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Old 02-08-2003, 08:53 PM   #1
Lady Vulpix
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Quest of Twelve ~ a fantasy fic

Hello, everyone. Here I am, writing my first single fic (as opposed to the multi-fic I used to write with PH, Alex and Tara). I started developing this story a long time ago, but only on February 5th, 2003 I decided it could be worth writing and sharing with others. The theme is not too original; it's probably the most classic RPG-ish plot, with a whole lot of magic babbling and very delayed action (the first 6 chapters will be introductory, with just a little action starting on chapter 3), but I hope the characters will eventually earn a place in someone's heart. Oh, and PH, if you're reading this, I assure you that I came up with the names of the characters before I started reading GLR, and there is no connection whatsoever between Eric Eatan and Erik Iverson; I thought of changing his name, but it was a part of him, so I decided to keep it as it was. For that same reason I didn’t give the elves “elvish” names. I simply kept the names my imagination originally dictated when the story was not meant for anyone else to see. The title of the fic will not make sense at the beginning, but I promise it will before the fic ends; if I get to finish it, that is. As for the title of chapter 1... what can I say, I haven't been able to get that song out of my head yet, and it kind of fits in. So, there it goes!

Chapter 1: Change the world

Centuries ago, the world was populated by countless kinds of beings who shared many characteristics with humans, yet kept little or no contact with the human race. Which world? It doesn't really matter; all beings who develop a spoken language tend to give their world the name of the element that holds them anyway. How many centuries? Say two, if it's so important; if, like Eric Eatan, you're always asking a lot of questions in order to understand the world around you. And I guess the next question would be... who was Eric Eatan? He was an elf; still is, probably. A merial, to be more precise. The world he was born into was inhabited by different races of elves, faeries, sprites, sylphs and other creatures; each with their own particular traits that made them different from all the others. There were also millions of animals like the ones you must be used to seeing. And yes, there were humans too. Though, by the time when this story begins, Eric had only heard a few vague rumors about them. No humans lived in the wide southern area of the lush forest of Lumms. The region where Eric lived was home to large populations of neinis and dassels (two races of small plant faeries), lurians (even smaller light faeries), the occasional nirwas (water sprites), a few kraggletups (small non-elemental sprites who were rarely seen), and two races of elves: the merials and the elvins.

Merials and elvins had many things in common when compared to other species; especially their strong presence and their unlimited lifespan made them stand out from all other creatures in that region. However, the differences between them -the physical ones, but especially the cultural ones- kept their interaction at a minimum most of the time. Elvins were generally tall, and had the strongest presence. They had a natural talent for magic, and in many cases devoted their lives to deepening their knowledge of magic and the world in general. Their leaders would engage in endless discussions which were often more philosophical than practical. The merials would accuse them of being vain and having no grip on reality. Merials, on the other hand, were noticeably smaller in size and, while magic wasn't so easy for them to master, they were much faster and more agile than elvins. They moved graciously and adapted quickly to their surroundings, making a good use of whatever they had at hand. Exploration and fighting skills were commonly developed among merials, who took pride in conquering any threat that came to them. The elvins would often consider them inferior creatures, with little capacity for reasoning and an overly impulsive nature. Of course, in most cases those accusations were as false as the ones the merials made to the elvins. But there was so little contact between them, that few had ever thought of proving them wrong.

Eric Eatan was different. He knew that from the beginning, since he was a little child. His mother was an explorer and his father was the town's most renowned blacksmith. They had both been born over 2000 years before him, and often considered that a good enough reason not to take Eric's thoughts and opinions into account. They encouraged him to think for himself, but whenever he had a thought that contradicted the normal state of things, he would be dismissed for being too young. "You'll learn as you grow up," was the answer he kept receiving. But that didn't discourage him. On the contrary, he kept reminding himself of all his thoughts and ideas so that when he was old enough they would be taken into account, and he would prove everyone that things didn't have to be the way they'd always expected them to be. And that a young child could be right. And when he became older, he would make sure that everyone in the town had a voice, even the younger ones. That was one of his greatest dreams. The other was becoming a warrior. He had often seen warriors come in and out of his house wielding strong and shiny weapons, and had watched them part to defend recently established settlements from any aggressors. And he had also read about them, and heard countless stories about the brave warriors who, many thousands of years ago, had fought against all elements to earn the merials their current place in the world. He'd also read and heard about evil warriors who had caused pain and suffering to everyone who crossed their paths, and despised them deeply. If such heartless beings were still leaving their marks on the world, he wanted to help vanish them from existence. He wanted to be a strong and noble warrior, because warriors had the power to change the world. Fortunately for him, that was a call his parents did respond to, and as soon as Eric turned 10, his father began to supervise his training.


