The man looked confused and then his darkened features brightened as he greeted Aarock with a strong handshake,
“How are you doing?!” the man spoke.
Aarock smiled, “Doing well at the moment. My companions are a bit tired from the flight.”
The man replied, “oh- please-” he motioned to the others that it was okay to approach the house.
Aarock began introductions, “Everyone -this is my friend- Devon.”
Devon gave everyone a wave and then his eyes glued upon the Dragon standing behind the group.
“Is that…” Devon pointed in awe.
“Ah, haha,” Aarock replied, “yes yes- Arrowan has joined us for this trip.”
Devon looked in awe at the dragon. Sari was still holding on, but had fallen asleep on its back.
“And the girl?”
“The girl owns the dragon,” Aarock smiled.
Devon looked at both with awe.
The dragon set the sleeping Sari down off of its back and then began to fly a distant space away.
Narice replied for the group. Since everyone seemed tired, he tried to be diplomatic for them, “Hello- my name’s Narice.”
“Ah…” Devon seemed impressed as he shook hands with Narice.
Narice looked at him questioningly, but the man had already looked on.
“So what brings you all here?” Devon responded.
Aarock responded, “Ah, well my friends are on their way to Darantis- while i met up with them in the southwest…I am here for a diplomatic retreat.”
Devon responded, “Oh- is it really that bad in the capital?”
Aarock sighed, “I just cannot take the political scene for too long. My wife and Kane are blessed with a passion for it- while i am cursed with a passion for adventures…since i am supposed to rule the kingdom- it gets difficult to travel – haha.”
Devon laughed and then after seeing Mika yawn, “Ah! Where are my manners?”
The wizard proceeded to invite them inside. As each of them passed underneath the threshold of the door frame- he took each of their hand in a shake and introduced himself to each of them individually.
First to Mika. He looked surprised, “oh?”
“Oh- you must excuse my friend responses,” Aarock replied, “Devon can tell your ability by touch… in shaking your hands – he knows if you have magic, what sort of magic, and the amount of power.”
Then to Elera- “an Aqayan of ice…” to which he gave a , “ but what a talent!?”
Devon looked at Aarock questioningly regarding what came through the door. Aarock didn’t respond so Devon allowed the others to continue walking inside.
Venu was carrying Sari, the wizard looked at her curiously tapping her hair softly as she slept and nodded to Venu. Venu extended his hand out to the wizard which the wizard took quickly and shook but was careful not to disturb Sari.
As the wizard took Venu’s hand, he stepped back a minute and looked at Aarock. Venu could feel a sort of tension growing and instantly felt on guard the instant he saw the wizard’s reaction.
Aarock responded, “It is okay. I’ve already talked about it.”
The wizard looked at Venu and frowned, “You’ll have an interesting road ahead…”
Devon seemed to get lost in thought.
“You turned out all-right,” Aarock replied.
“Did I though?” the wizard. He seemed to forget that Venu was even there-but then he let Venu pass the threshold with a nod and then his face returned to its usual complexion.
“I have been wanting to set up Devon in the kingdom,” Aarock spoke to the group. “He would definitely meet more people- perhaps even find love, but alas he thinks that his past does not allow him for a life of happiness and he would rather live alone.”
The wizard replied, “Ah. Not this again…just because you found a woman who actually wants to be with you- does not mean that they would be interested in a guy like me. Couples always want to set up singles.”
He ushered them further inside. There was a quaint moderately sized living room which had a few different couches for them to sit on. There was a table which took up the middle of it and an adjacent kitchen and side room attached to the main one.
Everyone took different seats around the table.
“Sorry, I have some soup,” The wizard replied as he went to the kitchen and gathered some food that had cooked inside of the cauldron.
Despite Venu not having the best introduction with the wizard, he tried to be polite as he requested, “Is there somewhere we can let her sleep?”
“Oh….” The wizard spoke after realizing, “Yes.”
While looking at the girl- he spoke, “There’s something I absolutely must tell you in private, Aarock…”
Aarock looked at the wizard questioningly.
“I guess we can wait till we’re alone,” Devon replied.
Mika it turned out, was also feeling tired and as soon as they offered the rooms he spoke up, “Yeah, I think I’ll keep her company so she doesn’t get frightened…”
Everyone let them go to sleep.
