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Aveyond: Rhen's Quest (fanfic)

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Chapter 16: Room for One or Two?

 

Rhen entered the treasure room of Rashnu. She took the sunblock. As she was heading out she bumped into someone but the person caught her on time.

“Thank you and sorry for………” she mumbled before she realized that a man in a golden embroidered green robe was standing before her. He had a ponytail suited his oval face, knot of long beard on his chin, brown eyes was staring at her.

 

 

“Well, though you two were quarelling, you did found something useful,” Elini was talking to Lars.

“Yes, I guess,” Lars replied in a low tune.

“You didn’t tell me how you found the lamp. Are you all right? You look pale, northerner.”

“Who……me……I’m totally alright……” Lars stammered.

“Oh, sword singer’s back,” she said.

Lars twirled and saw Rhen coming out of the basement treasury. He frowned as he saw another man coming behind her.

 

“I don’t think we’ve met. Are you one of the druids?” Rhen asked him.

“Rhen, this is my son Dameon, the Sun priest,” Talia replied.

“M’lady pleased to meet you,” Dameon replied.

He kisses Rhen’s hand. She blushes. Dameon smiles. Lars rolls his eyes.

“My……mother……has told me so much about you.” He said.

“Is there something wrong with that?” Rhen asked.

“………” he kept silent.

“Dameon is upset with me over something that occurred in our past.” Talia said.

“You brush off father’s death lightly MOTHER.” Dameon said arrogantly.

“………” Talia said nothing.

“Forgive me, Rhen, a lady should not have to be exposed to such family quarreling.” Dameon turned to Rhen. “I have heard great things about you. The gift of sword magic is rare. I have heard that your gift is especially powerful.”

“Yes, I suppose some would say so,” Rhen looks down hiding her face as she was blushing.

“If you need anything, by all means, ask me. I shall do my best to answer them.”

“What’s happened with your mother anyway?” Lars asked

“Many years ago my mother killed my father.” Dameon answered despite Lars’ rude manner. “She said it had to be done for the sake of the world, but I think she is lying. My father WAS a good man and I shall never forgive her.”

“Best we leave them with their quarrel and get on with our quest,” Lars whispered to Rhen. She nodded.

“Wait! I would like to come with you on your journeys. With the power of the sun at my fingertips, I can be much of use.” Dameon said as they were proceeding towards exit. Lars shook his head at Rhen.

“Er……sure. Just don’t get in the way.” Rhen told Dameon ignoring Lars.  

“My son have you forgiven me yet?” Talia asked.

“You killed father. How can I forgive you for that?”

“He had to die, you know that.”

“What happened to him? Why did he have to die?” Rhen asked.

“He was the sun priest before Dameon. He turned to dark ways and used the power of sun to help Ahriman return to power.”

“That is what you say, mother,” Dameon spatted and walked out of the temple. Rhen and others followed him out

 

 

“What did you take now?” Lars asked as they were boarding there boat.

“A sunblock.” She replied.
”What! You can’t be serious!” Lars exclaimed realizing what she was going to do.

“Why not?”

“What if she bites us?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of that.” She smiled.

“I hope so…………”

 

Back at Ghed’ahre………

 

“Humans. You are brave. I hear that you have destroyed the demon in the basement of the church.” The vampress praised them. “I need a favour of you.”

“What do you want us to do? Rhen asked knowing what she would say.

“As I said before I wish to walk under the sun. but I can’t as it would destroy me. I need a lotion that would block the sun.”

“We have sunblock lotion, would you like it?”

“You have my gratitude. Would you allow me to accompany you to the surface? I could be use of and I have……skills”

“As long as you don’t bite any of us, you can come.”

“You drive a hard bargain, human. But I will agree to your demands.”

“Then lets go,” Rhen handed over the sunblock lotion.

“Whats your name, creature of dark?” Dameon asked.

“I’m Te’ijal,” she introduced herself. “You look quite adorable,” she took a brief look of Dameon.

“Careful, my powers of light may blind you,” Dameon backed a few paces.

“Don’t worry, my little rabbit. You’re not suitable for my taste.” Te’ijal said sarcastically. “I’m allergic to druids, especially light ones.”

Dameon sighed. Rhen and Lars giggled.

“So, shall we proceed?” Elini said.

“Wait, one last remaining thing,” Rhen said.

 

 

“You will take him to Gentle Children’s School?” The witch was happy.

“Nooooooooo!” Theodore screamed.

“Why don’t you want to go, Theodore? Gentle Children’s School is one of the best schools on the isles.”

“No witch child has ever come back from that place alive! What if they eat me?” he shivered.

“Don’t worry no one is going to eat you.”

“Promise?” He extended his hand.

“Promise!” She knelt and took his hand.

“Okay, I’ll go.”

“Thank you. I’ll give you a reward if you drop him there.” The witch said.

 

 

Te’ijal was out sight seeing on her first day under the sun. she went in a necromancer’s shop.

“Excuse me, miss. You can’t touch it.” The necromancer said to Te’ijal without seeing her. “Any human being can’t touch it.”

“What would happen if a human touches it?” she asked turning to him.

“His soul would be sucked into the pendant. Anyone who wore it would have complete control over him.” He explained. “Since you are dead, you can safely touch it, m’lady.”

“A very, very tempting buy. I’ve always wanted to wear someone’s soul around my neck. How much is it?”

“For a beautiful vampress as yourself, 600 gold pennies.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

They had decided to rest at Veldarah. Rhen met others with. Theodore. Lars was grinning continuously.

“Are you alright?” Rhen asked.

“Never better.” He grinned.

“Why are acting like a dork?”

He ignored that. “Hey Rhen! Wanna have a battle for practice?”

“You don’t have to ask for that. I’m always ready to kick your butt.” Having a battle with Lars was a dream come true ever since she was studying.

“We’ll see. Lets go to Land’s End. There’s much space there.”

 

“Firefly Ballad!”

Swarms of firefly were rushing towards Lars.

 

“Wind Whip!”

Strong wind blew them off.

 

“Ha! You can’t win using lousy skills!” Lars teased her. Rhen scowled at him. “Lets see how you stand on the ground.” He waved his finger in circles and a tiny tornado emerged from him. He motioned it to Rhen’s direction and it moved in speed.

 

“Meadow Deer!”

She moved gracefully. She twisted and turned swiftly like a deer, successfully dodging the tornado and ran towards Lars. Before he could counter attack, she kicked him. He lost his balance and fell on the ground.

“It’s not finished yet,” Lars got up to his feet. He murmured a spell and a magical gust encircled her and disappeared. Nothing happened to her.

“That’s your best shot!” she laughed at him.

“Wait for it………it should be………now”

 

Just as he finished his last words sparkles appeared and she started to shrink. Her legs became thinner. Wings replaced her hands. Her mouth transformed into a yellow beak. All the others couldn’t help laughing at her new form.

 

“Aww……too bad I can’t eat you. You would’ve been a tasty roasted chicken as a main course.” Te’ijal giggled.

 

They laughed more when she was flapping her wings and clucking.

 

“That’s enough,” Dameon said stopping his laughter. He reversed the Chicken Curse and Rhen was back to herself.

“You’re gonna be so dead, Lars!” Rhen stomped towards him who was rolling on the ground laughing his head off. He moved away before she attacked him. He stuck out his tongue at her. Rhen started to chase him and they were running around the green meadow.

“Children,” Elini muttered.

“Humans,” Te’ijal muttered.

 Suddenly Lars halted seeing something on the ground. Rhen couldn’t stop at the right time and bumped into him. She fell on him and they were on the ground. Lars could feel her breath on his face but he didn’t seemed to bother about that. After seconds Rhen shook her head like coming off a trance and slapped punched his chest.