The town where Eric lived stood out for being the closest to the elvin city of Ayrus. There, life went on quietly and smoothly most of the time. At least when viewed from the outside. The council were always dealing with internal conflicts, which left its members with little time to tend to their families - those who had families anyway. That was the case of the Shimmer couple (their last name was actually a deformation of Shim-el, which meant blessed star in an ancient language which had long since become out of use among the peripheral elvin settlements who were in permanent contact with other races). The Shimmers were the youngest married council members; they had been married for barely over 100 years and their jobs didn't live them much time to spend with their 11-year-old daughter Mariel. Being left alone didn't upset Mariel as much as being left out of most of her parents' lives. When they came back home, they'd rarely mention any of the subjects they'd been discussing. They did ask Mariel how her learning was going, and did their best to prove her that they cared for her. But she felt like she barely knew who they were. The main thing she had learnt from them was to be independent. She would often go out and do research on her own, and she would do her best to make friends. That was not an easy task, though. She was the second youngest elvin in the city, the youngest being her 7-year-old friend Jasmine. Jasmine was nice and loved having fun, and she liked Mariel a lot; but there were too many things Mariel couldn't share with her. She tried to explain some of her deepest thoughts to Jasmine a few times, but her friend wouldn't understand her and would always suggest playing another game. Mariel needed someone with whom she could share her views of the world and discuss her ideas to make things better, but just like Eric she was always told that those things were too big for a child her age, and that she would have plenty of time to discuss them when she was older and more experienced. The only one who sometimes listened to her was her neighbor Primrose.

Primrose was 288 years old and had recently moved out of the house she used to share with her parents and her 2 younger brothers. That was probably the reason why she often got engaged in discussions about independence with the young Mariel. Primrose also liked Mariel for her determination -which she secretly admired-, for her great intuition and perceptiveness, and for her ability to understand and use magic. Primrose was a sorceress; not nearly the most skilled or experienced in the city, but a sorceress nonetheless. And Mariel really looked up on her and loved learning the secrets of magic by her side. Mariel was determined to become a sorceress herself. So Primrose introduced her into a realm of silent voices and eternal energies which could be wielded only by those who managed to understand their true nature. She taught Mariel about the different domains of magic and the tangled web they formed, web which held the balance of reality and for that reason should never be broken. She taught her how, for example, life magic was divided into 2 domains: the physical and the ethereal. And how a protection spell could only be cast by someone who had studied the ethereal domain, and physical enhancements could only be achieved by using physical magic; but both domains held the key to casting healing spells. She also taught her about more specific domains that derived from life, like the domain of plants and the domain of connection, and Mariel became especially interested in the latter. So Primrose went on to explain how the connection domain could help her feel someone else's presence within a range that would grow as she became stronger, how it could also help her understand the nature of things around her, and even other sentient beings if she was good enough, and how protection spells could also be cast from the domain of connection by first establishing a strong connection with the being she wanted to protect. Mariel studied all the lessons avidly, and Primrose was proud to have such an enthusiastic apprentice. So she also taught Mariel to recognize different types of herbs and prepare simple potions, and finally introduced her into the 6 elements of magic.

"As you know, magic can take many forms, and those forms compose a wide and tangled web," she unnecessarily reminded Mariel. "Sorcerers have divided the knowledge of those forms in order to understand them better. So far you've began to explore some domains of the widest element: the element of life. But there's much more to elemental magic, and it is important for every magic user to know and understand all 6 elements. These elements are Life, Air, Water, Earth, Fire and Light."
"Just like the types of elemental beings?," Mariel asked. She had learned about elemental beings from the books her parents regularly gave them, from stories she had managed to gather and a little from direct experience during her exploration trips into the forest.
"Exactly," Primrose responded, surprised at Mariel's knowledge. "Sometimes I wonder if my teachings are useful at all, or if you already know everything I'm saying."
"Oh, yes, they are useful!," Mariel assured. "I have learnt a lot being with you. Things I couldn't have found out on my own. And I'd like to know more. I want to be a good sorceress just like you."
Primrose was flattered. She moved her long and wavy black hair to cover her blushing cheeks. Her appearance contrasted with Mariel's straight, bright golden hair and her sky blue eyes. Primrose was also taller and thinner; at least now that Mariel was still growing, but she'd probably always be thinner than her young friend. Her skin, however, was as white as Mariel's when she wasn't blushing like now.
"Will you teach me to wield all 6 elements?," Mariel asked.
"I will teach you some, and some you will have to learn on your own," Primrose told her. "Be patient. You have plenty of time, and mastering the elements will take you many years; even centuries. you're a fast learner, but you'll have to give yourself time. If you're disciplined and constant, one day you will find your base element."
"My base element?"
Now Mariel was intrigued.

