Episode 7: The Kingdom of Lyre
A day into our trip back home and not a moment has passed where I am not worried about the Ether Tower. The flow of Ether nurtures the lands and the people. Is this why war seems so close to home now? Or perhaps the mad machinations of the church, obsessively bent on forcing people under its belief system. The king would not be pleased with the news. Just as we approached the town of Greenborough we noticed an eerie silence. “Do you hear that?”, said Ilyana while the horse stopped. I looked around, “ I don’t hear anything”. “Exactly my point”, she and I got down from the horse. Ilyana drew her sword. Her battered shield remained strapped onto the horse. She knew that whatever was here required haste, so she left it there. I surmised that if her instincts were correct we would soon find ourselves in a fight.
From the village three men and a woman approached, the woman spoke first, “You there! Hand over any valuables you have or we’ll gut you where you stand!”. Ilyana was annoyed that a bunch of brigands would dare try to assault us, “What happened to this village?”. “Are ya blind?! It was purged by the church. They left nothing of the people so we kindly moved in to take what no longer had an owner”, the woman’s remark angered Ilyana. “Your petty thievery ends here then, come if you dare!”, Ilyana pointed her sword towards the brigands. I stood behind her looking at the men and gathering a cloud of dark energy into my palm. I moved my arm back and swung from above launching my spell to one of the thieves. The magic hit my target right on the face, the man was panicking, the cloud of energy clung to his face blinding him. He swung his knife blindly while screaming. “Stop swinging you idiot! You two, get the mage, I’ll handle the mercenary. The mage must have some good coin for a pretty girl like her! Go!”, the two men that could still fight ran around to flank me from the sides while the woman rushed forward to fight Ilyana. “Nice shot with that spell, I dare ya to try again”, one of them said to me. “You clowns are no match for us, leave us be and you will come to no further harm”, they were wary of my magic now, but regardless I prepared another spell. I gathered a billowing darkness around my hands combined it in front of me and fashioned a large dark purple needle. “Pah, you must be joking! There is no way in hell that little spell will do anything, get him!”, they made their move. One ran at me from behind and the other right upfront. They had confidence that their numbers would be enough to overcome me. I threw the needle forward, it flew rapidly and slashed the thief on his shoulder. “That was nothing! Prepare to die!”, little did he know that the needle was being guided by my hand. The needle turned rapidly in the air, swung around back towards me and landed right in front of me just as I lowered my body and pressed my hands against the ground. When the needle landed a shadow formed beneath me and a spiked shield burst forth from that shadow. The two thieves were startled, one of them nearly stumbling into the sharp spikes. I released the spell and the spikes crumbled into dust. The thief behind me turned and ran while the other one stood in front still challenging me. “I don’t care how many tricks ya got, I’ll take yer gold!”, he charged again, this time I had something more subtle for him. I wrote a small rune right in front of my right palm, then I pointed it towards my attacker and cast the spell. The rune appeared on top of him and a very thin cloud draped over him and then vanished. “What? You’re finished!”, as he drew his next step he tripped on a root near his foot and fell face first. His knife fell out of his hand and the handle split from the blade, and then as he was getting up his pants ripped with some thorns that had mysteriously grown nearby. “You are completely out of luck, I suggest you turn away now”, I could barely contain my laughter. As all this happened Ilyana fought the woman using all her skill to, well, toy with her. With a swift flick of her sword she disarmed her foe. “You’re no ordinary mercenary! Who are you?!”, she nearly fell while walking backward readying to run away. Ilyana answered calmly, “I am the captain of his majesty’s royal guard, you would do well to remember this”. The thieves ran away, even the blinded one stumbled through the forest aided by the woman. We had no means to keep them in custody but surely they had learned their lesson. Our priority now was to assess the village’s situation and see what we could do.
The path into the village was clear. As I walked, I tried sensing the Ether flow. There was still something that felt strange to me, “Ilyana could you patrol around the village and check for survivors, I feel something strange about the Ether but I cannot point out what it is. I will sit here near the well. It is close to the center and it will allow my mind to reach out to every corner of the village”. Ilyana nodded in agreement and began moving away while I sat down with my legs crossed. I placed my hands on my knees, closed my eyes and concentrated on the flow of ether. My vision now consisted of a water like flow that coursed through the air and all around. With each breath this unique sight expanded further and further. The reason to have Ilyana patrolling was to give me a limit to how far I could go. Since I have known Ilyana for many years the ether energy within her was very clear to me. I would have no problem spotting her in a crowd with this sight. A short moment passed and I sensed a large gathering of ether near the inn. “A secret passage perhaps? A hidden door… or maybe a locked cellar with some supplies”, I thought. My eyes opened, I called Ilyana to join me at the inn.
Our footsteps on the wooden floor made our presence known. Ilyana was worried about survivors having been too long there without supplies. The church’s attack must have been very recent if the royal guard was not here yet. Both of us cared deeply for the people, as did the king, surely he would not forgive himself for having failed in protecting them. “Is anyone here?”, Ilyana asked loudly, “I am Ilyana, captain of the royal guard”. A loud thumping sound was heard, someone was trapped in the underground cellar. We saw a number of barrels and boxes that had been moved. Someone had intended to trap people here or perhaps it was done to protect them? Regardless we needed to find out who was here. Ilyana and I moved the barrels and boxes. There was a small square trap door that was quickly opened by the people inside. “Thank goodness you’ve arrived, we thought we were toast!”, a young man said as he rushed up the staircase and greeted us. “I only heard the mumb…, wait a minute, Ilyana! Balthazar!”, the young man was Elliot, a fellow mage and soldier of the kingdom, “You two are the last people I thought I would see here! Weren’t you back at Etheria?”. “We only just arrived from there, we need to head back to the capital, the church has begun an offensive”, Elliot stood by a few villagers and a pair of children, “what happened here?”. “Well as you said the church has begun its offensive. The king’s spies were able to warn us in time to begin an evacuation of the village. It took us an entire day to move most people out. Some troops were stationed here. The Lightbringers arrived at night and began their attack, these people were the last few to be evacuated. The cowards would hurt innocents for their mindless crusade. We fought hard but began to be overwhelmed by their numbers. The captain assigned to us ordered us to hide in this cellar. I used my magic to move the barrels on top of the trap door, so the Lightbringers could not reach us. I also warped the flow of ether so that they could not detect our presence. Sadly after they were gone my tampering of the ether caused a void in the cellar which prevented me from gathering enough energy to move the barrels again. It has been about a day since the attack. The food stored here helped us survive, I hope the innkeeper doesn’t mind”. “The attack here and the one in Etheria were well planned. Yet surely the church did not anticipate that we would be able to hold off their attack at the summit”, I mentioned to Elliot. Ilyana approached and said, “We have to head back to the capital now. It is imperative that the king be informed of what happened in Etheria. Even if the spies have given him some information already, our testimony of the fight will bring further insight into the church’s actions”. I agreed, we needed to move fast. Elliot told us that he would catch up with us at the capital. He would make sure that the villagers had a safe trip to a camp that was made near the capital.