A story that I'm writing...

After getting a couple of oppinions from my friends (and a couple of gentle shoves), I decited to post this story.
It’s an original fantasy fic. Tell me what you all think, and be honest, but at the same time, be nice. But I can handle contructive critisim. :slight_smile:

Right now, I have a prologue, four chapters, and a sheet with some info about the word. Now, without further adeu, I give you…

Ancient Wizardry
(Dig the olde-style font. :hahaha; )

This here is a story whitch I have titled “Ancient Wizardry”.
It takes place on a world called Arroyo, and focuses on special wizards called Adepts, who can weild the powers of the elements.
Before you ask, no, this story has NOTHING to do with Golden Sun. I didn’t even THINK of GS when I thought this up. And yes, I realize that there are a few similarities.
Anywho, this page is to give you some info on a few things that, IMO, are not implied.
This story is rated PG for occasional profanity.

Information on Elements:

FIRE: Fire Adepts can summon and manipulate fire and heat, and are very
Resistant to heat themselves.
The color of the Fire element is red.

WATER: Water Adepts can summon and manipulate water in a wide varity of ways, including rapidly freezing it and generating mist.
Just as Fire Adepts are resistant to Heat, Water Adepts are resistant to cold.
The color of the Water element is blue.

EARTH: Earth Adeptscan manipulate stone and soil, and cause plants to grow at an amazing rate. More experianced Earth Adepts can tunnel though the ground at high speeds.
The color of the Earth element is green.

SKY: Sky Adepts can generate strong winds and summon lightning, and call down clouds to create blinding fog.
The color of the Sky element is cyan.

TIME: Time Adepts can manipulate how things move, increasing or decreasing their speed, or even halting their movement alltogether.
Although actual time travel is literaly impossible, higher-level Time Adepts can move objects forward or backward in time. This cannot be done to living things.
The color of the Time element is yellow.

SPACE: Space adepts can manipulate gravity, to move objects and to alter the weight of things, and create portals from one area to another.
The color of the Space element is purple.

LIGHT: Light Adepts can generate Light in a variety of forms, including lasers, and create illusions. Although not as versatle as the other elemnts, Light can potentialy be the most damaging.
The color of the Light element is white.

DARKNESS: Dark adepts can summon dark energy and auras of blackness, and when more experinced, animate their shadows.
The color of the Dark element is black.

Information on Races:

HUMAN: What needs to be said? Humans are…humans.
Let it be said that all races are humanoid in appearance, with several differences.
And while it may seem that some races have an affinity wth certain elemnets (Mer with Water, for example) they really, for the most part, as just as likely to be any other kind of Adept.

ELF: Elves are a bit taller and more slender than humans, with the typical pointed ears. They tend to be more agile than humans.

DWARF: Dwarves are a bit shorter and stockier than humans, and despite what you may think, they do NOT all have ZZ Top beards and scottish accents.

ORC: Despite what the legends say, Orcs look just as humanlike as the other demi-human races. They are quite a bit bigger and bulkier than humans, with a pair of tusks that protrude from their bottom lip.
They also have very tough skin, whitch is quite resistant to tempature and pressure, and hard to puncture.

MER: Mer are exactly what you think. Their bottom half is a fishtail. However, there is extremely simple magic than can give Mer legs, so just as many of them live on land as in water.
They also have a pair of noticable gills on their chest (right over their lungs), which not only let them breathe underwater, but also filter out airborne poisons.

AVEN: Avens are winged people. They all have a pair of large, birdlike wings on their backs, and have better sight and hearing than humans.
While they cannot accualy fly at high altitudes, they can hover several feet in the air and glide easaly on wind currents.

GNOME: Gnomes are, for all purposes, hobbits. I just like the word Gnome better. :slight_smile:
If you need a description, go read/watch Lord of the Rings.

MYSTIC: Physicaly, Mystics look exactly like humans, exept for the fact that their hair tends to be unusual colors by human standards.
However, all Mystics have the power of telepathy…the abbility to communicate via thought.
For a long time, it was widely belived that Mystics were incapable of speaking, beacause most of them prefer not to speak to eachother.

Oh, and one more note: There are no “Halflings”.
If an Elf and a Dwarf breed, for example, the child will be an Elf OR a Dwarf.

Other info:

Here’s just a few other small details you should know.

First off, the main unit of Arroyan currency is called Tek…
On Arroyo, the sun and the moon are referred to as Solaris and Lunaris.
This comes from the Arroyan creation myth: A god named Sol and a goddess named Luna found a beautiful yet ininhabbitable planet, and they cast magic upon it that would let life flourish, and they continue to watch Arroyo to this day, as the sun and the moon.
And finally, some info about present time in general on Arroyo.
Ancient Wizardry takes place in a fairly modernistic world, although unlike ours, this world has wizardy in place of technology, although the world DOES have some simple technology, like steam power and crude firearms.

That’s all. Enjoy the story.

The First Adept

In the world of Arroyo, there are wizards.
Ages ago, the wizards desired one thing, and one thing alone: Power.
They would do anything to get it, and always desired more.

Some time ago, there was a wizard and alchemist by the name of Ruke, who like all other wizards, wanted power.
He began an obsessive study of the eight elemental forces that held Arroyo together: Fire, Water, Earth, Sky, Time, Space, Darkness and Light.

He believed that if he could wield the power of the elements, he would be invincible.

Now seems like a good time to mention that Ruke is a bit…shall we say…eccentric. Most people shot down his theories, but he kept at it regardless.

Ruke locked himself in a small, isolated laboratory of his, and swore not to come out until he had succeeded.
Over the course of a year, he preformed many experiments, often using himself as a guinea pig. When he wasn’t experimenting, he was researching. In this stronghold of his, he kept every book on magic and alchemy he had ever acquired. Although he always focused on his goal, over time, his desire for power began to fade, and he gained a greater desire.

He began to desire knowledge.

And he gained it.

Ruke gained knowledge of things no wizard had understood.
He began to understand how magic worked.
And in doing this, he was closer to his goal then ever before.

One day, he was going along with a common experiment…using an enchanted microscope to examine his blood and tissue.
Using all of his knowledge, he believed he had found the answer.

He had become aware of an unusual gene he had…one that made him react
unusually to several chemical compounds.
Ruke almost fainted. He was sure he had found the secret to unlocking the power of the elements.

He combined several of the chemicals that made him react.
He applied some of the substance onto his skin; his skin absorbed it,
But nothing special happened. He tried casting a simple energy
bolt spell…instead of the expected result, which was an orb of colorless energy to be projected at the target, he instead cast forth a slim energy beam, silver in color. He applied more on the chemical to his skin, and experimented with the beam. After awhile, he was just messing around, and he hit his shaving mirror. The beam bounced off it and struck him in the eyes. He felt a searing pain within his mind, and immediately passed out.

When he came to, approximately thirteen hours later, according to his clock, he felt strange. He went over to the wall that had his shaving mirror mounted
on it…and almost screamed. His eyes were blank, and gray in color.
He thought, ‘What have I done? What did that beam do to me?’
After staring at his reflection for the better part of ten minutes, he
decided to try another spell…a simple fire spell.
He focused on a small pile of firewood that he had not yet used up, and directed his hand at it, intent on making fire. Most elemental spells – spells that tapped into the powers of nature and the elements – were mediocre at best. Ruke’s spell unleashed a huge jet of flame, igniting the wood, a nearby table and several important research papers. Ruke panicked and looked
around for something to extinguish it, waving his hands franticly, when suddenly a nearby glass of water trembled as its contents rose up, intensified and doused the fires.

Ruke was dumbstruck.

He decided to try something else…looking to the glass, Ruke concentrated. The glass once again trembled, the air around it looking distorted, then floated toward him. He grabbed it, and looked into his mirror…his eyes had turned purple.
Ruke had immediately registered it as the color representing the Space element. He pointed his finger into the glass, thought about water, and a jet of cool, clear water flowed from his finger, filling the glass. As he did this, his eyes had shifted to blue.

Once again, Ruke was dumbstruck.

He started repeating to himself the same phrase, over and over, gradually getting louder.

“I did it…I did it…I did it!…I did it!…I DID IT!!”

Ruke ran to the door and focused. His eyes turned green, and a large stone spire jutted from the ground, breaking the door. Ruke then ran out, still hysterically yelling “I DID IT! I DID IT!”
After running about and blasting several objects, Ruke calmed down and gathered his thoughts. “After all this time…I have succeeded!”
Ruke soon realized something else: He no longer felt a hunger for more power. He felt, somehow…relaxed. He was soon filled with another desire. He felt the need to tell others of his newfound abilities…and to share the power. With that thought in mind, he started walking for the nearest settlement.

Ruke soon came to a wizard settlement known as Terlos that he was familiar with. It was a place where wanderers often stopped to rest.
As he arrived, he felt a strange tingle in the back of his mind. He blinked, then focused his energy.
He entered some sort of trance, and saw things differently.

Everything he saw was gray, except for a few wizards that were walking around…they were giving off faint glows of various colors…an elf woman that was giving off a red glow came up to him.
“Excuse me, sir…are you alright?” She said.
Ruke paid her no need. Somehow, he knew what he had to do. He extended his hand and fired an energy beam into her eyes.
She fell to the ground, screaming. Everyone within earshot ran to her and Ruke. They all looked at Ruke, yelling things like “What the hell have you done to her?” Ruke paid them no heed. He noticed a few other people giving off various glows. Almost unconsciously, he fired the beam into each of their eyes. They all screamed and collapsed. The crowd instantly fell silent.

After a surprisingly short time, the people who fell started to come to.
As this happened, Ruke had snapped out of his trance.
He noticed that he had fired at eight people…and each of their eyes were the color of the glow he was seeing around them in his trance…the color of an element.
“You there,” he said to the now red-eyed elf woman, who had just gotten up,
“Cast a fire spell.” Not wanting to argue with him, the woman nodded, then threw a huge fireball into the air. The crowd was awestruck. The woman walked closer to Ruke. “What…did you do to me? To…us?”

Ruke looked around. “I think I just…awakened the power of the elements…”
Everyone stared at him like he was crazy. He told them all
“Sit down. I will tell you what I have done.” They did so. They weren’t sure they wanted to argue with this man yet. And he told them everything…about his experiments, about his quest for knowledge, about his magical theories, about everything.
“From what I have gathered, certain wizards have an extra gene within their bodies…and within this, the power of a certain element lies, waiting to be awakened. Each of you seem to have the powers of the elements within you…and apparently, I have them all within me. And when I went into that trance…I simply knew things. I knew which of you had the power. I knew how to awaken it. And now…I know how to use it.”


Then a young mer with glowing blue eyes, signifying the power of water, stepped forward. “Let me get this straight…after about a year of obsessive study, you have achieved…well, something awesome.”

Ruke laughed. “I guess I did.”
The Mer went on. “Let me see if I understand how this works…certain magic-users have a gene within them that makes them more adept in certain elemental magic…and you just found out how to bring it out.
Do you REALIZE how big of a discovery this is?!”
Ruke looked around absentmindedly. “I think so…”
“You obviously don’t. This is BEYOND amazement…”
The mer was silent. The a Human woman stepped forward. “Hey, Mr, uh…”
“Ruke. Just Ruke.”
“Right, Ruke…when you go into that weird trance, you can see who has this element gene, right?”
“I can.”
“Then why not go around and…well, awaken those who have it?
You have a gift, and you should share it!”

Ruke once again looked around mindlessly, as he had a habit of doing, and then said “You know…that doesn’t sound like a half-bad idea.
With my studies completed and a success, I honestly do not know what else to do…and I’ve always enjoyed traveling. And that is what I’ll do.
I will travel…and I will awaken.”

“If you all have nothing better to do, would you like to travel with me?
Even before my experiments, I was quite knowledgeable, and I’m sure I can help you all to better harness your newfound powers. So what do you say?”

Seeing as none of them, in fact, HAD anything better to do, they agreed.

And thus, it began. Ruke and his eight traveling companions traveled about, awakening those with the potential. These element users soon became known as Adepts. Ruke, being able to use all the elements, came to be known as the Omni Adept.

Many people became Adepts over the next few months, and all traveled with Ruke in hopes of learning how to better use their powers.

After some time, however, Ruke became weary of traveling, and wanted to settle somewhere.

Him and his many followings traveled to a semi-isolated location, and decided that they would settle there. “We could build ourselves our own little town,” Ruke said, “and if you do not object, I could still be your leader. You all could be…oh, I dunno, my clan or something like that.”

And most of them didn’t think it was a bad idea.

Over the next year, a town was built, and it thrived.
Word of its existence spread quickly, and many wizards flocked there, hoping to se if they had the potential to become adepts.
But awakening the adepts was quite draining to Ruke.
Even though he had discovered several others with the potential to become Omnis, he still could not keep up with it.

So Ruke did what Ruke does best, and thought.
After some time, he had ideas. And so he addressed his people.

“People of Clan Ruke,” he said, using the name that his followers have adopted, “Many potential Adepts have been swarming here, and me and the other Omnis cannot keep up with them all, and training them is never easy. So we must organize. My idea is to build…oh, let’s call it a temple.
A large place that we can use to train Adepts in an organized manner.
Once a year, I will invite all wizards in the area to this temple, and I shall scout for potential adepts. Hell, perhaps we can even make a bit of a celebration of it.”