“You could’ve at least said to stop………and how dare you tu-“

Lars got up shoving himself and took out the shovel .

“What are you doing?” she saw him digging up a pile. There was a bag of beanstalk seed.

“Always something useful from a pile,” said Lars holding it up. “It might be enchanted so you know what to do.”

So they went to the enchanted garden and gave Eldredth the seeds and went back to others. They set sail to Western isle.

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Chapter 17: Lowlands

 

They walked across a golden yellow land. The grass was turning yellow. There were falling leaves which paved along the patch as they proceeded. The weather was dry. They reached a crossroad. Rhen saw a signboard.

“Let’s take Theodore first,” she thought.

They took the path to the south. After a few minutes they reached another signboard,

                              

                        Gentle Children’s School

 

They walked to the huge building. It was two storeyed and had left and right wings. They entered the door. There were little children running here and there. There was sound of the classroom where teachers were teaching.

 

“Welcome to Gentle Children’s School. What may I do for you?” they were greeted by the schoolmaster.

“We would like to admit this boy, Theodore, to your school,” Rhen said.

 “Hmmm, he looks like a commoner. We don’t take commoners, we only take noble-born children.” He explained. “Where did you say he was from again?”

“Theodore is from New Witchwood.”

“New Witchwood, did you say? In that case, he is admitted!”

“I don’t understand, I thought you said only noble-born children are accepted in your school.”

“The patrons of New Witchwood have a……lucrative……account with us.” He hesitated. “They pay handsomely to send some of their children here. I don’t understand it myself but I don’t ask question.” He turned to Theodore. “Young Theodore, please go upstairs and ask for Erlin. She will get you started with your class.”

Theodore hesitated a bit and looked at Rhen. She nodded and he went upstairs slowly.

“We will take good care of young master Theodore for you,” he reassured.

Rhen thought of seeing Theodore before leaving. She went upstairs to the children’s bedroom. She saw him crying.

“Waaaaaaa! I wanna go home!”

“Don’t worry Theodore, nothing will happen. I’ll come and visit you later, okay?”

“Okay……..”

 

They went back to the crossroad and took the west road to nearby village as they were tired from the long trip. They entered the village, Brumwich. They saw a woman was carrying something in a basket. Rhen thought to ask her for an inn. When she saw the party the basket fell from her hand.

“Outsiders!” she exclaimed. “I’m sorry; I don’t mean to get excited. No one ever comes hear.

 

They split up take a break for sight seeing. Te’ijal went for a hunt as she couldn’t eat. Lars went to get some supplies. Elini, rhen and Dameon headed to the village inn. Inns are a good place to scoop up news and rumours. Elini was inquiring about rooms. Rhen was listening to the people’s conversation.

“What a horrible year it has been!’

“Locusts are destroying my crops! I’m not a superstitious man but even I know a bad omen when I see one.”

“Someone has been stealing corns from us. I wish I knew who the thieves were.”

“Something is wrong in the Highlands. We never have these disasters under the protection of Ahurani. God forbid if something happened to the druid.”

 

“Rhen, do you want something to eat? Rhen?” Dameon asked her.

Rhen who was eavesdropping the villagers’ discussion, couldn’t listen to him. ”Huh? Sorry I didn’t hear you. Do you know who Ahurani is?

“Yes, it’s the nickname of druid Armaiti but it seems he is in grave danger.”

“Well, now we know what to do next,” she looked outside the window. It didn’t seem that she was looking at the corns. She was lost in thought.

“Rhen, are you alright? You can share with me if anything is bothering you,” Dameon smiled.

“Oh, it’s nothing……it’s just that……Clearwater, my home is here……” there was a silence. “I want to go back as soon as this task finishes……”

“Don’t worry, Rhen. You’ll soon be there……” he put his hand on her shoulder.

She smiled and went away as she didn’t want him to see her face going red. They took rest in the inn. As they were leaving, Rhen stopped looking at the corn field.

“You guys carry on, I’ll be back,” saying so she went to the farm.

“Now what is she upto?” Lars thought and followed her.

Rhen saw locusts hovering around the crops. “Time to die locusts!”

She slashed her swords at the swarm killing. But it took a look of time. Suddenly lightning bolts struck at them and they were finished. She turned around, shocked and saw Lars sitting on the fence.

“You know you can’t do anything soon enough without me,” Lars teased her.
Rhen was about to open her mouth for a counter-reply but didn’t as her job was actually finished by him.

“Ahurani himself must have sent you to help us! Thank you for destroying the locusts.” A farmer said to them.

“It was nothing,” Rhen said.

 

“Where are we going now?” Lars asked as the party reached the same crossroad.

“To the Highlands.” Rhen replied.

“Are you sick?”

“What do you mean?”

“Did you see the signboard? The Oldwoods are at the east and you are leaving before exploring something!”

“Don’t you think our task is far more important than exploring?!”

“Rhen, lets just see the area.” Dameon cut in. “Maybe we can find something useful.”

“Alright……”

So they went east to Oldwoods. There were huge trees. It seemed that the elves who lived here were living on these trees. The entrance to Ylisfar was through the stairs in a tree. There a lot of bridges joining the trees.

“Welcome humans to Ylisfar,” an elf welcomed them. “Lionel was our king but sadly he disappeared two centuries ago.”

“We noticed a sign saying ‘Rootwell’. What is it?”

“The Rootwell is a sacred spring that nourishes the Oldwoods.” He explained.

“The night elves live below Oldwoods. We don’t like them.” Another elf said. She seemed upset about it so the party left without asking the cause of hatred. They found a armor shop with enchanted armory. They bought armors and went down the Rootwell for the answers.

“These kracken and nippits are making me sea sick,” Lars said sarcastically.

They entered the Wormrot where they met the night elves. They were the same except they were blue in color.

“When king Lionel went missing the wood elves blamed us. When king returns they will unite the elves once again,” a night elf said.

“We live in the root system below the ancient Oldwoods,” another one explained as Rhen inquired. “The water in the Root Well feeds the Oldwood trees and provide nourishment for us. But now we get sick when we drink the water and the Oldwood tree roots are dying.”

“Do you know why is this happening?” she asked.

“Since banshees invaded the root systems, it is not safe for us to leave the caves. I suspect the Root Well is poisoned by them………”

 

The party decides to check the matter and went down deeper into the Root Well. They saw banshees wandering around. They looked liked harpies except they had long blue hair and darker wings.

“Hey! That banshee just poured something in the Root Well!” Lars pointed at a banshee.

“I poisssoned it! But you are too late humansss! My tasssk iss complete. When the old treesss die, our queen ssshall rissse to the sssurface!” The banshee hissed. “You die now!”

He flew swiftly to Rhen and scratched her arm with his sharp claw. Lars casted weevil spell and Elini summoned imps which blasted him. Dameon healed Rhen.

“Are you alright?” he asked her. She nodded.

“Now that we know who’s responsible for the poisoning, I think we should get to the bottom of this,” Lars said and the others nodded. “The banshee mentioned a queen. I bet we can find her down here somewhere.”

They went down deeper into the Banshee Caverns. They fought some guard-banshees and went in the queen’s cave.

“Look it’s the banshee queen!” Lars pointed at her.

“You! Are you the ones responsible for killing my banshees? You shall pay for your ill deeds!”

She charmed Rhen. Rhen, instead of attacking her attacked Lars.

“What are you doing!” Lars shouted.

She was going to attack Elini but Dameon casted a spell on her. She fell on the ground, sleeping.

“You are so dead!” Lars casted a plague which made the queen rot. Elini summoned succubus which finished her off.

