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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1. Prologue and Chapter 1

It was dark, but not dark. Not quite.

Despite the fact that they should have been nesting, the still-fantastic Chorono still sprinted through the copses, oblivious to the imminent danger. There were beautiful trees in strange colours, and a drop of a thousand miles. And then there was the boy standing among these wonders like his brothers. A teenage, white-haired boy that had been walking among the meadows for hours on end. And he seemed not to notice the syr’ing herds migrating, or the immense beauty of the rimbow which encircled the Atland like a flock of vultures. Vellian had lived in the lower Atlands, a group of flying islands, all his life, and enjoyed travelling to the rim and passing the time. Today was no different, so he made the 5 minute walk to the drop off. Then it struck.

A loud rumble resonated like a thousand crescendos, each louder than their predecessor by a hundred times, and tore at the ground like the very claws of death groping at the living. The ostrich-like Chorono sprinted, crashing into each other and trying to escape the thunderous roar of the earth itself. Vellian, transfixed by the scene of murderous beauty, did not notice the slight crack beginning to emerge on the floor between his legs, and only looked down when the gawping darkness beckoned him.

He dropped.

Vellian found himself in a softly lit cave. Although he could only see but a few feet of the ominous expanse, he could make out what bore striking resemblance to a pocket dagger on the floor, on top of a makeshift leather-studded shield. It was strange to find, and he couldn’t really understand how his luck was such that those objects were that close. Within a moment of claiming these strange items, something rustled in the murky distance.

 

“Ged’ here, stupid” exclaimed a low, cracked, tone. Vellian turned to the source of the noise, seeing a goblin emerge from the depths of the misty gloom. This particular breed of goblin was a murky green colour, with withered skin and a cotton hood bearing the mark of the Asgarne village, which Vellian found strange. Asgarnians weren’t goblins, and were never in caves. Vellian surveyed the two mismatched goblins and his gaze fell upon the small, quiver-like pack one of them had slung over their back. What worried him was the dirtied bone, haphazardly shoved in and now sticking out the top.

“’Ey, looky ‘ere,” one of the goblins called.

“‘E ain’t gonna be an ‘ard ‘un, aye?!” The other replied dubiously.

Vellian readied himself for combat, his nerves twitching. Calling upon his thin knowledge of amateur swordplay one of the elders of his hometown, Ur, had taught him, Vellian placed his right foot forward. One of the goblins charged haphazardly at Vellian. At the last moment, he remembered the stance the elder had taught him and thrust his shield arm forwards, ducking simultaneously. The goblin crashed into the shield and sent assorted flakes of emerald spit flying where Vellian's head had been but a moment before. Good old Elders.

The goblin turned round and pulled the bone out of its satchel. It swung this bone like a sword, clashing with Vellian's dagger and causing it to shatter, throwing shards in all directions and catching Vellian in quite a few places. Although it drew blood, there were more pressing matters. He threw the goblin to the floor and struck a blow with his shield. The goblin retaliated with a scrabble that made three parallel scratches on the side of his forearm. His dagger made contact with the goblin’s middle, slashing the ragged fabric and allowing green blood to trickle out.  The goblin heaved, and lay still.

Vellian began to notice that he was losing blood in growing quantities, and although he was still recovering, he realised that the second goblin was still there. He lashed out, and missed, overbalancing and allowing the goblin to charge at him. He fell to the ground, and kicked the monster, winding it and causing it to recoil wildly. He used his shield arm like a bat, catching the unfortunate goblin in many places. Summoning up all his remaining (and depleting) power, he let out a burst of energy, tearing at the goblin with every last reserve of strength he had. He lashed out time after time, knocking away the goblin’s bony arms with the shield and slashing wildly with the knife. The blow was evidently successful, and as Vellian halted, sweat pouring, he felt a twinge of remorse. He wished that he didn’t have to kill the beasts, but then observed that if he didn’t strike, it would be him that was in the goblin’s position. He kicked the beast, winding it once more, and in an act of mercy hardly realised by the goblin, hit it on the top of its head, knocking it out. The exhaustion of the battle, coupled with the sensation of light-headedness, finally overcame him, and he collapsed.

