to go.
“It’ll be a few days walking…” Nick said. “May as well get to know each other.”
They had been walking for two days now. Romani used his magic to find food. Nick used his water magic for fishing. Narice did what he could to hunt it or cook- his wilderness skills at least taught him basic things- but the other two’s powers seemed better equipped for this sort of thing.
Nick started telling his story- he had been ten when he escaped, and found a group of kids that he felt the need to look out for. He and the kids worked together as ‘urchins’ or ‘beggars’ accepting any charity to get by. It was a carefree life. When he had grown up with his parents in the courts- it was a lot more strict, but the good thing was how was taught to treat the people.
His parents were good and raised him to be good with his privilege. He didn’t care much for being trapped in the palace with a predetermined life, but he was smart and would have been a worthy successor for the people. The way things worked out were probably the best in the long run, but he would have traded it if he could get his family back.
Romani had a similar attitude toward his life. While protector of the village suited him, he preferred the idea of living outside of the encasing field that kept them apart from the world. He was glad to be able to live in this land. He knew a lot about the past because it wasn’t long after the war that the elves had sealed themselves away. He was the second generation to live inside of the ‘realm’ and while he had a female interest at his place, his need for an adventure outweighed his desire for an easy home life.
Narice told them about how Ancient’s looked down on humankind and how his family was shunned. He told them about how he was trained to be a ‘guardian’ by his father and how the village was before Ka’atra had destroyed it.
He told them about the few things that had happened since then, but left out arbitrary things and just skimmed the surface. People’s lives weren’t something he felt like talking about- he preferred the subjects like Ka’atrahawk and finding the elves to his past.
Eventually one more night of sleep next to the fire and fresh food caught from either rabbits or fish or plants. While it was very man vs. wild, they had enough to get by. Narice wouldn’t have minded his cozy home in the human world. He was wondering how his foster-family was.
“What do you know about the wizards?”
“I think they live pretty well off, seeing that they have a very useful sort of magic, i also know they keep up with human technologies, so they’re probably the most advanced of all the races.”
“Are there any other races I missed?”
“well, non-humanoids- there are a few species, humanoids yes, I believe there are goblins, but I don’t know of many others- and I believe a lot died out in the great war.”
It made sense- so many creatures in folklore. Narice wanted to be prepared. So… the wizards knew about the human technologies and had an advanced, non-elemental magic. This would be interesting depending on how the approach worked. Would they have to fight?
They got ready for the trek again as they put on their bags.
Something else seemed to eat at him about Ka’atra. It didn’t make sense that he’d have a daughter, “Do you know anything about Ka’atra’s daughter?”
“I don’t think he ever had one… he was pretty young at the time”
“why do you ask?”
“Well… I met her… but she seemed familiar for some reason since I met her. I was wondering if it was actually his.”
“It could be that she was taken in by him when she was young and risen as a daughter,” Nick replied.
Narice looked ahead. Something about her seemed so familiar.
The port town of Jamda stretched ahead of them. It seemed like each of the four major continents had one- and a middle continent where a majority of boats would dock.
“We should just take one during the night, and I can use my water magic to move the boat across the ocean. It shouldn’t be a problem- I should be able to think of a way to the docks,” Nick said offhandishly.
Narice wished they could think of a way to get around it without stealing someone’s boat. That would be preferable. But this was about the world. Perhaps they could scope out someone they didn’t like and take theirs, like one of Ka’atra’s police.
They looked at the town. Perhaps he was right.
“What do you think Rome?” Narice replied.
“I think it’s up to you Narice…” he replied without emotion.
“Fine… until we can think of something better- I guess that’s the plan,” Narice said. They were going to steal a boat.
“As far as money goes… how are you guys?”
“Well…” Romani said. “I’ve got some gold. Perhaps we could buy a boat. I’ve still got a lot left.”
“Well, that would be easier…” Narice replied. “Damn… that’s a lot of gold…”
Romani had about a couple pounds of coins in a sack that he handed over to Narice.
Narice tucked it away in a side pouch.
“We’d like to buy a boat,” they had exchanged the gold and made about thirty thousand dollars’ worth- enough to buy something valuable from the port.
“Wow, that’s a lot of money…” one of the dock persons took on an excited look. The next thing they knew they were surrounded by a group of ten people holding miscellaneous weapons.
“It seems you have quite a stash of money… but it really belongs to us,” one of the guys said.
“Oh, does it?” Nick replied challengingly.
“Yes, it does.”
As soon as they charged, Narice cut him in with his sword.
The others got upset and started charging in as well.
“Why you…” Between the three of them they had been able to subdue the oncoming onslaught with relative easiness. Narice tossed up and down the bag that held the money.
“Now that I think about it…” he said as he tucked the money away and pointed his thumb at the dock, “which one is yours?”
“Sails’ away…” Rome said. Nick being in charge of the water, and Narice was the only one familiar with boat travel took over the helm.
Narice looked up at the skies. While the sky seemed to be okay it seemed that there was a sign of foreboding but not for a while. It would be better if they left sooner than later.
Nick motioned to the water and propelled them forward. It was a brilliant use of the jewel as they seemed to be riding a wave without much resistance whatsoever.
Narice looked at the ‘finder’ “veer left!” he said as he aligned it.
They traveled for an hour or so.
“How far away is this portal?” Narice asked.
“I’m not sure…” Nick said. “It’s supposedly going to be an island in the middle of the sea. Judging by the relative distance to each of the continents- I’d assume a day and a half trip or so to reach the center…”
“Oh well…” Narice thought. “But I’ll need some sleep eventually.”
“Well. I guess we’ll take it in shifts and get some shut-eye while we can,” Narice said. “We may have to take it in two days.”
“Aye aye, captain,” they responded.
They pushed ahead with breakneck amazing speeds and the first day was a breeze but they were tired. They picked up some fish with Nick’s abilities and cooked it up with a sort of magic-oven that Romani had, but it wasn’t as easy as living off the land. The second night they then found themselves being tossed around the second night in a thunderstorm.
“Drop the ‘storm sails’ and veer left!” Narice directed them as best he could around the storms, howbeit they took on a small portion of the storm.
Among the three of them, throughout the night they were able to beat out the storm- by the time it was day, they were exhausted.
“Thank goodness…” Nick said.
They had all taken a little time to sleep on the deck on the right course when the ship seemed to bump into an invisible barrier.
Suddenly a great force exerted itself on the boat and moved it inward. Nick tried to push out of it, but the force grew stronger than Nick could use waves for.
The invisible barrier seemed to vanish as Nick, Narice, and Romani went through it.
As they got through they saw quite a few wizards holding wands and chants to bring them in.
Narice put up his hands. Romani and Nick followed the leader as their boat was taken into the shore- and the group of wizards pointed their wands, staffs at them.
“So…is it ok to talk to whoever’s leading this?”