“I personally believe that this will make all of our lives easier, but I have
always valued the word of my people. So we will vote.
All who agree to this project, to my left. All opposed, to my right.”

The majority of the crowd went left.

“Very well. Construction of this temple will begin immediately.”

With the powers of many Adepts – Especially Earth and Space adepts – the construction went smoothly and quickly.
Six months after it began, the Temple of the Adepts was completed.

And once again, Ruke addressed his people.

“My people…my friends. We have done a great thing. And thus, you will be rewarded. Once a year, on the anniversary of the completion of this temple, all shall gather here, and I shall awaken those who carry the Adept Gene.”
The Adept Gene was what they had come to call the extra gene that Ruke had discovered that carries an Adept’s power.
“And like I had suggested before, we can make a bit of a celebration out of it. We could always use a reason to celebrate. We’ll call it the Festival of Awakening or something like that…it matters little.”

“Once again, I thank you, my followers.”

And so it was.

As the years went by, groups of Adepts broke off and formed their own clans…the existence of Adepts became common knowledge throughout Arroyo, and the traditions that Ruke started were carried down though the generations.
Today, many Adept clans are in existence. Each one built around a temple.

And each year, they all celebrate the festival of awakening.
All was peaceful.

So it is, so it was, so shall it will always be.

At least, that’s what everyone believe.

It is now present day, three days before the Festival of Awakening.

Something is amiss…something big is brewing, somewhere unknown…

And thus, a new story begins…

(More to come…don’t think I can fit one more in one post.)

The day before

It has been five hundred years since Ruke’s discovery of the Adept Gene.

Much has changed…and much has stayed the same.

The mages still live in Clans through out Arroyo, lead by the eldest Omni of the founding family of the clan.

A few years after Ruke’s time, wizards took his research further, and discovered many things; The most important of which being that a wizard could only be safely awakened after he age of sixteen.

And thus, during the Festival of Awakening, all sixteen-year olds of the clan gather in the temple, to see if they carry the Gene.

Our story begins outside the home of Orion Dekar of Clan Datharel, the day before the Festival of Awakening begins.

“Ganni, you son of a BITCH!”
“Don’t blame me…I didn’t make you move there…”
“Oh, don’t give me that…”

A few feet north of the Dekar residence, Orion Dekar was in the middle of a high-stakes chess game with his best friend, an Orc named Ganni Falz.

Both of them immediately got smacked in the back of the head by the game’s only spectator.
”Shut it. Both of you. It’s just a stupid game!”

Said spectator was Maya Shaan, a lovely Merwoman who happened to be Orion’s girlfriend.

“Chess is more then just a game…it’s a battle of wits!”
“One that you seem to be losing.”
“Shut it, Gan.”

The next twenty minutes passed in stony silence. When suddenly…

“HAH! I gotcha!” Orion shouted triumphantly.
“Hmm…it appears you did.” Pause. “Checkmate.”

The look on Orion’s face was something that Ganni and Maya would remember until the day they died.

Ganni just smiled. “I win again.”
Orion groaned. “Best three out of five?”
“Nope. When will you admit that I’m just better a chess than you?”
“When a dragon flies out of my ass.”

Maya giggled. “Oh, grow up, Orion. It’s just a…”
Orion glared at her. “Do NOT finish that sentence.”
Maya simply rolled her eyes. “Changing the subject, am I the only one who’s exited about the Festival?”
Ganni and Orion responded in unison. “Yes.”
Ganni added, “Frankly, I don’t see the huge deal. Sure, it’d be nice, but the odds are against one of us actually having the gene.”
Maya responded “Oh, come on. The odds aren’t THAT bad. Studies show that an average one out of every ten wizards carries the Adept Gene…”
“One in ten SKILLED wizards…you remember that time I tried to cook dinner for my family?” Orion asked.
Maya sighed. “Yes.”
“And do you remember how my fire spell ruined a sixty Tek cut of dragon steak?”
Another sigh. “Yes…”
“I rest my case.”

Ganni said, “You’re exaggerating, Orion. You’re not THAT bad. Besides, both your parents are Adepts…it’s very likely that you carry the gene.”
“Well, Adepts or not, the festival will be fun.”

Orion chuckled. “You were always the smart one, Gan.”
“I know.”
“Of course, that makes me, by default, the cute one.”
“Just keep telling yourself that…” Ganni said casually as he got up.
“Well, I have to head home…It’s starting to get dark. I’ll see you both at the festival.”
And with that, Ganni walked off. Orion turned to Maya.
“Soo…you wanna sneak off and fool around?”
Maya responded by pushing Orion’s chair over.
“I have to go too…I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Kay…bye…” Orion groaned.

As Maya ran off giggling, Orion righted himself and looked into the sky.
Solaris was going down. Orion estimated it to be roughly 7:30.
Seeing as he had nothing better to do, he decided to visit a friend of his.
About thirty yards away from his house was the town forge, which was owned and run by an Elvish Fire Adept by the name of Izzy.
Izzy was a good friend of Orion’s, and Orion often enjoyed watching him make weaponry and armor. Orion often looked upon weapons with a childlike wonder.

“Hey, Izzy! You here?”
“Orion? That you? Come on in, I’m almost done!”
Izzy was twenty-five years old, and often played the role of big brother to Orion, who, like Izzy, was an only child. The two had been friends for years.
As usual, Izzy was working in the back on…well, whatever needed to be worked on.
“Hey, Izzy. What’re you workin’ on tonight?”
”Come and see…Mr. Tomas asked me to make him a blast rod.”
Blast rods were metallic tubes that used gunpowder to propel steel bullets at high velocity.
Orion came into the back room, and saw Izzy putting the finishing touches on the blast rod. It was about six feet long, with a nice wooden stock. Izzy was carving a decorative pattern into the barrel with his finger, the tip of which was glowing with heat.
Orion was awestruck. “Wow…you really outdid yourself this time.”
“I did, didn’t I?” He picked it up and blew on the barrel to cool it.
“Beautiful, ain’t she? Wanna take a shot?”
“Seriously? I’d love to.”
“I thought so…follow me.”
Izzy lead Orion out behind his house. He waved his hand a couple of fireballs flew out of it and lit some nearby torches.
He walked over to a large tree stump at one end of the yard and placed an old tin beer stein on it.
He then walked back over to Orion and picked up the blast rod.
He picked up a pouch that was lying nearby, and poured some powder from it into the barrel of the blast rod, then dropped a small steel cone into it.
He finished off by using a thin metal rod to pack it down, then he handed the gun to Orion.
“You see that tube on top of it? It’s like a mini-telescope…this blast rod has been made to hit distant targets, so I added a sniper sight to it. Look though it…when you can clearly see that stein over there, squeeze the trigger. Careful…it has a bit of a kick.”
Orion spent the better part of five minutes aiming, then squeezed the trigger.
A loud bang, the stein went flying. The kickback from the gun nearly knocked Orion off his feet.
“…okay, I’m impressed.”
“I knew you would be.”
“How did you make this?”
“Well, it’s a lot harder then making a sword, let me tell you.”
Izzy walked over to Orion and took the blast rod from him.
“It’s getting dark…come inside and have some cider…I’ll tell you about all the cool stuff I’ve been doing.”

Almost two hours had passed and Orion and Izzy were still mouthing off.
Eventually, the topic of tomorrow’s festivities came up.
“It seems like I’m one of the only people that’s not counting the seconds til the Festival…”
“You’re not alone. Most just use it as an opportunity to blow off work and just have fun all day. Hell, I did when I was your age. But look at me now.”
For added effect, Izzy flared up a fireball in his hand.
“And despite what some may tell you, the odds are better than you may think. So don’t completely discard the possibility.”
Orion sighed. “I guess you’re right, dude…I’ve never been good at the whole magic thing…Give me swords over spells any day.”
Izzy laughed. “I hear you, brother. I’ve always felt the same way…s’why I became a weaponsmith.” Izzy paused to take a big gulp of cider.
“I’ll tell ya what…if you’re awakened, I’ll make you a really nice sword. How’s that sound?”
Orion chuckled to himself. “Sounds like I now have a reason to hope for this.”
He then glanced out the window. “I should probably go home and go to bed…I have no doubt in my mind that my mom will make me wake up early tomorrow…So I’ll see you at the festival, then?”
“I’ll do you one better. I’ll drop by early and take you and Maya there in my mover.”
Movers were small, steam-powered carts with large attachments on the back for transporting people or things.
“Sounds great…I’ll seeya tomorrow, then.”

Without another word, Orion headed home and went straight to bed.


The first thing Orion saw when he woke up was a large head with short black hair and tusks, which was several inches away from his face.

“Ganni…what the sweet flaming HELL are you doing here at this hour?!”
“Waking you up.”
“Mission accomplished…now get out of my face before I hurt you.”
The Orc complied. Orion sat up and saw Maya sitting a few feet away, looking into a mirror and running a comb through her shoulder-length dark hair.
“Good morning, sunshine!” she said in an overly cheerful voice.
Orion grunted in response, then fell back down and pulled his blanket over his head.
Ganni sighed. “Are you going to make me drag your bed outside again?”
“Thought not. OUT.”
Orion grumbled, then rolled out of bed…onto the floor.
As he was righting himself, another voice rang out. “Alright, you got him up!”
Orion recognized the voice. “Oh, sweet flaming Sol, PLEASE let that not be who I think it is…” Orion thought.

His suspicions were confirmed as Izzy walked in.

“Why hello there, Mr. Sleepypants, it’s nice to see you up and around.
Get dressed, we’re buggering off in twenty minutes. Don’t bother eating, there’ll be plenty of food around. Your parents will meet us there.”
Thirty minutes later, Orion, Ganni and Maya were in the back compartment of Izzy’s mover, on their way to the town square.
During the festival, a great number of performers and merchants gathered in the square. You couldn’t throw a rock ten feet without knocking out a musician or a poet or a clown, and as far as the eye could see there were booths where people were selling weapons, potions, clothes, toys, and more than anything else, food. Some people fasted for several days before the Festival, just so they could eat more.

Izzy parked his mover next to a row of booths where weaponsmiths were showing off, and said. “This is where I get off. You guys go mingle.”
Orion responded, “Thanks for the ride, Iz. I’ll seeya later.”
Before Izzy could respond, the three friends had ran off.
Izzy laughed and started setting up in one of the vacant booths.

The three went everywhere and did everything. They stopped for awhile to listen to a violinist playing. (Orion was somewhat decent with a violin, himself.) Soon after, they checked out a booth being run by an old Aven woman selling miscellaneous trinkets. Orion bought Maya a nice pin with a rose-shaped crest on it, earning him a peck on the cheek. And later on, Orion ended up challenging Ganni to a chili pepper eating contest, which they BOTH lost.

About san hour later, the three were sitting on a bench somewhere, eating candy-coated apples. Orion was just looking around, enjoying the sights, when he felt Maya tug on the light jacket he was wearing. He look, and she was pointing at a Mystic girl their age with shiny teal hair, sitting on a small bench apart from the crowd. “Do you know who that is?” Maya whispered.
Orion shook his head. “That’s Robyn Almarid!”
Ganni turned his head toward Maya. “Almarid…isn’t that the clan that Clan Solego…” “Oh yeah.”

Clan Solego was one of the larger wizard clans. They lived far away from the other nearby ones, and kept to themselves. About a year ago, Clan Solego started sending armies of Adept soldiers to the homes of other clans, and tearing them apart, always looking for something. Although noone present knew what.
About a month ago, Clan Solego had targeted Clan Almarid, and very few survived. Robyn was the daughter of that Clan’s leader, who was one of those who died defending it. Robyn and her mother were two out only a handful of survivors of the attack.

The leaders of Clans Almarid and Datharel had always been close friends, and so Clan Datherel offered refuge to the survivors. Like Clan Solego, Clan Datharel was one of the larger clans, and recently, Clan Datharel had been preparing to defend itself…many knew that Clan Solego knew this, and thus, they wouldn’t dare try anything fancy yet.

“She looks so sad…” Maya whispered.
“That’s understandable.” Orion whispered back.

Suddenly, a loud bell rang out, snapping everyone that heard it to attention.

“It’s time…” the three said simultaneously.

Within the next half hour, every sixteen-year-old present had changed into dark mage robes and gathered at the entrance to the Temple of Adepts.
Slowly, the massive doors opened, and a tall, baldheaded Orc appeared.
“Follow me.” He said in a deep voice.
Everyone complied.

He lead them into a large room, not unlike an auditorium, with a great deal of chairs everywhere. “Take a seat.” The large Orc said.

They all did. Orion, Maya and Ganni tried their best to sit close to eachother, but it wasn’t easy.

Over the next ten minutes, the crowd was murmuring, talking about Sol knows what.

Without warning, a hush fell over the crowd as a man walked forward onto the stage at the end of the room.
He was an aged Mystic with shoulder-length silver hair that matched his eyes, wearing dark robes and carrying a long, slim cane topped with what looked like a diamond.
Orion was fairly certain that said cane concealed a sword. 
The man spoke, and his voice was strangely calming.

“Welcome, young mages, to my temple. I am Vincent Datharel, eldest Omni Adept of the Datharel family, and thusly, leader of this clan.”

“I’m sure you all know why you are here…you wish to find out if you possess the Adept Gene. And I am here to find it for you.”