 

Vellian came round a week later. He glimpsed daylight through his squinted vision, but slipped out of consciousness, and then woke up fully. He was in a large cavern, adorned with stalactites and stalagmites glistening silver. He was standing on a rocky platform, floating in the centre of the huge tunnel. The rock was grey and cold, and there was light, although light without a source, that was spread evenly throughout the rounded fissure. Vellian swayed slightly, dizzied, and rubbed his eyes. When he opened them, he saw a giant, iridescent crystal, with the appearance of two pyramids stuck together. Intricate carvings decorated the surface and seemed to extend inside the object, with every line a different colour of the spectrum. It just sat there, bobbing on the air ever so slightly, as a voice began to resonate through the cave. Like the light before it, it had no source. Vellian was taken aback so much by this, he decided to not even question the appearance of the crystal, which spoke as a deep, booming male.

 

“Orphan of the valley of Ur, I called upon you to this cave. I have seen the darkness rise, and have seen an end to this world. You have been chosen, and you must fulfil your destiny. I see that a meeting shall become necessary once more, when you have found the dark, and will bestow upon you my dimming power. Though the equilibrium has toppled, I retain my powers, and therefore resolve to guide you with the light that I shall bestow upon you and the others who shall walk by your side. You do not need to know who I am, and what my purpose is, but you must fulfil your calling. Goodbye, Vellian.

Do not fail us.”

 

~

 

Vellian came round shortly after. He had no memory of how he had got onto the comfortable surface he was now on. As his eyelids opened, he saw nothing, but the cold stone floor warranted a light breeze playing through the sheets entwining him.  Eventually his brain started to function, and he saw the plants that were commonplace in the Uric herb gardens, surrounded by that all-too-recognisable mist; it always surrounded these flowers. The mist was said to enhance strength in some who smelt it, support the life force of others. That would go a way to explaining why he could have survived that long without water.

Vellian got up and, as he found his footing, he began to walk. He took the dagger that was lying on his table. Vellian burst outside and was confronted by a familiar face, one he was all too happy to see.

“Vellian, you’re alive!” His sister hugged him. “I’ve been so worried about you! I mean, the doctor told us you might not make it!” She was almost completely overcome with joy, when she backed away quite suddenly. “Sister?” Vellian enquired.

“It’s the elders, I almost forgot”

“What?”

“They had a council meeting discussing you. You had better head to their hall quickly to find out what’s going on!” Vellian's sister finished.

Well, thought Vellian, if I’m to go to this Elder’s hall, it would help to get some directions. He would have asked his sister, but her fiery auburn hair could already be seen flowing behind her fast disappearing figure. So he grudgingly set off around his quaint hometown looking for answers. One villager, nicknamed Dodgy Dirk, told him to beware of the homicidal wanshoogles. Fat lot of good that’ll do me, Vellian thought. He continued on, through the pleasant, if not slightly jumbled, rows of houses, some with gardens bursting with life, and others paved and uniform. Every one of the multicoloured cottages looked different, and as Vellian walked down the dirt track that formed a road, he thought how strange it was that he had lived here all his life and still smiled when he saw the large gnome garden that an old man tended to on the corner.

The rest of his excursion was equally fruitless, and it was not until he met an Elder Vellian finally located the Elder Hall.

“Sir?”

“Yes, young one?” the old man replied, with a quiet tone of sincerity.

“I was wondering if... well... you knew where the elder’s hall is.”

“Ah. The hall, you say?”

Vellian wasn’t overly sure if he should answer that.

“Come, young one. Follow and we shall go.”

To be frank, it wasn’t much. In fact, it wasn’t the least like he remembered it from his brief visits; as opposed to golden hallways, low ceilinged corridors. No ornate mythril doors, just a simple wooden arch lead to Elder Topapa’s office.

“Hello?” Vellian called. “Anyone there?”

“Yes, young Vellian, I am here. Where, might I enquire, have you been?”

Vellian saw the sunken complexion of Elder Topapa appear from the shadows, closely followed by the rest of him. He donned a long flowing robe, emblazoned by blue flames on the seams. His thin beard, washed clean of colour by age and wisdom, hung below his countenance with an air of authority that could only have been radiated by such a look.

“Grandpa!” Vellian exclaimed, flinging himself into his adopted grandfather’s cloaked arms.

“I was wondering where you were. We had a summit meeting discussing where you had got to.