Rather than stay up and talk about things Venu and Elera ended up taking bedding in the couches, while Narice, Aarock and Devon stayed up circled around a table with a lamp. Devon brough Aarock and Narice a drink- some form of alcohol. Narice could hardly swallow it- They talked about memories and shared war stories –
As they began to talk- the stories took life.
“Merth!” Aarock yells across the swampy battlefield.
Merth casts his spell ‘lightshow’ – and a series of explosions litter the sky. Across from him- two hundred lizard-men made an effort to avoid all the explosions that surround them.
Meanwhile Devon focuses on the defense, holding back a barrage of spells coming from an army of magicians- using ‘reflect’. While he can focus well on multiple targets- with two-hundred he seems to be pushed to his limits.
Before them- Kalo – a dark magician in charge of the recent armies directs another series of attacks using a wave of dark soldiers, living armor without a soul.
Aarock charges forward while Devon and Merth hold back the others. The wizard noting Aarock’s advance- puts forward his strongest minions closest to him- hoping to stop him in his place- bolstering their already massive bodies to thirty or forty feet with his magic.
Merth casts another ‘Lightshow’ to slow their pace. His magic is limited however and the two giants charge at Aarock.
This time however, Aarock is only the distraction as Merth uses ‘port’- port is Merth’s specialty. In two seconds he reaches past the entirety of the battlefield across a river and comes up behind the wizard with his blade. The wizard still focused on the movements of his armies has just begun to turn his head when Merth uses his dual blades to stab his heart and cut off his head.
While the armor falls to pieces without the magician to join it- the living armies aren’t aware that their master has died.
On the right – Devon still holds a magic barrier and this time uses ‘repel’ – a special skill which allows him to redirect magic. In this moment two hundred wizards have just received the rebound of their attack… thankfully Devon was able to grasp the entirety of spellcasts- without awareness- any magic would have gotten through and hit him directly.
From this disruption Aarock can now focus on the offensive- he casts ‘nova’ and a pillar of fifty-foot high fire surrounds the entire group of lizard-men- closing in from all sides. He then jumps upwards looking into the pillar and casts another spell- ‘judgement’ – literally piercing the hearts of all them all and instantly disintegrating those whose souls are completely dark. After which- the rest of the horde runs as quickly as possible from the three of them back into the woods.
“Wow,” Devon speaks first.
“Did you even need us?” Merth says seeing Aarock’s spellcast as he meets up with the other two using port.
“What about them?” Devon points to the scurrying lizardmen and wizards.
“We’ll give them a second chance to think things over,” Aarock replies.
“Ahaha, good times,” Aarock spoke while drinking a sip of cider that Devon made – reflecting.
“For you maybe…” Devon spoke humorously, “We aren’t overpowered like you..”
“Ah, but you made it out alive,” Aarock responded with a chuckled.
“The good die young…” Devon sighed as he sat there for a moment and spoke to himself a bit more, “With the exception of you and Sardis – do you think if you don’t die young, you become something you regret?”
“Hm…” Aarock gave the question some thought, “I wonder where that’s coming from. In your case, I think the opposite.”
Devon sat in silence.
Aarock decided to leave that path alone, “So how is Merth nowadays?”
“He’s doing well for himself.”
“Hm, I look forward to seeing that,” Aarock spoke.
After another minute of sitting, perhaps to be a proper host or maybe out of curiosity, Devon turned his attention.
“So, what about you Narice?” Devon asked.
“What about… me?” Narice had been so absorbed in the story, it took him a minute to realize. After that, how could he tell Devon and Aarock about the future? he and Elera had already agreed not to discuss it with anyone except Aarock.
“Uh,” Narice was at a loss for words- to which Aarock gave a chance.
“He’s had a long day…” Aarock replied and gave a kind smile to Narice.
“Yes…” Narice wished he was one to be more eloquent or diplomatic- but unfortunately, there was no such luck, “Sorry about that.”
“Hmm, okay,” Devon was polite to leave it.
Narice tried to stay up later like Aarock and Devon hearing them talk a lot about the past certainly interested him. He was introduced to a couple other names- the Dark wizard- Corvin for one- who had gone into hiding- other names involved different warlords and the regions they protected. The east held the wizard tribe protected by Jan. The north held the Aqayans – protected by Godre. The west-
“Can you set up a meeting for me with Merth?” Aarock spoke to Devon.
