Episode 10: Winds of Rallion
The vast sky opened up to the group. A few other people also ventured into the world. For many, like Laurel and Thistle, this was their first time visiting Rallion. The village of Rihaltan greeted them. A small floating island that was expanded to allow easy access for merchants and travelers to the commerce that Rallion provides. However, the largest market was not here, it was in Alto, the capital of this world.
Lumos – “Rallion has powerful and highly enchanted wind currents that can take you to different regions and cities.”
Laurel – “What are those?!”
Thistle – “They look fun!”
Lumos – “Ha, those are airships, they too travel the wind currents but at a more leisurely pace. Their destinations are often the cities where people go to relax.”
Thistle – “Can we go to one of those places?”
Laurel – “Thistle, we have a job to do remember?”
Thistle – “How about when we finish this? We come back to Rallion and spend time relaxing.”
Lumos – “I promise Thistle, we’ll come back and take the airship. For now, summon your wings Laurel and stay close to me. The trip to Alto should be short, but the winds sometimes shift.”
Laurel – “Got it.”
Rihaltan has a number of ledges that overlook various wind currents. There are also tunnels with floor grates that let the air pass through and allow people to use them to launch into a wind current. Most of these ledges are floating paths where the Airships dock. These airships also land on a large plaza for easier access. Laurel and Lumos stood at the edge, summoned their wings and prepared to leap. As soon as their wings caught on the currents they could easily glide to Alto. Along with them were a group of people headed for the big city. During the trip some more people joined or split off into different currents that took them to different locations. In a sudden twist a powerful current blew off Laurel and Thistle into another. Lumos, being ahead of the two, didn’t notice.
Laurel tumbled through the currents aimlessly. Thistle tried to use some of her magic to create heat that, in turn, would cause a lifting draft to help right Laurel’s course. After a third attempt one of the drafts created by Thistle was able to help her wayward friend. Laurel tried to hover in place but her tether to wind magic was weak and her wings were starting to dissipate.
Thistle – “What do we do? Lumos is too far away and there aren’t any good currents here. Should I use more of my magic?”
Laurel – “I-I need to focus. If I can’t strengthen my link to wind magic, I’ll fall.”
Thistle – “Focus Laurel! You can do this!”
Her wings continued to slowly fade. The spell was breaking away. As this happened Laurel was beginning a freefall towards the world core. The core is a massive amalgam of wind, thunder and clouds. It is said that there are currents that protect travelers from falling into it, but no one had ever dared to test this. Suddenly as Laurel’s wings disappeared the shadow of a creature flew rapidly by and caught her. Thistle chased after the creature. Not far from where they had been was a small floating island with a tall mountain. There the creature landed and presented itself. He called himself Rhova, short for Rhovastikeer. Rhova hails from the gryphon tribe of Sentients that live in Rallion.
Rhovastikeer – “You are lucky I was patrolling the area. None are faster than me!”
Thistle – “I could’ve caught up with you, for sure!”
Rhovastikeer – “Of course little wisp. Now then, welcome to our home, Allastivan. This island has housed many a generation of gryphons.”
Laurel – “Thank you for saving me. I wasn’t aware that gryphons lived here.”
Rhovastikeer – “We guard the world core. It is a satisfying job, most of the time. The people higher above are always grateful for our interventions, even if they aren’t always obvious. We often try to manipulate the currents to save them before flying in ourselves. Your wing loss was a surprise to me, have you not mastered your tether to wind magic?”
Laurel – “I lost focus. Seeing the world core shook me.”
Rhovastikeer – “Ah, understandable, but it feels like there is something more. You carry items of great power, their energy overflows outward.”
Another gryphon arrives.
Rhovastikeer – “This is Rhovirikan, my sister. She can lead you back to the higher islands.”
Rhovirikan – “You may call me Viri. I apologize brother, but I cannot take them higher. There is a barrier of winds that has developed in a layer above. We cannot go through. It flings us in every other direction.”
Rhovastikeer – “Strange, it is suspicious that it coincides with their arrival.”
Thistle – “We have nothing to do with that. Laurel can’t even focus on wind magic, let alone create a large wind barrier.”