"As you must already know, all elemental creatures have a base element; an element which they can easily control, allowing them to use simple spells with no effort, and master more complex spells with relative ease. In the case of Dassels, for example, that element is life. Dassels are plant-related beings and can control plants at their will. Lurians have control over the light element and can create bright lights and manipulate them effortlessly. Elves are non-elemental beings, but we elvins have a natural gift for magic and those who dedicate them selves to magic can master an element. That then becomes their base element, and they gain the ability to wield it for the rest of their lives."
"Does that mean I can only learn to use one element?," Mariel inquired, confused.
"No; you can learn more than one element. You can even get to wield all elements with enough time and effort. But once you've found your base element, it will be easier for you to use and understand its magic. It will be natural to you."
"And how will I know what my element is?," Mariel asked Primrose.
"You'll know when the time comes. Be patient. You're still too young," Primrose told her.
"I hate it when they say that to me," Mariel complained.
"But it's the truth. For now, you listen and learn. Then one day you'll become a powerful sorceress."
Mariel wasn't wholly satisfied with that answer, but she realized that arguing would be useless. It had always been so.
"What's your element?," she finally asked Primrose.
"I... haven't found it yet," Primrose admitted.
Mariel was appalled. She didn't expect that answer, not from her mentor.
"I guess there are some things for which I'm still too young too; it will be long until I get recognized as a true sorceress by anyone who has reached their adult height," Primrose sighed.
"Doesn't that bother you?," Mariel queried.
"I've learned to live with it. The future comes if you wait long enough. It's the way things are."
"They don't have to be that way," Mariel insisted. "We're already here; we're alive and thinking and feeling. There must be something we can do instead of just wait."
"Yes, we can learn and prepare ourselves for the future," Primrose pointed out.
"And what about the present?," Mariel inquired.
"You're precocious for many things and that makes you too eager. You'll have to learn to be patient."
"I'm not impatient. I just think some things should be different. Don't you?"
"Things have been the same way for many thousands of years."
"Then maybe it's time for some of them to change," Mariel insisted.
"Be patient. You'll learn when you grow up," Primrose assured.
"I hope not. That is the one thing I don't want to learn."
"Change the world, then," Primrose joked.
"I don't think I can change it on my own," Mariel answered. "But I really want to do something good. I want to make at least one thing better."
"You don't sound like the little girl you are," Primrose pointed out.

Mariel sighed, frustrated. Primrose would never understand. Unless not until she could do something to prove her point. Until she proved she could be useful for the world without having to wait at least 500 years to be considered a fully grown adult. For now, she was alone in this. But some day, somehow, she'd find a way.
~~ Lady VulpiX ~~

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Old 02-08-2003, 09:17 PM   #2
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Nice chapter. You already have me interested. I'll be sure to keep checking back here. ^_^


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Old Some day, Some time   #16
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Chapter 2: The cave of light

"Will you teach me how to use element magic?," Mariel asked Primrose one day, after weeks of going through the theory. "I know it's important to know the basics before using them, but don't you think I already know enough to cast a little spell? I can talk about magic and how it works for ages, but in the practice I can only use a little connection magic and make a few healing potions. I'm sure there must be something else I can do."

"Always so eager to learn, are you, Mariel?," Primrose chuckled. "Alright, we'll start getting a little more practice. Which element would you like to explore first?"
The question had caught the young elvin by surprise.
"You can only learn to use elemental magic if you focus on one element at a time," Primrose explained. "So what will it be? Life? Light? Earth? Water? Air? Fire?"
Mariel thought for a moment and finally answered: "Light."
"Alright, that's a nice one. And fortunately one I've had training with. Had you chosen Earth I would be lost."
Primrose had reached a point where she considered Mariel a friend in spite of her young age and was not ashamed to admit her flaws to her.
"You can use light magic to guide you through dark places, and even to defend yourself if you get in trouble, which I hope you don't. You can also use it to create light signals and, with enough knowledge and experience, you can even enhance your sight just like with..."
"Physical magic," Mariel ended the sentence before Primrose could finish it.
"Oh, you already know that," Primrose laughed. "I sometimes forget what a good memory you have."
"I remember what's important to me. And magic is," Mariel responded. "Will you teach me how to use Light magic?"
"I will. We'll have a little experience to start. In order to use light magic, or any kind of elemental magic, you'll have to establish a connection with the element first. Feel it. So sit down and close your eyes. Focus on your own body, breathe deeply and try to feel a small light inside your heart. You probably won't be able to visualize it the first time, but don't worry. Feeling it is a good start. Feel that light grow and become more intense. Feel it extend itself all over your body and illuminate it. Let the light fill you and remember how it makes you feel."
Mariel made an almost imperceptible nod; the expression on her face showed deep concentration.
"Alright, now we'll try something else. Don't worry if you can't do it this time. You will soon if you practise regularly. Try to make the light break through the limits of your body. Let it out and let it illuminate everything around you. Let the whole room be filled with the bright light from your heart."
Primrose saw a wide smile form on Mariel's face, and left her like that for about 30 seconds.
"Alright then; always remember how you've felt today. You can slowly come back to the real world and, when you feel like it, open your eyes."
Mariel's expression  as she opened her eyes was priceless.
"One day you'll be able to visualize everything, even the light coming out of your body and filling the whole room. And if you work hard enough, one day that light will become visible for others as well," Primrose assured.
"But I did see it!," Mariel declared. "All the time; in my heart, and all over my body, and then everywhere. Well, I almost lost it once, but then I concentrated and it became brighter and stronger. It was strange; when I opened my eyes, I couldn't believe how dark the room was."
"Wow!," Primrose exclaimed. "That was amazing! Never forget it, then. And repeat it everyday. You may or may not feel and see the same things each time, and that's alright, but keep track of all the sensations you will discover, and always let them in. They will help you conquer light magic. Now, we'll go for a bigger challenge," Primrose suggested enthusiastically. She wanted to see how far her student could go.
Mariel nodded firmly.
"We'll start with a basic spell: the sphere of light. Put your hands together facing up like a spoon. Yes, close them a little more. Try to form the shape of a spoon with your two hands."
Mariel quickly complied and Primrose helped her form the perfect shape.
"Now feel the energy between your hands," She continued. "The energy that comes from within you. Feel it and let it grow until it turns into light. Once it is visible, hold it and make it as bright as you can."
Mariel did her best effort and managed to feel the energy within her hands, but no light came out. Not even a spark.
"It's ok," Primrose comforted her. "I would have been astonished if it had worked on your first try. I'm already amazed at what you have done so far. Get some rest, we'll continue tomorrow."