“Of course,” Devon responded with a serious attitude, as towards a king, “how early would you like to meet?”
Aarock thought about it- he wanted to see the town- but he wanted to start early- so as not to make them wait too long.
“I don’t wish to be a bother- but I would like a little bit after dawn.” Aarock would have gone earlier, but as it was he had to check up on the people after they awoke.
“I will have the meeting arranged.”
Aarock smiled- Devon had always been generous since he’d known him, “Thank you.”
“You are the king,” Devon bowed, “Thanks is not required.”
“By the way…” Devon responded to Narice, “I sensed something unique in you- what is your element?”
Narice replied sleepily, “Well- Elera assumes that it’s ‘light’.”
Upon saying this, both of their eyes widened.
“Aarock,” Devon replied, “you didn’t tell me…!”
Aarock too shifted in thought.
Devon spoke up- “that’s a very unusual element… tell me- what was it like to grow up? Were you able to manifest it?”
“No…” Narice replied, “That’s why I thought that I didn’t have any magic.”
“But you were able to resist magic right?” Devon replied. Narice was surprised at what Devon could surmise.
Aarock just watched the interaction between the two silently.
“Yes- any time someone used magic on me- it didn’t affect me as much…”
Devon nodded, “as I thought…”
Narice replied, “Uh- what does it mean?”
“It means a great deal…” Aarock replied, “It means that you will stay with me in the castle…if you please, Devon.”
“Of course,” Devon nodded, “I will certainly train him while I’m here as much as is in my power.”
Narice realized that what had just been offered. Aarock had just told him that he would be staying in a CASTLE.
“I can’t part with Elera…” Narice spoke. Elera for sure- although he didn’t want to part with the others either- at least without letting them know.
Aarock replied, “Don’t worry, I will have accommodations ready.
Devon replied, “Oh… first thing in the morning… also there’s another magic which allows portal transfers- so you can train with me and go back to Elon’dara afterwards.”
“I’m not sure-“ Narice tried thinking of all the things about it, it wasn’t the idea itself that was bad- staying in castle sounded amazing, but he would have to make sure that the group was okay with it firstly -“everyone in the group is more talented than I am.”
To this Aarock responded, “Ah, that isn’t true- already I’ve seen you block a spell from the dark wizard- you have good leadership skills and hand-to-hand combat. I would love to train you more, and I feel that you must come to the castle for training.”
Narice’s tired brain couldn’t argue with the logic, “Well- if you insist…thanks.”
Aarock responded, “It is I who should be grateful for your help…thankyou. We will train you to be a great guardian.”
Even though Narice had no idea if this had anything to do with leading him to his own time- he felt that being trained by the strongest warrior of all time definitely could help.
“I’ve always wanted to be a…” Narice closed his eyes and fell asleep.
“There now,” Devon picked up the cups and started washing dishes.
“So,” Aarock spoke, “Now that everyone else is asleep- what was it you wanted to tell me?”
Devon put away the last dish and responded.
The both of them went a distance away from the hut.
Devon set up a barrier around the two of them.
“That girl… Sari… I sensed a magic unique to immortality.”
“Immor-” Aarock paused, “-tality…?” Aarock responded. Aarock and Sardis were the only two immortals.
If the girl really was linked to immortality – she wasn’t safe, almost everyone would want her genes for genes or the taboo workings of the immortality project,
“There’s only one way that I know of, Aarock… your gene pool…which means…”
The significance wasn’t lost on him, of course he was one of two remaining immortals since the curse. In theory he and Sardis could have a child and it would be immortal- however the only child they’d had was stillborn, or Sardis had been with someone else.
“Merth and I have the west covered, Aarock…” Devon spoke, “You should go to the castle and talk with Sardis…”
As much as he wanted to look into this further- Aarock still had a goal to fulfill however… “Even still- I want to see the town for myself…”
“Very well…” Devon replied, “Even still- Merth will help make a passage at his house with port.”
“Is his port that strong?” Aarock wondered. His port ability was able to move him from one location to another.
This long distance port, this Aarock would have to see for himself.