Laurel – “Ouch, but she’s right. I don’t have the mastery to cause something like that.”
Rhovirikan – “Perhaps it has to do with the hidden island?”
Thistle – “Yo, spill the beans on that, what hidden island?”
Rhovastikeer – “There is an island near the core that is devoid of wind currents. It is said to house some kind of treasure, but no one, not even us, has ever dared to go near it.”
Laurel – “Treasure you say? It could be an artifact, which means we must investigate.”
Rhovastikeer – “Then perhaps you’re the ones the wind has been whispering about.”
Rhovirikan – “How can you be sure?”
Rhovastikeer – “She, in particular, has been helped by other sentients.”
Laurel – “Yes, in Brensur and Ixis. Zethia of the dragon tribe helped me obtain the Ring of Flames and Umari of the whale tribe helped me obtain the Ring of Frost and the Circlet of Cold Flames.”
Rhovirikan – “It is dangerous for a single person to hold so many artifacts, but my brother trusts you.”
Rhovastikeer – “Viri, if she wanted to cause us harm she would have done so already.”
Laurel – “I seek the artifacts because someone else is also gathering them and in more aggressive ways. His name is Gerthran and he apparently leads an army of chaos.”
Rhovirikan – “Army of chaos eh? I believe I have heard of something similar, but do not remember where.”
Rhovastikeer – “It is possible it was part of our ancient knowledge, but some of it was lost in the great sealing. Regardless, if you are in need of the treasure then I shall take you to the island. One thing will be reaching it, another is how to leave. I cannot pick you back up as there are no winds to carry me nor my strength great enough to lift us out.”
Laurel – “I’ll find my own way.”
Thistle – “What about me? I can help.”
Rhovirikan – “No, the wisp must stay here. There is no telling what that place could do to you.”
Laurel – “I’ll be fine Thistle. The artifacts have guided me well so far.”
Rhovastikeer – “Hop on then, I shall take you there but you will have to land with your own wings.”
Laurel – “I’ll be ready.”
Laurel and Rhova were quick to lift off and fly to the mysterious hidden island. Large clouds covered a small landmass near the world core. Thunder and lightning hurled across the air. Rhova was hesitant to move closer. An extended stone path was the most accessible part so Laurel decided to land there. She jumped off Rhova while he wished her luck. Once again able to summon her own wings, Laurel landed safely, though with difficulty as there were no winds within the space of the island.
Rhova flew off into the sky above, becoming a faint speck. The gryphon’s island, Allastivan, could still be seen in the distance. Meanwhile, Laurel continued forward into the dense fog. Once inside the fog Laurel noticed a mechanism that used windmills, but without a source of wind they did nothing. Although her tether to wind mana was still a bit unstable, Laurel was able to cast a wind spell that took the form of a burst of air. It was enough to start the windmills moving again. In turn a larger windmill began to move and cleared the fog from most of the area she was in. With a large portion of the fog cleared the island revealed itself to be a large structure, very much like the temple in Ixis. Laurel saw that it was slowly sinking further into the core. “I have to hurry”, she thought.
The next area had moving sky stone bricks. They had been enchanted to only hold their position for a short time and then move away. These bricks formed a bridge over a large gap that led into the abyss. Markings on a wall displayed how the winds could carry a person as they ran. Laurel used this to teach herself a spell that could do exactly that. Without much room for testing it was going to be do or die. So she ran, just as the bricks began to form the bridge. The bricks were moving away behind her, almost as fast as she was running. She could not stop at all. Laurel reached the other side with a jump and a little help from conjured wings for an extra boost. The wings dissipated when she landed.