“Now, it has become tradition that before the Awakening, the Elite – that is, the best Adepts in the clan, and my aides – to give a demonstration of what the powers of a highly-trained adept can do. So, let us get on with that.”

Vincent Datharel snapped his fingers, and eight men and women of various races appeared, flanking him. Datharel stepped back.

The first man, a Dwarf with red eyes, took center stage. He raise his hands, and two huge jets of flame sprouted from them. They suddenly began to swirl together, and in a few seconds they took the form of a dragon. The flame-dragon roar, and spewed a fireball over the crowd. Many of them scream, expecting to feel pain, but even as fire washed over them, they just felt a tingly warmth. The dragon dissipated, and the dwarf clapped his hands twice, then turned into a column of fire himself, which then flew off.

Next, and Elven woman with blue eyes stepped forward. She turned to the side, and held out her hands, palms-up. A stream of water flowed from them, and collected in a puddle on the floor. After awhile, the water stopped flowing, and she raise her hands. The water started to rise upwards in a thick column, and shape itself into a vaguely human form. She then blew on it, and a clod mist came from her lips, freezing the water instantly into an ice sculpture of her. She then clicked her finger, and the statue returned to liquid and flowed back into her hands. She waked off.

Next up was a Gnome with green eyes. He raised his hands into the air, and a stone pillar jutted out beneath him, elevating him several feet. He put his hands together, and the whole room began to shake. Bits of dust and soil started dropping off the pillar, and a lacelike design appeared all over it, as if it had been expertly carved. He then started waving his hands around, and a cluster of vines sprouted from the ground, wrapping themselves around the pillar. The Gnome then bowed, and the column sunk back into the ground, taking him with it.

Another Elf stepped forward, male this time, with cyan eyes. He raised one hand, and a bolt of lightning struck his fist. He ten slammed his fist against the ground, and sparks flew in all directions. He then closed his eyes, and a light breeze began to blow in. He spread his arms, and he started to float.
The wind picked up, blowing all the mages robes around. Suddenly, a thick fog began to fill the room, blinding everyone. When it cleared, the elf was gone.

Next was a human woman with yellow eyes. She snapped her fingers, and an attendant came out and brought a cage containing a dove and a turtle, and another brought out a nice-smelling baked apple. She opened the cage and the dove flew out, flying around wildly. She glared at it and squinted, and the dove started to move in slow motion, going slower and slower until it finally stopped in midair. The attendant came and took the dove right out of the air, and assured the crowed that it was unhurt. He then released the turtle, then took a leaf of lettuce out of her pocket and placed it on the other end of the stage. The turtle saw it and started to crawl toward it. She focused on the turtle, and without warning, it zipped toward the lettuce like a bullet and swiftly wolfed it down. She snapped her fingers, and it slowed down again. The attendant took it away. Finally, she picked up the baked apple and focused on it. Slowly, its smell began to fade, it seems to harden, and then it started to regrow its skin and sprout a new stem, complete with fresh leaves. The women bit into the apple with an audible crunch, then walked off.

Next up was a pink-haired Mystic woman with deep purple eyes.
The large Orc from before carried a very heavy-looking stone onstage. The audience noticed that he was sweating. The Mystic stared hard at the stone, and the air around it began to look wavy. She snapped her fingers, and it began to rise and float toward her. When it was within reach, she grabbed it, then tossed it around as if it was a rubber ball, then dropped it. It barely made a sound when it landed. She then withdrew a thimble from her pocket, then focused on it. She dropped it, and it landed with a very loud THUNK.
She then closed her eyes and started gathering energy in her hands.
She threw out a purple sphere of energy, which expanded into a gateway. She stepped through it, and it disappeared, only to reappear a second later at the other end of the auditorium. The pink-haired woman stepped out of it and walked off.

Up next was a male Aven with white eyes. He spun around in place, waving his hands wildly, and beams of light of every color imaginable flew in all directions. He then stopped suddenly, and capped his hands once. Several duplicates of himself appeared that were moving in unison with him.
He did an interesting little dance, and they followed him.
He clapped again, and they disappeared in a flash of light, along with the original.

Finally, a blue-haired black-eyed male mystic stepped forward. He presented his hands, and several dark shapes flew from them, flying around.
He then gathered them in his hands and dismissed them. He then looked behind him at his shadow, and it nodded at him. It began to move about independently, and then it took the shape of a giant, a dragon, a kraken…a great any things. The man nodded, and his shadow returned to normal. He then closed his eyes, and his body became a shadow itself and melted into the ground. The man left in the form of a dark spot moving along the floor.

The stage now empty, Datharel stepped forward.
“I hope you enjoyed the show.” he said with a chuckle. “Someday, you all can be that good…perhaps even better.”

“Now, before we get down to business, let me explain how this works, for those who don’t know. Those who do know are free to spend the next five minutes napping.”

“As an Omni, I have the ability to enter a trancelike state, in which I can detect those who carry the Adept Gene. I will point to you and ask you to step forward. Trust me, you will know when I am addressing you.]
I will then ask you to state your name, and after you do so, I will cast the spell of awakening. Just so you’re forewarned, being awakened hurts like hell. If at all possible, try not to scream.”

“Those who are awakened will be put into groups of eight, and those groups will spend the next few years residing in this temple, undergoing a variety of training courses. I am sorry, but this is mandatory. An Adept’s magic is quite difficult to control, even to the more experienced among you, and it CAN be dangerous.”

“We will begin momentarily. Unless you have been addressed, remain silent.”

Datharel snapped his fingers, and an attendant brought out a large, cushy chair. Datharel noticed a few people giggling about it, and couldn’t help laughing himself. “Casting the spell of awakening is quote taxing on the caster, though it may not look it. It’s simply amazing how much a comfortable chair can help.”

With that, he sat down on the chair and waved his hand, and the light in the room grew dim. His eyes immediately looked unfocused and murky, and the room was eerily quiet for several minutes. He then pointed and shouted out, in a voice very much unlike the one he used before, “YOU! Step forward!”

He was pointing directly at Orion. Orion was dumbstruck, as were Ganni and Maya. And Datharel was right before…even if he hadn’t pointed, Orion would have known that he was being addressed. He stepped forward and stood before the Omni. “State your name.” he said.

“Orion Dekar.”
“Orion Dekar…AWAKEN!”
Datharel lashed out with his hand, and a gray beam of energy flew out of it and into Orion’s eyes.

Orion had been told that being awakened felt very similar to removing your brain through your ear with a spoon and shoving it back in upside-down.

He quickly discovered that it was nowhere NEAR as pleasant as that.

But he did not scream.

After the agony had subsided, Orion noticed that he was on the floor. He got up, and one of Datharel’s attendants presented him with a hand mirror.

Orion looked into it, and saw a pair of solid red eyes staring back at him.
He ran his hand though his perpetually-messy dark brown hair, and decided that he liked them like this.

The aide directed him to the side and told him to wait.

Datharel’s voice rang out again, this time pointing at Maya.
Maya stepped forward.

“State your name.”
“Maya Shaan.”
“Maya Shaan…AWAKEN!”
Orion was less-than-pleased to discover that it hurt almost as much to watch as it did to experience. The fact that he couldn’t stand to see Maya in pain didn’t help. And unlike him, Maya DID scream.

Soon, Maya came to her senses, and was soon led to Orion’s location.
Noticing that she was still feeling a little woozy, he put his arm around her reassuringly. She looked into his red eyes with hers, which were now a deep shade of blue.

When he looked back, a red-haired Dwarf with a short goatee was before Datharel.

“State your name.”
“Breaker Beane.”
“Breaker Beane…AWAKEN!”
And it happened again. The Dwarf came to more quickly than Maya and Orion, and was lead to them. Orion glanced into Breakers now-green eyes. The Dwarf remained silent.

Next up was a female Aven with long blonde hair tied into a ponytail.

“State your name.”
“Karen Tarr.”
“Karen Tarr…AWAKEN!”
The Aven fell to the ground. Several loose feathers flew out of her wings as she fell. When she got up, she was sporting a pair of beautiful Cyan eyes.
Karen was led to the rest of the group, and she was smiling.

When Orion turned back to Datharel, there was a tall Elf with flowing blonde hair waiting to be awakened.

“State your name.”
“Alexander Sage.”
“Alexander Sage…AWAKEN!”
The Elf fell to his knees, wincing in pain. He snapped back to reality with surprising quickness. He moved over to the rest of the group, and sat down on the floor.

Another Adept had not yet approached the Omni. He soon yelled “YOU! Step forward!” while pointing into the crowd, and a familiar-looking, teal-haired Mystic stepped forward.

“State your name.”
Her voice was somewhat quiet, but it sounded naturally so.
“Robyn Almarid.” 
Orion blinked several times upon hearing the name.
“Robyn Almarid…AWAKEN!”
Surprisingly, Robyn made nary sound as she collapsed. It took her a bit longer to come to, and when she did, her eyes were deep purple in color. The aide led her over to the group. She looked them over, as if sizing them up. Orion smiled at her. Orion could have sworn he saw her half-smile back.

Next in line was a Gnome with neat, light-brown hair. One of Datharel’s aides brought forward a box for him to stand on so he could be at eye-level with Datharel.

“State your name.”
“Vixx Rando.”
“Vixx Rando…AWAKEN!”
The Gnome fell off his box with a loud thud. When he got up, his eyes were white. He was soon led over to the rest of the group.

The next person to approach was a large Orc. Orion couldn’t help but grin as he approached.

“State your name.”
“Ganni Falz.”
“Ganni Falz…AWAKEN!”
Ganni barely even flinched. He was obviously in pain, but he took it well. Faster than all the others, he came to his sense and approached the group, shooting Orion and Maya a thumbs-up. His eyes were blacker than night.

“And thus the first group of eight is formed. I’m going to rest myself before I awaken any more of you…the rest of you are free to do as you please, but do not leave the temple. I expect all of you to be back here in exactly thirty-five minutes.”

The Awakened

One of Datharel’s aides approached the group of new adepts, and spoke.
“I’m sure you all still feel a bit dizzy…that is understandable. It will pass shortly. In the meantime, please follow me…each of your families have just been informed and are waiting to see you. Come.”

The man made a “follow me” gesture with his hand, and walked though a door to his left. The Adepts followed. Without turning around, the attendant said “By the way, feel free to take off your mage robes.”
They all did, revealing casual clothes that they were wearing underneath.
The Aven Sky Adept named Karen spoke. “FINALLY!” she said in an overly cheerful voice. “I hate these things…they are SO freaking uncomfortable.” Underneath her robes, she was wearing a white sleeveless shirt that showed just a hint of cleavage and a pair of black shorts.
She stretched out her arms and legs, and then unfolded her wings.
She let out a sigh of relief.
Alexander Sage spoke up. “In all honestly, I really don’t mind them.”
His voice sounded like one that you would listen to in a crisis.
Vixx the Gnome then spoke up. “There seems to be a problem here…we have just undergone a process that changed our lives and we are talking about our robes. Does that seem right to you?”
The green-eyed Dwarf in the group added. “I wholeheartedly agree! Frankly, I couldn’t be happier about this…and I really didn’t expect it. It’s common knowledge that you’re more likely to carry the gene if your parents carry it, and there hasn’t been an Adept in my family for the past five generations!
My mom and dad are gonna be ecstatic…”

Orion was walking a bit behind the rest of the group with Ganni and Maya, looking incredibly happy.
“Adepts…all three of us! Whodathunkit?”
Maya laughed. “It’s amazing!”
Ganni simply continued smiling.

The group soon came to the door at the end of the corridor. 
The attendant said, “Everyone is waiting in here.”
The group entered the room and were greated by their family members. Suddenly, without warning, a voice shouted Ganni’s name, something crashed into Ganni and knocked him to the floor.
“Oof…its’ good to see you too, Dorn.”
On top of Ganni’s chest was Ganni’s five-year-old brother.
“Wow…your eyes look awesome!” Dorn said excitedly.
Ganni chuckled. “They do, don’t they.”

Orion and Maya were watching with amusement, when Orion was distracted by a familiar voice saying “Looks like I owe you a sword.”
Orion turned and saw Izzy standing next to his parents, looking almost as proud as they did.
Orion approach them and said “Izzy, how did they let you in? I thought it was…”
“Family only? Yeah, it is. But you’re practically my brother anyway…and the gatekeeper believed that story.”
He turned to his parents. “And you two backed him up?”
His dad chuckled. “Of course. We know how close you and Izzy are. Now, c’mere and let me take a good look at you.”
Orion looked into his father’s cyan eyes and felt him gazing into his red ones. “I can’t say I’m surprised,”, the elder Dekar said. “Call me insane, but I had a really good feeling.”
Orion’s green-eyed mother patted him on the shoulder. “Feeling my butt…you come from a long line of Adepts! I never doubted that you had the gene for a second!”
Izzy spoke again. “I promise you, I’ll make you the best sword I have ever made. Look at you! An Adept! And a Fire, at that! Maybe once you learn to do your thing properly, you can work with me at the forge.”
Orion’s smile widened. “I’d love that.”

Orion turned around to see where Maya had went, and she saw her chatting with her parents and her older sister, who was a Space Adept.