“Look! She was sitting on something.” Lars took the bottle. “the label says ‘Root Nectar’. I think the night elves can use this to purify the Root Well.”

Dameon woke Rhen up.

“Mmm……what happened?” she woke up.

“What happened! You almost broke my arm!” Lars shouted on her.

“Me? Why would I do that?” she was confused.

“You were charmed by the banshee queen. Lars it wasn’t her fault.” Dameon defended her.

“Hmph!”

“The good news is we found the nectar,” Elini said.

“Human, you should be thankful to the druid for saving you,” Te’ijal said.

“Er………thanks. Now let’s go back.”

 

They headed back to Wormrot

“We learned that the banshees were poisoning the Root Well. We killed all of the vermins and found a bottle of Root Nectar.” Rhen handed it over to a night elf. “Will it help?”

“Oh yes, the root nectar will heal the Root Well. Thank you for the help.”

The party bade farewell and continued their journey to the Highlands  

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Chapter 18: Highlands

 

They walked out of the Lowlands. After walking for half an hour they reached the Highlands. It was evident by the scene of the reason of the name. The lands were like small hills of forest. The sounds of animals could be heard.

“Let’s get some rest here,” Rhen suggested sitting under an apple tree.

“Finally, I’m so tired,” Lars said lying down.

“So, what are you thinking to do next?” Dameon asked sitting beside Rhen.

“As we saw earlier that whenever we reach a temple we see their frozen statues.” She sighed. “Listening to the villagers, I guess the same incident occurred here also. So, we have to find the demon here.”

“Rhen, if you don’t mind. May I ask you a question?”

“Yes?” She turned to him.

“Is the fact of your home being here bothering you? I’m seeing you a little distracted.”

“I guess………I just keep thinking about it no matter how hard I try to ignore………” she looks up far.

“Don’t worry,” He held her hand. “Everything will be fine.”

She nodded. “For now we should find this demon.” She looked away as she was blushing like the apple. “I’ll go look for a signboard or something like that.”

 

Lars was lying down covering his face with his hand when suddenly he heard some movement. He sat up and searched for the source. For a moment he thought he saw a squirrel. A squirrel in not an odd thing but he saw a helmet on it. He was confused if he actually saw it or was it just his imagination. Thinking about there past ‘interesting’ encounters he decided to follow it when he bumped into Rhen.

“Watch it! What are you………”

“Shshsss……” he pointed her to follow him.

Bewildered she followed him. They saw a small cave with a sign.

“Looks like the beings living here don’t want any visitors,” He said looking at the sign saying,

                                        GO AWAY!!!!!!!

“But it’s small.” Rhen said.

“So?”

“Maybe animals live here.”

“Do you think animal can write? With what their paws?”

They both imagined a cat writing with its paw wearing glasses. They laughed at the hilarious thought.

“Okay, so let’s check it out.”

Both of them crawled into the cave. He lightened the place while crawling. Squeaking sounds could be heard coming from a distance. At the end of the tunnel they came at a wide space. A troupe of militant squirrels were jumping around. They were wearing battle helmets. They snooped around to see what’s with the commotion. She saw some birdseeds lying in a corner.

“Rhen, look” Lars pointed to baskets full of corn. They walked towards the basket. A militant squirrel noticed them and blocked the way.
”Stop! Ze corn is ours! Ze corn is ours!” The militant squirrel said.

“That’s a lot of corn. Where did it come from?” Rhen asked.

“We stole it from ze foolish human farmers down south. You shall not take it from us!”

More squirrels came and started crawling n them.

“What are you……stop!” Rhen moved to stop them.

“Hey, Watch it! Stop!” Lars shook his legs to shake them off.

Both of them ran out of their hideout.

“Okay………that was………odd……but interesting,” Rhen panted.

“Let’s go and inform the villagers about the truth.” Lars suggested.

“Good idea,” She said getting up.
”Where are you going?’

“Informing others about heading back to Brumwich.”
”All of us are gonna walk that way?! AGAIN?!”

“No, we’ll walk.”

“That’s it! I’m not walking that long again.”

“What do you think that some Pegasus will magically appear and carry us there! If you don’t wanna go then I’ll go with Dameon. He’s much polite than you.”

“Don’t you dare compare me with him! I was saying we don’t need to walk there.”
”Then how are we gonna go? We’ll be magically teleported!” Rhen mocked him.

He smiled. “I’ll tell you that but you have to come closer.”

She frowned and stepped a little closer. Suddenly the surroundings turned into a bright light. She covered her eyes as she couldn’t see. When she opened her eyes, she saw they were at the entrance of Brumwich. She turned to Lars who was still smiling.

“What happened?”

“I teleported us, duh!” He laughed. She rolled her eyes.

“Let’s go and inform them about the theft.

 

 

“We know who has been stealing your corns, ma’am,” Rhen reported the matter who seemed to be the investigator whom she saw at the inn.

“Speak, child! Who is it? The Brawdy Boys?”

“It’s militant squirrels.”

She stared at them for a few seconds. A smile was appearing on her face. “Oh dear, you must be joking! Militant squirrels?”

“It’s the truth! They have a military base up north in the Highlands.”

”Well, I might as well send some of the men to check out your claim. I’m sure they can handle squirrels.” She giggled. If only she knew……

“Let’s go back now,” Lars said coming out.

“Wait, are you gonna use that spell again?”

“Duh, of course.”

“Well say it before you do. It gives me a headache.”

He laughed and teleported them to the place where others were resting.

 

“I sense a demonic presence from the east,” Dameon said as the party was back to the crossroad. They followed the trail. As they were following, Elini stopped every while and looked back.

“What is it, Elini?” Rhen asked.

“I don’t know why it felt like that tree is following us,” she pointed to a tree which looked a little different from the other ones.

“Tree? Are you sure? I mean trees can’t move.”

“Don’t be so sure, Rhen. You know how many creatures we have faced.” Lars said.

Rhen’s smile disappeared as she remembered an incident in the Lowlands where she was leaning to a stone and it grabbed her with its arm. They had to fight it down.

“Er……you’re right.” She said. “But how do we know?”

 They thought. “Alright I’ll check it out,” Lars said moving towards it. He examined it. He touched it to see if anything was wrong. Suddenly the tree’s body separated from the middle opening a somewhat moth with teeth. He quickly took away his hands from it stepping back. It started to move towards them to attack but Rhen slashed it before.

“Oh well, that’s another joining the list. We have to be careful.” They nodded. They continued to follow the trail and it led them to a house. It seemed to be a fancy house. Elini snooped around the house and found a cave. But it was locked by a gate.

“The trail is leading in the cave,” she said. “The demon is maybe lurking in there.”

“Let’s ask the person who live here to open the gate for us.” Rhen knocked the door but it was open already so they went in. they saw an elderly man running around the house.

“My eye! My eye!” He kept saying.

“What’s wrong with your eye?” Rhen asked.

“My brother, Dorvan, stole it from me. The wretched men dragged it away to his house in the south.”

“That’s disgusting. Why would your brother steal your eye?”

“Not my real eye you fool! I had a magical glass eye that I used to see. Without the glass eye, I am blind.”

“There is a locked gate behind your house,”

“I locked it because a confounded demon kept coming up from the caves to terrorize my little Zini.”

“Who’s Zini?” Lars looked around but saw none.

“My precious cat!” a peach colored cat with a blurred black spot was roaming around.

“Can you unlock the gate for us? We can rid you of the demon.”

“Find my glass eye and I will open the gate for you.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll help you get your eye back.”

Rhen, Lars and Elini went to his brother’s house as he described the address. While the others stayed back. They reached the Sandstone Cave System in the Lowlands. It was the way to get to Dorvan’s secret hideout. After wandering around the caves they reached a tall manor.