“What news?” Merth spoke- as Devon approached him. In terms of status, Merth was higher- but in terms of seniority, Devon was more capable and wiser about things. Merth respected Devon- but didn’t forget his status as chief- so still held the authoritative role in front of him.
Devon nodded – “Aarock will be arriving…”
The slight wafting of food crept up into the noses of the group. It awoke them in the order they went to sleep- with Venu as an exception.
Venu was the first to awake, followed by Sari. Even still- Devon had already made them breakfast.
The reactions were varied.
Mika was excited, “Wowweee!”
“You didn’t have to do this for us,” Narika spoke.
“It’s not usual that I have guests,” Devon spoke, “maybe I got carried away.”
Narika groggily adjusted to reality and found himself eating food with the others.
“Well guys,” Devon replied as they started eating, “Aarock and I decided that we’re going to train you and bring you to the castle…”
Elera looked up. She was by far the most experienced with training regimens. She gave Narika a look of confidence.
Devon replied, “I was a third generation wizard- with my teacher being the second greatest dark wizard of all time – Claris.”
He went on to explain. After the demon-kin war – Claris and a group of wizards found that using the link between themselves and elves- they could drain the life force of elves- not long afterwards… they started draining the life of elfa in droves… It was their goal to use Elfa as cattle and farm them to extend their lives indefinitely… They also began to drain each other in ‘duels’. The winner would gain the powers of the loser- extending their own mana pools and capacity for magic.
It was only when they challenged Covan- that they were defeated….Covan and Claris used to be friends before Claris was a dark wizard. Afterwards Claris had asked Covan to rule the world beside him- but Covan said to Claris “keep your world,” and vanished into his own tower. When they tried to challenge Covan by force – he used their own magic against them and defeated them- gaining their magic for himself as well as all the lifeforce they had drained from elves. Thus Covan was a wizard that used dark magic so he was a dark wizard- but he only used it against other dark wizards.
Devon was only fourteen when Covan defeated Claris. After watching his master defeated… he vowed to avenge his master and became a great wizard himself. After years of strengthening his own magic… Covan came across Devon in a duel. Devon was the only wizard to be able to cast a mark on Covan – but Covan was able to stop the spell from spreading and then defeated Devon.
“All this time, have you tried to avenge your master?” Covan spoke to Devon with a bit of pity as he held a wand up to Devon to finalize the battle with Devon.
“I don’t know why…” Devon told the group, “but he spared me in that moment… I guess he sensed that I still had some sort of good in me- although I had already murdered a good number…”
Instead of finishing him off, Covan left Devon to go back to the opposite direction.
Afterwards, having been defeated and given his life back- he wasn’t sure what to do and ended up chasing Covan.
“Do you really want to die?” Covan said- turning around- death spell at the point.
Devon- upon knowing there was nothing he could do against Covan to defeat him, “Please, teach me.”
“Covan’s first goal for me was to understand the feeling of powerlessness…” Devon replied. “The first thing he did was seal my powers and told me to survive. Afterwards he would consider whether or not to teach me. Covan was by no means a kind teacher… he left me to live like that for ten months…I scavenged for food…living homelessly in all kinds of weather… When the family of an elfa I’d stolen life from found me- I was very nearly killed only to be saved from Covan.”
Devon spoke in reflection, “He told me that this was what it was like to be the Elfa that I killed.”
Devon looked down at the food in front of him…
“Ever since then- I’ve been trying to redeem myself,” Devon replied, “and ever since then- there’s no way that I could live happily.
They finished eating and cleaned up. Devon called Mika first.
“Ok, Mika-” Devon replied, “show me what you’ve got.”
Mika spoke in response, “uh, I want to learn how to use a sword but I only have a stick…”
Devon pulled out a rapier from beside him.
“This should work,” he spoke as he handed it to Mika.
Mika eyeballed the rapier curiously.
“What are you going to use then?”
“Nothing,” Devon replied.
Mika looked curiously at Devon, “well- even if I’m a novice I still think I can land a strike against you eventually.”
Mika dashed into Devon- to which Devon took a finger and stopped the strikes and dodged, all while telling Mike about his footwork-
“Move inwards there…thrust there…watch out- that leaves you open…” Devon barely dodged, but it all seemed within his control. He used minimal effort while Mika seemed to be getting hasty.