Orion took a moment to look around the room. 
He saw Ganni talking about something with his father, who’s also had the black eyes of a Dark Adept.
He saw Robyn Almarid in a tight embrace with a woman he assumed was her mother.
He saw Karen Tarr with a huge smile on her face, going on about something to her parents.
He saw Vixx Rando looking up and talking with his Human mother.
He saw Alexander Sage being shown something in what looked like an old spellbook by his parents and some other people that Orion figured were siblings.
And he saw Breaker Beane talking with his parents, who were doubtlessly the happiest-looking people in the room. Orion could have sworn he saw Mrs. Beane’s eyes starting to tear up.

After a few more minutes of chatting with his parents, the baldheaded Orc that greeted them at the gate walked in. He then addressed everyone present.
“If you all have had sufficient time to speak with your families, then I would like to show the group to a dormitory, where you all will be staying during the next few years. We have a large supply of clothing available, so you won’t need that, and you may ask your parents to bring you any personal effects you may want tomorrow. Now, please follow me.”

Everyone said their goodbyes, and followed the large Orc down another corridor. Eventually, they came to a large door. The Orc pulled the door open, and they entered to see a nice-looking room.

It was almost as large as most of their homes.
There were eight  beds (four along the east and west walls), all several yards away from eachother, and each of them had a small armoire and a nightstand with a crystal lantern on it next to it.
(Crystal lanterns were metal and glass boxes that contained contained a crystal of a type of quartz called lumastone that generated light if light pressure was applied to it.)
Along the north wall was a fireplace, with a coffee table and several comfortable-looking chairs around it. Toward the corner, there was a door which all present assumed lead to a bathroom.
The entire floor of the room was covered with short gray carpeting.

The bald Orc spoke again. “This is where you all will be staying…before you ask, yes, you all HAVE to share a room. Most of the time, you all will be training together, and among other things, this will help you get used to eachother. And yes, there is only the one bathroom…you’ll just have to deal with that. There’s extra pillows, sheets and blankets in the armoires, and if you need anything else, don’t hesitate to ask me. My name is Grimley.”
Grimley turned to leave, and as he did, he said “You all must stay here until the Ritual of Awakening has finished…when it has, someone will be sent to tell you, and then you may go waste your time however you please.”
And with that, Grimley left the room. Noone spoke for a moment, and then Karen yelled, “Alright, everyone pick a bed!”
Everyone ran to claim one. (Maya made sure to get one next to Orion.)

After everyone had “marked their territory”, Karen spoke again.
“Seeing as how we’re all stuck together, why don’t we start getting to know eachother? I mean, we all know eachother's names, but that’s all.”
Ganni was the first to respond. “That sounds like a great idea. However, I shall respectfully decline and nap until they come get us.”
Without even taking off his clothes, Ganni plopped down and pulled a blanked over himself.
Orion decided to get the ball rolling. “Don’t mind him…he always gets cranky close to his naptime.”
A muffled voice said “I heard that!”
“You were meant to!” Orion shot back.
“So, Karen, was it? Nice to officially meet you.” Orion said, walking over to her bed and extending his hand. 
“Same to you.” Karen responded.
Orion cast his gaze around and it landed on Alexander Sage, who was sitting on the bed across from his and drinking something out of small ceramic bottle. “Hey Alex, what’ve you got there?” Orion said.
“This?” He responded, holding up the bottle. “Oh…nothing special.”
Orion couldn’t help but notice that he put the bottle away unusually quickly. 
His thoughts were interrupted when Breaker approached him.

“So, Orion your name is?” he asked politely. Orion nodded.
“I think I saw you at the festival…you and some Orc were cramming hot peppers down your throats…”
Ganni’s muffled voice was heard saying “That would be me. I STILL can’t taste anything.”

Breaker chuckled and said “I’m sure you two have some stories to share…feel like sharing them?”
“I’d love to. Ganni, care to join us?”
Ganni grunted and threw the blankets off. “Sure. Alex, would you care to join us?”
Alex mumbled something and said “Sure. Got nothing better to do.”
The Gnome named Vixx piped up “Count me in! This sounds good…”

In the meantime, Maya and Karen were mouthing off about many things. One of those many things happened to be Orion.
“So how long have you and Orion been an item?”
“We had our one-year anniversary a month ago.”
“That’s great.”
“Yeah…Orion’s hardly perfect, but he’ll do.”
Both the girls shared a laugh over this.

After a few more minutes, they both turned and noticed Robyn Almarid sitting alone on one of the beds.

Karen quietly said “She looks so lonely…maybe we should go talk to her.”
Maya responded. “That doesn’t sound like a bad idea.”
So they walked over to Robyn’s bed.
Robyn seemed to notice them and looked up.
“May I…help you?” She said, in her usual meek tone.

Maya sat down on her bed and said, “We just wanted to formally introduce ourselves. I’m Maya, and this is Karen. You’re Robyn, right?”
She nodded. “Yes…”
Karen then asked her “Why do you keep to yourself so much?”

Robyn looked down. “I just…I’m not much of a people person.”
Karen sat down next to Maya. “Well, by the looks of it, you’re gonna have to get used to people…”
They were interrupted by a loud howl of laugher. They looked over to where the boys were talking, and saw them all laughing, while Orion was making some bizarre hand gesture, and Ganni was burying his face in his hands.

“Let’s not worry about them,” Maya said. “Let them play their games. Us girls have to stick together so we can outsmart the men and humiliate them every chance we get.”

Robyn smiled. “Yeah…that sounds fun. Thank you.”

About three hours later, the doors open, and a red-eyed Dwarf that everyone recognized walked in. “Hello. I’m sure you all remember me…I’m Pyras, Fire Adept of the Datharel Elite. I came to tell you that the ceremonies are over, and you all are free to go out and enjoy the rest of the festival. The hall that leads to the exit is three doors down on the eastern wall.”

Pyras then turned and left. The guys all ran out and made for the exit.

Maya, Karen and Robyn were still talking. “We should go and make sure that they stay out of trouble…” Maya said.
Karen giggled. “Let them tend to themselves…we can just enjoy ourselves. C’mon, there’s this booth I wanna show you that has the prettiest dresses that I’ve ever seen in my life…why don’t you join us, Robyn?”

Robyn smiled. “Yes…I’d like that.”

The last few hours of the festival were fairly uneventful, except for Orion accidentally setting Vixx’s hair on fire.

Before they all knew it, it was almost midnight, and they were back in their dormitory. Within fifteen minutes, the lights were out and they were all curled up in their beds.

Almost as soon as all the lights went out, Maya snuck out of her bed, then crawled into Orion’s and snuggled up to him. He pretended to be asleep, but he was pretty sure his smile gave him away. He fell asleep surprisingly quickly that night.

Orion was having a weird dream. He was walking down the street, and Maya was nagging him about something, when suddenly she turned into Ganni and challenged him to a game of chess. Orion had accepted, and suddenly he was on a giant chessboard, where we was the white king and Ganni was the black one. Ganni had suddenly grabbed a large mallet and was chasing Orion with it, when suddenly the whole board began to shake violently.

Orion woke up abruptly, but he had the feeling that he was still shaking. He realized that that was because he was.

Everything in the room that wasn’t nailed down was hovering a few inches above the ground and shaking. Everyone else had woken up and they all had the same “What the hell is going on?” look on their faces.
Karen’s voice then rang out. “Sweet mother of Luna, look at Robyn!”

Robyn’s bed was still, but glowing strangely. She was still asleep, but was convulsing violently. Orion heard Vixx scream “Someone wake her up!”
Ganni jumped out of his bed and ran over to Robyn’s, and then he grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her, she woke up, bolted upright and screamed, and Ganni went flying back. After he landed, the shaking stopped.
Robyn was breathing heavily and sweating, and she had tears in her eyes.

The door suddenly burst  open and a pink-haired mystic in a nightgown ran into the room. “What happened here?!” she asked in an urgent tone.
Ganni walked over to her and told her what had happened. The woman ran over to Robyn.
“What happened, Robyn? Are you okay?”

In an exasperated tone, Robyn said “I’m…fine…just a…bad dream…”
She in no way looked “fine”.
”Just a bad dream?” the older Mystic said. “This room was surging with so much Space energy that it woke ME up!”
Robyn’s eyes were still teary. “What…happened…what…did I do?”
The pink-haired woman sighed. “When an untrained Adept feels a surge of emotion, sometimes their powers tend to manifest in a very violent way. You were obviously having a horrible nightmare…”
Robyn said nothing. The woman reached into a pocket and pulled out a vial filled with blue liquid. “Drink this…it’ll help you sleep. If you need someone to talk to, look for me. My name is Raina.”
Robyn wiped her eyes and said “Thank you…Raina.”

Raina gave the young Mystic a gentle hug, then turned and left.

Unsurprisingly, noone slept very well that night.

Order and Chaos

At that very moment, many miles away, something was happening in the stronghold of Clan Solego.

“Did you really think your little plan would work, Rinaki? I have more skill in my big toe than you have in your whole body. What made you think you could assassinate me, my dear friend?”

The man named Rinaki, who was currently being detained by two armored guards, responded by spitting. “Rot in hell, Solego! You can kill me if you want, but you’ll never stop us! You will never succeed!”

Adrian Solego was not a nice man. As the eldest Omni Adept of the Solego family, he was head of Clan Solego, one of the largest wizard clans in existence.

And the Solego family still retained the lust for power that the wizards of yore had. And then some.

Adrian Solego had built himself an army…an army of his very strongest Adepts and wizards. And with this army, he conquered. He destroyed. And he searched.

He searched for a number of legendary magical artifacts, most of which were considers myth by some…but he KNEW them to exist.

He had ravaged several other clans to find information. And thus, he had made a lot of enemies.

The man named Rinaki was an assassin. And he had failed.

“Perhaps…perhaps not. But that no longer matters to you.”
He gestured to the guards, and said “Feed him to the manticore.”
And then turned and left the room.

He stepped out of the chamber and onto a balcony. It was very dark outside.
The dim light of Lunaris illuminated his white hair and pale skin.

“Arroyo…you are so beautiful…and so foolish. Someday, you will belong to me.”

He stood in silent contemplation for some time, when he was interrupted by a voice behind him. “Sir?” he turned and saw Olrik Tacker, a Dwarven Light Adept, and the commander of his army.

“What is it, Tacker? It had better be good news…”
“Oh, it is, Sir.” Tacker responded eagerly. “We have finished our search of the Almarid settlement…”
“And while we didn’t find any of the artifacts themselves, we found some clues of their whereabouts.”
“Excellent! What do we have to go on?”
“Well…some of the information was rather vague…but we did find some old records on who was entrusted to guard some of the artifacts.”
“Perfect. What do we know?”
“Well, for one, the Hyperion is in Datharel’s possession.”
Solego winced in anger. “Damn that old fool…everyone knows that that bastard is untouchable…for now.”
“There’s more…we are uncertain, but he have reason to believe that Arianos has the Necronomicon.”
“Oh? This is good news! But even them we cannot touch at the moment…but something will have to be done. Send a spy…try to confirm if they have it or not.”
“Yes, sir.”
“I am going to retire to my chamber…see to it that this gets taken care of.”
And Solego walked off.

Solego entered his chamber, then shut the door and locked it.
He then moved over to one of the walls, and pulled on the arm of a stone gargoyle mounted on one of them. A panel slid open next to it with a hand-shaped indent in it. Solego placed his hand in the indent, and the wall opened, revealing a long corridor.

Solego walked down the corridor, and came to a small room that was lit by an unknown source.
He whispered some words in an ancient tongue, and the light faded.
A minute later, the light returned, and there were two figures standing in the room in subtraction to Solego. One was a woman draped in a black cloak with murky brown eyes and waist-length black hair. The other was a man wearing a long smoke-gray overcoat and thick gloves. His face was concealed by a wide-brimmed hat and a large scarf, both of which were the same shade of smoke gray. 

And Solego spoke.

“You know what must be done.”

Both remained silent and motionless.

“No, not anytime soon…it’s too soon after the attack on Almarid. No, we must wait…wait until the blood dries, and the others lower their guard.”

The two nodded.

“The biggest obstacle in our path is Datharel…but even he will meet his end when the time is right.”

The woman raised one eyebrow.

“You know as well as I do that we can’t touch him…but trust me, the time WILL come. And when it does, we will rule this world, and remake it as we please. I will be invincible. Arroyo will be painted red with the blood of all who oppose us…and you two will have what you want.”

“Rest, for now…it may begin sooner then we all think…”

And the woman smiled.

Solego walked back down the corridor and into his chamber.
He waved his hands, and the walls closed up.

He moved over to the desk, and opened up a hidden compartment. From it, he pulled a small vial of thick red liquid called shade oil, a narcotic.
He uncorked the vial and drank it, then lay down on his bed, starting to feel it’s uplifting effects.

He felt powerful. He felt like he could conquer the world…and we was sure that he could do it.

“Soon…” he said out loud. “Soon, the artifacts will be in my possession…soon, I will be able to rip this world asunder….and soon, that fool Datharel will pay…”

And Solego laughed.

Sweet…the double post hack cancels out the character limit. :slight_smile:
Anywho, this is what I’ve got so far. Tell me what y’all think. And if it’s not a big deal, I’d like a bit more than “I liked it” or "I didn’t like it.

Looks good. Keep it up!