“That’s quite a place.” Lars whistled.

They went in the manor when a man blocked their way.

“Let us through we have im……”

Lars knocked him out before she could finish.

“Why did you do that for?”

“Because you didn’t know he was a cultist, did you? He will attack you if he knew what we are here for.”

Rhen scowled but didn’t say anything. They made their way to Dorvan’s room which was at the top floor. They barged into his room.

“What is the meaning of this! Leave before I turn you into slugs!”

“We are looking for a magical glass eye. Have you seen it?” Lars said sarcastically.

“Ha! I stole it from my brother while he was sleeping.” He snorted. “Please don’t tell me that he sent YOU to retrieve it.”

“Do not try anything foolish, old man. Give us the glass eye.” Elini said.

“My, my, my! What is this?” he looked at Elini. ”A demon summoner from Veldt? I recognize your tattoos.”

“We don’t have time for small talk, old man. Give us the magic eye that you stole and we won’t harm you.” Lars said.

“I think not.” He straightened himself. “Prepare to die a miserable death.

Before he could do something Lars motioned his fingers and Dorvan was swinging in the air upside down.

“Argh! Let me down!”

“Yeah, right.” Lars went near him but he jumped out of it and kicked him down. He wasn’t that old as he seemed. Elini aimed at his leg but he dodged it and pointed a dagger at her. He thought he won but Rhen kicked the dagger out of his hand. Elini shoved him off. Lars motioned a rope and binded him.

“We’ve beaten you, Dorvan. Give us the eye and we won’t kill you!” Lars said.

“Fine, take it but leave me be!”

 

 

“We found your eye, sir.” Lars handed it over him.

“My eye! Now I can see again!” He exclaimed. “Now what did I do with that key.” He looked for. “Ah, here it is. Let’s go unlock the gate.”

 

“Alright let’s move.” Rhen said as the gate was unlocked

They got into the cave and followed Elini who led them to the demon.

“He’s in here,” Elini said pointing a cave. “Te’ijal and I will stand here at guard.”

“Everyone get ready.” Rhen said while others nodded.

They went into the cave. Suddenly a sword charged towards Rhen but she dodged it in the nick of time. They twirled and saw a figure coming out of the shadow. The demon looked like a skeleton warrior. He was wearing brown ragged cloak, holding a rusty shield which had a skull face drawn and a blunt longsword.

 

“Your death awaits……” the demon laughed.

Rhen charged towards him. He summoned a thunderstorm on them. Dameon casted a shield on everyone. Rhen dodging the bolts went to him. She kicked the sword out of his hands and slashed his humerus. Tawrich dodged her next attack and rolled away to Lars. He was casting weevils but before that Tawrich casted a spell for which an invisible force started lashing him breaking his concentration. Dameon tried to “Silence’ him but failed. The demon kicked him down. Rhen was on her feet again.

“Soaring Eagle!”

She moved as if she flew like an eagle and landed on Tawrich slashing his ribs. She was going to give another hit but was shoved away by a force and hit a wall. His broken and ruptured bones were healing and he was back to normal. Lars was behind Tawrich.

“Sacrifice!”

A thin razor went through him and he felt weak. But he shot bolts at him pinning him down on the ground. Dameon tried to cast his Silence spell again when the demon went behind him and Dameon felt chilled. He couldn’t move.

“I can’t hold on the shield any longer. Rhen! Get up!”

Rhen got up just then.

“Flame Melody!”

Fire blazed from her sword towards him. He was set on fire. He writhed in pain as the fire burned all over him.

“Time to go back from where you came from!” she landed her final blow and the demon reduced to ashes.

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Chapter 19: The Revelation

 

Green Rock Temple is situated in north-west hill.” Dameon said leading the way to the druid.

“I’ll still prefer the signboard,” Lars said.

“As you wish……”

Lars saw Rhen staring blankly at the signboard.

“Do you wish to spend the entire………hey, are you crying?!” Lars was surprised as he never saw her in a state like that. She didn’t answer. He followed her gaze at the signboard.

 

                                Clearwater- North-east

 

“Oh……say do you wanna go home for a while? It’s been a long time since you……” He didn’t know why couldn’t finish the sentence.

Rhen wiped her tears and nodded. He turned to others and said, “We have a little errand to run. You guys go ahead we’ll meet you soon.”

“Is everything alright, sorcerer?” Dameon asked.

“Yes it’s fine and that’d be necromancer.”

 

 

Rhen was back at her home. It was still the same except for the decoration from the last time which was removed. It looked quite empty.

“It’s small and nice here.” Lars said to break the eerie silence.

They went to the bakery, one of Rhen’s favorite places. She used to visit the place everyday. She pushed the door open. Liana, the owner, was cleaning tables.

“Yes, how can I……” she turned to look at her customer. The cleaning cloth dropped from her hand. “Rhen! You’ve come home!” she hugged her. “Where have you been?”

“It’s a long story,” she replied in a weak voice.

“You look weak come sit I have my fresh batch ready in a few moment. And you are?” she didn’t notice Lars in amidst of the joy.

“Oh, this is Lars. My………”

“Accomplice,” Lars said.

“Friend,” Rhen said instantly. Lars was surprised that he actually heard the word.

In seconds the bakery was filled with the sweet scent of fresh baked cakes. Rhen remembered her childhood days when she used to have them with Danny.

“Is Danny around?” She asked as she couldn’t see him anywhere.

“You mean he isn’t with you?”

“Er……no.”

“Oh dear. He went looking out for you after you disappeared and said he wouldn’t come home you were brought back safe.” She explained her anxious. “From the last letter I received, Danny was in a place called Wildwoods. Oh! But that was over three months ago. He’s always been good at writing home once a month. I’m so worried that something has happened to him…”

“Don’t worry, Liana. If Danny went to all that trouble to find me, I’ll do my best to find him.”

“Thank you child. Now have your snack.”

They finished the food and bid goodbye.

“Say hello to your mother for me.” Liana said while bidding them goodbye.

They were at the door of Rhen’s house. She was going to knock but stopped. “Ma………pa………it’s been so long” she thought. “How are they? Do they still look for me? Or remember me?” questions were gathering in her mind.

“Hey, you okay?” Lars snapped his fingers on her face.

“Oh yeah I’m fine.”

“Well, you go ahead. It’s been quite while. You should have some space.”

“Where are you going?”

“I’ll get the others to spend night here……” saying so he turned and walked away. Rhen looked at him until he was out of her sight. Then she turned to the door.

 

 

Elini touched the frozen statue with Armaiti’s soul. The statue lighetend and he was back to life. Armaiti stood with green robe and golden sleeveless jacket.

“You have come! I was so worried.” Were the first words he said to them. “For your brave deed, please take the merchant card from my treasure chest.” He pointed to a red designed chest. He took a card out of it and gave it to them. “You will need it to travel to Peninnsula where you must continue your quest. Hurry! We must get to the Sun temple in Aveyond!”

They were on their way when they met Lars.

“What did I miss?”

 

 

Rhen’s mother was at the kitchen. She heard someone knocking and went to open the door.

“Mama!” Rhen hugged her as she opened the door.

“My precious Rhen! I thought you were lost from us!” she exclaimed. Tears rolled down from her blue eyes.

“A lot has happened, ma.” She told ma about the adventures she has embarked on. Ma hugged her and took her inside.

“Ma, I have a serious question to ask you.” Rhen was silent for a moment. “Am I your……your……real daughter?” She stammered. She felt the last words echoing in the room.

Ma sighs. “Dear you must talk with your father……”

As she opened her mouth there came another sound.

“I’m home” Rhen’s father entered and kept the things that he brought.