Where did you go?”

“To be honest,” Vellian replied, “I don’t remember.”

“Do you know how you got here?”

“I just remember a... No, you’d call me crazy.”

“Do not fear” His grandfather reassured Vellian.

“A...crystal. It made a prophecy, something about the equilibrium.”

“Really? Are you sure?”

“Yes, that’s all I can clearly remember.”

“Then the situation is worse than I feared. Now go, I must contact my companions.”

“So you know what on Earth is going on?”

“Not precisely.”

“Grandpa?”

“Just go see your friends. I need to tell the governor what I believe may be the case.”

Reluctantly, Vellian obeyed. As he left, he wondered what ‘the case’ was, and why it concerned the king. For a moment, he thought of turning back, but decided against it (owing to his grandfather’s tendency to finish a discussion and leave it there). Oh well, he thought. Better go find Jiro.

 

~

 

Jiro, it turned out, was the town’s excuse for a self-proclaimed inventor. Although some admired his skill, others suspected he stole the designs. Nevertheless, Jiro was the best friend Vellian had ever had.

When Vellian found Jiro, It turned out that he was being pushed around by a number of scruffy nine-year olds.

“You’re crazy!” one whining voice shouted.

“Yeah!” another one echoed.

As Vellian started to walk up to them, his imposing presence made an effect. The young boys backed away, and the moment he reached for his dagger, the boys ran screaming, not daring to look back.

“Jiro? You all right?” Asked Vellian.

“Fine, Vell,” was the response. Rather final for him, Vellian noticed.

Vellian surveyed him. Jiro was around 5 feet tall. He donned a murky green doublet which draped down to his soles and seemed, although it obscured his feet, to always stay a millimetre above the ground.  His messy brown hair was in its normal state and his shirt, which was just visible underneath his cloak, was untucked.

‘Pesky 9-year-olds’ Vellian thought.

“Yeah, too right” Jiro responded.

“Hmm... Wait! Whoa, what did you just do?”

“Erm...replied?” Jiro responded, his eyes showing as little of a giveaway as the rest of his body as to the apparent display of a miracle.

“What? Oh, never mind”, Vellian finished.

“Guess what, Vell” was the next break of silence, occurring a few minutes later.

“There are ghosts haunting Mythrali village?”

“There are ghost’s haunt... Hang on, how did you know?”

Vellian shrugged. “I was being sarcastic; I wasn’t exactly expecting that to be it!”

“Well, here, come on!” Jiro exclaimed, gaining his usual spring as he tugged Vellian along.

“We’re not...”

“Duh! I want to show you!” Vellian concluded that he had no choice, and ran along south, towards Mythrali.

As they began to run through the fields away from the quaint meadows and sun-glazed pastures, Vellian realised he was ebbing away from land he knew, and started to worry. Vellian noticed how one of the boulders seemed to be breathing, and thought nothing of it. Honestly, he thought, you’re not that mad, are you?

 Just then, it moved! It shifted and twisted like some vile underground creature into what one might call a deformity of nature. Vellian had the thought that this thing was rather timely, but he dismissed the it. The monster was not unlike the ones that Vellian had seen in the cave, only without the hood. It seemed more savage than its smaller counterparts, and although Vellian wondered whether it was capable of speech, he decided against asking it for fear of his life.

As Vellian reached for his dagger, he realised that Jiro was without a weapon.

“Jiro! Run!” He shouted.

He didn’t need telling twice. Jiro ran off, crouching behind a bush.

Vellian launched himself at the ogre, thrusting the dagger into its stomach, to no avail. He retreated, ducking to avoid an incoming blow. Vellian used his shield as a ram, and knocked the beast over. But it wouldn’t give up. It picked itself up, and thrust itself lazily at Vellian. It still packed a punch, but was thrown off balance once more. Vellian had only just recovered from his previous encounter, and wasn’t keen on fighting. He stabbed it in the arm, and then kicked it to the ground, before finishing off with a blow to its head. The creature heaved, and then lay still.

“Oh my God.”

Jiro rushed over, unfazed by the fact that there was a reasonably-sized troll lying unconscious on the floor.  “Where did you learn that?”

“My grandfather, he teaches me everything” Vellian responded. “Come on then, show me this ghost town of yours”.

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