Episode 4: Fiery Passage
The trip to the world portal for Brensur, located in the volcanic region of Fernal, was fairly long. Lumos told Laurel to take the time to rest as it would take them a few hours to reach their destination. Laurel did exactly that, but promptly fell asleep. They traveled by using one of the transport wagons that made regular trips to the different world portals.
Within her mind a unique scene unfolded. She was walking down a path. At each crossroads she was asked a question. Each time she answered correctly the mysterious figure that had asked the question pointed her towards the safe path. It was a trial of sorts. One that initially caught her off guard. Her knowledge allowed her to traverse the dream safely. At the end of the path she encountered the figure again.
Laurel – “Is this the end of it?”
Mysterious figure – “It is the beginning. You hold the key to the coming battle. It seems it is in good hands. You’ve done well.”
Laurel – “What was the purpose of this trial?”
Mysterious figure – “To judge worthiness, and you have proven that without a doubt. It would be best if you honed your combat skills to match your wit and knowledge.”
Laurel – “But, I don’t want to fight.”
Mysterious figure – “In the end, that will not be up to you. Farewell.”
Laurel woke up. By now they had reached the village that surrounded the Brensur world portal. She remembered the dream vividly and questioned if it had really happened. Perhaps it was some kind of light spell. Before she could continue pondering what had happened, Thistle called to Laurel.
Thistle – “Hey Laurel! Get off the wagon, grab your things and let’s go!
Laurel – “Oh, yeah, I’ll be right with you.”
Lumos had already gotten off the wagon and had begun walking towards the area where the portal stands. Laurel quickly joined him.
Laurel – “You seem eager.”
Lumos – “It has been some time since I stepped into one of the worlds. The experience is so unique. Traveling like this is always exhilarating.”
Thistle – “It’s just a world of fire, nothing to get so worked up about.”
Laurel – “Thistle don’t be rude. You know our lives are fleeting compared to yours.”
Thistle – “Sorry.”
Lumos – “It is quite alright. I think we should focus on the task at hand. There is a protective spell that we need to practice before leaving. It will guard from the extreme heat that permeates Brensur.”
Laurel – “Alright, let’s get going then.”
The scorching heat of Brensur was nowhere near what they were currently experiencing in this village. The Fernal region of Entralia was the preferred training ground of those who sought to master fire magic. Eventually they gained access to Brensur where they could further hone their skill. Mastery of fire magic, or learning the appropriate protection spell was enough to be allowed access to Brensur. Decades ago a rigorous, and sometimes deadly, trial had to be undertaken to both learn and master fire magic.
The village, once known as a council village, held a number of people that worked for the royal family of Brensur. That number has dwindled to a handful. Those who still work at the village are mostly guards or spell masters. Spell masters are known for their vast knowledge of magic and are usually the ones who bestow useful spells necessary to traverse a world. One such spell master is a good friend of Lumos.
Lumos – “Ah, look who it is, Marcus, how have you been?”
Marcus – “Lumos! I am doing very well and I see you’re traveling again.”
Lumos – “Yes, I am here with Laurel, daughter of councilman Lindrel, and Thistle. We’re searching for ancient artifacts and were told Brensur might have a clue for us to follow.”
Marcus – “A pleasure to meet you, Lady Laurel and Thistle.”
Laurel – “Hello, you two seem well acquainted.”
Marcus – “Lumos and I used to study under the same sage. Until he decided to take the trial challenge. We eventually met up again multiple times during his travels. Especially when he was visiting Brensur. Much like today.”
Lumos – “Indeed, and we have kept in touch for a long time as well. We often exchange stories through letters and the like.”
Marcus – “Well then, I have the scroll here ready. Read it and cast the spell upon yourselves. Once you’re done, return the scroll and I shall open the portal.”
Thistle – “I’ll go ahead and wait near the portal.”
Laurel – “Alright, we’ll catch up soon.”
After reading the scroll Laurel concentrated her magic to cast the spell. Fire magic had to be focused on and channeled through the body. Reaching outward with the mind and learning to tap into the energy of a particular element was difficult the first time. This is often why few people learn or master more than one element. Thankfully the intricacies of learning Balance magic allowed Laurel to quickly find the fire energy she required. This region also made it easier since there was plenty of fire energy to go around. Laurel could feel as the heat around her became nothing more than a gentle breeze. Her body was now adapted to the scorching temperature.
Lumos, having traveled these lands before, had already cast the spell upon himself. Once he saw Laurel had successfully activated the spell he began walking towards the portal.
Marcus – “You seem all set. I will open the portal shortly.”