“Papa!” Rhen rushed to him and hugged.

“My darling daughter! How did you get here? What happened to you?” he hugged her tight. “I…” he let go of her. “I thought you were dead.

“A lot has happened but I’m not dead.” She starts to tell her adventures again. ”Daddy I have a serious question to ask you.”

She stopped. “Am I your real daughter? Priestess Talia wouldn’t tell me I wasn’t but she also wouldn’t tell me I was. She said to ask you.”

Pa sighed. They sat on the couch as her ma joined them.

“Before you were born I served as a general to the king and queen of Thais.” Pa started.

“Thais?”

“Thais is a kingdom far across the ocean. It was a grand kingdom……once……before…” he trailed off. “It was foretold that a child of Thais would be born and that this child would defeat a great demon.”

“Ahriman……”

“You know of Ahriman?” Rhen nodded. “When Ahriman found out about the prophesied child, the demon destroyed the kingdom and leveled the city.”

“And the child? Did Ahriman kill the child?”

“The child lives. She lives……YOU live”

She flinched. “I don’t understand! Did momma have me in Thais? This can’t be right! Momma says she has never left Clearwater.!”

“The king and queen of Thais had a daughter, the child who wold defeat the demon. We were close, king Devin Pendragon, queen Alicia Pendragon and I. They made me promise to take their child away from Thais before the demon found her. I almost didn’t make it, but Priestess Talia saved my life and brought me here. We agreed I would raise you as my own daughter, to hide you where he wouldn’t think to look for you.

“No!” she was in shock. “Say it isn’t true! I don’t believe you!”

Pa sighed. He turned around and unlocked the chest in the corner.

“This is for you.” He gave her a ring with a strange gem. “This sigma ring was your mother’s. It’ll identify you when you return to Thais.”

“Return to Thais! My home is here!” she was still in disbelief.

“I’m sorry, lass, but you must go there. It’s your duty. The prophecy said you would return to Thais and unite the kingdoms once again. The prophecy said you would become the queen……”

“Why me? Why can’t my…PARENTS run their own country!”

“Your mother died when I fled with you, it was assumed your father died also, though your body was never found. It was decided that a consort would rule what was left of the kingdom until you returned.”

They remained silent. “I……I don’t what to say, daddy. I don’t like this AT all.”

“You don’t have to say anything; you’ll always be my little girl.” He hugged Rhen.

There was another knock on the door. Rhen opened the door and saw the others. “Ma, pa these are my friends who helped me through the journey.”

“It’s nice. Is it big enough for us?” Lars asked sarcastically.

“Of course,” Pa welcomed them. “It’s always big enough for visitors.” They went in. Pa took to the guest room. Te’ijal preferred to sleep outside as she had some ‘work’. They had their meal and went to bed. Rhen was trying to sleep but she couldn’t. the talk she had with her father was still going on her mind. She couldn’t believe that it was true. Never in her wildest dream she imagined to be a princess. She realized she won’t be able to sleep. She went downstairs quietly. She went out of the house for a walk. It was calm outside. There was no sound. Everyone was asleep. She sat on the fence thought everything all over when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see, it was Dameon. He smiled at her and sat beside her.

“You’re awake. What are you doing here at this time?” Rhen asked.

“I can ask the same.” He smiled. “ Lars said about it when he returned……”

“Oh…”

“Are you fine, Rhen?”  

Before she could answer she started to sob unwillingly. “No, I can’t believe that I……” she wept hard.

“Rhen……don’t cry.” He comforted her.

“I never wanted this.” She hugged him. “I just wanted a simple life.”

“We don’t always get what we want Rhen.” He patted on her head. “Life is but a game of destiny. Destiny carries us.” He let her go and took her face in his hands. “It is us who must accept it.” She nods.

There was another person who was watching them. Lars came down to have some water when he saw Dameon going out. He had followed him. He realized his cheeks had tears. He wiped it and surprisingly looked at them. “What! Why?!” he couldn’t find the answer to it.

“Humans are strange.”

He turned to see Te’ijal behind him.

“What do you mean?”

“You’ll know when it’s time.”

“You’re up?”

“I was having my dinner.”

“Dinner?” He remembered she was a vampire. “So…what did you have?” he was afraid if it would be a human.

As if she read his mind she answered. “Villages have quite a wildlife.” She grinned revealing her fangs.

He smiled faintly and left.

It was morning. After breakfast, the party was deciding what to do next except Te’ijal. Lars talked about the merchant pass for Peninnsula. Rhen said about the baker’s son’s disappearance. In the end it was decided that Rhen and Lars will search for Danny while Elini and Dameon went to stock up goods. Te’ijal insisted to come when she returned so even she joined. As they were leaving, Rhen was with her parents to bid farewell.

“Good luck, lass. I know you’ll make your mother and me proud. Don’t forget Thais. It’s your duty. He hugged her. She turned to her mother.

“Oh my dear, dear daughter. Try to smile. Everything is going to be okay. You are a princess. You should be happy……” she sniffed. “I thought they would never come for you. I tried to forget who you were……I wanted you to be mine so badly.” Ma rubbed a tear from her eye.

“Don’t cry, ma! I’ll always be your daughter and I don’t care what anyone says!” she comforted her. “Who knows, maybe I will settle down with the baker’s son here when I’m done with my mission. I don’t want to go to Thais!”

She bid them farewell and joined the others.

 

 

Lars used his teleportation spell again to teleport them to Wildwoods.

“I had told you to warn me before you use it.” Rhen said as she felt dizzy.

“You did?” he said sarcastically. “Oops I forgot.”

“Let’s talk at the tavern. If he’d come here he must’ve gone there.”

They walked in the forest. They entered the tavern and went to the dining section and started interrogating.

“We are looking for a man who came from a village across the sea. His name is Danny. Has he been in here?” Rhen asked a man who had just finished his meal.

“Ha! You know that fool?” he waved his hand. “He was asking questions about a girl like yourself. Last I heard, he was heading to Ghed’ahre.”

“Oh my,” Te’ijal said. “We must get there before he turns into supper.”

“Let’s hurry!” Rhen said.

“Wait! Have you forgotten something?” saying so Lars teleported them to Ghed’ahre.

 

Inside the house, where Te’ijal learnt was Danny kept, they gasped as they saw a body lying unconscious on the dining table.

“Danny! The gods have mercy! What have they done to you?”

“Rhen, do you know this man?” Te’ijal asked.

“He’s a boy from my village……the baker’s son. I can’t understand how he got here…”

“I’m sorry but I think he is dead.” Lars said.

“He’s not dead. I can hear his besting heart,” Te’ijal said.

“What has happened to him?” Rhen asked.

“A vampire has fed upon him.”

“Lars, do we still have those leaves?” she remembered once he was buying some leaves which she thought stupid. But then he explained that those leaves could be used to make a powerful medicine which can help a dying patient.

“Ye, we do. Let’s see if a cassia leaf can restore his health.” He took out some tiny leaves that looked like peppermint. He extracted its juice and poured it down into Danny’s mouth. After drinking it, color started to return to his pale face. “Look! He’s waking up!”

“Ugh……my head……” Danny touched his head.

“Danny, what are you doing here?” Rhen helped him up. “Your mother is worried sick about you!”

“Rhen, is that you? I’ve looking for you for so long……”

“How did you get here?”
”I came looking for you after you disappeared from the village. A vampire caught me at night while I was in the Wildwoods. Come. I must get you home safe.”

“I’m perfectly fine and I can’t go home yet. You had best hurry there yourself.”

“You don’t WANT to go back?”