Looks great so far. I look forward to seeing more

It’s pretty good, the concept is cool, although the prologue needs a bit of work. For the life of me I can’t point out why though. Just seems to be missing something. A bit bland I guess.

And you still need some spelling work. “Waked” is still there, among others.

That siad, it looks good so far.

For a first effort, it’s pretty damn good. Only thing I could really recommend is something that I do. After you finish it, walk away from it for a day or so. You’d be surprised how much clearer it is to look at then. Then polish, and try to figure out how to make it better. It’s also much easier to spot errors after you’ve taken a break.

My two cents for what it’s worth. Keep it up bud. It has definite potential:)

Here be another chapter, yo.

Training Day

The first thing Orion saw when he woke up the next day was a beautiful Merwoman snuggled up to him. ‘Sol, please let the rest of the day be this good…’ Orion thought.

The rest of the group had already woken up.
Karen was standing next to her bed, running a brush through her wings.
Breaker and Vixx were playing some kind of card game.
Alex was sitting on his bed, apparently meditating.
And Ganni and Robyn were in the corner, chatting about something.
The clock on the wall said that it was about 11:30 AM.

After a few moments, a black-eyed Mystic with short blue hair entered the room and address the young Adepts.
“Good afternoon. I am Seether, Dark Adept of the Datharel Elite. You’ll notice that we let you all sleep in a bit…we assumed you wouldn’t sleep very well after last night. But don’t get used to it. I’ve come to tell you what to expect during your time here.”

“During the next few years, you will be residing here and learning how to control your powers as Adepts, among other things. We will also be teaching you a few other useful things…we’ll get into that later.”

“You will be taught personally by some of the best people residing at this temple, including but not limited to the Datharel Elite.”

“All your training sessions will be done with the rest of your group…this is meant to promote a sense of teamwork and companion ship, which can be just as powerful as the most arcane magics.”

Orion was thinking “Oh, Luna, could he have possibly come up with a cheesier line?”

Seether then took out some scrolls from a satchel he was carrying, and handed one out to each of the Adepts.
“These are maps of the temple…you’ll notice that many key locations have rune symbols on them. When you need to be somewhere, these rune symbols will glow…you may keep these maps until you all have a good sense of where everything is.”

He pulled out another scroll, unrolled it and held it out. “You will all need to be here,” he said, gesturing to a rune that was now glowing, “in half an hour. Don’t be late.”

He then turned around and walked out.

Thirty-two minutes later, the group found the room marked on the map, and inside the room waiting for them was the Mystic named Raina, who was flanked by a couple of training dummies. Orion couldn’t help but notice that unlike most of the rooms he saw, which were covered with marble tiles, the floor of this room was earthen.

“Welcome, young Adepts, to your first lesson…today, we’ll be going over basic elemental spells. Gather ‘round.”

They did.  “Now, as you all probably know, the basic way to invoke a spell usually involves some kind of chant and occasional some weird hand gestures…elemental manipulation requires very little of that.”

“Elemental manipulation requires, more than anything, FOCUS. Anything that can be done can be done by visualizing and focusing.”

“Sounds rather easy, doesn’t it. Guess what? It’s not.
Trying to attempt things beyond your level can be harmful…to others, and to yourself. Robyn, for example, could probably now do this.”

Raina waved her hand, and a nearby stone floated to her.

“However, she would probably give herself a migraine if she tried to do this.”

Raina then raised her arms, and everything in the room – herself and the Adepts included – was floating several feet in the air. Raina lowered her arms, and they gently floated back down to earth.

“The key to all this is to train your mind. As you practice spells, your mind will get used to them, and eventually it will get more and more used to high levels of focus. And we are here to help you achieve that.”

“No matter what your goal in life, the powers of an Adept will surely greatly aid you.”

“Now, who here would like to try something simple on one of these dummies?”

Orion’s hand went up. 

“Alright then, Mr. Dekar. Step forward. Approach the dummy.”

Orion did so.

“I want you to visualize what you want to happen to that dummy. And then I want you to make it happen. If you find yourself having trouble, close your eyes.”

Orion started hard at the dummy. He pictured it burning…he could see it turning to dust in his mind’s eye. He held his hand out…nothing happened.

“Try again.” Raina said. “Close your eyes. Visualize anything that you think might help you.”

Orion shut his eyes. He saw the dummy…except it was moving. It was dancing around. And it was insulting him.

“C’mon, ya wuss! Hit me! Burn me! Impress that skanky chunk of sharkbait you call a girlfriend!”

Orion opened his eyes, shrieked a warcry and thrust his arm forward.
A fireball leapt from his palm and ignited the dummy.

Raina smiled. “Very well done! Miss Shaan, would you care to put this out?”

Maya stepped forward, held out her hand, closed her eyes, and in a moment a jet of water sprang forth, dousing the burning dummy.

“Well done, Miss Shaan. Would anyone else like to try something?”

Breaker stepped forward. 
“Alright then, Mr. Beane…be warned, Earth manipulation can be a little difficult at times.”

Breaker looked down and extended his hand, staring hard at a spot on the ground bellow the dummy. After about five minutes, the ground began to stir. The soil started moving around until a nice hole had formed, and the dummy sank about a foot. Raina applauded.

“Nicely done, Mr. Beane! Very creative! Now, what say the rest of you try?”

The rest of the session was quite pleasant. After awhile, the young Adepts started to enjoy themselves, and by the end of the lesson Maya was squirting water at Karen while she was franticly trying to blow it back.

The session ended exactly sixty-four minutes after it had started.
Raina held up her map and said “You all did surprisingly well, for your first session. You can all said here,” she said, pointing to a spot on the map, “and grab some food and when you’re done, head to the armory, which is here” another point, “and you may sign up for melee combat training, if you wish.”

There was quite a bit of good food, and Orion sampled everything. When Maya noticed him eyeing the hot peppers, she covered his mouth and dragged him away from Ganni. 

In the Armory, they found Pyras waiting for them, welding some heavy armor together. With his hands. He turned his attention to his adepts.

“Why hello there! I assume you know why you’re here.”

“Centuries ago, everyone thought that wizards should wusses whose only weapons were sticks…then, one day, some wizard said ‘To hell with this! Gimmie a sword!’ That man is my hero.”

“I’ll admit it right now: I love weapons! Very few people can appreciate the art of a finely crafted weapon.”

‘Note to self: Introduce this guy to Izzy.’ Orion thought.

“Now, while its never a bad idea to learn how to use several weapons, you guys should probably focus on one. Let me say now that this part is optional…anyone who wants to leave now, be my guest. Don’t let the door hit ya where Sol done split ya.”

No-one left.

“Anywho, I have permission to give each of you one weapon. You may keep it. So take a look around and pick one.”

Orion raised his hand.

“Yes, Mr. Dekar?” Pyras said.

“I won’t be needed a weapon. A friend of mine is making me a sword…it should be done soon.”

Pyras smiled. “Excellent! In the meantime, just grab a sword for use in training.”

Orion just grabbed the first sword he saw. The rest of them were still looking at weapons.

Maya ran her fingers along the blade  of a short katana, looking it over.
She grabbed it and gave it a few practice swings.
“I like this one.” She said.
“A fine choice.” Pyras responded.

Breaker seemed to have trouble deciding.
“Can’t find anything ya like?” Pyras asked him. Breaker shook his head.
“Hold on a minute,” Pyras said, walking off for a moment.
He returned with a nice-looking dual-bladed axe. 
“The battleaxe…weapon of choice of the Dwarven warriors of yore.”
Breaker took the axe from it, and held it for a few minutes.
“I like this. I like this a LOT.” Breaker said with a huge grin.
Pyras smiled and walked off.

Robyn was staring at a wall, fixated on finely-crafted dagger.
“You like that?” Pyras politely asked from behind her, causing her to jump a little. She didn’t respond.
“In all due respect, you don’t seem like much of a fighter to me…but you didn’t leave the room when you had the chance, so that means something.
A dagger seems perfect for you…lightweight, easily concealed…I can see the look on some poor thugs face when he tries to rob a seemingly harmless little mage girl, when you whip out your dagger and cut his throat.”
For some unknown reason, Robyn smiled at that thought. He took the dagger.

Alex was looking over rows of longbows with disinterest. He suddenly eyed a small crossbow and picked it up. It had a sight mounted on it.
Pyras approached him.
“That’s a sniper crossbow…specially made for hitting distant targets.
Are you good with crossbows?”
“Not very…but I’ve been meaning to learn.” The Elf responded.
“Unfortunately, I can’t shoot for crap…” said Breaker sadly.
“Hmm…tell ya what. I’ll talk to Seether for you…I know no-one who’s better with one of these then him. In the meantime, grab yourself a melee weapon…if Seether agrees, you can have that too.”
Alex smiled. “Thank you…do you have any katars? I know how to use those…”
“I just got some last week, you lucky bastard. Check over there.” Pyras responded, pointing.

Pyras walked around the room and bumped into Vixx, who was carrying a warhammer. A bit small by human standards, but perfect size for a Gnome.
“Looks like you found something you like.”
“Damn skippy…my dad has one just like it.”

Pyras kept walking and saw Karen gripping a spear with a huge smile on her face. Pyras gave a knowing grin and kept walking.

Finally, he saw Ganni, just leaning against the wall in the corner, not looking at anything.
“Is something wrong, Ganni?” Pyras asked casually.
“Oh, nothing.” The Orc responded coolly. “I just don’t need a weapon. I’m a fistfighter, and quite good at it, I might add.”
Pyras chuckled. “That doesn’t mean you don’t need a weapon. Hold on for one minute.”
Pyras left the room, and came back with a strange metal glove. “Try this on…it’s a Mythril fighter’s glove. Extremely flexible, stronger than steel and light as a feather!”
Ganni put the glove onto his right hand, then held it up and flexed the fingers several times.
“Wow…I must say, I am impressed.”
Pyras looked extremely pleased will himself.
“I knew you would be.”

Pyras walked to the center of the room and whistled.
“Has everyone got a weapon?” He called. Everyone nodded.
“Excellent! Everyone line up!”

During the remainder of the session, Pyras taught them proper combat stances for fighting with their weapons of choice and the best ways to fight with them in a variety of situations.

After some time, Pyras withdrew a watch from his pocket, then took out a map scroll.

“That’s all for now…except for Orion, take your weapons to your dormitory. There should be a compartment for them in your armoires. Then go here.”
He then touched a spot on the map with his finger and a rune lit up.

They soon found themselves in what looked like a library.
A yellow eyed human women with short blonde hair was sitting in a big chair in the middle of the room with her feet on a coffee table in front of said chair, reading what looked like a complicated spellbook.
Without looking up, she gestured to some other chairs nearby.
“Everyone take a seat.”

They did.

“My name is Aurora. I’ll be training you in basic wizardry.”
She set down the spellbook on the table and stood up.
“It’s common knowledge that non-Adept wizards suck at elemental manipulation spells…even the best among them can only pull of rudimentary ones. That’s not to say that they’re lower life-forms or something. There are quite a few basic spells that can be priceless in the right situations. Healing spells, for example. And that’s the kind of thing that I’m here to teach you.” She walked over to one of the bookshelves and grabbed several copies of some book.
“I figured healing spells would be a good place to start…not too complicated, and very useful.”
She handed each of them a copy of the book, which was entitled Healing Magick 101. “All of you read up to page forty-two.”

Orion found it to be surprisingly interesting.
The book said that most spells, like element manipulation, required a good bit of focus, though not on quite the same level. The majority of it required speaking an incantation. The more complex the spell, the more complex the incantation. Also, some people tended to be naturally more skilled at some kinds of spells than others.

After about 15 minutes, everyone closed their books.
“Has everyone finished the required reading?” Aurora asked.
Everyone nodded.
She grabbed a letter opener off a nearby desk, then slashed at her arm with it. A small gash appeared.
“Now, who would like to try and heal this.”
Nearly every hand in the room went up.
“How about you, Miss Almarid?”
Robyn nodded, then stepped toward Aurora.
She put her hands over the gash, closed her eyes, and said “Sano.”
A bluish light was emitted by her hands, and in seconds the wound was closed.
“VERY well done, Miss Almarid! I feel better than I did before…you seem to have a knack for healing spells…perhaps you have a future as a medic.”
Robyn smiled, then returned to her seat.

They would have never thought in a million years that they would have to take a class that required them to stab eachother with sharp objects, but that’s how it was. It went rather smoothly, though Orion lost a few brownie points with Maya for being unable to heal her scratch until his sixth try.

“Alright, that’s enough for today.” Aurora finally said.
“Take those books with you, and review what we’ve covered so far over the next few days…read ahead a little, if you want, but don’t go TOO far.”
She then took out her map scroll and touched a spot.
“Go here for your last session of the day…you can all spend the rest of the day doing whatever you want.”

The room they entered this time was fairly empty compared to the others.
In fact, except for a box in the corner, a training dummy and a white-eyed Aven man, the room was COMPLETELY empty. 

“Hello.” He said. “My name is Davan. I’m going to teach you how to summon elemental spirits. Any questions?”

No-one had any, and if they did, they were too stunned to ask.

“Thought so. Let me get one thing out of the way first. This is a VERY difficult branch of magic, and these classes are optional. You may all leave anytime.”

“Now, you’ve probably heard of wizards known as conjurers who specialize in summoning spirits and controlling them. That’s basically what we’re going to be doing, except we’re going to be conjuring elementals. Spirits that embody a certain element.”

