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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6. Chapter 6

Vellian was growing desperate. He had attempted to escape twice (both attempts failing miserably), and had now taken to asking Krenclire to stand still and phase while he practised his sword fighting. They had Nightslayer, the “bane of the undead”, and a rapier that Krenclire had made by weaving together hundreds of strands of bamboo, then shaving the excess, until not even Nightslayer could penetrate its thick, tight hide. They improved enormously, Vellian taking a more strength-oriented approach, and Krenclire-a proficient teacher of swordplay- jumping around, wall running and dodging, whipping Vellian with his makeshift weapon when he was too slow. In this way, they were battle-ready within a week. It seemed that time in this prison was different to outside, as they should have been locked away forever by now.

Although Illyerin was harsh and unforgiving, she had one night somehow cleaned Vellian and Krenclire, along with their clothes, in their sleep. When Vellian first awoke, having been brought back to life by a pitying Illyerin, he was in a slight state of shock at his reinforced leather Flak jacket being covered in his blood. Krenclire explained why (Illyerin disappeared coincidentally at that point) and other than that, nothing interesting really happened to the prisoners.

~

Jiro had arrived overnight. He awoke in the cramped carriage, and got out, yawning. He had slept in his clothes for convenience, so didn’t need to get changed. He sorted out his messy hair, and then turned round a corner. As he rounded the bend out of the garage the carriage was parked in, he was met with the one thing he could really had done without- an Erichnae. The Erichnae gave Jiro a quizzical look, and then spoke. It was a girl.

“Jiro?” She had removed her hood, but kept the travelling cloak on, so as not to draw attention to herself. When Jiro looked past the immaculate brown robes, he saw that they were in a town, not the guild, as he had feared. She didn’t look like she had just come out of a grand place like the Mechalisourrd.

She repeated her question, the words seeming to flow from her flat, white mouth. “Are you Jiro?”

“W-w-why? W-w-what do you want?” Jiro stammered. He realised that ever since the catastrophe at Celestan, he had reverted to his normal, stuttering state in times of stress. “Where is my driver?”

The Erichnae took her time before answering again.  “That is none of your business.” She seemed to be uncharacteristically like Illyerin in her skill at answering questions in that flat way. “Just give this to Gre.”

“Who?”

Gre. Erm...” She clicked her fingers on her left hand quickly, as if it aided her in her recollection of memory. “Krenclire. Is that was he calls himself now?”

Jiro was becoming increasingly more confused about the nature of this visitor. They seemed to do this a lot, seeing as they were adept at travelling quickly across large distances of land. They seemed to expect people they encounter to understand what on earth they were talking about immediately.

“Take this, Jiro, and give it to Krenclire.” She handed him an envelope, pure white (as is everything an Erichnae has a choice in the colour of), and turned around. Jiro quickly grabbed her arm. She was about a foot taller than him, and she was ready to leave.

“Who are you?” Jiro had decided to persist.

“Take this as well. That should get him out of the Womb.” She handed Jiro another piece of paper, rolled tight and stamped with the seal of the Mechalisourrd. "A sacred site decree. A good forgery.”

“Who are you?” Jiro was getting really annoyed, too much so to notice shouts of “There she is!” from behind him.

She did not answer. Instead, she grabbed Jiro by the arms and jumped.

It is a lovely feeling when you jump. Seeing everything spread out below you like a map, that feeling of weightlessness. Unfortunately it wasn’t something Jiro had the luxury of enjoying. He was being spun around at a tremendous speed, and wasn’t really enjoying it. All Erichnae are gifted with astounding strength for their physique, and so could jump great distances, and in this case, hurl a fourteen year-old boy straight at the Womb’s clearing, 3 miles away, with pinpoint accuracy.

Jiro was released, and flew amazingly fast. Did she not understand that he’ll die?

Of course.

Morphus Aquus!

A perfectly cubic body of water emerged round Jiro just before he hit the ground. It immediately dispersed as he hit, and softened his fall to the point it felt like he had fallen over in a puddle.

Illyerin emerged rapidly from the hole the moment she heard a disturbance outside. Her eyes widened when Jiro stood up from the substantial dent he had made in the ground, clutching the forged decree in his hand. The ghostly form immediately flew over to Jiro and snatched the paper from him. It unfolded easily, and her translucent eyes scanned the page quickly. She realised that her wish had been granted.

She whipped herself in the air, holding the clean parchment with her ghostly, delicate hands like it was the Holy Grail. The sun shone through her, and the bright summer’s day reflected her happiness as though the gods themselves had crafted the moment. She spun around, flying through the clearing, whipping up stray leaves and sending them soaring with her. It was a beautiful moment.

Jiro however, was trying to stop her. At long last, she calmed herself, and the watery surface of her dress shimmered, then darkened.

“I suppose you want your friends back?” She spoke slowly and deliberately, as if Jiro was an unwanted piece of filth.

“Erm, yes, if you wouldn’t mind.”