Mariel was not frustrated for her failed attempt to cast her first light spell. The things she had felt had encouraged her to work harder. She kept practising at home as well as at Primrose's house, and even her parents ended up noticing her progress and admiring it. They were proud to have a little sorceress at home; though that was not enough to let her take part in adult conversations yet. So Mariel retreated to her own world, where the magical forces and nature itself would never cast her aside. She soon managed to create spheres of light and, by doing some research, found a book on recovery magic which instantly caught her interest. She was amazed to find new ways of healing and restoring things which Primrose had never mentioned and were much easier than using life magic. There were even fixing and reversion spells that could only be achieved through pure recovery magic. Some of the spells were too complex for Mariel to cast them, but she did her best to remember as much of them as she could, in order to try them when she became powerful enough. All of that, added to her regular studies and her work on potions didn't leave her any time to get bored. But she did still feel lonely every now and then. She really wished she had someone with whom she could share everything. Someone who knew who she truly was and accepted her.

One day, Primrose trusted Mariel with a mission, which was also, in a way, a test. Mariel would have to go into the forest and bring all the ingredients for a poison antidote. All the herbs she needed could be found in that part of the forest, but some of them were very rare. And some could be easily confused with other herbs, so Mariel would have to prove that she could locate them and recognize them. It was a challenge she was happy to take, not only to prove herself but also for the opportunity of spending the whole day in the forest. She loved being among the plants and animals, feeling the forces of nature at work all around her and enjoying the occasional company of a neini or even a kraggletup. And the perspective was so much better than spending another day playing "2 and 2" with Jasmine! (That was a new game Jasmine had invented, which consisted in taking turns for rolling two dice until they both fell on the same side, and in that case rolling again; the winner was the first one who could make both dice fall on the same side twice in a row, which took hours and got Mariel extremely bored). So there she went, embracing the adventure. She walked into the depth of the forest stopping to catch every sight, smell and sound, and everything else she could feel. It was easy for her to find the herbs. The last two flowers took her some time, but she'd already got hold of them by noon. So she decided to use the rest of the day to enjoy herself. After having a snack she'd brought along, she walked deeper into the vegetation, marking a path she had never walked before. She wondered how many had ever been there, apart from the bees and butterflies that were flying all over the place. She was dazed by the beauty of the forest. And then, when she thought she had already seen everything, she spotted a light shining on the west. Curious, she decided to check what that was.

As Mariel got closer, she saw a large wall of rocks ahead of her. The light came from somewhere up the wall. She wasn't an expert mountain climber, but she managed to find enough rocks to stand on and fissures to place her hands in, and slowly climbed up to the top. Once she was up there, she saw a cave a few meters in front of her. That was where the light was coming from. Proud to have reached it, Mariel walked into the cave and what she saw there made her more impressed than anything ever had. The sun rays that filtered through the entrance of the cave were being reflected by thousands of colorful crystals which completely covered the cave walls, creating a festival of light and colors unrivalled by anything Mariel had seen before. Every crystal had a different color, different shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet and everything in between.
Mariel released a small sphere of light to see what happened, and it began to bounce from crystal to crystal, picking up new colors each time it touched a wall. It was amazing. Mariel could hardly believe that such beauty lay there, in the middle of the forest, all around her now, and she had never heard of it before. Was she the first one to ever find that cave? Or had no one paid attention to its beauty? And what would it look like during the sunrise or sunset, when the sun itself provided light of different colors? Could it get even more beautiful?

Mariel gave in to the pleasure of observing the wonders around her, and let the light surround her and fill her. Soon, she could see nothing but a pleasant, soothing light. A light that invited her to play with it, to be part of it. For invaluable minutes, Mariel and the light were one, and everything was calm and perfect. She felt like she could stay like that forever, but there came a moment when she knew she had to go back. It was as if someone wanted her to return to the real world, and she calmly acceded. She knew it was for the best. She slowly let the lights fade away and as she did, she saw a shadow form in front of her. The silhouette was that of a young elf. She didn't understand it until her consciousness went back to its normal state and her brain interpreted the form of the one who was standing in front of her. It was, indeed, a young male elf, about her age or maybe a little younger. He had fair reddish brown hair and bright green eyes, was wearing strange clothes and had something on his left side that looked like a sheathed sword.

