A man of healthful youth slipped onto the marble floor. He looked around for a brief moment, scanning the small room warily. There were certain chances he wasn't willing to take. With unimaginable agility, he dashed past the many pillars holding up the grand ceiling. Nagasko's Magic Academy was not impenetrable as famous as it was. The building itself was large, however, and difficult to navigate, even if a person had lived there for all of his life. It was dark, late in the night when the man had made his way into the Academy. He had planned this break-in for several months-- he spent endless hours spying and gathering information. Now his efforts had paid off. His dark blue eyes peaked past the cascading bangs upon his forehead. He merely shrugged them away with a flick of his hand.
There it was. He treaded slowly, obviously searching for something. His foot tapped against some sort of invisible barrier. He smirked and pressed a gloved hand against the transparent wall. And you would think that Jaharaah's best magic academy would be smarter than that... I'm disappointed. He took something from the leather pouch at his belt. It appeared to be a small vile of some sort of liquid. He twisted it open and wrinkled his nose as he did so. There was a brief sizzling sound. When the man took another step forward, there was no more barrier in his way. Obstacle one... taken care of. He continued at a quick, but cautious pace, taking his time to watch his step; he finally came to a candle-lit hallway.
His movements barely made any noise-- for the most part, all was silent. Along the academy halls, there were many, many doors. The man didn't know which one led to where but that didn't matter. He wasn't interested in any of them right now. It seemed as though he was traveling for hours. Door after door passed him, each one looking nearly the same. He finally came to what he was searching for. The hall way ended, pouring into a small, circular room. He walked further. In front of him, there was a door where a mask hung. The mask itself was a dull grey, resembling the face of a gargoyle. Its horns curved elegantly around its forehead, almost framing it like a crown. Two slits served as nostrils and its lips were parted slightly to reveal a set of jagged fangs. The man merely tilted his head to the side in a curious manner, the the feature soon dissolved into a wry smirk. He reached out and touched the mask's horn. Immediately, the gargoyle's eyes flashed a bright red. It hissed at the man, its voice low and demanding. "Who dares awaken me?" it snapped irritably.
"Gavien." His voice was calm, even as he eyed the Gargoyle.
The candle light went out, leaving Gavien and the mask in pure darkness. A sinister laugh filled the halls. "Young one, you have much courage to have made it so far. Why do you seek the Goddess' tear?"
"I have my own reasons," Gavien said slowly. "Reasons I wish to keep to myself."
Silence. The mask was obviously not enthralled with the man's reply but did not argue. "Very well." A slow rumbling sound could be heard, as though a boulder was being pushed from its crevice. "Then you shall either perish... or succeed."
The candle light returned, illuminating the already-dim hall way. Gavien's eyes searched the area. It was quiet again and he knew that such silence usually meant trouble. His ears heard the same rumbling sound and he whipped around, drawing his weapon. Two gargoyles came forth brandishing steel lances. They looked as though they were made from stone, though their movements were quick for such a body mass. Gavien paid little heed to his adversaries, lunging forward to strike.
a) What in the world? I wonder what he's doing in there and what does he want with such an artifact?
b) The hell..? If that guy thinks he can bust into the greatest magic academy in the world, he's got serious issues.
c) Who is that? I have never seen him in my life.
The sun's light leaked through the skies, drowning the land in day. In the meadow, you cued the mare beneath you to the right as she took off at the swift canter. There was a brief clash of swords as your weapon met your opponent's. They began to sing in the twang of metal as they made contact with each other. Your horse stepped to the side to give you a better reach, seeing as your arms were much shorter than Scrythe's. He called out to you as the both of your swords became caught in a lock. "Tired yet, _____?"
You were close together, trying to break out of the lock with brute force... naturally, you were losing. Scrythe was much stronger than you.
a) "Nah, I'm having fun!"
b) "I hope that doesn't mean that you're already tired."
c) "Of course not, I am more fit than that!"
d) "Me? Tired? Are you kidding?"