She motioned dramatically at the ground. Jiro turned, expecting to see them appear from a cloud of dust. He blinked. They were there. Jiro recoiled slightly at that. No sign of them being moved, they were just there. Spooky.

Vellian moaned slightly. He was propped up against Krenclire, the two leaning on each other. They both opened their eyes, almost simultaneously, and took in the fact that they were free. Unfortunately for them, they were a bit disoriented from being magically moved from their cell in another dimension to here, and the surveyed the outside world for a whole minute before realising that they were in the iridescent, beautiful, varied space outside. They stood as one, Krenclire quickly casting a dirty look at an uninterested Illyerin, before running at Jiro. Vellian hugged him, conveying every last drop of sympathy and thanks into one big squeeze, while Krenclire, who wasn’t really one for formalities, simply smiled. Vellian lead Jiro and Krenclire, fresh from a holding cell, into the thick undergrowth, leaving Illyerin to simply fade away.

~

Jiro was telling the others about what he had done, recounting everything with the finest detail. He had got to waking up in his carriage when Krenclire stopped him. Suddenly, for some mad reason, everything went quiet. The trees stopped rustling, the birds stopped chattering, and the insects stopped buzzing.

“Repeat that for me, would you?” There was no giveaway as to why he would want them to stop.

Jiro obliged to the request. “I stepped out of the Carriage, and saw an Erichnae, just like you. Ooh, she said to do something. Erm... Ah yes.” He fumbled in his pocket for a moment, before proudly presenting the note Jiro’s helpful stranger had given him. Krenclire opened it in one fluid motion, slotting his index finger under the pristine envelope and sliding it across the fold, making a clean split in the top. In the same practised manner, he flicked the letter and unfolded it one-handed, then scanned the page quickly. His eyes lit up as he read the inking on the other side.

“Mukashien Dojo,” He mumbled to himself as he read it.

Jiro was interested, and peered over at the page. What he was met with was a map, detailed and marked. Krenclire sat down on a nearby log before Jiro got another peek, and he flattened the paper out on his lap. Vellian sat on one side of him, Jiro on the other.

“You see,” Krenclire explained, one long, skeletal finger pointing on the map, “The well is just there.” He pointed to the top corner of the picture on the letter. “We are there.” He pointed to the middle of the paper. “Mukashien Dojo is there, about a mile away.” There was silence for a moment. The sound had returned to the forest, and rays of light danced on the page.

“So why don’t we jump?” Vellian asked. Jiro murmured in agreement, nodding his head.

Krenclire hadn’t thought of that. “Yeah.” It was a pathetic answer.

Jiro saddled up on Krenclire’s back, and Vellian clung to his waist. Krenclire readied himself to jump, crouching down low. He built up the natural strength his species possessed, and then became a blur. They travelled enormously fast, trees, then sky, then clouds blurring into one. The world slowed as quickly as it sped up, and then they stopped. In mid air, the weightless feeling was there, and oh, it was good. It was a beautiful feeling.

They came down as soon as they went up. As they came in to land, there was a huge crash, and when Vellian opened his eyes, he saw that the landing had made a substantial dent in the forest floor. “That’ll be enough” Krenclire huffed, as he shrugged the other two off. “A bit of manual labour from here.”

~

The trio trudged through the dense undergrowth, as full of life as they could be. The buzzing of insects and high-pitched trills of the pure white syr’ing nestling in the branches surrounded them. The air was thick and humid, but the unlikely heroes had soon become accustomed to the work and were now talking animatedly. At the moment, Vellian and Jiro were bumping into Krenclire, attempting to coax an answer out of him. The boys were both thirteen, and didn’t see why any of this should have an implication. In human years, Krenclire was the same, but for an Erichnae, his years passed at twice that. He was about a head taller than the boys, although it looked a lot more at the moment.

“Come on, who is he?” asked Jiro.

“She.” Krenclire corrected bluntly.

“Ooh!” Jiro smirked.

Vellian began chanting, with all the maturity of a six-year old, “Krenclire’s got a girlfriend! Krenclire’s got a girlfriend!”

It was frankly quite hard for Krenclire to resist punching them.

“Look,” he spat, “Myren is a girl’s name. So calling whoever it is he is a bit disrespectful, isn’t it? And I have known a Myren, but she’s dead. She wouldn’t have talked to you. Does that clear anything up?”

Vellian looked bemused, and Jiro threw Krenclire a doubtful glance. But they had to accept it, and so trudged on.

They soon reached the edge of the jungle. The sounds trademark to a rainforest deserted them, and was replaced with an almost unearthly silence. Krenclire stopped, and craned his neck, checking for something. He evidently didn’t see what it was, and continued along the narrow, well-trodden path in front of them. Mountains loomed overhead, which disappeared above the low, thick cloud layer. They were clad with short grass the whole way up, and would have been hills if it wasn’t for their exceptional height. Vellian stared as they walked towards the giants, and Jiro had regained the puzzled look he gave anyone or anything that was hiding something. Krenclire, on the other hand, was untroubled by the scene, and drew the folded, yellowed piece of paper expertly out of the unnaturally deep pocket in his belt. He then proceeded to unfold it in the same one-handed manner he had utilised earlier, and held the map up to the mountains, as if clarifying the scrawled directions. He folded it up again, and quickened his pace to catch up to his accomplices, who were fast approaching the mountains.

