Small Beginnings- LOTA Part 1

Well, I think it's time I placed the latest version of what I've written on here. I'm starting a new project, and I'd like people to know where I got with the old one, just, you know, because. This is a working title, any suggestions let me know. Thanks guys :)

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11. Chapter 11

Vellian woke with a start. He saw that Krenclire was already up, his things packed neatly into his rucksack, which was in turn leaning on a pole. Jiro and Arián were still asleep, both on the very edges of their multicoloured, thin sleeping bags. He looked away and tried to work out how to get around them. Vellian suddenly felt a surge of anger, a burning fire inside his throat. The moment quickly passed, however, and he crawled quietly out the front.

Krenclire was truly a spectacle. Clothed in a pitch black karate robe, he was perched on top of a set of large, precariously balanced boulders. They were all spinning gently in one way or another, none wobbling at all. Krenclire himself was balancing on one hoof on the miniscule uppermost boulder, a pure black katana in each hand. They were angled backward so as to be in line with his elbows. As Vellian watched in awe, Krenclire produced a small, beautiful, perfectly spherical and dead black stone from one of his pockets and threw it up into the air. It landed flawlessly, as though rehearsed by nature itself, - on a flat boulder near the bottom, setting off a well-timed chain reaction that made Krenclire bounce slightly on the edge of the small boulder he was on. Soon the entire precarious structure was swaying up and down as well as round, and he was swinging with it.

He jumped down, and hit a large flat boulder perfectly. It rebounded, and sent him soaring up into the air.

Vellian watched silently as he reached the gentle zenith of his jump, perfectly silhouetted against the sun. His swords were spinning around him, weaving intricate patterns as he swung them. It appeared as though he was waging a war with the air itself, and was beautiful, serene and elegant. Krenclire brought his arms down, and corkscrewed to the ground. He hit the top of the still-spinning boulders, and they all instantly shattered. Krenclire stepped out from the dust cloud, and threw himself haphazardly down on a log.

The morning was beautiful. Birds tweeted merrily to themselves, and the crisp morning breeze played through the trees. The sun was already reasonably high up in the sky, despite it being early, and cast long shadows far into the calm clearing. It was a perfect, uninterrupted image of serenity, and Vellian welcomed it with open arms.

 

He sat down next to Krenclire, who was blotting his entire face with a small towel. It was pure white, which seemed almost a cultural obligation for Erichnae, and was beginning to saturate from the levels of sweat flowing out of his forehead. Vellian sighed to himself, blowing hair out of his face as he leaned forward. It was a completely frivolous pursuit, as every time his head moved an inch, gravity would simply pull it straight back to the point it was originally at. He continued in this obscure, unnecessary action for about three minutes, apparently in the sole pursuit of passing the time, until Jiro and Arián came out of the faded canvas tent. They still looked like they were semi-asleep, and were falling over each other and stumbling around almost comically.  Jiro went to sleep in his usual emerald robes, which looked as though he had just put them on now he was fully awake, and Arián was in a pair of furry red pyjamas with white dots that she had obviously packed. Her hair was knotted to an unfathomable extent, and shone in the sun. She ruffled it slightly, without objective, and sat down on the log opposite Vellian, on the other side of the now dimming fire. The embers were still glowing, white around the edges, and spat up dark ash every time Krenclire poked it with his hoof. Jiro sat down too, next to Arián, and a slightly awkward silence followed, that culminated in Krenclire proposing breakfast. Jiro hauled himself up heavily, groaned slightly, and walked off with Krenclire.

Jiro and Arián were left alone, on opposite sides of the fire, Arián huddled to herself and Vellian hunched over. The fire had been sparked slightly by Krenclire, giving it a small flame that was burning away merrily to itself and completely inconsiderate of the two people, both very cold, that were around it. Although he would not let on, he was very cold, and was plagued by the nagging thought at the back of his mind. It was just there, this little worry, incessantly drilling into his consciousness. It was that encounter with the Crystal. He really needed to give it a better name than the “Crystal”. It needed something that sounded more regal, more akin to its actual role, protecting the “Equilibrium.” His mind drifted off the side track that it was running on and back onto that thought. It had said that he had encountered the Darkness before. He couldn’t remember anything of the sort happening in the hills.

“Arián?” He asked.

She looked up slightly, her eyes the only thing visible over her pyjamas. She had pulled up the top so as to cover most of her face, and her light blue irises contracted slightly as she spoke.

“Yes?”

“I was wondering...”

She raised one eyebrow slightly, “Yes?”

“Did you see anything strange in the mountains?”

“Actually I did,” she said, her voice now adopting a dreamy manner. Vellian perked up slightly.

 “There was this goat, and it was bungee jumping off a rock with some leaves, and...”

“Anything else?” Vellian interrupted hastily. He was slightly alarmed by what she had just said.

She paused, and then replied, “No.”

“Okay.”