“Today I’m just going to be demonstrating…later on, I’ll be showing you all how to do it.”

Davan walked over to the box and pulled out what looked like a stick of white chalk.

“This is spellchalk. You can buy it at almost any apothecary, but it’s easy enough to make your own. Spellchalk is uses to make summoning circles.
Regular wizards can use any kind of chalk to summon their spirits, but as Adepts, you have to, I repeat, HAVE TO use chalk the color of your element. I’m a Light adept, and as you can see, I’m going to be using white chalk.”

The Aven then got down onto the ground and began drawing a big circle.
“Like I said,” he said as he drew, “I’m just going to be demonstrating today…you probably won’t be able to do anything NEAR the level of what I’m about to do for at LEAST another two years.”

After he finished the circle, he drew a hexagram in it. He then went over to the box and pulled out a small white candle with rune symbols carved into it.
“This is a soul candle…you need one for most summoning rituals.”
He took a match from his pocket, struck it, and lit the candle. The flame burned white. He placed the handle right on the top point of the hexagram.

“Now, back off and watch me closely. This will take awhile.”

Davan got down on his knees right behind the candle and started chanting.
The room seemed to get darker. After about five minutes, the circle began to glow white. After another five minutes, it began to glow brighter.
After a third five minutes, the room suddenly went dark and a beam of light surged up from the circle. Davan was chanting louder and louder.
Suddenly, there was a huge flash and the light subsided.

Standing in the middle of the circle was a tall woman wearing a silver breastplate and a decorated helmet with a huge pair of angelic wings. In her right hand she help a large spear.

The adepts were awestruck.

Davan spoke again. “This is a Valkyrie. A greater spirit of light.”

He then address the Valkyrie in some unknown tongue. She nodded.

“Destroy that dummy. And make it flashy.” He said with a mischievous grin.
The Valkyrie turned and pointed her spear at the dummy. A huge beam of energy flared from it, and in moments the dummy was nothing more than dust. Davan spoke a few more unknown words, and the Valkyrie bowed, then disappeared.

The jaw of every one of the young Adepts was on the floor.

“Impressive, huh?” Davan said with the same grin still plastered on his face.
“When summoning, you are making contact with the spirit realm. The circle and the soul candle give you contact. But that’s only part of it. You then have to bind the spirit to your will. But with greater sprits, like Valkyrie, that almost never works. So you’re better off simply asking for permission.”

“A key point to remember is that spirits are most likely to respond to those in tune with their own element…unless he or she is insanely powerful, an Adept will almost never be able to summon a spirit of a different element, much less control them.”

“Have any of you ever been to the Kaimore Arena?”

Everyone shook their heads.

“They hold all sorts of cool events there…one of my favorites is the annual Tournament of Spirits, where conjurers from all over fight it out! I even competed a few times…I placed fifth last year! This year, I’m going to take a bunch of my students to watch it with me this year.”

"Oh, and one more thing...next time you all are in the library, ask Aurora for an encyclopedia of spirits...I'm sure she has a few. You might enjoy looking through it."

Davan then glanced at his pocket watch, and said “You can all go and do whatever the hell you want now. Dismissed!”

Later that night, on the way back to their dormitory, the group was still talking about the day’s lessons.
“I can’t WAIT to try summon something!” Orion said excitedly.
“I’m quite looking forward to it myself.” Vixx chimed in. “I’m hoping that someday I’ll be able to call upon one of those majestic Valkyrie!”
“Yeah…that’d kick ass.”
Breaker and Ganni were having a quite interesting conversation about weapons.
“I can’t believe the luck I had with that fighter’s glove…I can’t wait to get into some actual combat. I was thinking of becoming a soldier down the line.”
“Really? Me too! My dad AND my grandfather were soldiers…they never pressured me into following in their footsteps, but they didn’t have to. If I die on the battlefield, then I will die happy!”
“That’s a good outlook to have, but frankly, I would rather avoid dieing period.”
“Right on.”

They came to the dormitory door and went in, then heeded to their beds. Orion saw something lying on his…upon closer examination, it turned out to be a broadsword in a beautiful sheath. There was a note pinned to it.

[i]Orion –
I finished this earlier today and had that
Grimley guy bring it to your room.
It’s the best sword I ever made…
The way I worked on it, one would think
that I was making it for Sol himself.
A sword this beautiful deserves an
equally beautiful name.
I call her Starcleaver.
Take good care of her…
She may save your life someday.


Orion drew the sword and looked it over. It was indeed beautiful.
It’s blade looked to be forged from the finest steels.
It’s hilt was gold-plated, with a polished red garnet embedded in the base.
At the base of the blade on either side, a rune symbol was marked.
“Orion smiled. “Izzy,” he thought out loud. “You have really outdone yourself this time.”

He gave the thing a couple of swings, then resheathed it.

“Impressive…that Izzy fellow is one of the best he is at what he does.”
Orion turned around to see Maya. He embraced her and gave her a long kiss.
“Wow…” she said. “What was that for?”
“Shiny new weaponry puts me in a good mood.” Orion responded with a grin.
“Well, I don’t know about you,” Maya said with the same grin, “but I’m tired. Goodnight.”
She started toward her bed, but Orion stopped her. “Don’t bother.”
He sat down on his own bed and patted the spot next to her.
”Let’s just eliminate the middleman, shall we?”
Maya giggled and crawled into bed next to him.

“Girl, I don’t know what I did to deserve you.” Orion said.
“Silly boy.” Maya said without opening your eyes. “You don’t. You should know that by now.”
“Silly me.” Orion said, rolling his eyes.

“Goodnight, beautiful.”
“Goodnight, Orion.”
“I was talking to Starcleaver.”

That remark earned him a pillow in the face.

Orion slipped said pillow under his head and relaxed.

‘This must be the first day of the rest of our lives…or something like that.’

‘And Sol only knows what tomorrow may bring…’

Yeah, I used the name of the sword my usual roleplaying persona uses. It’s a cool name. :hahaha;

EDIT: Woo, I’m on FictionPress.com! Click

Nice to see it up, GG :slight_smile: I’ll read and comment properly later on…

Weiila, let me say now that it means a lot to me that a “professional” like yourself is willing to publicly admit that you like this stuff. :slight_smile:

Nice GG, I have to admit that you have real talent, you might want to note that, in dialogue whenever someone speaks, it should start a new paragraph.

I like it.

Here be another chapter for y’all!

Dueling Forces

Out of the several groups of Adepts that were training in the temple, the Elite had admitted that Group Alpha (After about a week, each group was given a codename, so that they’d be easier to refer to. Group Alpha was Orion’s group.) had been progressing the quickest.

In Raina’s lessons, they were becoming more and more able with their elements. They were currently learning how to “enchant” items, which meant empowering objects (especially weapons) with elemental energy.

By far, the lessons that they enjoyed most were Davan’s.
While Orion was abysmal at Basic Wizardry, he more than made up for it as a conjurer. He could now summon a lesser fire elemental called a Willowisp

While Group Alpha hardly ever even saw the other groups in between sessions, they had become quite friendly with a few of their members in their free time.

And they were all sleeping better, due to the fact that Robyn was having fewer nightmares.

The six months since the Festival seemed to fly by, and little had changed, although Orion had noticed that Alex was starting to become slightly reclusive, and Ganni was spending quite a bit of his spare time with Robyn.

Group Alpha just finishing their last session of the day, summoning with Davan, when he stopped them on their way out.

“You’ll be happy to know,” Davan said, “that the Tournament of Spirits is in a week, and once again, I am competing. And as I promised, I will be taking a large number of my students with me to watch the tournament. Raina will be accompanying us, mostly for transport, but she enjoys watching these events too. She’s quite the summoner herself. Assemble at the front day a week from today, at 10 AM on the dot, and bring some money.”

No-one was looking forward to it more than Orion. It seemed like every moment he wasn’t spending training or studying was spent with his face buried in a spirit encyclopedia.

Which happen to be what Maya happened to be complaining to Karen and Robyn right now.
“I’m telling you, I have never seen Orion so wrapped up in anything in my whole life! He’s completely oblivious to everything else!”
Karen raised one eyebrow and said “You have GOT to be kidding me.”
Maya chuckled bitterly. “Oh, I kid you not. Watch.”

The Mer walked over to Orion’s bed, where he was, as usual, reading the book of spirits.
“Hello, Orion.”
“Mmm.” Was his response.
“How are you doing?”
“That’s nice.”
“So I was thinking maybe later I could go use Starcleaver to chop firewood.”
“And when I’m done I thought we could sneak off and make wild, passionate love like a couple of dogs in heat.”
Maya immediately turned around and walked back toward the other girls, who were giggling madly.
“I rest my case.” Said Maya with a triumphant smile plastered on her face.

The girls resumed their idle banter for a moment, when Robyn said,
“Hey…look at Alex…”

He was once again drinking out of that small ceramic bottle of his. His eyes had dark circles under them, and he seemed to be somewhat sluggish.

“I’m going to see what’s up with him.” Karen said.

She walked over to his bed and politely asked “Are you alright, Alex? You don’t look so good.”

He put away his bottle and looked at her.
“Now that you mention it, I DO feel a bit under the weather…”
“What’s in that ceramic bottle?”
“That? Cider.”
“Oh? Can I have some?”
“You probobly shouldn’t…if I am coming down with something, I‘d rather not give it to you.”
“Oh…kay. Look, maybe you should just lie down for awhile.”
“That doesn’t sound like a bad idea.”

As he lay down on his bed and pulled a blanked over himself, Karen walked back to the other girls. They looked at her inquisitively, but she just shrugged.

Before they all knew it, a week had almost passed. It was the day before the tourney, and no-one was more exited than Orion.
He was still relentlessly reviewing his book, and the others (especially the girls) had a new game: “What’s the worst thing you can say to Orion without him noticing?”
So far, Ganni was winning with his announcement that he was going to set Orion’s bed on fire and dance naked around the flames.
The game was interrupted by a knock on the door.
Karen shouted “Come in!”
A man stepped in and politely said “Hello.” And this man’s simple greeting caught Orion’s attention.

For Vincent Datharel had just walked into the dormitory of Group Alpha.

The group quickly assembled before him and bowed.
Orion was the first to speak. “To what to we owe the honor of your presence, sir?”
Datharel chuckled. “A pox on the formalities, boy. You may call me Vincent. Or Vince, if you prefer. But not Vinny. I hate that.”
Now it was the group’s turn to chuckle.
“Alrighty then,” Orion said. “To what do we owe the honor of your presence, Vincent?”
“I have an errand that needs to be run, and I would like you all to run it.”
Datharel cleared his throat.
“Davan is taking you all to the Tournament of Spirits tomorrow, if I am not mistaken. And it is not very often that I am mistaken.”
“The settlement of Clan Arianos is about a day’s walk due east from Kaimore. Instead of going home with the rest of the group after the tourney, I would like you all to check into the inn, and the next day, set off for Arianos with this.”
He held up a rolled-up scroll.
“I wish to ally with Clan Arianos. The reason for this being...”
Datharel paused for a moment, the sighed sadly.
“I won’t sugarcoat it. There’s a war brewing. And when the time comes, the one who’s going to start it is Adrian Solego.”
Everyone present gasped.
“Don’t act so surprised...I’m sure you all know how much of a bastard Solego is.”
Orion couldn’t help notice that he eyed Robyn when he said that.
“I have something Solego wants, and so does Zalma Arianos.
And if you tie several sticks together, they will be harder to break.
I wanted to send some of my students to deliver this message personally as a sign of trust, and frankly, you eight are the cream of this year’s crop.”

“So what do you say? Will you accept this “mission” of mine?”

Orion looked to the others, who gave nods of consent.

“We’ll do it.”


Datharel stepped forward and handed Orion the scroll, a pouch, and a small cube with a piece of paper attached to it.

“The pouch contains three hundred Tek. Use it to pay for the inn and to buy anything you may need. You may also use it to pay for your tickets...consider that my thank-you. The cube is a portable tent. Speak the incantations on the attached paper to enlarge it and shrink it. Don’t worry, it has a failsafe...even if you all yell the incantation simultaneously, it won’t shrink if someone’s in it.”

“Remember, after the tourney, stay at the inn for the night, then in the morning, head due east toward the Arianos settlement and deliver that to the Omni. I shall inform Davan of this. And pack whatever you think you may need...it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring your weapons. You never know.”

With that, Datharel turned around and exited the dormitory.               

At exactly 10 AM, Group Alpha and two other groups were assembled before Davan and Raina. All of Group Alpha had small travel packs with them. Raina said that she would take care of them.

“Is everyone ready?” Nods of consent all around. “Alrighty then! Raina, do your thing!”

Raina smiled, then put her hands together. A ball of purple energy started to form in them. Suddenly, she turned around and flung the ball. It flew out several feet in front of her and stopped in place, then started to flatten and expand.
In moments, the orb had formed into what looked like a large archway with a shimmering purple border. On the other side of the archway, a large city could be seen.
“Everyone run through the portal!” Davan yelled. Everyone did so, Raina going through last.
When everyone was on the other side, the portal shrank back into an orb of energy and flew back into Raina’s hands. She immediately dispelled it.