You quickly twisted your wrist, breaking away from him and squeezing the horse into a graceful canter toward the North. The wind streaked playfully through your hair, filling your face with a cool breeze. It was beautiful out today, you thought, and nothing was better than training with Scrythe under the morning sun. He called after you as you pivoted the horse around and charged back at him with the blade in your hand. The metal clashed once more and you continued your spar. You had a feeling that the two of you would be at it for a long while.
The morning soon changed into the afternoon, when you finally decided to call it quits-- not because you were necessarily tired (which you were, though you would never admit it) but both of you were hungry. Your stomachs grumbled in protest when you finally stopped. Even your mounts nicked eagerly as you let them graze in the meadow. You opened the lunch pail you had packed this morning.
"Thank you," Scrythe said as you handed him a loaf of bread and a hunk of cheese.
You helped yourself to some food as well, the two of you sitting in the tall grass. It came up past your waist but you didn't seem to mind the tickling feeling through your clothes. "You know," you began, taking a bite out of a juicy piece of fruit. "I wanna get out of here one of these days and explore the land. Everything seems so... boring here."
"Boring? _____, you live in the largest city in all of Jaharaah! How can that be boring?"
You stared at the teeth marks you had made on the surface of the apple. "That's the point. It's too big. I can't stand out among everyone else when it's so crowded."
Scrythe laughed. "You attention hog. What do you want to do with your life then?"
"I'm not sure. I just want to go out into the world. I feel like I don't know anything, despite what I've learned at school." You glanced up at the sky, looking off into the distance. "I want to meet the Elves and find their hidden city. I want to climb Mt. Delvor and talk with the dragons. I want to explore Caprisa mines just to see the Dwarves. I want to search for those Half-elves and find out why everyone dislikes them in such a manner."
There was nothing but silence for a short while. "...well, if you're so determined to go out into this world, I'm just going to have to go with you."
"Really? You'd want to come?"
"No." Your hopes fell slightly but they came back at the sight of Scrythe's smile. "But let's be realistic. I'm not going to let you go off to commit suicide."
"What?" You slapped his shoulder. "I'm not that weak! I just sparred you for two hours!"
"And didn't even land a blow."
You gave him a mock-glare, knowing that he was right. Scrythe was probably going easy on you too, seeing as he was quite the accomplished swordsman. He even received an invitation to join the Queen's troops which he politely declined since he wanted to stay in school even if it was for just a bit longer. You could've sworn it was because he wanted to stay with you but he only smiled when you had asked him that. He was like an older brother to you-- three years your elder. He was abandoned as an orphan when you were eight. Your parents took him in an act of compassion. Now the two of you were nearly inseparable.
"Ah, don't be mad at me," Scrythe said in his well-natured voice. "You really are improving. The first time I gave you lessons, you could barely even pick up your sword."
His last comment caused you to become more thoughtful. What he said was true. You remembered how heavy the metal felt in your hands. Two hands were barely enough to pick up the weapon. "Thanks, Scrythe..."
"Come on," he started, standing up and brushing the grass away. He reached out to give you a hand. "Let's get home. We still need to finish our chores."
a) "Well, chores won't finish themselves, will they?"
b) "Chores. Bah."
c) "Ahhh... I suppose you are right."
d) "If we must."
In the faint light, Gavien stood, staring at the mask. "I've defeated your minions. Now let me through." There was a small cut on his right cheek but other than that, he seemed to be unharmed.
"Young one," the mask replied calmly. "Brute strength is not enough. You have forseen the invisible barrier, persevered the flights of stairs and hallways and you have thrown your enemies down. That alone is not proof enough that you may take the Goddess' Tear." There was a brief pause in his words. "I have seen many make it thus far. What makes you think that you are worthy?"
Gavien seethed silently, glaring at the mask. "What more proof do you need?"