Moving deeper into the structure, she found more and more windmill mechanisms to open doorways and passages. The final challenge presented a large glass orb in front of her. Behind the orb was a sky metal cage housing a grayed out gemstone. A tablet beneath the orb read, “The magic of Rallion is the magic of the skies. Winds, gusts and a tempest of thunder will open the way”. Small windmills on the floor opened up as she moved closer to the orb. This endeavor would require all the wind magic she could muster. Laurel created small tornadoes above the windmills making them spin at great speed. The mechanism activated and opened the walls of the chamber. Just outside of it thunder and lightning swirled around. In order to charge the orb a single one of those bolts would have to be redirected. Laurel did not have the mana necessary to cast a thunderbolt spell. She sat down in front of the orb. The crackling and rumble was unsettling. It was difficult to concentrate. Manipulating such powerful energies, especially when so close to the world core, was very dangerous. In an instant a single lightning bolt flashed before Laurel. The energy pushed her away with great force, slamming her body onto the ground near the entrance. She was almost knocked unconscious. Slowly, she stood up and saw that she was successful, but not without cost. Energy from the bolt made a mark on her arm that resembled the very lightning she sought to control. With the orb powered, the cage over the gemstone lifted. Another lightning bolt, this time from the very top of the chamber blasted in and entered the gem. Its gray color vanished and now it glowed a bright green. Laurel picked the gem and the ancient knowledge poured in. This new artifact is known as the Emerald of Winds. Brightly shining, the gemstone orbited Laurel as if it had a will of its own. As with the other artifacts, her tether to wind magic was strengthened tenfold.
This final chamber activated many other mechanisms within the structure. The world core started to get farther and farther away. Within the walls a low humming could be heard. This building had been built in ancient times and was meant to hold the Emerald of Winds. Everything should have been powered by the gemstone, but for some reason it was rendered inert. This was the reason why the winds around the island had died out. Laurel also learned that the structure controlled where the island was. Once all the remaining fog cleared other broken ruins were revealed. A large mural, half faded, showed a great battle between a powerful being and a group of people who used the gem, along with other powers, to seal away said being. Some of the powers in the mural were clearly what Laurel had already acquired. She could make out the Ring of Flames as well as the Circlet of Cold Flames. All of the artifacts were worn by people from the different worlds. One of these was a set of boots which clearly used earth magic. Laurel suspected this to be the artifact of Grentis. She also saw a set of gauntlets worn by a warrior of Rallion. Perhaps there was another artifact to gain in Rallion.
With her strengthened link to wind magic Laurel could now easily conjure her wings and manipulate the gusts to carry her wherever she wanted. Her flight to Allastivan was swift. It was a surprise to Rhova, Viri and even Thistle when she arrived.
Thistle – “Ok, that was impressive.”
Laurel – “I found a way to get back.”
Rhovastikeer – “Indeed you did. The very currents bow to you.”
Rhovirikan – “With such power you could probably easily reach your previous destination.”
Rhovastikeer – “I want to accompany you Laurel, at least until you reach Alto. I have not been there for some time.”
Laurel – “You saved my life Rhova, I don’t mind having you along for the trip.”
Thistle – “Is that gem the artifact?”
Laurel – “Yes, it has also become bound to me.”
Rhovastikeer – “You possess something special within. Whatever it is will continue guiding you forward.”
Thistle – “Lumos must be worried sick. We should hurry to Alto.”
Laurel – “Goodness! I forgot about Lumos. Yes, let’s head over there now.”
With the winds on their side, Laurel, Rhova and Thistle made it to Alto safely. People who witnessed their landing were shocked to see Rhova. Gryphons were widely known to inhabit the lower islands, but very rarely visited human settlements. The city guard was alerted and moved to surround them. Rhova remained alert, but calm. Between the guards a man moved closer and presented himself.
Ralvan – “Greetings great gryphon, I am Ralvan, member of the Rallion council. To what do we owe this visit?”
Rhovastikeer – “Greetings, I am Rhovastikeer. I accompany this young lady here and her companion.”
Laurel – “Hello! I’m Laurel and this is Thistle.”
Thistle – “Hi!”
Ralvan – “Well, I did not expect to find you here. We sent out a multitude of patrols to search for you. Lumos is at the council chambers, he will be glad to see you are safe.”
Laurel – “Great. Rhova, thank you for all your help.”
Rhovastikeer – “It was an honor. You inspire kindness Laurel, do not let anyone take that away from you. Now, I must depart.”
Laurel – “Take care Rhova!”
Thistle – “Let’s go Laurel, the old man must be throwing a fit.”
Rhovastikeer flew off, once again drawing the attention of the people. By now the guards had retreated to their posts. Meanwhile Laurel and Thistle were accompanied by Ralvan to the Rallion Council chambers.