“Impressive, no?” Raina said with a smug grin.
Everyone took a moment to check out the scenery.
Having lived in a clan settlement all his life, Orion had never seen a city like Kaimore. The biggest building in any clan was the Temple, and those were hardly ever more than 3 or 4 stories tall.
Kaimore was full of big houses and stores, and in the middle of it all was the huge coliseum. It was the biggest thing that Orion – and most others present – had ever seen in their lives.

”Impressive, no?” Said Davan, mimicking Raina.
“Of course, not all of Kaimore is this big…this is just the upper-class part of town, where the rich live. But let’s not gawk. C’mon, to the coliseum! I hope you all have some money to pay for tickets…I may be competing, but I can only bring one guest, and that would be Raina.”
Orion couldn’t help notice that Raina was blushing.
Davan and Raina entered the coliseum through a separate entrance, but everyone else had to endure a lengthily wait in line.
After an eternity of waiting, Group Alpha came to the ticket booth.
The eight tickets together cost a hundred-sixty Tek altogether, which left them plenty of money for rooms at a half-decent inn and supplies.

The coliseum was just as big on the inside as out. Group alpha was lucky enough to get rows fairly near the front.

A dwarf in a tophat was standing in the middle of the arena.
“Ladies and gentlemen!”, he shouted, his voice amplified by magic, “Welcome to the Kaimore Arena! Tonight, we bring you the most exiting event of the year…the Tournament of Spirits!”
The crowd erupted with cheers.
“My name is Lagnal, and I will be your host! Get ready, the first competitors approach!”

“To the west, we have Zeno, from right here in Kaimore!”
From the west end of the arena, a human in azure robes with strange symbols all over them approached.
“To the east, we have Ratz, from the Arianos settlement!”
From the east end, a crimson-eyed Elf wearing a black bodysuit stepped forward.
A gray-haired gnome stepped into the center. He was obviously the referee.
“Conjurers…begin your summoning!”
Both competitors grabbed a piece of spellchalk and a soul candle and drew summoning circles on the hard stone ground and began chanting.

From the human’s circle, a tornado burst forth, and when it subsided, there was a large sky blue-skinned man wearing a turban whose body was still a tornado from the waist down. Orion recognized it as a Djinni, a powerful Wind spirit.

From the elf’s, a pillar of flame rose, and from it emerged another gigantic human-shaped figure, this one with deep-red skin and a large pair of horns. It’s whole body seemed to have flames emitting from it. An Efreet.

The referee raised his hand, and then yelled “FIGHT!”

Both spirits changed at each other. The Djinni threw a punch at the Efreet, which swiftly evaded. They paused and stared each other in the eyes for a moment, when suddenly the Efreet thrust it’s arm forward and launched a ball of flame at the Djinni. It tried to evade, but the projectile was too fast, and it hit the Djinni square in the chest and it went flying backwards.
The Djinni looked furious. It began spinning in place, slowing gaining speed, and soon generated a large tornado. The Efreet changed right through it and got picked up by it. It soon vanished into the swirling mass.
It seemed that the Djinni had won, until a huge fireball erupted from the tornado and engulfed the Djinni. The flames gathered before it and formed into the Efreet. Without missing a beat, the Efreet put its hand on the Djinni’s chest and sent out a burst of flame.
The Djinni was on the ground in seconds. It’s form began to shimmer for a moment, and then it flashed and the Djinni faded away.
Lagnal shouted “Zeno wins! Lets give him a big hand!”
And the crowd went nuts.
Maya whispered to Orion “Did that Djinni…die?”
Orion whispered back “No…spirits can’t die in this plane. But if they’re weakened, then they can no longer sustain themselves here.”

“Let’s welcome the next competitors!” Lagnal shouted.

“To the west, we have Kamil, from the Garonic settlement!”
A human with shaggy, light brown hair and green eyes entered from the west.
“To the east, we have Durran, from the village of Maynn!”
A mystic with blood-red hair came forth from the east.

The ref told them to begin their circles.

From Kamil’s circle rose a large, bulky creature made entirely of stone. A Golem.
From Durran’s, a vaguely human-shaped entity that looked like if was made out of purple mist. It was a Graviton, a spirit of the Space element.
The Golem slowly started stepping forward, each step making a huge thud.
The Graviton definitely had it beat in the speed department. It floated over to it and swiftly went around it several times, then fired a purple sphere at it.
The ball of pure gravity hit the golem and knocked it over. The Golem slowly righted itself, then swung a huge fist at the Graviton. It went right through it, but its hazy from scattered a bit.

Maya was watching the battle with interest. “Is it even possible for the Golem to win? It can’t even hit that misty thing!”
“Actually,’ Orion responded, “It would be safer to bet on the Golem. It’s so dense, it’ll be hard for the Graviton to move it, and if it can keep it formless long enough, it’ll simply dissipate.”

The Graviton kept flying around to golem, trying to pull chucks off of it (and succeeding in some areas), while the Golem kept swatting at it as if it were an insect.
After several minutes, the Golem gave a heavy swing, and hit the Graviton square on. It dissolved, and didn’t reform.

“Kamil is our winner!” The crowd roared in appreciation.

Kamil and Durran cleared out, and Lagnal took center stage once again.

“Here come our next competitors! To the west…Magnus, from the Londeio
A yellow-eyed Mer stepped forward. Normally, they wouldn’t be able to
tell that he was a Mer, but he wasn’t wearing a shirt, and his gills were clearly visible.
“To the east, we have Hanna, from the Domoni settlement!”
A blue-eyed Aven woman emerged from the east.

The ref told them to make their circles, and in moments, light was flaring from both of them.
From Hanna’s circle, a humanoid creature whose entire body was covered in fishlike scales. He had webbed hands and feet, large fins on the sides of his head, and a mouthful of nasty-looking fangs. A Sahagin.

From Magnus’s circle, another human shaped creature. It’s entire body was covered by a black hooded cloak that concealed its face, except for a pair of skeletal hands that protruded from the long sleeves.
A collective “oooh” came from the crowd.
“What might that be?” Ganni asked Orion from the seat above his.
“That would be a Watcher. A VERY powerful Time elemental.”

The Sahagin hissed and charged at the Watcher. When it got within striking range, the Watcher simply raised its bony hand, and the Sahagin froze in place. Suddenly, there was aloud sound like a churchbell, and the Sahagin slowly turned to stone. In mere seconds, its body had completely petrified.
The Watcher waved its hand, and the Sahagin turned to dust.
Everyone – Lagnal included – was dumbstruck.
“Wow…” the announcer finally said. “That didn’t take long.”

“Anywho…let’s get on with it.”

“Approaching from the west, we have Davan from the Datharel settlement!”
Orion’s group cheered extra-loudly for Davan. He turned to them and waved.
“Is this seat taken?” A voice said from behind them. They all turned and saw Raina.
“What are you doing here?” Maya asked.
“Davan wanted me to tell you all that to come see him during intermission…and besides, they won’t let me get close enough to REALLY enjoy the action…I was lucky enough to catch that Watcher do its thing.”

“And to the east,” Lagnal shouted, “the beautiful Lazear, from the Solego settlement!”
From the eastern gate stepped a robed woman with short black hair and eyes to match.

“Conjurers…begin your summoning!”

This summoning took longer than the previous ones, on both sides.
From Davan’s circle emerged a very familiar-looking Valkyrie.
Orion let out a whoop of excitement.

From Lazear’s circle, a dark cloud emerged. It swirled and pulsed for a few seconds, then started to take on a humanoid shape. After a few more seconds, that humanoid shape formed into a perfect duplicate of Lazear.
The whole crowd gasped. “What in the nine bloody hells is THAT?” Ganni said in a slightly frightened tone.
“That,” said Orion, his eyes bugging out, “is a Doppelganger. Quite possibly, the most powerful kind of dark elemental in existence.”


The Valkyrie raised her spear and fired a beam of light at the Doppelganger.
The Doppelganger jumped impossibly high and avoided it.
It then slowly began walking forward.
The Valkyrie rushed at it and stabbed it hard. The Doppelganger fell to the ground, obviously wounded, but got back up. It humped toward the Valkyrie and grabbed it by the arm. The Valkyrie screamed and shook it off.

“What…did it do?” Asked Robyn, awestruck.
“Watch.” Orion whispered back.

The Doppelganger’s body began to pulsate, then it faded back into a cloud of blackness. In a few moments, it reformed…into another Valkyrie.
The only difference between the two was that the Doppelganger still had some black mist around it. The Valkyrie charged at it’s duplicate, spear forward, but the Doppler quickly sidestepped. The two exchanged blows for a long time, neither one seeming to tire. The original Valkyrie stopped for a moment to charge up her spear. The Doppelganger did the same. The mighty Light elemental fired a beam of white energy from it’s spear at the Doppelganger. It once again turned into a black cloud, but this time it disappeared. It reappeared and reformed, and fired a black beam through the Valkyrie’s back. She screamed and faded away.

There was complete silence for a moment. Then, slowly, a wild cheer grew louder and louder, and before they knew it, the crowd was cheering like never before.

“AMAZING!” Lagnal yelled over the uproar. “In all of the ten years I’ve been doing this job, I have NEVER witnessed a battle like this one! Let’s have a big round of applause for BOTH our competitors!”

And the crowd went nuts.

Davan was waving to the crowd, but Lazear seemed fairly indifferent, except for the half-smile on her face.

Raina tapped Orion on the shoulder, then waved for him and the others to follow her. She led them to a room where the previous competitors were resting and mouthing off to each other. Davan was already there, stretching his wings out. He looked in their direction, and yelled a greeting.
Orion ran up to him.
“You were great, man.” He said. “You should have won that.”
Davan chuckled. “Nah, it’s alright. This is the first time I’ve been eliminated in the first round, but I’ve never been happier! I can hardly believe that there are still people around with the skill to summon a Doppelganger!”
“Yeah…I never thought I would actually SEE one in my lifetime…” Orion said thoughtfully.
“This is the first time I’ve seen a real one myself…and frankly, I’m surprised I lasted as long as I did!”
“Well, your Valkyrie is tough.”
“Heh…that she is.”
The two mouthed off about spirits for awhile, while the others pointed and laughed. Figuratively speaking, of course.
After what seemed like hours, Raina escorted the eight of them back to the arena to watch the rest of the tourney.

The tournament went on for five more glorious hours, and they loved every
minute of it. The final match was between Magnus’s Watcher and, to no
-one’s surprise, Lazear’s Doppelganger. The match has good – although not as good as Davan’s – and in the end, Lazear won. But Davan got an honorable mention.
Once again, the crowd roared, and Lagnal presented Lazear with a shiny medal and five thousand Tek in prize money.
She took a bow, then left the arena.

Group Alpha was escorted out of the arena by Raina.
“Okay, I have to ask now,” Breaker said impatiently. “What did you do with our stuff?”
Raina responded by raising her hand and shouting “REDEO!”

And their bags appeared out of thin air.
“Pocket-dimension spell.” Raina said with a familiar smug grin.
“Now, if you head down that way, eventually you’ll come to an inn and pub called The Dragon’s Den. It’s a nice place, and reasonably priced.
Check in there, and then you may spend the rest of your day however you please. Tomorrow, set out for the Arianos settlement through the eastern gate. If you need directions, ask the innkeeper.”

The Dragon’s Den was easy enough to find, as it had a large statue of a dragon’s head on the roof.

They got two rooms. Everyone (except Orion and Maya) thought it would be best if the men and women had separate rooms.

They spent the rest of the day exploring Kaimore. There was a lot to see.
There were a lot of nice shops, and a few neat cafes.
And once again, Maya had to literally drag Orion off when he saw him eying a cart where an elderly Dwarf was selling hot peppers.

They went back to The Dragon’s Den at about 11.
The night was fairly peaceful.

Except at about midnight, when Orion tried to sneak into the other room and was intercepted by Ganni.

I crave feedback! Tell me what ya think!

Wow, GG, that fucking rocks. More! Dammnit more!

Damn that is one HELL of an AWESOME fic! I can’t wait to read the rest of it. Please keep writing GG!!!

Looking very good, GG :slight_smile:

I bring you…chapter!


Morning came, and the Adepts awakened.
They gathered their things, grabbed some food at a café and some rations at a shop, and set out for the eastern gate.

Beyond said gate was a huge forest. Vixx stepped forward.
“This is Kanwood Forest…the Arianos settlement should be just beyond it.”
Breaker groaned. “Why couldn’t Raina have teleported us directly to Arianos?”
He didn’t expect an answer, but he got one from Robyn.
“She’s never been there before. Teleportation spells only work properly when the caster has been to the place that you’re teleporting to.”

Orion quickly chimed in. “As interesting as this sounds, we have to get moving. If we move fast, we might just make it there before nightfall.
And keep your weapons ready…we don’t know what may be in there.”

And so the group set off.

Kanwood was quite a beautiful place. The trees were taller than most of the buildings in Kaimore, and there were many kinds of flora and fauna that the group had never seen outside of a book.

Despite Orion’s request, the group took their time and admired the scenery. Orion didn’t protest.

After awhile, they came to a small clearing with several tree stumps in it.

“Let’s rest for a few minutes,” Vixx said, “I need to rest my legs.”
No-one thought that it was a bad idea.
Most of them took seats on the stumps.

They sat there chatting about miscellaneous things, when they heard a rustling in the distance.