At last they got to the bottom of the mountain. A narrow path wound up through the slope, contouring the mountain into layers. The path disappeared along with the mountain where it met the clouds, meaning that the only plausible way up was by path. They walked on, up the path, and were about thirty feet up when Jiro asked Krenclire if he could jump them up.

“I need more power. I haven’t eaten all day,” was the blunt answer.

Vellian then enquired, between heavy breaths, whether Jiro could magic them to the top.

“Same as Krenclire.” They weren’t very happy.

Nevertheless, they eventually arrived at the cloud layer, and despite being tired, cleared the thick, moist fog that surrounded them and entered the space in between clouds. It was quite a large spot, and the first thing that hit them was the scale of Mukashien Dojo.

It was huge. Several peaks, linked together by thin, side less rope bridges, lay close together. Each had its own strange sight to offer, but the first thing that caught their eyes was an enormous building, situated on the highest peak. It was a Japanese palace, with red-roofed bungalows stacked on top of each other continuously, until they eventually breached another cloud layer, another fifty feet up.

In front of this were three summits, cut off before the top to reveal a flat surface. Black dots were dancing around the middle one, in which a circle had been drawn. The one to the left of the dojo itself was a massive water tank, about half a mile in each direction, with crystal clear water and another set of black dots, this time dancing around one in the middle. The one on the right of the ever-green clad summit was a set of dolmens arranged in a tight circle, each ten feet high. What appeared at first to be dots were now revealed to be people, balancing on top of the stones, flying through the narrow gaps between them and kicking them with immense speed. One member, notably bigger than the others, was hauling a cartful of boulders up the steep, rocky face. A path in front of the dumbstruck adventurers dropped off suddenly, with the first of the near-suicidal bridges spanning out to the aforementioned crimson dojo. Vellian shrugged, and lead the others across the thin planks nervously. They traversed it slowly, and shuffled along, but the bridge luckily didn’t give, and they reached the edge after being reduced to crawling along. They walked up the now solid path, and came within an arms length of the door before blinking.

What was special about that blink was that when an unsuspecting Jiro opened his eyes, a black-clad figure had appeared in front of them, and had taken up a battle stance. It was a she, from the blood-red ponytail behind her. Krenclire, ever-alert, instantly adopted a similar pose, and before the boys knew it, they had to back away for Krenclire to dart through.

He attacked.

He jumped to her.

She flicked her legs up.

She caught him.

He flicked her up.

She grabbed onto the railings of the roof.

He grabbed her legs.

He swung her round.

She stopped him.

He leaped backwards.

She flipped onto the next roof.

She ran along.

He jumped.

She launched herself.

She drew a bamboo cane.

He blocked the blows.

He grabbed the cane.

His hooves hit the cane.

There was a crack.

He grabbed one half.

They duelled.

He lunged.

She parried.

She launched.

He ducked.

She kicked.

He took it.

He punched.

She took it.

She flipped.

She struck him.

He caught her leg.

He threw her at the window.

There was a smash.

He jumped in.

She flicked backwards.

The railing gave.

He followed her.

They wall-ran.

She tripped him.

He grabbed a rope.

She grabbed him.

She flicked him.

There was a snap.

She jumped.

He jumped.

They landed.

They fought.

She lunged.

He ducked.

She punched.

He parried.

She jumped.

He stopped her.

She pulled him with her.

He fell.

She fell.

He rose.

She rose.

Morphus dividus!

Jiro uttered.

Morphus dividus!

“That’ll be quite enough of that, Arián.”

Jiro turned to see the source of the dividus spell that he didn’t cast. An old man, with a slightly conical hat, similar to the ones often seen on Chinese gardeners, emerged from the shadows, and addressed the girl.

“Master.” Arián bowed slightly, and then addressed the old man. “He attacked me.”

“You invoked that action.” The Sensei was calm, but somehow fierce. His grey robes reflected plainness in its finest form, but he seemed to glimmer as he spoke. “These travellers have come a way to find us, you just spent five hours resting, and you straight away allow an Erichnae to match you. You were sloppy, you were inconsistent.”

“Master.” Arián bowed again. “He,” she pointed at Jiro, “was about to blow the door off.” She turned, and then corrected herself. “Did blow the door off.”

“You had attacked their accomplice. You seemed hostile.” The Sensei raised his hand as he spoke.

Morphus Reparo!

The heavy cream door pieced itself together like a jigsaw puzzle, and then righted itself on the frame. The Sensei lowered his hand, and then addressed the newcomers.

“Krenclire, I am sorry for your trouble. May I recommend a few days here to sharpen your skills and rest?”

Jiro butted in hastily, before Krenclire could answer. “We’d be delighted.”

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