"Are you real?," he asked her when he noticed she had seen him.
"How long have you been here?," she asked back.
"I haven't been counting, but a few minutes, I think," he replied. "Who are you?"
"My name is Mariel," she said. "What's yours?"
"Eric," he replied. And then he inquired: "...How did you do that?"
"Do what?"
Mariel had just gone through a unique experience but she hadn't felt like she had done anything herself, let alone anything surprising.
"The light that was all around you," he clarified.
"You mean it was real?! I was actually surrounded by light?!"
"Yes," he confirmed. "First it was filling the whole cave. Then it formed a circle around you and started shrinking until you absorbed it. Don't tell me you didn't see it!"
"I did, but I didn't think it was real. I thought I was just... meditating or something."
"You meditate?"
"Meditation is an important part of being a sorceress. You have to be in deep contact with yourself and the world around you for magic to work," she explained.
"You're a sorceress?! Wow!," Eric exclaimed. "I'd never seen such a young sorceress before!"
"Well, I'm still in training," she confessed. "And being so young has given me a lot of problems, believe me."
"You too?," he asked, surprised. It was the first time Eric had found someone he could identify with.
"No matter how hard I try, no one ever takes me seriously," she told him. "They never trust me to help them; they never think my ideas are worth a thought, and I can never take part in their conversations. If it were for my parents, I'd spend my whole life babysitting little kids who can't think of anything but playing. Don't take me wrong, I like playing. But my life needs more than just that."
"Wow, it sounds as if I was hearing myself talk!," Eric remarked. "I have the same problems, you know. No one in my town thinks my opinion counts because I'm too young. I wonder if that happened to them when they were my age."
"I think so, but they must have forgotten. Either that or they didn't let themselves think when they were young."
They both laughed.
"Where do you live?," Mariel asked Eric.
"In Harland, 2 hours to the east of here."
"Harland? That's a merial town!," she realized.
"Yes, what did you expect?," Eric asked her. "Wait a minute, where do you live?"
"In Ayrus," she replied. "It must be 2 hours to the east at my pace, I took longer getting here because I was gathering herbs. I know it would take me longer than that to get to Harland."
"So you're... an elvin?"
Both Eric and Mariel were shocked. They had heard about each other's race, but they'd never seen them in person, even though they didn't live far from each other.
"I thought elvins were taller. Like 2 meters or something," Eric stated.
"Only the tallest ones. And I'm still young, I'm not fully grown yet. Besides, I'm female, so I won't be getting that tall," Mariel informed her. "But aren't you a bit tall for a merial? You can't be older than me and you're about my height. How tall will you be when you grow up?"
"I won't be growing up for a lot longer," he told her. "Maybe 2 years, 3 at most. I'll be 11 soon. My mother is rather tall, so if I take after her family I could make it past 1.5."
"Well, then it's true that you're shorter than us, but not that much. I wonder how many other rumors were exaggerated."
"Well, I know of one more: the rumor that says that elvins never come out of their towns. You're here after all."
"Did anyone actually say that? I'm surprised! I know some elvins from Ayrus who have even been to Harland and other merial cities."
"I've never seen them. But there are places in Harland where I've never been. I should get to know the whole town. The first thing a warrior should know is the place where he lives."
"So you're a warrior?," Mariel asked, intrigued. "I'd never talked to a warrior before. Not that the warriors from Ayrus would listen to me."
"There are warriors in Ayrus?! I thought all elvins were sorcerers or philosophers."
"What?!," Mariel burst into laughter. "I love magic and a good discussion, but not even a small village could be built by ONLY sorcerers and philosophers."
"I guess you're right," Eric laughed. "But it seems they can be built by liars. Anyway, I'm not a warrior yet, but I'm training hard to become one. I almost beat my father the last time we trained. And he's good with the sword. He tests all the weapons he makes."
"Is that a sword you have with you?," Mariel asked him, pointing at his sheath.
"More like a very long knife," he said. "It can't cut anything harder than tree branches. One day I want to have a reinforced steel sword like the ones my dad makes. Those which never break and can penetrate through anything."
"And what would you do with it?," Mariel inquired.
"Whatever I need to," he said. "A good warrior must have a good sword."
"You know... it's very interesting to talk to you," Mariel said. "Your life is so different from mine... and so similar at the same time!"
"Yes, who would have thought so?," Eric agreed. "Do you think we can keep seeing each other? Here? We can talk and give each other ideas. Maybe we can even show Elvins and Merials that we're not that different."
"I'd wait for the last part," Mariel warned her. "I feel like it would be hard to do that. They're too full of themselves. But we can be friends. We can meet here, or somewhere between our homes, that would be easier. And we can think of ways to make our lives better and have fun too."
"Yes, I'd like to know what games elvins play. Is it true that you can't climb trees?"
"I've never tried, but I think I could if I tried to. I climbed up to this cave today; a tree shouldn't be that different."
"I didn't have to climb much to get here," Eric said. "Just a few hops. But you have two arms and two legs, so you should be able to climb."
"Yes, I think I should," Mariel agreed.
"Well, I'll teach you to climb a tree next time we meet. I come to this part of the forest once a week. Will you be here next week?"
"I will," Mariel promised.
And so it began.
~~ Lady VulpiX ~~

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Old Some day, some time   #16
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Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
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Chapter 3: Training

Eric and Mariel met again the following week. And the week after that one. And many more. They became great friends, and within a few weeks they felt like they'd always been together. Eric did teach Mariel how to climb trees, and while she wasn't nearly as agile as her friend and her long dress didn't help things, in the end she succeeded in the task. Mariel, in turn, told Eric the basics of magic, and convinced him that he'd be a better warrior if he had a few magical resources at hand. After all, most legendary warriors had used magic as one of their weapons.