“Stop treating me like a kid!” Mika spoke as he threw out another strike fiercely- disregarding the previous caution not to harm Devon.
“Oh?” Devon replied and used his finger to flick the rapier away during a thrust and his other hand landed a chokehold to Mika’s neck…
“You still have a lot to learn,” Devon spoke. He glared at Mika- seemingly overshadowed by a great darkness – while Mika was helplessly losing energy. Rather than panic- however, Mika tried to grab a rock from his satchel with his empty hand and he threw it with magic towards Devon… Mika’s magic was such: while not too powerful in itself – it was the ability to manipulate the force and location of an item… so in this regard, he could transport an object close to a target with a heavy velocity.
Ever since he’d first realized it – he’d been practicing.
Devon dodged the rock with a tilt of his head, but had to let go of his chokehold. He jumped back for a second, and smiled “Ah, good good!”
He took on his more nurturing attitude- the dark energy gone- “Mika, never give up against your opponent in the face of defeat- it could be that you’ll escape the clutch of death because of your strong will.”
Narice had known that Devon was hiding his skills- too strong of an opponent wouldn’t allow Mika to share his full potential. He felt that Devon was a good teacher- even if for a moment it felt like he may have gotten angry.
This time Elera stepped forward.
“Ah-ice Aqayan,” Devon sighed, “Show me what you can do young lady.”
Devon readied himself- an aura of heat and fire surrounded him.
Elera looked at him studiously, “direct spells won’t work on you will they…” She then grabbed the rapier herself. Rather than show her magic, she seemed to be waiting.
Devon looked at her impressed.
“Never have I met an Aqayan of Ice that had such wisdom as you…”
Devon pulled out a magic sword with flames from a sheath hidden behind his back.
“This has been forged to withstand and absorb magic as well based on my own magic- I wonder if you can handle it.”
He charged inwards- but instead of the strike he expected to land – She suddenly stood behind him with the rapier to his back.
“I believe I win that joust,” Elera responded.
The instant he felt it of course he moved away from the blade- but the point was made.
“I don’t understand…”
Elera simply bowed.
“Elera can freeze time!” Mika spoke.
“Freeze… time?” Devon looked at the girl uniquely. His first reaction was utter surprise- he’d never run into someone so capable with magic- and then… she could definitely ruin the plan if she was a factor… he must warn Merth.
“Excuse me…” he spoke to Venu who’d been next in line, “there’s something else i remembered i have to do right now…”
Devon ended the dueling there with neither Venu and Narice fighting him. He knew that Narice didn’t know how to use magic yet, and he could prepare for Venu.
Meanwhile… Aarock followed his escort through the town.
The neighborhood was friendly. Aarock was was surprised that it seemed so peaceful – usually trade towns had so much ambient noise.
Instead however, everyone seemed to be quite organized and waved at him as he passed by, while tending to their gardens and talking kindly with their neighbors.
It had been five years since his last arrival checking up on the west. Perhaps Merth was even better then he’d expected. Who knew that he would do so well!
A part of him was dumbfounded, the other part was impressed.
“Hello – old friend!” Merth waved at Aarock. The guide led Aarock to Merth’s house- where Merth waved from. His ‘house’ was actually a mansion that towered above the rest of the city- castle-like. It was quite grand- Merth must have hired many hands
Aarock looked at Merth. Middle-aged, unassuming, and in well-dressed robes. The escort led him up to the gate surrounding Merth’s home and then nodded at Aarock.
A part of Aarock suddenly was on guard, but he decided not to pursue it yet- Merth would be able to explain. Aarock walked into the well kept premises towards Merth who stood at the door.
“You’re doing quite well, friend!” Aarock spoke to Merth as he approached. Merth held out his hand.
Merth took Aarock’s hand and looked into his eyes, “And I’d like to keep it this way.”
As Aarock took a glimpse into Merth’s eyes- he saw a slight glimmer and then… the next instant- however- his body became stationary and his mind ‘existed’ somewhere else completely.
Merth released his hand from Aarock’s and brushed it along the edge of his robes as if cleaning off slime.
“Get rid of that thing,” he pointed to Aarock’s body as he directed the escort and a guard who’d rushed up, “put his body in the dungeon.”
They nodded silently.