Laurel – “Yeah, it was easy. I hope we get to travel to the other worlds as well, if this is all it takes to enter them.”
Marcus – “Some elements might be easier to learn than others. I’ve known people who have different affinities for different elements. Since you have a good grasp of balance magic I have no doubt you won’t have any troubles.”
A fiery maelstrom formed in the middle of the world portal. When it cleared the shimmering image of a dominantly red landscape formed. The figures of guards could be seen standing on the sides.
Marcus – “Portal is stable, you’re all set. Safe travels!”
Lumos – “Thank you Marcus. The next time we meet I might have a lot more stories to tell.”
Marcus – “And I will surely enjoy them. See you, and good luck!”
Laurel – “Farewell Marcus.”
Thistle – “Bye!”
The three adventurers passed through the portal. They materialized on the other side in an instant. Laurel looked back and now the shimmering image on the portal showed the village. Marcus could also be seen waving at them. Continuing their walk forward, the guards welcomed them to Brensur. After a short moment the portal shut off and the image disappeared in another fiery blaze. Laurel could still feel some of the heat. She had to adjust the energy she was using to better protect herself. Lumos mentioned that she would eventually get used to it and that the spell would become second nature.
Thistle – “What now?”
Lumos – “Now we need to meet with the king.”
Laurel – “That means we’re headed for the capital, Zyrias.”
Thistle – “That sounds great, I’m sure there will be a lot of unique architecture and people and shops!”
Laurel – “Yes, but remember that our priority is finding artifacts.”
Thistle – “I’m sure we’ll find that easy, you’ll see.”
Lumos – “It’s good to see such confidence. I will confer with the guards to see how we can secure a meeting with the king.”
The guards quickly recognized Lumos and gave him permission to continue to the capital. Once there they could go to the throne room for the meeting.
Laurel’s initial impression of Brensur was that of a hostile world, but she quickly grew to enjoy the scenery once she started seeing the contrasting colors of the trees. As she admired the area, Thistle flew around basking in the overflowing energy of the fiery world. To her it was blissful since she was aligned with the element of fire. Lumos noticed Laurel’s curiosity towards the trees and explained that they were completely fireproof. Those same trees were grown near the capital and used to build many of the houses. A combination of fire and earth magic enabled these trees to be harvested and renewed.
Looking to the sky Laurel noticed a large dark shadow moving at high speed towards the north. She assumed it was one of the fabled dragons of Brensur. The Sentient tribe was well known even outside this world. Dragons in the seven worlds are plentiful, they all have unique traits based on the world they live in.
As they continued their trip through the fiery fields and towering obsidian pillars, the group encountered a pair of wisps.
Thistle – “Oh no, this is just what I didn’t want to see.”
Thalis – “Well look who it is Themia, the reject wisp Thistle.”
Themia – “It really is. I thought you said she would never return to Brensur.”
Laurel – “Whoa, you two are mean.”
Thalis – “Urgh and traveling with humans no less.”
Thistle – “Watch what you say! These are my friends.”
Themia – “Pah! That’s what you said about that other human you traveled with years ago and look where that got you.”
Laurel – “What are you talking about?”
Thistle – “It’s nothing Laurel, let’s keep going. These two just want trouble.”
Thalis – “We won’t waste more of our time, but make sure you’re prepared next time we meet.”
Themia – “There might be a test for you by then!”
The two wisps flew off into the distance. Laurel and Lumos were confused by the exchange.
Laurel – “Are you alright Thistle?”
Thistle – “I’ll be fine. This is why I wasn’t too fond of coming here.”
Lumos – “Would you like to talk about what they mentioned?”
Thistle – “I will, but not now. It’s a painful subject.”
Laurel – “Ok Thistle, just make sure to tell us. It seems like it weighs heavily on you.”
Thistle – “Thanks Laurel.”
Thistle flew ahead, surveying the landscape and keeping watch for the great city. Both Laurel and Lumos were taken aback by the exchange between the wisps. Their longevity is well known, but the inner workings of what wisps do with their lives is a mystery. Many take to accompany humans or other Sentients, often lending their vast magical power to aid these companions. It was rare to see such a hostile conversation between them.
Sometime after the encounter with the wisps Thistle noticed a large tower. On the side of a large volcanic mountain was the city of Zyrias. The city spread down the entire side of the mountain to a small valley. At the city gates the guards mentioned that they were being expected. Communication crystals were commonly placed in such places of importance to hasten diplomatic communication, and sometimes, for military communication. Soon it would be time to face the king and ask about the artifact or artifacts hidden on Brensur.