Eric went on with his training and, on his eleventh birthday, he managed to disarm his father. At first he thought his father had let him win as a birthday gift, but the blacksmith assured that he had done his best, and that Eric was improving his skills at an incredible rate. He decided that Eric was ready for a more formal kind of training, and signed him up at a school for warriors and explorers. Eric couldn't believe it when he heard the news.

"That's great! I'll be a true warrior!," he cheered blissfully. "I didn't know there was a school like that in Harland."
"Not in Harland," his father corrected him, "but on the lurian village of Urthum."
"A lurian village?," Eric queried, puzzled. "But lurians are little spots of light. How can they have a training school?"
"It's actually outside the village. lurians don't fight by themselves, obviously, but they are excellent teachers, guides and trainers. The village of Urthum is famous for all the warriors and explorers who came out of their school."
"And why hadn't I ever heard of it?," Eric inquired.
"Maybe because epic stories are the only kind of books that don't burn your hands," his father joked. He had never been an avid reader himself. It was Eric's mother who always insisted that their son should read more.
"Ok, it's strange, but I'm not missing it for anything," Eric declared. "I'd really like to see how lurians can train an elf."
"You'll see," his father assured.

The village of Urthum was so well hidden in the forest that anyone who passed by would take it for a group of rocks if they didn't look carefully. At least when the lurians were inside their homes. When they got out, it was impossible not to notice them. They were spots of bright colorful light that floated in the air, sometimes calmly, sometimes moving swiftly from one side to another.
"They move so fast!," Eric commented when the lurians started spinning around him.
"Lurians are the fastest creatures in the world," his father informed him.
"And what are they doing now?," he asked.
"I think they're inspecting you," was the answer.
Soon, a spot of turquoise light came out from behind the stones and all the others stopped moving.
"I'm sorry they bothered you," it apologized with a female voice. "They're young and excited. They're the new students of our teaching school and they had never seen a young merial like you before."
"Teaching school? You teach them how to teach?," Eric asked her.
"Yes, basically," the lurian replied.
"But I thought many merials had trained here. Why hadn't they seen one before?," Eric inquired.
"We've trained many, that's true, but it has been long since someone as young as you has entered our school. None of these students has turned 30 yet."
"That means I'm strange," Eric concluded.
"It means you're talented," she responded. "Oh, by the way, my name is Auna. What's yours?"
"Eric," he replied.
"Good. Let's see how much you already know, Eric. Follow me, please."
Eric looked back at his father.
"I'll wait for you at home," he said.

Eric was nervous, but he tried not to show it. He followed Auna to a wide clearing.
"Have you ever seen a sphere of light?," Auna asked him.
"Yes," Eric answered. He had seen Mariel cast that spell many times.
"Can you defend yourself from them?," Auna continued.
That question caught Eric by surprise.
"Defend myself? What do you mean?"
"Spheres of light can hurt you if they're intense and pass through your body at a high speed. You must learn to deflect them."
"I can block attacks," Eric affirmed. "I've been training with my father for a year."
"Then we'll see how you fare against this kind of attack. Don't be afraid, the light won't hurt you. It won't be that strong. But you'll have to do your best to deflect it and stop it from touching you."
"Ok," Eric said, still unsure of what he was about to go through. It looked like a test.
"Take out your sword," Auna advised him.
No sooner did Eric comply than he was surrounded by lurians of many different colors.
"Ready?," Auna shouted out. "Go! Shurin!"

A ball of green light came straight from the green lurian in front of him. Eric barely got the time to react and stop the sphere with his sword, making it bounce away.
"Taulen!," Auna called out, and a bordeaux light spot on Eric's left side released another sphere, forcing Eric to turn around in order to deflect it.
"Yolker!," another order came. Eric didn't see anyone attack, so he instinctively turned around, just in time to stop the blue light ball that was heading to his backside.
"Very good!," Auna commended him. "Let's try something else. Nayra! Pura!"
Two lurians attacked Eric, both ahead of him, a red one from the front-left and a light purple one from the front-right. Eric stretched out his right arm and brushed the air from right to left with his sword, making both light spheres bounce away.
"Einy!," Auna shouted while Eric was still holding up his sword.
This time Eric felt something hit his back before he could turn.
"Alright, stop!," Auna commanded.
Eric let his arms fall. He was breathing fast. The test hadn't lasted long but everything had been so fast that he was now agitated. Had he passed?
"That was impressive," Auna said as he floated to his side. "You'll have to learn not to get so agitated, that way you'll fight better and endure more; but no one had ever performed like you in their first training session. You handled the combined attack so well, and even the first shot from behind! We will be proud to have you in our school!"

Eric had never been more excited. Of course, as soon as he got the chance to see Mariel he told her everything about the lurians' training school. She was impressed. She was also very interested when he told her that the lurians used the spheres of light as an attack. She decided to try that out for herself, and getting a good shot out took her about... 2 seconds.
"How could you do that so fast?!," Eric asked her.
"I think I've found my element," Mariel replied.
After that, Mariel had to explain everything about the 6 elements and how an elvin sorcerer could get to master one of them.
"Wow, that's amazing!," Eric exclaimed. "It's decided. I'll learn some magic too. Earth magic would be great. I could control the ground under my feet and make my opponents fall."
"Unless they're flying," Mariel pointed out. "I don't think Earth magic would help you much against the lurians."
"Nothing would help me against the lurians. They're just light. But I still think using Earth magic would be great."
"Then you should find someone who can help you learn it," Mariel said. "I would, but I don't know how to use that kind of magic. Only light, connection and recovery."
"Then I'll have to learn on my own," Eric sighed.
"But I can help you train with my spheres of light if you want," Mariel suggested.
Eric accepted, and from then on training together became one of their regular activities, along with talking, playing and exploring the forest. While they were not together, they went on with their normal lives, only that it seemed much more exciting than it had been the year before. And they both worked hard to fulfill their dreams. There came a moment when Mariel's achievements were too big to go unnoticed (more precisely, her parents found her reading a magic book at Midnight with a magical light floating over the book), and decided that she needed the guidance of someone with more experience than Primrose. However, none of the sorcerers of Ayrus were willing to take an apprentice at that moment, let alone one who was only 12 years old. So Mariel had to content herself with studying with Primrose and doing research on her own; deal which suited Primrose just fine, as it made her feel important. Eric continued training with the lurians and his progress was also notorious. He even caught the attention of a lurian sorcerer named Aren, and had him teach him a little Earth magic. For Eric, everything was going his way.

One day, after his class, Eric decided to walk the other way for a change. He had been told many times that a warrior should know the territory he was on, and he'd finally decided to do something about it. As he walked, he ended up in another clearing, only this one was smaller and darker than the one he normally trained in. He heard noises just before walking into the clearing, as if something was being hit again and again. He then heard something like a bag of seeds hitting the ground, and an adult female voice shouting "dammit!" When he walked past the trees that were blocking his sight, he looked around to find the source of the sounds and found a faerie tying a thread to a branch of a tree on the other side of the clearing. Something was hanging from the thread. It looked like a small bag made of cloth and filled with something (probably seeds judging by the sound it had made before). The faerie didn't look like any creature Eric had seen before. She was about 8 times smaller than him, like a neini or just a little bigger, but her wings were transparent, not green. And for some reason they didn't look fragile. The wings of neinis could be easily shaken by a soft breeze. This faerie's wings stood firm as if nothing could move them but their owner's will. And their points were rounded, once more unlike a neini's wings. Her body didn't resemble a flower, like the body of a dassel which was always covered in leaves and petals. She almost looked like an elf, only much smaller and winged. She wore a tight golden dress which left most of her legs uncovered, and golden shoes to match. Her shoulder-length orange-ish golden hair was barely wavy, and the muscles of her legs looked firm and strong. And if she had been the one who had recently spoken, she didn't have the thin voice most faeries had. Nor did she look as delicate as them. Eric wondered what species she belonged to, but he couldn't even make out what her element was, if she was an elemental being at all. She was definitely unlike anything he had ever seen. Soon his thoughts were interrupted by the faerie's strong voice.

"You don't have to stand still in there. I've already heard you, so you can move now."
"Are you talking to me?," Eric asked, surprised.
"Who else?," the faerie retorted.
She finished tying the thread, turned around and hovered to Eric's eye level. She floated in the air like there was nothing to it, only her wings doing the job of keeping her in the same place. Her brown eyes had a look that Eric couldn't decipher, but they were intense. More so than any eyes he had ever seen. Now Eric was really intrigued.
"Who are you?," he asked her.
"Someone who's training here, as you must have realized," she said. "And you?"
"I'm Eric Eatan from Harland," he replied. "I'm a merial."
"Yes, I can see that," she remarked. "And I can't say I haven't heard your name before."
"Really? How?," Eric asked, even more intrigued.
"The lurians keep talking about you. The lurians from Urthum talked to the ones from Isthum and the rumors were spread. They're so excited about you! I must say I'm pleased to finally meet you."
"I don't know what rumors you've heard, but I'm not sure if they're true. Many rumors are not."
"You don't have to tell me," she laughed. "I've been around much longer than you have. I know a few things about life."
"How old are you?," Eric asked.
"Never ask that to a woman," was the puzzling reply.
"What's your name?," he tried.
"Erin," she answered.
"Really? It sounds almost like mine!"
"Yes, except for the ending. Nothing to make a big fuzz about."
"What are you?"
"A faerie," she responded.
"Yes, that's obvious. But what kind of faerie?"
"The kind that won't say no to a good challenge. The bag over there has already taken enough of a beating. How about we have a little training session together? That way I can see if the rumors are true or not."
"Hmm... sure, but you didn't answer my question."
"What question?"
"What's your race?," Eric rephrased it.
"No need for you to know."
"Because if you can't find out on your own, then why should I tell you?"
"I've never seen anyone like you before."
"I'm not from around," she told him.
"Where are you from?," he inquired.
"The lurians from Isthum found me years ago on the eastern side of their city. I live with them now."
"You live with the lurians? What is that like?"
"Not bad," she answered. "They're nice beings once you get to know them. They keep my secrets and I keep theirs."
"The lurians' secrets? What secrets can they have?"
"Telling you wouldn't be a good way of paying them for their hospitality, don't you think?"
"Right," he accepted. "But why are you so secretive anyway?"
"I have my reasons," yet another puzzling response came.
"Will you at least tell me what your element is?"
"You love asking questions, don't you? What makes you think I even have an element?"
"Then you're not elemental?," he deduced.
"I didn't say that," she told him. "Would you like a battle or not?"

Eric agreed to have a battle with the mysterious Erin, even when he couldn't imagine how someone her size could take on someone like him. But his experiences with the lurians had shown him that appearances could be deceitful. Maybe she had some special attack like the lurians' light balls. Maybe he'd see what her element was if he confronted her.
"Take out your sword," she instructed him. "I must warn you, I won't hurt you but I won't give you a break either."
"Good for me. Same here," Eric replied.
He held up his thin sword and waited to see Erin's first move. What he saw caught him completely by surprise. She lifted her hand and a sword much thicker than his and just as long appeared from nowhere. She held it as if it had no weight and charged against Eric. Eric barely managed to react in time and block her attack, not without having to step back due to the force of the impact.
"A good warrior is always prepared for the unexpected," Erin told him while flying around him. "And keeps their feet on the ground while fighting."
While she was saying this, she landed and picked up Eric's right foot, making him lose balance. He used his left hand to stop his fall and resorted to the little earth magic he knew to send a shockwave through the ground to the spot where Erin was standing.
"Unless, like me, they can fly," she finished taking off into the air, unaffected.
She prepared to charge again, but Eric used his brush move, this time from left to right, to push her aside. Once on Eric's right side, Erin described a hook with her sword trying to get Eric's sword out of his hand.
"I won't fall for that. My father has done that too many times," Eric said, pulling back his sword.
"But he mustn't have done this," she concluded, using her chance to reach Eric's body when it was uncovered. Eric reacted fast and, closing his left fist, pushed Erin's sword up before it could touch him.
"Yes, he has," he told her.
"That was only the first part," she informed him letting the inertia take him right above Eric's hands, lifting her own hands to have her sword disappear into thin air and quickly plunging down to get a grip on Eric's sword and pulling it out of his hands.
"I win," she declared, pointing at Eric with his own sword.
"Had my sword been sharper, your hands would be in pieces now," Eric told her. He'd noticed she'd touched the edges of his sword in order to lift it up.
"I'm a warrior. I act according to the circumstances, which include the kind of weapon my opponent is using," she pointed out. "And I won't cry over a few scratches," she added, leaving Eric's sword on the ground and blowing on her palms.
"You got hurt!," Eric exclaimed. "This was just training! You didn't have to hurt yourself!"
"That was my decision, and I consider that a way of training too. If you're not willing to take some risks in a training session, how will you be ready for them in a real fight?"
"You're strange," Eric commented.
"I know," she replied.
"Why are you so strong?," he asked her.
"Some kinds of faeries have the strength to lift up to 500 times their own weight. A few other beings too. Plus I've been training hard for years. So be happy; you've found out something more about me."
"Wow! And how did you do the sword thing?"
"What sword thing?," she queried, once more testing Eric's ability for precision.
"You know, the way you made it appear and disappear."
"Molecular dispersion. A nice treat that comes with this kind of sword."
"What does that mean?"
"Let's say I just formed a bag of air and stored my sword inside," she explained.
"That's amazing. You're full of surprises!"
Erin grinned.
"I must admit you're something too. It's hard to find an opponent who reacts so well to surprises. And I could see you're quite well trained for your age. It was nice to kick some stress out with you. You definitely make a much better training partner than the punching bag."
"Can we do it again someday?"
"Sure. I'll be here whenever you want a match."
They both smiled.
"Will your hands be ok?," Eric asked her.
"I'll live," Erin joked. "Actually, they'll probably be fine by tomorrow. Come back when you can. I'll make sure not to take you lightly next time."
"Me neither," Eric assured.
As Eric parted, thoughts of the recent events wouldn't leave his mind. Erin was the most puzzling creature he'd met in his life, yet she'd turned out to be nice in the end. And there was surely a lot more to her than she showed. He had so many questions! She was weird, and overly mysterious, but he had the feeling he'd enjoy getting to know her.
~~ Lady VulpiX ~~

Owner of the Necessary Unown Trophy
Keeper of Karin's Zealous Unown Trophy

Knight of the I.N.D.E.E.D. after waiting for about 3 years to get a reply.
And how did this forum get into my sig?
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