“I can’t. I just can’t.” she shook her head. “Please don’t ask me more.”
”I think I’m not ready to go back to
Clearwater either. I’ve grown fond of traveling the world. I think I will continue to explore the isles for a while. Please give this to my mother, will you?” he handed her an envelope with a red seal. “I’m sorry, Rhen, but I must leave you now.”

“Wait! Where are you going?”

“Sedona, I think. Yes, Sedona.” And he left.

 

 

“Rhen! You’ve come home! Have you seen my Danny?” Liana asked while serving Lars.

“Danny’s fine. He asked me to give this letter to you.” She handed the letter to Liana and read the letter.

“Oh my! Danny says that he’s not ready to return home yet. He wants to travel around the isles……oh dear… but he promised to send letters more often. That darn boy! Where’s his apology for not writing home for three months?! Did he tell you why he didn’t write home?”

“He was……all tied up. Rhen shrugged.

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Good work right there! Your style of writing is slightly childish and there is a big space for improvement, but overall, it's well done an effort, considering you are going by the story. Long back, I'd (hopelessly) tried searching for an Aveyond book and it's good that I found it today ;)

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Chapter 20: A Royal Guest?

 

 “Welcome to Gentle Children’s School, the most exclusive children’s academy on all of the isles.” The headmaster welcomed Rhen. She wanted to visit Theodore as she promised him.

“How is Theodore doing?”

“Young master Theodore is doing just fine! In fact, he has become quite an artist since he arrived.”

“Wow! Is he any good?”

“Er……let’s just say that his work is……interesting.” The headmaster seemed confused.

Rhen went upstairs to Theodore to visit him. Theodore seemed quite happy when he saw her.

“Rhen! Rhen! I was hoping you would come. I drew you a picture!” he handed her a paper. It’s a picture of a stickman boiling in a cauldron.

“Er……that’s nice Theodore.”

“You like it? Take it with you!”
”Thank you. It’s……lovely.”

“I love my new homw! I don’t ever want to go back!”

 

 

The party had decided that they would meet at the Merchant’s Pass. When Rhen, Lars and Te’ijal reached there, Dameon and Elini were already waiting for them. They went to Sedona via Trade Route. Sedona was the grandest city in the Western isle. People from all around the world come here to visit or stay. They headed to the city market. Many shops were set up with varieties of items. They have everything from all across the country. As Rhen turned to others, she found that the party split up from there. Lars went into the shops for sorcerers. Elini went into the weapon’s shop for upgrading and Te’ijal continued her usual sight seeing. Rhen shrugged and Dameon chuckled. They noticed people selling various types of cheese like cheddar, provolone, mozzarella etc. There were also shops only for cheese. They strolled around the city. For a reason it was too busy. They found out that everyone was shopping for Lord Gavin’s ball. Rhen’s nose was wrinkled as they were at the fish market. She felt like throwing up at the rancid smell. They were leaving but she saw a guy waving at her. At first she wondered who he was. Then she went towards him when she recognized him.

“Danny! You made it to Sedona!”

“I told you I would! Isn’t it beautiful Rhen?”

“I guess so. I’ve never seen a city obsessed with cheese, have you?”

“Ha! You noticed this too? I agree. They are obsessed.” They started to have a deep conversation. After few minutes Rhen bid farewell and joined Dameon.

“I think he likes you, sword singer.”

“You may be right.” Rhen blushed.

“He is too short for you and his nose is too long.”

“Why Dameon!” She was surprised. “Are you jealous?!”
”Jealous! Me?!” Dameon blushes and Rhen giggled.

They met with others back at the marketplace. They did quite a shopping with their hands full of bags.

“Hey guys, come with mw. I’ve to show you something.” Lars said to them. They followed Lars and he led them to a big house. It was on sale.

“What are you trying to say Lars?” Rhen asked while looking at the note.

“Why don’t we buy this house?”
”Buy it! But why?”

“Come on, we can have a resting place. We can save the inns’ money and I’m tired of wandering around for some sleep.”

They looked at each other  for opinions.

“I’ve wanted a house on the surface,” Te’ijal said.

“Hmm……it’s a big house and I agree with the sorcerer.” Elini said.

Rhen looked at Dameon. “I don’t need a house so it’s up to you.” He shrugged.

Rhen thought for a while and others staring at her for the final decision. “Umm……well, okay as everyone wants it.”

“Well then lets contact Pemberlin for the details.” Lars was beaming. “I’ve found out that he’s in a ball.”

They were going to Lord Gavin’s manor to talk to the owner.

“Stop,” a butler blocked them. “I’m sorry, but commoners are not invited to Lord Gavin’s summer ball.”

Rhen looked at Lars and then asked the butler, “How do we get in?”
”You need to have a ticket and be dressed accordingly.”

“Rhen I saw a ball gown in a dress shop while I was in the market. It’ll fit you perfectly.” Lars said.

“You are not gonna let that manor go, right?”

Lars smirked.

“Hello, dear, are you looking for a ball gown?” The seamstress asked Rhen. “You shouldn’t have come so late! I have one gown left!”

“What happened to the other ball gowns?”

“They were bought by the ladies for Lord Gavin’s summer ball, of course.”

“Okay I’ll take it.”

“Here you go.” She bought a layered green gown.

“Enjoy the dress dear. I’m sure it’ll look lovely on you!”

 

 

 

“Now what about the ticket?” Rhen asked Lars.

“Why are you asking me?”

“You’re the one who was excited about the manor.”

“I’m thinking.”

They saw an art gallery and thought to visit it while they think about an idea.

“I collect art. But there is nothing new and original worth buying these days.” The man explained whose name was Frederick, who was showing them around.

“What sort of art are you looking for?” Rhen asked.

“Something fresh and shocking. I would even give up my ticket to Lord Gavin’s summer ball for a good painting.”

Rhen suddenly had an idea. “Would you be interested in this painting?” she shows the art dealer the creepy picture that Theodore gave her.

“Wow! That’s amazing!” he exclaimed. “So simple and disturbing that only a master could have thought of it! Who’s the painter?”
”He’s an up-and-coming artist attending at the Gentle Children’s School.”

“Well that explains it! Only the gifted and rich children go to that school! How much do you want for the painting?”
”Could we have you ticket to Lord gavin’s summer ball?”
”For this masterpiece, it is yours!” He hands over the ticket. Rhen gives him the painting. He frames it and puts it in display. “I call it ‘Man in Hot Water’.”

“He’s obviously a nutter,” Lars muttered while the others giggled.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

”Ticket, please.” Rhen hands the butler the ticket. “Enjoy the ball, m’lady.”

Rhen went inside the ball. The manor was huge as it could be seen from the outside. It was beautifully decorated. A nice tune was being played on the piano. There were many people who attended the ball. Maids were serving dishes made of cheese. Rhen did a quick search and found out the owner who was talking about selling his manor.

“Excuse me, are you Master Pemberlin who owns the Manor next door.

“Yes, that would be me. Would you young noble be interested?”

“How much are you selling it for?”

 

 

The others were waiting outside. Lars was pacing to and fro impatiently.

“The sword singer’s back,” Elini pointed at Rhen as she was coming slowly.

“So, did you get it?” Lars asked her impatiently.

She looked down.

“It’s okay, I guess we don’t need it much.” He mumbled.

Then she showed them the manor key with a grin. They were surprised and cheered with happiness.

“As Rhen got the manor, she will open it,” Dameon said. Everyone else agreed. Rhen opened the manor. I was quite big. There were individual rooms for everyone. A spacious living room and a organized kitchen was also there. They chose rooms for themselves. Rhen got into her room and changed into her sword singer outfit.

Rhen and Dameon decided to visit the king.