A smile crept across its sullen stone face. "Listen closely, Gavien."
a) Listen? Listen to what?
b) What the hell is going on?
c) How curious.
You fingered the pocket knife that your father had given you years ago. It was your 14th birthday present. Now you were 19 and you still had it with you. You glanced up briefly, looking out the kitchen window as you put the knife away. Your flour-caked hands continued to work. It would be a few more hours until supper and it was your job to make sure that the bread was ready to be served.
"Ah, still day-dreaming, aren't you?" A voice asked. It was your mother.
a) "Eheh... yeah, I suppose so."
b) "Day-dreaming? Of course not. It's a waste of time."
c) "I find it hard to stop." *blush*
d) "I am."
You couldn't deny that you loved to day dream, seeing as you did it so often. Maybe that was why it was difficult for you to get work done.
"Well, that can't be helped," you mother replied, shrugging her shoulders as she dipped her hands in the flour sack to help you with the dough. "You've always had an imagination, _____. There's no point in changing it."
You couldn't help but smile. Your mom was different than other mothers. For some reason, she didn't mind that you day-dreamed every once in a while. Yes, she wanted you to work but she was never harsh on you when your mind wandered off. You were appreciative of that. She didn't attempt to change you and she didn't want to. The two of you worked for another hour, preparing the evening meal. Making dinner went by a lot quicker when there were others with you to talk with. The bread was baked to perfection by the end of the hour and you also made a pot of deliciously smelling stew.
When finished with the preparations, you took the liberty of setting the table for four. Scrythe and your father would be coming home soon from a day of work. They had the pleasure of working at Castle Nagasko. There, they were well-paid and had a somewhat decent task. Your father trained horses for the knights and cavaliers as well as the royal members of the family themselves. The steeds were usually imported from Darak, a farming industry where horses were raised. They were then broken in by your father and Scrythe who helped him with his work.
The door to your cabin creaked open and you heard the shuffling of feet as the two men stepped inside. You rushed from the kitchen to greet them.
a) "It's wonderful to see you again. How was work?"
b) "I see that you're home again. Good."
c) "I assume everything went well?"
d) "Did you have a decent day?"
Your father bent down to kiss your forehead, something that he did when he offered you his blessing before you went to bed. "We have some very good news, _____." At that moment your mother came out to see what was going on. "Ah, let's wait for dinner to share the news. I'm hungry and I'm sure that everyone else is too!" He looked back at Scrythe who was smiling at you. This only made you more curious about what was going on. Nonetheless, you followed them into the kitchen for the feast you and your mom had prepared.
As your family began to eat, you couldn't help but ask, "Dad, what's the good news you wanted to share?"
"It actually has nothing to do with me," he admitted, waving his hand toward Scrythe. "Scrythe, why don't you tell them?"
There was a brief moment of silence before Scrythe said, "Queen Iyatti has asked me to deliver a letter to Rilyus."
"Rilyus! The city of the Elves!" your mother cut in. "That is quite the distance!" You were thoroughly surprised as well by what he had said. Queen Iyatti had many servants and knights... why would she ask a common apprentice to do it?
As though he had read your mind, Scrythe replied, "I know. It's shocking. I was surprised myself. All the same, I accepted. It's always an honor to do something for the queen." He was always the noble type of person. It was difficult for you to see him making a mistake-- in your eyes, Scrythe was as perfect as a human could get.
But this arose new curiosities... Scrythe was going to see the Elves! You were suddenly jealous of his new opportunity. Not necessarily in a negative way toward him, however, you still wished that you could come along. Now that was a new idea. Maybe you would be able to go with him? You decided that it was worth asking about. "I've always wanted to go to Rilyus..." you started and everyone focused on you. "Do you think I could travel with you?"
The entire table was silent. You could see that Scrythe's lips turned upwards ever so slightly as though he was approving the idea. Naturally, however, it wasn't his decision. Your parents had to let you go before he agreed to take you along with him.