Unfortunately, from that point onward, an awkward silence developed. It became impossible to start a conversation, as all attempts ended in mute replies, and they waited out the rest of the hour in silence.

In the small wood surrounding the clearing, Jiro and Krenclire were treading through the reasonably thick undergrowth, as silent as panthers ready to strike. Quite a laughable simile to use, actually, seeing as they had spotted a rabbit, which meant that somewhere very close by was a whole burrow, which they intended on “pouncing” on. Jiro raised one hand toward the rabbit very slowly, and, so quietly it was difficult to hear above the gentle rustle of the trees, he whispered a new spell of his.

Morphus is a very distinct branch of magic. Each of the spells start with the word “Morphus” and is followed by one other, generally something Latin-based. However, there are a lot of spells that don’t quite fit into a category. They are more commands than spells. Most of these are what are called earth magicks, which have very little scientific basis, unlike other branches. They mostly summon the forces of nature by interacting with spirits inside them. Everything in nature is alive, and has a form of consciousness. Earth magicks simply manipulate these consciousnesses, and can enable something to do things beyond its natural limits, or to use its abilities in unconventional combinations. For example, Jiro was attempting to coerce an entire warren of rabbits into appearing above ground. He began to fluctuate his outstretched hand slightly, almost as if massaging a brain, and concentrated entirely on what he wanted the rabbits to think.

Although it is immeasurably powerful, this branch is equally unstable, and has a reputation for occasionally sending the targets insane. Animals run off the sides of Atlands, trees contort to breaking point; birds fly into the water and never come up. The rabbits were all thrown simultaneously up into the air, penetrating three feet of ground. The looks on their faces varied- some looked confused, others happy, others still enraged, flailing around like a fish out of water. Their white, fluffy coats stood on end, as though shot with a bolt of electricity, and they looked ridiculous up there. Unfortunately, they were caught by a gust of wind, and floated off into the morning, eventually to hit another Atland and, curiously enough, later create an entire species of rabbit that are able to levitate at will.

Jiro blinked slowly, slightly frustrated that he failed so miserably at this task. Krenclire turned to him, with a look on his face that came out looking like “If you weren’t entirely sure you could do it, why do it, and throw any hope of breakfast literally onto the wind!”

“It doesn’t always work.”

~

Arián was sitting by the now diminishing fire, rucksack neatly packed and now leaning against the log. Her crimson hair was hanging down loosely in front of her, and she just sat there, staring into the flames. The warm, open flickering tongues of heat. They crackled merrily to themselves, and though now less than a few inches high, still emitted a sizeable amount of heat. Jiro was actually jumping on his own muddy brown rucksack, made no less brown by the mud on his boots, in a futile attempt to compact his haphazardly thrown in clothing and books, and he gave up shortly after running out of energy. Krenclire was as relaxed as he could ever be, calmly packing his small load of things. It only occurred to Jiro just then, as he was looking around, that Krenclire never changed clothes. Vellian, however, was slightly too busy to notice anything, as he was desperately attempting to pack up the tent. It was not working out anywhere near as well as he had hoped it would.

“Jiro,” he called, “Can you do a bit of that hocus-pocus stuff and make this task a lot easier?”

“Meh.” Jiro replied. Magic seemed to be subject to moods.

After intervention by Krenclire and Arián, five minutes later, they were packed and ready to go. Jiro haphazardly slung on his old rucksack, and lead the group away into the forest once more.

 

Thank god, Vellian thought, that they had got that night’s sleep. It looked, from the sight of the ominous hole they were going into, like they were going to need every inch of their energy just to make it to Orcum Municipus. The dark expanse, reminiscent of those black, starless nights he spent alone outside, beckoned him forward, long, spindly arms reaching out with twisted, bony fingers, threatening to engulf him and pull every ounce of his life force from-

No. He was exaggerating. It was a cave. It was not alive. With luck.

 

~

 

They had managed, just, to get into the cave. It was suddenly a lot scarier, a lot more portentous than it was ten minutes ago. It was very hard to see more than a few feet in front, and as they moved in more, became increasingly harder to even see anything at all. If only there was some means of getting some light in here, he thought.

“Hey, Jiro-“ he started.

Morphus Luzus!

Jiro’s sometimes annoying pre-emptive manner suddenly became useful, as Vellian was cast in a soft green hue. It instantly illuminated the cave, most vibrantly closest to Jiro, and faded to black as he looked further away. The light, in fact, actually looked like it had saturated the air, like it was actually solid, and reminded him of the consistency of pea soup.  It was probably another quality of magical light. They pressed on round a corner, now illuminated by the unearthly glow, and were met by an enormous door. It was absolutely huge, spanning the entirety of the large cave opening. Made of what appeared to be ebony, it was exquisitely, ornately carved, weaving intricate patterns deep into the woodwork. There was a small, horizontal space in the dead centre of the door, only a few inches in diameter, but spanning the entire width. It was strange, and seemed not to serve a purpose. Vellian stood for a moment, as everyone pondered the next move.

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