Episode 9: King’s Request
The city walls towered over the forest, and this was only the outer layer. Ilyana and I arrived quite early in the morning. The guards greeted us and urged us to meet the king at once. By now, news of the attacks on Etheria and Greensborough had spread among the people. As we hurried through the streets a young girl crossed our path. At first I was confused, but a quick read of the Ether gave me all the information I needed. “Ah, you must be Miriam. You have caught me by surprise, you are very young”, I said to her. “I am fifteen years old, sir Balthazar”, she said, in a shy manner. “Please, just Balthazar will do. Why did you decide to come here?”, I noticed that beneath her right wrist she bore a marking just as she fixed her hair back. “It is said that there is no safer place in the world than Lyre. I came here to seek protection and to see if anyone could tell me what this marking means. According to the people of the coven it is supposed to mean I am to save the coven, but I barely know how to protect myself”, she lifted her right hand this time and I took a short moment to examine it. As I approached I felt a strong focus of Ether on her left wrist. She wears an amulet which I have not seen before. My curiosity was great, but Ilyana and I had to reach the throne room quickly. Speaking of Ilyana, she simply watched on, completely perplexed as to who this girl was. It slipped by me that only I had the conversation with Miriam the day before. “I apologize Ilyana, this girl is a shapeshifter, one of the coven of the crow. I spoke to her when I noticed her aura yesterday as we traversed the woods. I know of the coven, but only what I have read in books. Never thought I would meet someone who had trained under their… wings”, the pun was intended of course. Miriam smiled, she seemed so somber when she arrived. Ilyana looked at me and said, “We have to hurry to the king, you’re welcome to join us. You can tell us more about your journey here”. With that all three of us made for the castle.
“I should have you executed!”, the king jumped from the throne and quickly walked towards us, then hugged us and proceeded to say, “For keeping your king so worried about you! Thank goodness you two are alright. Please, tell me everything that has transpired. So far I have only heard from the spies that monitor the happenings of the world, but I need your accounts on what happened. I am aware Etheria was attacked as well as Greensborough. We need to know the extent of what the Cyrithian Church has done”. I was rather taken aback, but he is clearly so much more than just a king, he is our friend. Composing myself I began explaining the events at the summit of ages. After I finished Ilyana took her turn and after that we invited Miriam into the throne room so she could tell her story.
All in all the church made its incursion into multiple locations. Etheria, Greensborough, Clearwater and some other places that the spies reported. “This is getting out of hand. If we do not act soon they will be at our doorstep. Although I trust the strength of our walls and the perseverance of our soldiers, I would rather it not come to fighting here”, the king pondered the situation. Ilyana stepped forward, “My king, we have to root out the Lightbringers from the kingdoms. If we learn where their base of operation is we can push them back”. The task would not be simple and moving an army across the continent would alarm Etheria and the Northern Alliance. They might consider it a hostility, even though peace has permeated for many years between Etheria and Lyre. “The Northern Alliance will probably have no interest in interfering, but if their might joins ours and Etheria’s the church would not stand a chance”, I mentioned this considering other strategic targets as well. “Excuse me”, Miriam said rather quietly, then she repeated louder, “Excuse me! Perhaps moving large battalions of soldiers is not the answer here. A smaller group could hunt down the Lightbringers and force them to retreat to where they came from. It would be more efficient to move just a few people”. The king was immersed in thought, “You are correct. Our military cannot be the answer here. We have seen too many years of peace for it to be broken by this. Even now I would not be surprised if the church expects us to mobilize our troops. Balthazar, Ilyana and Miriam, I have a request of you. The task I lay before you will be a very difficult one but you are the most skilled people I know in this kingdom, nay, the whole continent. Search for a way to stop the Cyrithian Church and its Lightbringers. We can protect the kingdom for now, but no one knows what they plan while we sit idly by. Will you accept?”. I took a deep breath, “My lord, I accept. We will drive this threat away. They must answer for their transgressions”. Ilyana heistated for moment but accepted as well, “I am unsure as to how successful we will be. Frankly I wish to protect his majesty if the fighting comes here. I will strive so that the Lightbringers stay far away from Lyre”. Finally Miriam said, “I will join you in this task because of the horrors I have witnessed. My mother, and the coven must have justice”. Her sage brilliance was surprising to me, her mother must have been an incredible parent to have given her daughter such wisdom.
I gathered some trinkets from my home to prepare for the journey. We had a good hearty meal before setting out. Ilyana would meet me at the north gate. Meanwhile Miriam was just outside my home waiting for me. I told her that I would teach her how to defend herself with some spells as we travelled. A part of me knew she would also learn things instinctively not only because of the mark, but because crows are very clever creatures. At some point her intuition would give her the tools she needed. I stepped outside, looked at the city around me, “Let us part, the sun sets and we must move swiftly”. Miriam and I walked towards the north gate. From a distance we spotted Ilyana waiting by the gate in a set of armor I had not seen before. Before I continued a man stopped me and asked, “You look familiar, did you not give me this spool of thread some time ago?”. I looked at the thread and remembered, my master had this for many years. He had been infusing it with Ether and numerous spells. The thread itself was a mystery to me, so when he passed away I saw no use for it. How the world turns. The man I gave it to was the very tailor I missed back at Etheria. I would not have guessed that I would meet him again here. “You probably don’t remember but my name is Gallian good sir, this boy is Kaiden. We are looking for a dark mage who fought against the Lightbringers in Etheria. Perhaps you know of him?”, the young man stood behind him. I studied the Ether for a short moment and said, “You, I will teach you the power of Flux magic if you come with me. There is something special about you, but I cannot point out what it is”. The boy looked a bit spooked, but he understood that this was the opportunity of a lifetime. He agreed to my proposal, “Do keep in mind that this will be a dangerous journey. We may be fighting the Lightbringers on every turn”. Kaiden replied, “They took my old master from me, I think they deserve to get knocked around a bit. They would hunt me for my natural talent”. On the other hand the tailor stopped to think for a few short minutes, “Well then, this is where we part ways my boy. I think Lyre is a good place to start my shop again. As for this thread, you gave it to me as a gift, so I will give you one back in return. Come by once I have set up my shop”. “Of course. Well then, shall we part, I am eager to know what Ilyana has planned for our trip”, we began our walk to the gates. Gallian remained at the area where we met and waved goodbye. We met up with Ilyana, she had arranged a transport by caravan. They were headed for Etheria, once there we would talk to Grandmaster Zephius and tell him of our journey. I am sure that they will help us to undermine the church and put an end to their vile crusade. By travelling in the caravan we were able to rest while the carriage moved. It was a bumpy ride, and sleep was very difficult but it would cut our travel time. We needed to hurry, for the Lightbringers would not wait for us to make our move.