"Well..." your father started. "That's certainly a new idea." You couldn't read his emotions as long as you had known him. He seemed to be contemplating the idea, however, which caused you to squirm in your seat hopefully.
Your mother, on the other hand, didn't like the idea very much at all. "But sweetheart," she began in her usual motherly way. "You're only nineteen-- that's so young to be wandering the world already."
"Scrythe's only twenty-two," you quickly protested, picking at a particular chunk of potato in your stew. "I mean, it's not like you'd let me go in three more years anyway, Mom. Your maternal-protective instincts are just kicking in."
Now Scythe decided to add his two cents. "_____ will be perfectly safe with me. If you choose to let her come, I promise that I'll do my utmost job to make sure that she comes home safely." He remained calm, despite your smile at him, indicating that you appreciated his words.
Both of your parents glanced at him. They trusted him, yes, but your mother looked unsure. Your father, however, nodded in approval. "I think we should let _____ go with him. It'll be a good experience, don't you think?" He was looking at his wife with a reassuring sparkle in his eyes. "She'll be able to learn more about the land and the way others live in our world. Besides, when will anyone ever get another experience like this? Queen Iyatti will be funding the trip and Scrythe is a skilled young man."
"I..." Your mother sighed softly. "Very well," she finally said. She turned her attention to you this time, shaking her head in pleasant sort of way. You were glad that she wasn't taking badly. "As a mother, I've always wanted to keep my only daughter close at hand... but you're old enough to make your own decisions."
Before she could say anything else, you hopped out of the chair and ran to embrace her. You leaned over and kissed your father on the cheek as well. "Thank you," you said, hardly believing your luck. Your eyes fell upon Scrythe who was beaming. "When do we leave?"
a) You are amazing, Scrythe! I promise I won't disappoint you!
b) Hn. Thanks, I guess.
c) Scrythe... thank you. This means a lot to me.
d) Scrythe. Thanks.
If you have mostly a's...
You shoved a few folded up clothes into your bag, turning back to your chest as you pondered what else to bring with you. This was going to be quite a journey and you didn't want to be short of anything. You were sure that Queen Iyatti would take care of your food and tool supplies, though you would have to bring your own clothes. You pressed your tongue against your upper lip as you curiously wondered how long the trip would last. Your eyes glanced at the map atop the oaken shelf in your room. Standing on your tip-toes, you reached up for it, your middle finger barely grazing the paper. Before you could give your frustrated sigh, someone else had reached up behind you.
"Looking for this?"
You turned around to see Scrythe, smiling at him. "Yeah... thanks. I guess I'm kinda short, huh?"
He didn't answer, only glancing at your bag of clothes. "You might want to bring something nice to wear too," he said. "It is difficult to get an audience with the Elven Lord. We might as well be prepared to look somewhat decent after the days of travel."
How clever. It was so much like Scrythe to think of something like that. You wouldn't have. "You're right... I'll find something presentable then."
Scrythe had opened the map to glance at it briefly. "Mmhmm." After a moment of silence, he added, "It takes about four days to travel to the Elven forest on horseback. From there, we must find our way through Rilyus forest... I've heard that it's like a maze."
That wasn't good news. "Will we get lost?"
"No, the Queen has arranged a guide for us. It is said that he spent his entire life living with the Elves. He'll know how to get through."
There was another brief moment of silence. This time, you spoke up. "Scrythe?"
"Thanks for letting me come with you. You know how much it means to me."
He looked up from studying in the map and smiled. "...you're welcome."
If you got mostly b's...
You are most compatible with a certain Half-elf who does not yet exist in the story. However, stay tuned, and he will make his appearance quite soon. ^-^
If you got mostly c's...
You are most compatible with a certain Elf who does not yet exist in the story. However, stay tuned, and he will make his appearance quite soon. ^-^
If you got mostly d's...
You are most compatible with a certain mysterious one who does not yet exist in the story. However, stay tuned, and he will make his appearance quite soon. ^-^