Sedona castle was situated at the top part of the city. Rows of knight armors stood along the corridor. There was a magnificent chandelier in the throne room. There were two rows of guards standing beside the red velvet carpet which paved all the way to the throne. Rhen and Dameon bowed. Rhen noticed a knight was standing beside the king. His armor was different from the others.

“Welcome outlanders!” the king welcomed them with open arms. Just then something flew past them.

“Thud!”

A dagger was thrown towards the king. Fortunately it missed him and was stuck inches above him.

“Someone just tried to assassinate the king!” the knight in the shiny armor exclaimed.

“Sir Galahad! Look down there!” a guard informed.

A hooded person in a purple robe was fleeing.

“Get him!” Galahad shouted.

Before he guards could catch him, the assassin was out of sight.

“Too late! He is gone.” The guard reported.

“Who was that?” Rhen asked coming out of the sudden shock.

“He’s one of the thieves! I recognize the cloak!” Galahad said.

“Find the perpetrator, Galahad! Bring me his head!” The king ordered him.

“I would, sire, but I do not know where the thieves hideout is located!” Galahad shook his head.

“We can help you, your majesty. We have been to the cave where the thieves reside.” Rhen volunteered. Dameon frowned but Rhen gave him a I-know-what-I’m-doing look.

“Then it is done,” the king said. “Galahad, go with these younglings and find out who is behind this assassination attempt!”

“As you wish, sire.” They bowed and followed the thief’s trail.

 

Rhen wanted to inform the others about the incident. So she went to the manor and found only sitting at the dining table.

“Where’s Lars and Te’ijal?”

“The sorcerer went out somewhere and the vampress on her hunt.”

Rhen and Galahad went at the outskirts of the city while Dameon stayed at the manor. When they were searching for the hideout, they saw Lars looking at something sharply.

“What is it, Lars?” Rhen asked him but he was too focused to hear her. She followed his gaze and saw a cave opening not much far.

“So that is the thieves’ hideout!” Galahad said. “Let us barge in and seize the culprit!”

“Have patience, Galahad,” but he didn’t listen to her and marched into the cave.

“What’s wrong with that dude anyway?” Lars asked.

“Let’s talk about this later,” she sighed. “Come, let’s go.”

Rhen and Lars followed Galahad’s footsteps. They found him trying to pull out a sword out of a huge stone. But he couldn’t. he gave up cursing under his breath.

“Hey Rhen,” Lars nudged. “You should try to pull it out. Swords like you.”

Rhen thought of it and decided to try. She stood in front of it and held the sword firmly. Unexpectedly, she pulled out a golden-yellow sword at ease. Strange aura transferred as she held it in awe.

“It’s another Sword of Power!” she was excited at her discovery. “The Sword of Light!” she swung the sword with full concentration. A huge yellow holy cross emerged from the sword and exploded where Galahad was standing.

“Watch out, young maiden!” he jumped aside in the nick of time.

“I’m sorry,” she apologized and helped him up.

Lars had a feeling that someone was watching them. He carefully looked around. He murmured a spell and a scream followed. They ran to the source of the sound and found a man in a purple robe stuck in a cage made of light bars.   

“You there!” Galahad pulled his sword out and pointed it to the thief. “Tell me are you the dirty thief who tried to kill the king!”

The thief panicked and struggled to free himself but when he touched the bars he was shocked.

“Ignoremy friend,” Rhen said calmly. “Could you help us? We’re trying to find out why the thieves want to kill the king of Sedona.”

“Hmmm……I have your answers, but why should I tell you?” he spatted.

“We’ll pay the double what the perpetrator paid you.” Lars’ jaw dropped but Rhen ignored him.

“Will you now? Let me free…..”

Rhen nudged Lars who waved his hand and remoned the shocking effect.

“Just in case.” The thief scowled at him.

“I shall tell you this much. We were paid to assassinate the king by an influential nobleman in Sedona.”

“Who?”

“Tsk, tsk. Payment remember? I will tell you the answeres to your questions if you do something for me.”

“We don’t bargain with scum!” Galahad argued.

“Er, ignore my friend. He’s not right in the head.” Rhen whispered. Lars chuckled.

“I thought as much,” he nodded.

“What would you have us to do?”
”There’s a man in Sedona who owes me money but refuses to pay. I want you to go into his house and take a special statuette.”

“What does the statuette look like?”
”The statuette is of an elven man. Return the statuette and I shall tell you who hired us to kill the king.”

“Galahad, will you take care of him while we search for the statuette?”
”Of course, allies under the sun! I shall cut his feet if tries escape.”

 

 

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Lars asked when they were snooping around a house.

“We promised that we’ll find out who tried to assassinate the king. The folks said they saw this rich man bringing something like that.” Lars tried to open it with his spell but failed.

“Looks like its magic-proof,” she mused. “Lars, do you have what we found at the cave, the……”

“”Damn it! How silly of me!” he rummaged his cloak and gave her what she wanted.

“……picklock” she took it and giggled when she noticed Lars blushing furiously at his mistake.

“Umm……Lars?” Rhen signaled him as they sneaked into the dark house. He snapped his fingers and brightened the place. “Thank you.”

The statuette of an elf stood at the end of the hallway. The inscription on the base said, “Lionel the Great.”

“Rhen, that looks like the elven statuette that the thieves want back,” Lars whispered. “Let’s take it!”

The statuette was small enough to fit in their bag. They left the house, locked the door and headed to the hideout.

 

 

“We’ve brought you the statuette.” Rhen gave it to him. “Now it’s time for you to fulfill your end of the bargain. Who hired the thieves to kill the king?”

 “The client is a nobleman who goes by the name……Lord Gavin.”

“GAVIN!” Galahad suddenly roared so loud that they jumped. “I shall tear his heart out with my bare hands!”
”Easy, Galahad,” Rhen tried to calm him down. “Let’s go tell the king. He’ll decide what to do

 

 

Back at the castle,

Elini, Dameon and Te’ijal were waiting for them.

Suddenly Galahad marched back with Rhen and Lars following.

“M’lord, we have found the culprit responsible for the attempt on your life. Lord Gavin paid the thieves to have you assassinated.”
”Good job, Galahad. For your reward you have access to the royal treasury.”

“What about us? We did all the work!” Lars protested.

“I am sure you were very helpful to Sir Galahad. I shall let him decide if you are worthy of sharing the treasure.”

“They shall share the treasures on one condition.”

“And what’s that?” Rhen asked.

“I must be allowed to be the young girl’s champion.” He pointed to Rhen whose eyes widened and mouth fell open.

“Champion! I don’t need a champion!” Rhen protested. “Why would you want this?”
”I sense she is in grave danger and as a royal paladin it is my duty to ensure the maiden is safe.”

“I don’t need protecting! I’m a sword singer! And I know sword magic!”

“Good citizens under the sun know that magic does not exist! Do not try to dissuade me with nonsense.”

“………” Rhen and the others were speechless. Rhen needed to make a decision fast. She looked at her companions for help. Lars and Dameon were giving a no expression. Te’ijal seemed to be interested in that arrogant paladin. Only Elini didn’t have any opinion.

“Fine! You can come with us!” Rhen announced her decision.

“From this day on forth I pledge my sword to protect you with my life as your champion.”

Rhen rolled her eyes.

They decided to stay one more day at Sedona as Lars insisted. Rhen kept wondering why.

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Chapter 21: Getting Along

 

The next morning, Rhen was looking for Dameon but couldn’t find him. She saw Te’ijal.

“Te’ijal, have you seen Dameon?” no answer came. “Te’ijal, hello?” she came in front of her and found out she was studying Galahad.

“Galahad’s hatred for me is endearing.” She didn’t seem to hear her question. “If only I could get close enough to bite him!”

“I’ll take that as a no……” she murmured and went away. She saw Lars attentively reading a book.

“Lars, have you seen Dameon around?”

He was so concentrated that he jumped at her sudden question. “Er, no.”

“So it was true. You do like reading.”

He nodded.

“What are you reading?”

“Well….I……um…”

“It’s okay if you don’t want to say.” She turned to leave.

“Rhen! I wanted to say something.”

“Yes?”
”I……I wanted to apologize for being so horrible to you.” He looked down.

“Thank you Lars.” she wasn’t much surprised .Due to Lars’ past behavior, she felt he would apologize. “So, what are you reading?”
”Pemberlin’s journal. He had a cloak of undying loyalty.” His eyes shone. “It could capture souls of beasts but he lost it in the highlands.”

“Is that the reason you wanted to stay another day?”

“Yes and no. I saw a signboard while returning from the hideout about a village, Dirkon.” He smiled. “It seems I’m affected by you.”

“Is that an insult or compliment?”

“That’s upto you.”

“I wanna come.”

“Why? Because your boyfriend is missing and your date is cancelled?” he said sarcastically.

“He’s not my boyfriend!”
”Yeah right. You don’t have a good choice. What exactly did you see in that half bald?!”
”He’s polite and good. Appearance doesn’t matter. And why are we even talking about this? We’ve to go o Dirkon, remember?”
”Okay, but I’m so not walking.” He crossed his arms.

“And I’m so not going to let you teleport.” She crossed her arms.

“Who said anything about teleport?”
”Then how are we going?”

He smirked.

 

 

“Dirkon is south from here,” Lars said while patting his horse. They borrowed horses from a nearby stable in Sedona. Lars was riding a gray horse with white hair and Rhen had a brown one with black hair. They were riding through the forest in Peninnsula.

“I never thought you could ride a horse.”

“What do you mean by that?!”

“I meant not bad for someone who always teleports himself every second.”

“Hmph! It was part of the training. You know that.”

“Oh yes. I thought that was only for sword singers.”

“We’ve arrived.” They landed from their horses.

It was opposite of Sedona. The place was deserted. There were a few wooden houses.

“What happened here?” Lars said while looking around.

“Ah!” Rhen screamed.

“What!”

“It’s……it’s a rat!”

Lars seemed shocked. Then he bursted out. “You’re afraid of a rat! The great sword singer, princess Rhen Pendragon is afraid of rats!”

“Stop it!”

A man was walking towards them. He seemed ill.

“What happened here?” Rhen asked him.

“Dirkon is a poor village with few resources. We have suffered terribly since the plague.” He was sad. “Haurvatat have mercy on us!” he said while looking up.

“How terrible! We should help.”

Lars nodded.

They went into a house which looked like a temporary hospital as there were patients in beds.

“Plague has stricken our village travelers. Best you leave before you are stricken down as well.” An old lady who was the nurse told them.

“The plague? Have you called for help?” Rhen asked her.

“Word was sent a moon ago to Sedona but they are afraid or care not to send help.”

“Is there any way we can help?”
”Kill the rats in the village. I suspect they are responsible for bringing the plague down upon us.”

“I suppose you should stay here and I go and kill them as you’re……” Lars whispered.

“No……to help them I will kill the rats.”

They went to every house, searched the whol place for rats and killed them.

“We’ve killed all the rats. Is there anything else we can do for you?” Rhem reported.

“Blessed be your souls! Please bring two vials of elixirs from Sedona. And give them to the sick villagers.”

“No need for that.” Lars said. “I already have them.”

“When did you……”

“I was in the marketplace, remember?” saying so Lars went to the plague stricken villagers and gave them the elixirs.

“Thank you. We haven’t had any report of the plague. You have saved the village with your selfless deed.” Saying so the old woman disappeared and Haurvatat appeared.

“You again!”

“You have saved the village. You have my blessings.” She disappeared.

“Does she always have to do that?” Lars said.

Rhen shrugged. “Guess our sightseeing’s over. Let’s go back.”

They were leaving as they saw the same man they met earlier. “One tragedy after another! First the plague and now this! Our poor goose!”

“What happened to your goose?”
”The village goose has died. As we are very poor here, the goose kept us alive with its eggs. Now we are surely doomed!”
”We’ll keep our eyes out for another goose.”

 

 

“Got him!” Lars punched his hand as they were returning to the manor.

“Now what? Got who?” Rhen was confused and tired.

“That man.” Lars pointed to a man wearing a green and blue robe with a noble type hat. “I’ve been looking for him since yesterday. I’ve seen him doing some spell that could be done by elite mages.”

Lars knocked on the door. The man opened the door.

“You look……common.” He said with a frown.

“Common!” Lars barged in. “I’m a noble AND a sorcerer.”

“I am sorry.” He hurriedly apologized. “It is your drab clothing, I couldn’t know.” He examined him. “Sorcerer, did you say?” He held his chin. “Yes, I see it now.”
”What is this place?” Lars looked around the empty house.

“This is the secret guild for Elite Mages. Only nobles are welcomed into our rank.”
”Elite! Ha! This place is a dump! And you call me common!” still furious for being called common.”
”Of course it is! I said this is a SECRET guild, remember? If the foolish Sorcerer’s council found out that our membership is based on birthright, they would outlaw us.” He started explaining. “WE Elite Mages believe that only noble-born sorcerers can be trusted with magic.” He beamed with pride. “Join us and help outlaw peasants from learning magic.”

Rhen was silent all the while and listening to the conversation. She was sharply looking at Lars for his reply.

“Your so-called guild sounds sketchy. No way am I gonna join.”

“Wow, Lars.” Rhen was surprised. “I’m amazed you turned that offer down. I thought that you wanted to change the laws so peasants can’t learn magic.”

“Hmph! I may have changed my mind. MAYBE.” He went out without giving her any chance to speak. Rhen smiled following him out.

 

 

“Rhen, I was waiting for you.” Dameon stood up from the chair.

“Dameon, where were you?” Rhen asked him.

“I……had some errand to run.”

“I was with……” she turned but Lars had already gone to his room. “We were……sightseeing……”

They sat down and Rhen told him about her day. They were deep in conversation.

“I had no idea how skilled you were with a sword. Deadly and beautiful at the same time.”

“Dameon, I’ve been thinking………” she hesitated.

“What is in your mind, Rhen?”
”It’s about your mother……” she finally said. “I know you’re angry at her but I think you should put yourself in her shoes before you judge her. She had to destroy your father to save countless men, women and children.”

“But Rhen……” he looked away for a moment and turned to her. “Countless men, women and children WERE destroyed. Murdering my father did not help the situation.”

“Please, Dameon. Think about it. Many WERE saved. If she hadn’t done what she did, Ahriman might have won by now.”

“I will……think on it…”

 

 

While they were having a conversation an……interesting incident occurred.

Te’ijal couldn’t wait any longer. She took out her soul pendant and ‘mistakenly’ touched Galahad with it. His soul was enslaved into the pendant.

“Argh!” Galahad shrieked. “Creature of the night! What evil have you done to me?!”

The others rushed to the spot hearing his shriek.

“Don’t worry, foolish paladin, I just borrowed your soul for eternity,” she said sarcastically.

“You lie! Repent your evil ways and let me stake you!” he leaned to attack her but Rhen and Lars held him.

“You look so tasty when you are angry, my succulent chopstick!” she said. “We are tied together now. You must follow me wherever my heart desires.” She placed her hand on her chest and snapped her fingers suddenly, “Oh wait! I don’t have a heart!” Te’ijal laughs. The party members quietly step away from the mad woman. Oh well, at least everyone else is safe from the pendant’s evil now!

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