“What was that?” Maya exclaimed.

“Probably nothing,” Orion responded. “But if it’ll make you feel better, I’ll go check.”

Orion walked over to the nearby brush and looked around. He found nothing.

“See?” Orion said. “Nothing to worry about.”
“Except possibly me.” said a voice from behind him.

Orion turned around and saw a Mystic man with short-green hair and dark glasses pointing a hand cannon at him. (Hand cannons are small, handheld guns, similar to blast rods. The barrel was much shorter, but a bit bigger around.)

“All of you, stand up and keep your hands where I can see them. If I see someone even TRY to grab their weapon, I put a bullet in the boy’s head.”

The group complied.
“Who the bloody hell are you?!” Ganni shouted angrily.

The Mystic chuckled. “They call me Beekon. I’m the greatest bandit to ever lurk these woods. Now, if you don’t mind, I am going to take your money and your supplies.”

Breaker snorted. “You and what army?”
Beekon grinned. “I’m glad you asked.” He whistled, and several more bandits wearing hoods and holding hand cannons stepped out from behind various trees.
“Now…your money, please?”

‘Something here isn’t right.’ Orion thought.

As if she read his mind, Karen squinted. A strong wind began to pick up.
Beekon seemed confused. He looked around. Karen concentrated, and the wind blew harder. After a few seconds, Beekon’s dark glasses blew off.
“CRAP!” he yelled. Orion looked into his eyes. They were white.

Vixx shouted what everyone immediately knew.
“This bastard is a Light Adept!”
The gnome raised his hands, and his flunkies shimmered and faded away.
Beekon gulped loudly.
“Well, don’t forget,” he said nervously, “I’ve still got a gun!”

Orion looked at his hand and concentrated. The metal handle of the gun slowly started turning red. Beekon let out a cry of pain and dropped the gun, which Orion quickly snatched and pointed at him.

“You were saying?”

Beekon gulped again.

He shouted suddenly.
Everyone looked away. Beekon bolted. In a few seconds, the realization of what they just did began to sink in.
Orion and Ganni slowly turned their heads and looked at each other.

“…did he just…”
“…and did we just…”



“GET HIM!” Breaker yelled.

The whole group grabbed their weaponry and took off after him.

After running in the direction he took off in for several minutes, they realized that he had gotten away.

“Bastard.” Orion groaned, out of breath. “Well, on the bright side, he didn’t get our stuff.”
Orion reached into his pocket to pat the pouch of Tek in his pocket, but it wasn’t there. “…the hell?!”

A cackle was heard throughout the forest. They looked up, and saw a black-haired woman hanging upside down from a branch.

“Hello, children.” She said mockingly. “You have just been robbed. Have a nice day.”

She flipped and leapt off the branch, and landed next to Beekon, who was snickering. The two ran off.
In his rage, Orion whipped out Beekon’s hand cannon and fired. All it did was click. ‘Bastard…this thing isn’t even loaded!’

The Adepts quickly gave chase. They managed to keep up this time.

They eventually cornered the two thieves at a wide lake. The woman shot them a glace and dived in.

Orion ran over to the lake and saw a woman with a fishtail swimming away.

“Crap, that bitch is a Mer!” he walked over to Beekon and grabbed him, igniting a fireball in one hand. Beekon just laughed.
“Beat on me for awhile if it’ll make ya feel better, but it ain’t gonna do ya no good! Mox has got all yer stuff!”
Maya walked over to the edge of the lake.
“She’s mine.” She said defiantly.
She threw off her jacket, revealing a tight tunic with holes cut over her gills, grabbed her katana, and dived in.
She closed her eyes and relaxed, and her body started to shimmer.
In moments, her legs had morphed together into a fishtail.
Like a dart, she took off after Mox.

The lake was very deep. Mox turned and saw Maya in hot pursuit, and silently swore.

Mox darted into a tunnel in one of the walls, and as expected, Maya followed. The tunnel was quite dark. When she came to a light area,
There was a harpoon gun pointed at her face.
“Leave now, and I won’t hurt you.” Mox said. (Since they don’t have to breathe through their mouth, Mer can speak underwater.)

Maya slowly back away, but at the same time, focused on the harpoon gun.
In seconds, the whole thing was encased in ice.

“Now,” Maya said, pointing her Katana at Mox, “Give our money back.”
Mox grumbled, then pulled out a small pouch.
“It’s all there. Count it if you want.”
Maya lowered her sword.
“Thank you.”
She turned to leave, then said “If it makes you feel any better, your plan was ingenious. Your partner makes a nice diversion.”
Mox laughed. “Doesn’t he, now?” She stuck a hand into a pocket on the vest she was wearing, and pulled out a one-Tek coin with some kind of symbol scratched onto it. She presented it to Maya.
“Give this to Beekon. He’ll know what it means…you won’t be bothered in the future.”
Maya took the coin.
“Thank you…you know, you two seem to be quite skilled. Of all things you could be, why thieves?”
Mox laughed bitterly. “I hope you’re not expecting some sob story about how our families were overtaxed into poverty or somethin’. In all honesty, me an’ Beekon are seekers of cheap thrills. The money’s just an added bonus. And we only steal from people who we think deserve it…and I can see now that you don’t.”

Maya gave her a friendly smile, then swam off.

Maya returned to the surface and saw Alex pointing his katar at Beekon’s throat. She morphed her lower body back into legs, and crawled up onto land.
“Let him go, Alex.”
Alex reluctantly lowered his weapon.
As he did so, Maya approached Beekon and handed him the coin. He examined it for a minute, and then asked Maya politely “So I guess we’re okay?”
Maya smiled and replied “Yeah...we’re okay.”
Orion raised an eyebrow, and Maya, noting this, shot him a look that said “I’ll explain later.”

As Beekon turned to leave, Orion shouted “Hey, don’t you want your gun back?”
Beekon chuckled. “Keep it. I’ve got quite a few of them. In fact...why don’t you take these.” He ended his sentence by tossing Orion a small pack containing six bullets.
“Hand cannons are easier to use and load than blast rods, and pack almost as great a punch. I‘m sure you can make use of it. But a word of advise: Don’t load it if you know you’re not gonna need it any time soon. I didn’t learn that lesson until I accidentally shot off one of my toes.”

Their little shindig with Beekon and Mox took them longer than they had expected. Solaris was already starting to set.
They returned to the clearing where Beekon had found them.
Orion put the “tent” on the ground and spoke the indicated incantation.


There was a strange sound, and the size of the cube increased a hundredfold.
It had a large flap in front of it for entry. Breaker let out a long low whistle.
“Impressive.” he said.

Inside, the tent was big enough for each of them to have a good amount of sleeping space AND have plenty of room for their bags.

After they all set up, they feasted on a delicious dinner of rations, and decided to go to bed early.

Later that night, Orion was outside the tent, sitting on a stump, gazing up at Lunaris.

“Can’t sleep?” asked a polite voice from behind him.
Orion turned and saw Maya, her ocean-blue eyes shining in the pale light of Lunaris.

“Not really.” Orion responded. “Just thinking too much again, I guess.”
“Thinking about what?”
Maya sat down next to him and shoved him playfully.
“C’mon, seriously.”
“I WAS serious. You…among other things.”
“Things like what?”
“I dunno…about all of us, about this little ‘quest’ of ours, about the future…”
“Yeah…definitely thinking too much.”
Orion put his arm around Maya, and together they just gazed up into the starry sky.
“You can’t sleep either, eh?”
“Not really.”
“Wanna go make out behind that bush over there?”
Needless to say, her response surprised Orion more than a bit.
“Alright then…just…gimmie a minute. I’m gonna go grab some mint leaves. My mouth tastes kinda funny…” (People often chewed mint to freshen their breath.)
Orion quietly went inside the tent and looked through his bag, but he seemed to be out of mint leaves. He poked his head outside, and whispered to Maya.
“I seem to be out…do you have any?”
She whispered back, “No, but I think Alex packed some extra…check his bag. Don’t worry about waking him, he’s a heavy sleeper.”

Stepping as lightly as a cat, Orion Grabbed Alex’s bag and poked through it. Sure enough, there was a pouch full of mint leaves. Next to it was that ceramic bottle that Alex was always drinking out of. Curiosity got the better of Orion, and he uncorked it and sniffed it. It gave off a strong, oily scent that left Orion feeling lightheaded for a moment.
Orion’s mouth opened wide in a silent cry of “Holy crap!” when he realized what was in the bottle.
Swiftly, yet quietly, he exited the tent.
“Did you get the mint?” Maya asked.
Paying no heed, Orion handed her the bottle.
“Smell this.” He said urgently.
Maya did, and her eyes widened.
“This is…”
“Yup. Shade oil.”
There were several moments of uncomfortable silence.
“This does explain quite a bit…” Orion said quietly.
Maya was still staring at the bottle. “I can’t believe it…”
More silence.
“You have to talk to him.”
Orion raised an eyebrow. “ME? Why me?”
“Well, you’re a guy. It’ll be easier for him to talk to you than me.”
Orion sighed. “I guess you’re right…okay, I’ll talk to him tomorrow.”
Yet more silence.
“So, would it be safe to assume that this totally killed the makeout mood?”
Orion got an angry glare in response.
“Thought so…”

Alex was the last to wake up in the morning. He grabbed his bag and walked outside the tent, and saw no-one else around.
He stealthily walked to behind the tent, and started digging through his bag.
“Looking for this?” Said a stern voice behind him.
Orion was standing there, holding up the bottle of shade oil.
Alex looked at Orion angrily.
“What the bloody hell are you doing with that?!”
“I should be asking you the same thing.”
That comment seemed to make Alex quell his rage.
Orion calmly approached Alex.
“Shade oil, Alex?”
The Elf had no response.
“No-one starts using this stuff for no good reason. Talk to me.”
Alex sighed and plopped down on a nearby stump.
“A few years back, me and my parents...hit kind of a rough patch. I’d rather not get into the details, but we weren’t getting along at all.”

“One night, we had an impressive shouting match that woke half the clan. It ended with me running off. I met up with an old friend of mine, this dude named Seth. We talked for a bit, and he told me I could stay at his place for awhile.”

“At the time, I had just wanted to fly away and leave Arroyo behind, and I had told Seth that. He told me he could help. Seth worked in a mine, and he had come across a hefty lode of sinstone.”

“Sinstone?” Orion asked.
“It’s a mineral. Crush it into powder and mix it with water or ale, and you get shade oil. As you know, possession of sinstone or shade oil can give you quite a fine, but regardless, Seth kept a nice stash of it in a chest under his bed. He offered me some shade oil, and needless to say, I took it.”

“Words cannot describe the feeling that it gives you...it feels like the whole world just melts away, leaving you in a cloud of blissful isolation.”

Orion sighed. “I’ve heard the stories on how great it feels, but any idiot knows how bad that stuff is for your body.”

“I know, I know...I stayed with Seth for about a month when my dad came for me. We had a nice long talk, and patched things up. We don’t get along GREAT, but it’s a lot better than what we had before. But I still get urges to...escape...”

Orion put a hand on Alex’s shoulder. 
“Everyone feels that way sometimes...but this is NOT the answer.”
Orion held up the bottle for emphasis.
“Listen...whether you like it or not, all of us – me included – are your friends. Why else would I wait till you were alone to confront you about this?”

The young Time Adept sighed sadly.

“Look, I can’t say I entirely blame you...I know that the world can be rough sometimes, and I ALSO know how damn addictive shade oil is.”

Orion handed the bottle back to Alex.

Alex simply stared at it for a moment, then uncorked it and dumped the thick, red liquid onto the ground.

“You’re right. I’ve been telling myself the exact same thing for way too long...I guess I just needed to hear it from someone else.”

Orion shot Alex a calm smile. “I won’t mention this to the others – though Maya knows too, just so you know – but if you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here. I’ve heard that withdrawal from this stuff can be nasty.”

Alex shot Orion an unsure smile back. “Thank you.”

“Now, c’mon, let’s go hook up with the others. The Arianos settlement isn’t far.”

With a cry of “Decreso!”, Robyn shrunk the tent and put it in her bag, and the group moved on.

The trek though the remainder of Kanwood was pleasantly uneventful, except for Orion and Ganni’s discovery of a large patch of wild peppers.

The results of the impromptu contest earned them both a sore mouth and a smack in the back of the head from each of the girls.

“Honestly,” said Karen in a frustrated tone, “what IS it with you two and peppers?”

It was Ganni who responded. “About three years ago, Orion dared me to take a huge bite of his mom’s chili. I was running around in pain, Orion was laughing his ass off, and things kinda snowballed from there.”

All three of the girls gave a frustrated groan.

“As interesting as this discussion is,” Vixx interrupted, “it’ll have to wait ‘til later. We’ve arrived!”

Good? Great? Bad? Horrid? Talk to me, people!


…I won’t even ask.

Another pretty cool chapter GG. I knew something would happen in the woods, but I’m still waiting for the really BIG event. That should be anytime now, right?

I only skimmed through it (sorry, don’t have enough time to carefully read), but you tend to repeat a lot, like in the first chapter when you were introducing some characters, there were about 5 paragraphs that began with “Next, …” Looks nice overall though.

Meh, I’m not very good with stuff like that…but so far, you’re the only one who’s noticed, so I think I’ll be fine. :cool: