Wizar became aware of a knife of heat and pressure jabbing into him. Then he felt everything around him start to shake and it made him jolt out of sleep. He grogilly became attentive and then saw an apparition form at the foot of his bed fully in ghostly white form with pointed ears. He shied away in his bed as he wasn't too used to this. He worked with elvish ancestors before. The normal that the situation was supposed to be was still abnormal.
The apparition spoke to him, "You must wake up. There is a great forbidden power that rouses. Can you feel it?"
Wizar wasn't sure what to do at first but he did feel something else and it wasn't from the apparition. The apparition felt clean to him in aura and energy. The dirtier chaotic feeling thrust with a red hot poker struck into him again from somewhere that he couldn't sense. He winced psychically and he had a piece of the energy latch onto him.
"You see. This is what your ancestors call upon you to cleanse. You must go now," The apparition called to him.
He sat up in bed staring at where it had been. The elvish ancestors rarely came out so forcefully to their kindred. The vision gathered his strict attention and his mind fevered for a solution. He caught his senses and centered himself and emptied his thoughts. He got out of bed and donned his robe of the Mage and then the tunic of the Kundid mage and the sash of a common mage across his belt. Why were the ancestors coming to him rather than some empowered and more experienced mage?
He slipped downstairs and beheld himself in the mirror. He had the pointed ears, yellow hair, yellow eyes and was as lithe as elves came. His tunic and robe and sash fit him snuggly. He sniffed the usual smell of clay that had dried and glanced at the walls. Mud house. He'd put that together with the help of his friends and family.
He went to a long case on the way toward the door and inside he opened it up to behold his staff of an oak. It had a natural set of the letter of his first name in elvish. This was why he had choosen it without hesitation. It was no longer needed by the oak tree as it had just discarded it.
He picked up the staff and went out the door into the moonlight. The dew and the wet grass smells wavered to him as well as a wormy nightcrawler edge to it. The crickets and frogs still chirped. Wizar oriented toward the frog croaks into the woods around his house. He started up a rise up and then down into a gully whereupon he came to a stream. He put his staff on the bank and waded out into the midst of the stream.
There he turned around and said to the stream, "Eukta, Yukta, Oukta."
The stream bubbled and coarsed and formed a thin column. That column filled out into an elvish form. It glided over to him and spoke in a watery smooth tone, "You seek to ask me advice, my friend?"
"I was visited by an ancestor. I can feel something wrong. Do you feel it?" Wizar asked. He hadn't turned his mind to his purpose until then. Mostly all of it had been instinctual and along with his training. He hoped it wasn't true but his gut instincts were pulling toward some impenetrable obscure evil brooding far away. He had felt it on the way to the place, he realized, in the very air.
"Yes. It broods. It grows. It comes daily now. It is felt by most that have even the slightest sense of the magic. It scars. And it has scarred you," The water spirit said.
Wizar looked at the spirit agape and he searched his own aura and power and found the wedge of the jagged red energy in him. As he tried to put his mind around it, he felt the water energies creeping in and the spirits gently oozing the wounding energy away. He looked up toward the moon in relief and gave an, "Aaaahh, thank you."
"You will go afar. The ones you meet as friends shall help you. One friend will show you the way to your goal even though it does not seem it is there," The water spirit emitted and stepped away sinking back into the stream.
Wizar pushed out his senses but could feel the spirits all around writhing in the aura of the darkened forboding energy. He did not sense and move toward it. Instead, he passed back across the water and grabbed his staff. He hefted it aloft and started to wade across the stream, and held the staff up as the water came up to his chest in the middle. Then he was across and looked back at the stream a moment and started on.
His mind then broke and he began to worry about his friends and family and what this evil meant for them. He did not have time to think further when a bolt of a deep red colored energy hit him. He felt it as the same forboding aura that caused all the pure energies to shudder. It brought him to his knees and rushed around him in a red storm painting everything that color. It then started to whisper and then roared before it collected into an audible booming voice.
"You go to your folly. You do not know what it is you are doing, who you are, and what you seek. You step on haphazardly. You hope to best me, but you will not. You will sample our energy. Then when you finally make it to me you will use this energy against all that you hold dear," The voice hit him down and down.
When it finished he felt disoriented, abruptly lost sense and collapsed in a heap. His dreams panned out red colored and were of his friends and family burning alive all around him. The forest was ablaze, the stream he was just in was dried up to a jaked caked earth bottom. His house was just a pile of mud with jagged pieces of bones writhing out of it. Then the dreams grew lesser in shades of red and death and soon were of him on a boat in the middle of a lake with water of mirror complextion at the top. In the mirror of the lake it was the evening and reflected the moon and starry sky above as he went from one shore to the other. A bump of the boat on rocks made him jostle out of his sleep.
He opened his eyes to blurry lightened surroundings. It was trees mixed with browns and greens and blue skies. Then as he looked up he saw a blurry face come over and look down at him. He could make out pointy ears, blue eyes, yellow hair, and a set face.
He started to stir but a feminine voice, light and airy said back to him, "Shhhh easy now. You've had a sickening level of energy cast on you. You need to rest. The ground and the roots are sapping away this energy from you and cleansing your aura and soul. Rest."
He felt his vision swim and fatique come on him. Before he closed his eyes, a purplish black haired shape joined his field of vision and beside another red haired shape.
He had another dream and in it he was in a cavern full of fire and lava with flames that leapt high toward the ceiling. Over across from the entrance ledge he stood on was the exit and reachable over the fiery chasm. He saw an elven maiden there being pulled away by shadows. She looked back and stretched her arm toward him. Everything went in slow motion then her mouth moved slowly as she was pulled away. He stretched his arm out toward her and stumbled off the ledge and down into the cliff. Before he hit the flames he snapped awake and heard the birds chirping and the rerr of distant water.
His vision was still blurred when he opened his eyes. He focused and it all became clear. He was on his back in the forest looking up toward the sky. He started to move to get up and felt dizzy so laid himself back down with a groan in hopes it would stop the world turning so fast. He then moved his head finding that his surroundings no longer spun around him.
"You hadn't better move. You had a nasty bout," He heard a gruff voice say and he moved his head slowly. What he saw jerked his senses up as he saw it was a purple black furred puma. Not just a regular puma but a Hyrugar. They were of the types of blessed animals that walked and talked like elves but had features and fur of animals.
"Honestly, don't you know how to defend yourself magically," he heard another voice and made a gasp as he saw another Hyrugar that was a red furred monkey.
"Egh," was what he admitted as he sat up with his head swimmy.
He felt if he'd had too much root wine. His put his hand to the back of his head and kept himself from staring at the Hyrugar. He'd never seen this many gathered together. They were usually accorded such high positions in elvish society accordingly with their natural affinity with nature. They usual were regulars at Temples and few and far between in other places. Their pilgrimmages had them wearing shrouds. Truly he did a double take as he'd never seen them so informal as they both were now.
The elfess sat down before him, "I am Admona."
"Serah," the puma admitted shrugging from here seat up against the tree. She wore a dark plumed armor of sorts, although Wizar could sense the power humming from it more than he could tell what it was made of.
"Evers," the monkey said over his shoulder. He was crouched down, looking around randomly through the forest.
"Are you temple or shrine trained?" Admona asked.
Wizar looked at her. Temple meant the old relic sites from ancient Magineania. Shrines were newly constructed ones. The training was different. But he said, "Neither. Magic guard of the Kundid order."
Serah scoffed, "How typical? Gotta' love that training. Can't even shoo away pests with that."
"Serah," Admona snapped at her.
Evers laughed and stood up. He hopped onto one leg and onto a red oak climbing it fast and was soon toward the top of the tree and eventually called down, "It is clear now. That energy went back somewhere. I can't see or sense it."
"That was an abrupt attack. Some evil spirit," Admona said.
"Demon," Serah said barely enough to be heard. The way she said it brought both their attention to her. Her expression went from looking down and with furrowed brow was now looking ahead alert almost a tail edge of fear Wizar thought he saw.
Admona and Wizar looked back at each other. Admona laughed, "Don't mind her. Anywas, we'll be going. Uhhh where were you going?"
Wizar stood up, "I should report to the local garrison. But."
Admona tilted her head to the side, "But what?"
Wizar was thinking about telling his unit commander or the shrine priest about what happend. Then again it seemed far distant, almost as far fetched.
"Nothing. And uh thank you," He said picking up his staff and started away from them.
"Uh wait. Maybe we could go with you, where is your unit garrisoned?" The elfess asked walking after him and gestured to her other companions.
A few minor leaf shakings and Evers was down on the ground starting to say, "Yeah, Admona, we are supposed to g," but Admona glanced back at him and he stopped.
"Yeah, we should visit the Gamsa Shrine," She said with crossed furred arms and looked ahead with her usual furred brow expression.
Wizar saw a shape of another elvish ancestor fade into view ahead. His walk and manner slowed down although it didn't slow down itself. The elder in the shade wore a dress and had long tresses of hair. Then the elf saw that the elder was standing wide-eyed with her arms stretched out toward them in a stopping gesture. Her mouth was moving but there was no sound. He felt off suddenly and pushed his will to pull his feet back and halt his progress forward and turned his head to see something beastly red with jagged crackling ethereal edges open mouthed right on him. Then he was yanked and tossed out of the way suddenly and all the surroundings snapped back out of their slow down. He saw Serah go away from her gesture of tossing him aside to grabbing the beast and knocking it away.
Wizar heard the snarling all around. They had outlines of wolves but were summoned by an evil tether of energy that came from far distant. His newly joined companions spread out but kept in a type of triangle. Admona had her hands out one palm forward pointing up and one palm toward her facing down. She was standing well balanced on one leg and had a shield of energy surrounding them all between the wolf spirits. Evers was standing in even stance and Wizar blinked as he twirled the energy around as if he was twirling around ropes. He kept flourishing like this while they stood there waiting. Serah lastly had drawn herself up into a taller stance and had her paws out in front of her palms forward the tips close together but just not touching. Their combined energy sent him into a flutter but he snapped to and picked up his staff.
"Nen- shen – je – sheh- aloo," He said bringing his magic focus up to his staff tips and they started to glow with small green round lights alighting on each of the five tips.
The wolves attacked. Serah had a wolf spirit knocked in the previous direction crashing and smacking off of several trees. Evers did a blur of a swirling whip arc with his energy ropes and cleaved a few wolves in two.
Wizar put a few fingers to his mouth as Admona started to hover while bumping those creatures that attacked off her magic shield.
"Sahack," Wizar said bringing his staff bottom to tap the ground and a green bolt erupted and flew at one of the wolves that was about to strike the shield.
"Creshon," He spat out and a jagged green lightning sparked and connected with another wolf spirit about to impact the shield.
Then, that was all. The wolf spirits turned tail and dissapeared into the underbrush. Admona dropped her shield with a sigh and settled down on both feet on the ground.
"Corrupted," Serah emitted coming back over toward them.
"You must have a grudge out on you, my fair elvish companion," Evers added.
Admona's expression was set similar to Serah's but with drawn eyes, "We definitely want to reach that shrine and your garrison very quickly."
The Gamsa shrine was near the Ulvo protector garrison where Wizar reported when on duty. He was not a regular with the garrison but after finishing his training was slowly easing into a full protector there. It had a few full protectors and several others were filling in in hopes to become full protectors there.
They passed through the front of the arch into the narrow stone line path up toward the Reymos river and across the stone bridge into the village. Then, they passed the quiet gleaming circular structure in a shallow hallow of the Gamsa shrine.
"You should stop by the shrine while we are here," Admona spoke and said nothing more and neither did Wizar and the two Hyrugar went with her without adding anything themselves up the path to the shrine.
Wizar sighed and finished moving down the path toward the rectangular structure in the middle of the village with the symbol of the Kundid order of protectors. The structure had two rooms, one that combined bunks and mini armory. The other that was the front desk, records and rooms for kitchen and living. A few of the partial protectors and full protectors were on guard around the ring of the village center here.
"Is the captain in?" He asked them.
"Yeah, but hey, something's going on. He'll fill you in," a veteran named Izale said.
Wizar hesitated, "What do you mean?"
"Got a lot of tail edges of bad energy. The temple had a layperson deliver a message. Get in there," a fellow mage Couras added in.
"Wow, ok," Wizar commented and promptly went inside.
The rooms weren't big and only had light from magical lanterns other than the windows. The captain stood aside one of the central desks and was peering over a document. Wizar knew him to be matter a fact and knew to get to the point and get his information across quickly. His typical elvish hair was in a few small knots and trimmed short. His uniform was also creaseless and had no spec of dirt. He was a veteran of the protectors, in the Gelieshen City, the heart of the Sacred Lands.
"Oh Wizar. Here. Sit down a moment," Captain Gregind sat down at the chair across from the desk and Wizar sat in a chair on the other side of the account.
"You might have felt that tail of bad energy earlier on the way here," Gregind said.
Wizar nodded and started to say something but Gregind held up his hand. Wizar suppressed a grimace.
"As you know, the Zin border protectors along the south were still bolstered along with Boulos to the north with the recent civil war from Zin and the attempted treachery of Boulos. So, we don't have enough people to investigate this, though. But we have asked for help. The temple thinks it was close. We are to maintain a normal presence in town. The Marshall doesn't want us to do anything yet. You'll be staged and patrolling toward the east side with Teren. We can't afford to send anyone out further," Gregind finished and stood up.
Wizar did too and then started, "Captain, I~"
The footsteps of a dark haired elfess with the robes with the sacred temple symbols made both of them turn toward the door as she went right up to the captain and handed an emerald. The captain clutched it in his hand, close his eyes and touched it to his forehead. His ears soon twitched.
He slowly lowered the stone and stared at Wizar with an expression that could be mistook for stunned but to Wizar looked to veil a scowl that he knew the captain did in the small amount of time he was a protector there.
"Report to the temple. They will be giving you orders. You follow them now," His voice was a whisper, almost a hiss.
Wizar hesitated and the Captain made a quick dismissive motion at Wizar whereas he jerked to and spun around following the elfess out.
"My name's Wizar," He said to the elfess as they went past all else back down the path toward the temple.
She didn't say anything for a moment then smiled at him saying,"Eh~Sizar."
"What?" Wizar stopped and she saw he stopped and stopped and looked back at him.
"Yeah. Coincidence?" She asked but her features went more somber and thoughtful and she looked off toward the cow grass off the side of the path.
"Well~" Wizar started.
"C'mon. Priest Myuin expects you," Sizar said.
Myuin was the priestess of the temple. Wizar only saw her from a distance since he came to town. He could only really see that she was faired as far as elves went but otherwise was too veiled out from the presence of the holy tree.
The temple was round and had an opening at the top that allowed a beam of holy light to alight the sparkling golden yellow tree that grew in the midst in a patch of grass, flanked by magic stones, plants, and having altars around the steps down that ringed it. Then half the way from there and the outer walls was a ring and low wall of glistening stone.
Wizar saw several individuals as well as a few in hoods, one paying respects on the other side, in the middle ring Wizar recognized as Yerah from the town. He didn't recognize any other but Serah, Evers, and Admona. Wizar knew the average lore and attended the local Shrine during his childhood. It was a year or two since he attended one regularly. So he remembered, in respect, to kneel with Sizar at the entrance and those inside nodded so they approached just to the middle ring and knelt down there.
A couple of the robed individuals joined them and knelt down beside them at the wall.
"Wizar, you may approach the inner circle," one fair haired robed elfess said and Wizar nodded, stood up and approached the inner circle and was bid to knell down before the priestess in line of the tree. He wondered if this was Myuin but couldn't tell.
"In order to go further, it is required that you must undergo a test of spirit," the elfess said.
Admona moved further into the circle and everyone looked down and away from Admona for a moment and then when they looked back up she held a shiny tray with a single wide curved leaf on it.
"Praised be the leaf of the sacred tree, " everyone intoned around him and he repeated out of habit.
Wizar felt his body tense up, he'd heard the lore but not met anyone who had done this as it was considered sacred knowledge for much of the lore on the leaves of the sacred trees themselves. When Admona approached him he went wide eyed, even when everyone kneeled with her when she kneeled with the leaf. He remembered hearing some visiting foreigners to his hometown's marketplace. They were saying that the leaves made you see things that weren't there. They used a word that sounded like hallucinate He didn't know that word exactly, other than that it induced some state. They didn't have an exact equivalent in elvish for it.
"You must eat this. It'll send you into a waking dream. There you will talk to the elders and they will guide you," Admona spoke in almost a whisper then bowed her head toward Wizar and everyone else did and the distant sound of a trickle of water and rustling tree was all he heard.
Wizar shakily reached out a hand, and grasping brough it shakily to his mouth and chewed up the bitter leaf. He suppressed a gag on the juices but swallowed the leaf clutching his eyes closed to help him swallow it forcefully.
When he looked back everything was blurry, then everything faded until things were pitch black. He stretched out his hands and legs and couldn't touch ground but was floating in nothingness. He drifted here for a moment, before noticing a light starting in front of him.
He couldn't move toward it. Then he noticed glowing apparitions of an elder elf and elfess that he recognized. Then the water spirit drifted in with them and the elders held his hands.
Wizar tried to move away but they clutched him tight the elfess and elf saying almost in unison, "Stay with us lest you drift away in the oblivion forever without a way out."
They seemed to move now in a pitch forward but toward the light. It got brighter and then surrounded them.
"Stay with us and allow us to guide you in the light, lest you fall into the light and you will die," The water spirit said.
Wizar felt they stopped to drift and seemed to be waiting there for something. Then, after a time Wizar noticed a figure get closer and closer until it was a glowing ghostly elf in flowing features. He spoke plainly directly to Wizar, his mouth moving but the speech sounded to him far away.
"Your elders and family are humble protectors of the Magineans of the Sacred Lands. And that you the protectors should get the gift of gifts to be the best of the protectors of the Magineans," the ghostly elf spoke.
"Who are you?" Wizar emitted.
The elder smiled, "I am the elder of elves. That elder of all elves. And here in your heart receive the best of gifts to smite this evil that stirs. But you must seek the wisdom of the elder family of holy trees in the regal temples of the sacred lands. Go to the temple of the protector. There take of the sacred fruit. There, find the path to purge the evil poison in the sacred lands."
The elder of elders produced a staff from behind him. It had three points curcled like branches at the top and also the bottom. This sent reverberations through him like lightning.
At the same time, the light, elders, and water spirit withdrew and Wizar felt himself falling toward an opening that he didn't think he could pass through. Then it grew large enough and he noticed that it was the temple and hisself and the others were standing there as he remembered them looking at him. He drifted around the sacred tree feeling exhilerated around it and fell back down toward his body and entered it snapping back aware inside of it like slapping the surface of water.
Everyone jerked a step back after that. They stared at him and Wizar looked around at them and noticed the tip of a finger was glowing then examining himself noticed a faint glow that seemed to highlight hisself and the staff he now suddenly held in his right hand and the ground. He picked it up and held it up looking at it and found he was standing up.
As he did he saw everyone now knelt down and he looked at them abashed.
"My~ lord. What did the elders say?" Admona asked in a barely audible whisper from her kneeling position.
Admona was a Priestess of the 3rd circle and esssentially one of the six High Priestesses in the Sacred Lands of the Council of nine. She had a vision to visit the shrine and present the leaf to a humble protector she was to meet on the way there.
The remainder of the ventinue, even the local that was worshipping at the time received a whisper or a vision from an elder from their family of elders that went on or apparition of another elder. So, beginning with Wizar, they each recounted their vision.
Myuin said in a strained whisper that the sacred tree would be threatened and that she would have to give up something precious. The four hooded ones were monks, Wizar guessed. They each had been given a very symbolic decree to go to the four corners of the sacred lands and bear witness to all the temples and sacred sites what they'd seen today. Admona said she received a vision to follow a light that eminated from the sky and made the darkness of the land retreat. Serah said she saw a vision of a rock that held fast against a devestating storm and sheltered a light from being snuffed by the pelting rain. Evers said he saw a light in the trees and whichever way it went was close by his view.
Sizar was silent a moment until everyone was looking at her in silence. She said at length, "I~ am going with you."
"This~" Myuin was wide eyed at her.
Sizar knelt down and bowed her head muttering.
"It appears Me, Evers, Admona, are to go with Wizar as well. The banishing of the dark and protector of the Magineans," Serah admitted.
"Of course we are," Evers added in.
"We are to help him on his pilgrimmage to find the light," Serah admitted.
Wizar made a step toward Sizar, as he could tell she was visible trembling. The monks had already kneeled out of the temple on their way with solemn expressions that turned to smiles as they left the entrance into the temple.
The ancient ruins were located to the North and East nearer the mountains. They planned to start toward there, stopping by a few temples before there on the way as the journey would take several days. Myuin expressed concern over the vision she received to Admona. Admona talked with her aside from Wizar and the others. They then turned to Wizar. Wizar looked back at them and then realized they were waiting for him to lead on. He didn't expect this and balked but started a foot forward and they went toward the exit of the temple.
When they exited they Captain Gregind and five of the protectors were there.
The captain stepped forward expressionless and said, "Take Wizar into custody."
"Whoa, captain, I thought we were coming to see him away," Izale stepped aside the captain with a sweeping spread of his hands.
"Take him," The captain exclaimed pointing at Wizar.
"What has he done? Captain," Couras added in forrowing his brow as the three remaining protectors surrounded Wizar and they took him back to the garrison and moved him into the bunks and down into the stocks in the lower levels there. It was lit by candles and grew darker when they reached the bottom level. They tried to take the staff from Wizar but it burned them to their touch. They chained him up over his wrists on the wall and shackled his legs.
"You may leave," The captain said and with some hestitation, the other protectors left.
"That's going to grow tiring to hold," The captain said, a wide grin on his face.
Wizar was taken aback. It was too much smile on someone he'd used to see so serious. He stretched his magical senses and found that a foreign red colored aura swooped around the Captain aside from his normal aura. He stayed in the position he was in in the stocks and looked at the Captain regularly. Soon, he felt the staff droop and start to fall.
There was a sudden commotion clank of metal and a waft of bursts of magic. Admona with Evers and Serah were then hurrying down the stairs toward them at the bottom. The Captain spun about and unsheathed his curved sword and sunk into a defensive stance.
Evers leapt to the right, Serah charged and Admona weaved about as the two Hyrugar distracted the Captain to unshackle Wizar with magic. Then she lead him away and up back into the barracks. There, Couras and Izale awaited him
"I'm sorry, Wizar. The captain went crazy," Izale spoke.
"He isn't himself. He might be influenced by something not him," Wizar told them. Couras looked away and down. Izale's eyes went wide.
"Yes, he is entranced by some wicked influence," Admona said.
"What could we do to help him?" Izale asked.
Wizar noticed something, a tension release such as when someone cracks their knuckles coming from down below. It felt relieving to him, "I think it's ok."
"What do you mean?" Couras asked.
Evers and Serah soon appeared in the entrance to the underground compound. Serah carried Captain Gregind slumped over the crook of her arm.
"Whoa, don't you think you overdid it," Admona's expression got serious.
"Not at all. Just knocked unconcious," Evers added and they took him over and laid him on one of the bunks across the room and retreated to the next room to let him rest.
"Do you think you've got this without the captain?" Wizar asked.
"You've got nothing to worry about," Izale reassured.
"Just be watchful," Wizar said staring absently while the description of Myuin's vision of the destruction played across his mind.
The goodbyes were curt and the supplies were gathered and the journey began promptly although soon after leaving town, Evers and Serah were expressing the distaste on Wizar's abilities.
"And with the gift. I mean with the ancestral gift, I can't even touch the staff see," Evers added while reaching over and trying to touch the staff and his paw trembling more the closer he got. Wizar felt the resistance but didn't push the resistance himself back.
"Terrible. These gifts are miracles in the hands of an experienced of the temple trained. But what do we got, a one off protector," Serah commented as well.
"Stop it! You two. He will learn. He's only just begun the journey," Admona scowled making a dismissive motion.
"We might as well go home," Evers scoffed and said.
They drifted back and argued on with Admona. Sizar kept pace with Wizar and mentioned, "I don't know anything. They seem to ignore me."
Wizar glanced at her and looked ahead. He didn't know much what the layperson did for the temples other than relay messages.
"I just clean this and water that. I replant and uproot bad roots. I take messages back and forth. I wash the robes, prepare and clean the altars," Sizar continued more to herself.
"Have you seen this before?" Wizar asked.
"What? The ancestral blessing?" Sizar looked at Wizar and Wizar looked at her. He took in her features and she looked back at him seeming to do the same. Then they both looked away with slightly rosier colors to their features. He didn't realize how beautiful she looked up close.
"I have but not since I was a little one. This is rare. Your blessing is. Well. It doesn't happen that often. I havent' seen your particular blessing before. Not many have," She continued at length as they both looked back ahead.
Wizar almost stopped in thought. Sizar must've noticed this as she said, "I know the ancient story though that tells about it which is why this is~ well it is exciting. It is humbling."
"What's the story?" Wizar asked.
Sizar hesistated thoughtfully considering then went into the story, "A long time ago when the first elves started the Kingdom of the Shimmering, an unease started in the center of the land. It grew over the Shimmering King. He called his priests and magicians. They could not ease the pain of the land. Then, a seer with a maimed foot called to see his majesty claiming to know a solution. At least five times did the king refuse to see this soothsayer. Then when he was finally brought before the king, he was starving. So, in his final breath he said to seek the six ways, find this one of six streams. Therein he consulted his advisors and sent messengers out to all the villages and shrines.
"Then word came of a place on the cusp of seven rivers a hut there where a family was. The king went there and the family humbly received his majesty. He asked all the family to be brought before him and the daughter was right and fit and the son was sickly for he had nearly drowned in the seven rivers. They brought him to the local temple nearly a days journey away whereas the boy almost died.
"The boy awoke one day and spoke of a dream where he met the first elf and ancestor of all. He gave the boy a special staff and a blessing and told him to journey to the sacred sites to receive direction.The king ignored the sickly boy and took the daughter to heal the land.
"The daughter could not heal anything, though, and the unease grew until the rivers were threatening to flood and the family had to move to higher ground. The boy was not there when they had packed their wagon on. They found him nearly swept away from the river but the boy outstretched his hands and the waters grew still and the sky parted to a calm night.
"The parents knew the boy was special and brought him to the ancient temples and on the way soon reached the center of the unease. The king was near death and the daughter cowered in the corner. The King had received word of the renown of the boy and realized his folly. Then with the boy's help he was able to end the unease and bring peace and prosperity back to the Kingdom."
"I heard of a different version," Admona spoke making them jump.
"This reminds me that I first heard the ancient story at the elder temple ruins we go toward," Evers added in.
Serah came up beside Wizar and swiped down at him and he barely dodged her.
"What are you doing?" Wizar exclaimed and barely dodged again. They circled around and she went after him and finally tripped him and held her claws up to his throat. He could barely breath.
"You're kidding me. He's weak. Put away this kid stuff and stories Sizar. This isn't some ancient prophesy. We're not facing some obscure unease or whatever it is. This evil power is real," Serah shot the layelfess an icy stare. Wizar felt himself light headed.
"He isn't. But it's a story," Sizar's voiced came out strained.
The puma released Wizar and he gave a croak raising his staff, "What are you doing?!"
Admona jumped in between them, "Stop it, now!"
"You. I'd expected better. And you, you will get better," Admona scolded Serah first and took Wizar back by turning to him with the second part.
They continued much of the way in silence heading North West across the forest land ascending up and down steep hills toward the next town called Azlele.
Wizar stepped up beside Sizar and it took him a moment but he asked, "So, the elders just said to go with me?"
Sizar sighed, "Yeah, that's just it."
"Really. Huh," Wizar let himself trail off looking here or there. He smiled because he didn't really believe that was all but he let it go despite it starting to pull at him to know.
"Yeah," She trailed off too.
"Do you know much about these temple ruins?" He asked.
"A little. The nine ruins were built for each of the eleven Kedelvian virtues. Wisdom, piety, vision, courage, integrity, perserverance, hospitality, moderation, fertility," Sizar replied.
"So, each one was dedicated to a virtue?" Wizar asked.
"I would think so. I only heard it spoken by Priest Lirn when he was teaching me to be a layperson," Sizar added.
"Oh, you weren't from there?" Wizar said.
"What do you mean?" Sizar questioned.
"Oh. Sorry. You weren't born in the Gamsa town?" Wizar corrected smiling.
"No. No I wasn't. I was born in Relonatur, " Sizar said smiling back looking at him. Wizar noticed the smiling exchange and looked away flushed.
"And you?" Sizar asked at length.
"Ferduun," Wizar said and memories went back to sitting on the high bank behind his house and watching the elvish retinue of high mages traveling to and from the Saheguit.
Sizar ducked as a bird swooped at her, "Must be at the nest."
"Yeah, whoa~" Wizar started to say when another bird swooped at him.
"Move away," Admona said backing up away from the tree.
They did so and moved around it and skirted the path dodging the birds until they were away from it. Then another set of birds started to swoop at them. Then another as they went down the path. This caused them to duck and weave and nearly get scratched up as they went about their way.
Wizar heard it differently, an incessant squawking that seemed to come from everywhere, not just the birds. It sounded bigger as of a larger bird. The heart beats of the birds filtered into him and became a flutter of pounding like heavy rain on a roof. He felt it deep inside. He wanted to do something but he didn't have any magic to quiet them all down.
Then, something welled up from inside him. It felt to him as a reassurance that he could do something to help else the birds and they. All of the squawking and noise only made him want to concentrate on one word and he emitted a long low, "Shhhhhhhh."
Everything went calm and peace. The birds hearts thundering trailed off getting low and lower. Wizar only felt some tail edge of a sinister influence retreating from underneath it all, much like an unearthed earthworm retreats underground back to where it feels it must go.
They continued along and stopped along a whitened stone waystation with stone benches to sit on off the road after walking for most of the day. These were nearly as ancient as the sacred temple ruins they were journeying toward. Wizar felt a strong connection in the roots with some power that was hardy and pure but very ancient tied into it. He could barely make out that the power pulsed like a dim light traveling down the road from them and meeting in the first temple on the branch of the tree in the middle of it at a lone fruit there.
"He can see it," Serah said.
Admona came over with Sizar and Evers had crawled atop the roof of the waystation.
Wizar felt a little put on, "Like a course of energy path pulsing toward the temple, and the fruit on a tree.
"The blessing is opening up you faculties much more. You'll be much more sensitive than I am," Admona said.
"Don't be so sad," Serah said.
"No, quite the opposite. I am thrilled," Admona said smiling.
Wizar and the group supped and packed up and continued walking on the road. They reached the town of Azlele as the light of the day started turning toward evening. The inn had only a few beds.
"Do we want to take turns," Serah said.
"I think we can handle staying up," Evers said putting an arm on Wizar's shoulders. Wizar nodded as he was still conditioned to take late watches on occassion, those which he didn't get much if any sleep on.
"He is going to take the Elder's fruit. Only high priests and Hyrugar have eaten even a piece fruit, but he is asked to take the whole thing. It is very toxic to Elves. No, he'll be the one that needs the sleep," Admona said.
Wizar's mouth dropped open at hearing about the poisonous properties of it. This made his demeanor shaky.
"Yeah, he looks a little pale now. Don't worry, Hyrugar have some immunity to it. We take it with ease," Evers said and Wizar tried to smile and left them slipping up into the room. He placed his staff in the corner of the room and hanging up his over robe, crawled into bed.
Sleep didn't come easily. When he finally drifted off to sleep he had a dream that the elders were gathered around him again. The elder of elders gave him the fruit.
"You're going to die," The elder cackled as he took the fruit and took a big bite off of it.
His voice reached a higher pitch, "Die. Die. Die. Die."
His form became redder and fiery and his body split apart and his skull grew bigger and shot toward him. He woke up starting forward and stopped as his head smacked against a bed post. It was early morning and the birds chirped and he heard others stirring and calls and a whistle from outside and the movement of carts and clop of hooves.
He put on his overrobe and picked up his staff before going downstairs. No one was in there but some already disheveled drunk elf and the innkeep cleaning mugs.
He burst outside almost hit Sizar but instead made her take a seat on the ground.
"I'm sorry," he said picking her up and their eyes locked and for a moment they didn't say anything or move.
Serah cleared her throat and he saw she had a serious look so asked, "What happened?"
Admona had been looking off into the distance and turned around, her face puffy with the remnants of tears, "They umm. It umm." She turned back away.
Evers came close and said calmly to him, "As soon as we left, some eclipse of darkness went over the shrine of Gamsa. Myuin and those in it were found dead, the shrine cracked in two, the tree stained black, completely dead.
Wizar looked at Admona and then at Sizar who was the most stoic. He opened his mouth to say something but nothing came out. He found some pulsing emotion from the ordeal and sunk to his knees hanging his head for a while thinking over the Priestess he barely knew.
He felt a hand on his shoulder at one point and looked up to a solemn Admona, "We need to go. Whatever is turning the land upon itself we can't let get anything more on us."
Wizar got up and they moved down the cobbled road toward the path to the stones presiding at the entrance to the grounds of the ruins.
"What do you mean?" Wizar asked.
"You probably know. What has attacked us or tried to hinder us, like nature itself went crazy," Admona said.
Their trek to the other side of the town was solemn, almost in slow motion, the town's citizens went about their hectic day around them. Then only when they reached the entrance to the ruins did the speed of everything seem to catch up.
It was then Wizar felt chilled and saw dark skies moving from southward toward them. He watched it and noticed it moved fast. Much faster than was normal and it felt to him of decay and death.
"Evers and Serah, the ancients' wall, "Admona said looking toward the darkness.
"Whatever evil it is it caught up with us," Evers said blankly and went to one of the stones around the entrance to the ground. Serah did the same. Then they activated some old power that made everything shimmer to life.
The dark clouds reached them quickly but the shimmering did act like a wall blocking it off. Although Wizar saw and felt that it kept the sky from growing dark but only gradually as the edges started to grow grayer.
"C'mon," Admona motioned to Sizar and Wizar. They followed and mounted the steps up onto a raised bridge from what looked to once be six fully intact walkways in glistening white stone. It met in the center and Wizar saw the branches of the tree poking out from the semi crumbled dome at the center. It looked similar to the shrine did at Gamsa except was more open air theatre type and had a bright green grass surrounding an inner gate and low wall in the center. The tree itself was bigger but Wizar couldn't see the fruit but felt it was there.
A few figures stood up there. Two of them were the monks from earlier and another one was an older man in white robes that Admona bowed too. Wizar mirrored her move although not sure why.
"Grand Priest, here is Wizar that was awakened by the elder tree leaf," Admona said to him.
The old man nodded and took out an object from his robe. It was round and had several curved lines on it like the curved lines on his staff.
"Kneel, Son," the Grand Priest said.
Wizar did as he was told. The Grand Priest held out the fruit to him saying, "This is one of the biggests tests you've had your whole life. Eat it and pass through the veil of sickness to be something whole worthy of speaking on behalf of all Elders."
Wizar took the fruit feeling a little gnaw of fear that grew a bit. He pushed his will and himself forward and put the fruit up to his mouth. He opened and took a bite. It was numb and bitter but also had a cool tranquil edge to it that ended in something sweeter. He took another humble bit and then bigger bites. His mouth became number, then his body after each bite and thankfully the fruit still tasted a little sweet. He ended up at a seed and the elder plucked it from the fruit. He ate past it and was stopped by another seed but that was it and soon he ate it all.
He body felt completely devoid of feeling and his stomach swimmed and sloshed with a bitter feeling and a tinge of sweetness still in his mouth. Then a hot feeling started small at his heart and started to burst out from his body. He expected it to make him feel invigorated but instead it made him drowsy and sleepy. The weight of this continued until he couldn't stay awake and passed out.
He felt himself drifting on a raft made of gilded leaves. Everything was shimmering. The waterways appeared to be in woodend walls like the inside of tree roots with the occassional hole in the ceiling that revealed a bright blue sky speckled with cloud and bright sunshine that warmed and made him feel peaceful. The water lapped gently on his raft as he drifted further. Soon, he noticed the branches and the outline of a tree. He appeared to be drifting toward it.
He almost sat up as he saw the roots extended into the distance and as he got closer to the tree he thought he saw water inside those roots flowing toward the tree as he was. He saw shapes of ghosts of the elders all around it. Then a bright glow started in front of him shimmering from inside the tree to outside of it expanding outward until it touched him. Then he got a prickly feeling all around him that felt like magical energy. The light got brighter and brighter.
He opened his eyes and felt that he was laying. His vision was a little blurred. Through it he saw the branches of the tree above him. An older wrinkled face came over him. He looked like the elder of elders from the dreams. Then his features and everything came into better focus and it was the Grand Priest looking over him wide eyed.
Wizar sat up and everyone took a step back and sunk to their knees abashing Wizar immediately. He saw above a clear blue sky. He felt a glow all around him that seem to emminate from him outward. He didn't see the darkness on the other side. He felt serene, calm and straightforward as if pieces of the puzzle of everything was lined right at its correct place. Except just outside the temple outskirts into the death and decay that encroached. He also felt another off feeling far distant, something wasn't right there as well but he knew deep down inside he felt he knew how to put both wronged parts the puzzle back in order.
He stood up and everything went a bit brighter when he just concentrated from doing that. He felt a little dizzy. There were a few stone benches there and he sat down on one of them. He looked at the ruined dome and other bits that were once together but were crumbled. The longer he stared at them the more they seemed to move and shift. He soon thought he was seeing a vision of them restoring themselves to how they originally were.
He shook his head in surprise but not so much disbelief as this was real. Everything seemed to get brighter like the sun came from behind the clouds and shone on it, but the sun wasn't out but behind the clouds. He stood up but then knew as all the puzzle pieces floated just above place as it was to be and settled into place, so did the temple right itself from ruins to pieces of stones fitting into where they once were built to be all right before their very eyes.
A few hours passed as he walked around the grounds and it all re-assembled back whole from the ruins, all of it, from the barrier stone fence permiter to some of the the various buildings around the center, to the stone walkways and paths toward the edge of the ruins. Soon it was ruins no more but rebuilt by the pure magic of the elders that flowed through him now. He knew this now. It was so.
Then he felt his gaze pull him and turned somewhat to the south and panned and shot forward pulling his vision forward to show a spike of red energy in the midst of the region southward there. He turned back to others who had followed him at a subdued pace.
"I can see it. That evil," Wizar said.
Wizar looked in Sizar's direction. He knew his feelings for her were getting to be more than just common each time they talked now. He knew he had better go to the next level with it and find out if the feeling was mutual. He felt it might be mutual since it was the way she looked back at him and how he felt around her.
The new elder blessings did not bring things closer or better. In fact, she seemed to shy away. That, and the fact that their new retinue was gawked at. Wizar was told it was because how he looked, shimmering without shimmering or glowing without glowing. He didn't look like an ordinary elf now or more specifically he did but those that he talked to could feel something much more base and connecting with everything about him.
It made Wizar feel like a walking ancient elder that lived and breathed like anyone else. When he looked at anyone, even the bravest looked away after a moment. He wanted to pull it back in, the shimmering glow as he thought of it, but it felt unnatural to think of, almost as a hurt or slight to the elder of elders. Instead, they attracted pilgrims and the most devout. Elves of many shapes and sizes and Hryugar, first a bird, then a lion, then a rhino, then a stag, and then many more. They followed them after they passed on crossroads or some distance away from the nearest shrine.
Wizar felt his gaze ever drawn toward the red spike. It felt like a pulsing thorn in the earth and stood against anything natural let alone any elder that ever was. He almost drifted toward it, not that he felt that he had to merge with it or get the power of it but that he had to deal with it someway.
Instead, the Grand Priest insisted to present him before the other high priests. The Gazenhet druid order also contacted him and the Saheguit and were ready to march off now to take care of the evil. Admona, Evers, and Serah had joined in the sentiment to deal with the evil but his holiness would not hear of it and insisted it was time to meditate and get the will of the land and elders before going on to conquer evil.
So, they rode onto Silvan City and down the many streets and through the main street in a parade of its own until reaching the spires of the Grand Temple.
It was at the outskirts Wizar started to notice that the spike had started to send off a current toward the direction of the city. Then, when they passed inside of the temple he felt a sharp set of evil energy pouring off of the hearts of some of the guards inside.
He stopped long enough at this that Sizar asked, "What's wrong?"
"We shouldn't be here," Wizar spoke but said no more.
"It is tradition. The story goes. It is said that the boy in the tale came to the city and holy temple for guidance before heading on his journey," Sizar shrugged and said.
"Really, it was different than what you told me," Wizard said smiling at her.
"That is the version I tell the children. I know, you're not a child but I thought~" Sizar said and trailed off looking away.
"Don't worry," he said and touched her shoulder and she looked at him and he smiled back. She grabbed his hand.
"We can talk about it later. I just feel better with you like it doesn't matter what I feel, things will be better," Wizar said and it was the truth. He felt she had something deep in her heart that besides maybe some feelings for him, was some level of pure that felt akin to the feeling around and with the blessings of the Elders.
They had taken horses so dismounted at the stables on the temple yard and went toward the inner sanctum. The tree there was peaking out of the dome in the center and had the theatre style as the ruins did with the benefit of being fully intact since upon first coming to it.
Around the middle seven people were set apart from the outer ring of many clergy dress. The outer ring was where the pilgrims started to fill. Wizar made a start as he saw the outstretching thin tendrils of the red energy going into the hearts of those at the center. The evil was in their hearts. It was a practical trap.
Yet something happened, as Wizar got closer, the energy started to flutter and the ones started to back away but could only go so far. Wizar grasped the hand of Sizar and it seemed a brilliant wave jumped out from them and struck out the dark energy completely and the ones in the center collapsed. There were cries and confusion and guards rushed Wizar's retinue and the high priests to protect or capture. The wave had struck it out of their hearts as well.
The Grand Priest saw what had happened and raised his hand turning to Wizar in reverant features. They all knelt, even Sizar.
This was when a great thunderboom and a red ball of dark energy erupted splitting the tree down the middle and throwing the high priests and anyone at the center aside. The destruction of the tree ran through every priest in the temple there and the energy felt as a hot knife slicing through Wizar.
Left there in a cloud of smoke was a horned looking imp with tatterd clothes. It stood with a hunched up back and let out a laugh that everyone but Wizar and the Grand Priest had to shield their ears from the sound.
Then the demon creature hopped off the tree and said, "Don't you remember me from your stories. Zazar? You stupid pathetic elves and your zoo animals. You're not any threat to me. Ah, who is this."
The demon Zazar looked next to Wizar at Sizar and gestured. She flew across the air into Zazar's arms. Wizar's staff grew bigger and bright and into a pillar of light that seemed to pass up and away into the ceiling. He stomped toward the demon and brought it down on top of him. But the evil being was gone and back where Wizar had sensed him before.
He went back over to Admona as he had felt a deep dormant light start when Sizar was in the fiend's arms, "Did the stories talk about some elfess that was with the boy?"
Admona stared back at him and Wizar looked around and finally Serah said, "There was story of some humble urchin that I used to like as a kid. Kind, calm, and steadfast with a big heart. She went to the temple one day and came back to find her home destroyed by some evil spirits. The elders took pity on her and gave her the fruit from the sacred tree and she went forth as a champion against evil joining the fabled boy to cleanse the land. Her and the descendants were the first Druidic Paladins that fought against evil."
"She must have it, I think I barely felt it, but you felt more, Wizar. Didn't you?" The Grand Priest said.
Wizar nodded and turned toward the weathered face of the steward of the Druidic order Inan that had offered to help.
"Is your Druidic order ready to go out?" Wizar asked.
"As needs be, my lord," he replied with a solemn nod.
"The mages order?" Admona asked a robed and hooded elfess mage from the Saheguit order.
She nodded in earnest and disappeared from the crowd.
Wizar went and knelt by the tree. He then brought up his staff before him as he stood and the halved tree pulled and mended itself back together alive and pulsing with energy again.
They gathered the rest of the temple forces that could offer themselves as well as any clergy and monks from the Hyrugar, even the two monks they met back in the Gamsa shrine.
Wizar felt stuck in a nightmare world. The vision he had once of the elfess and the fiery pit slashed across his mind everytime he thought of it. He barely ate and barely slept on the way as everything seemed to come in a daze. He only pushed all of his being onto descerning the path to the the red spike and they followed his lead until they ended up in a grotto which a stream of muck slurped through. They had to walk single filed on a narrow rocky outcropping and soon into a cistern of deposits from a few holes at the top and a decay underneath. Ias could still see the red spike nearby but beyond this cistern.
He saw a crumbling lip at the entrance at the far end and before he knew it he was walking on air over the gap toward the lip above the waters he could see below. He felt the red energy collesce below him and a deformed monstrous hand reached out for him. He sliced into it with a hot white light erupting around his staff and severed it in two.
Drifting on, he landed on the entrance and jabbed the staff toward the mucky water and sticks, logs began collecting from all around. Wizar broke out of his full determination toward Sizar and the demon to show the others it was sturdy enought to allow them across.
They passed deeper and deeper and admist the torchlight and glows from various magic used by them wound around and through passages and through caverns getting darker and danker. As they got deeper a decaying smell of death became prevalanet in the air choking a few to their knees so that they had to be left or sent back.
The passage eventually opened into an area that started to put Wizar on edge. It was a pit that descended below into a dim glow. It became brighter on its own. It looked like lava and it rose until it was bubbling not far below. Another pit was between them and on the other side he saw the form of the demon twice the size and as tall as the cavern. It had Sizar in its grasp.
"To think that some damned elvish protector coming from a shitty town couldn't save some shitty town priestess. You have it going well for you, Wizar. But I have this elf fuck girl that has the hots for you. Awww," The demon said and made a gesture that looked like he was squeezing her.
Wizar's heart jumped into his throat and then back down, as his feelings peaked so did the glow around him abounding from the elder's blessings and core of nature powers from them. He saw on around him gather a glowing type of armor. The staff now was larger and had a curved double ended lance look to it. It glowed brighter than bright casting the whole room aglow with light.
"Thank the elders," He smiled and leapt flying across the gap. The demon brought up his claw and parried his driving strike but Wizar slipped about along the ground and slashed into the demons side. It dropped Sizar making a deafening screech.
He up slashed with the lance immediately and made a deep cut up the remainder of the side of the Demon. It moved slightly and Wizar tried to defend but the tip of the demon's claw caught the lance and knocked it out of his hand. It missed Wizar and he dodged and moved. The lance rested teetering on the edge. Wizar tried to strike it with bolts of magic but it didn't graze the surface as much as the lance. So he shot toward it as it teetered and dropped down into the chasm.
Right before it touched the lava he caught it and swooped upward and back. He felt some newer powerful energy welling up from inside him and a voice that sounded like Myuin's calm voice say, "We the elders now give you our greatest strength."
He flew at Zazar as like a bolt of lightning and was on the other side in a cracked dent of the ground in a split second later. He turned back to the demon and the demon turned back toward him with a big hole through its chest. It tottered toward the chasm and fell in with a deep cry. Wizar and Sizar looked in after it to see it's body enveloped by lava and sinking until only it's claw outstretched toward them was left and then it was gone.
The journey back to Silvan City was both joyous and tear felt. Joyous in the celebrations at the inns they passed. Tear felt because of the parting of those that were nearby or were pilgrims or assigned to other places by the clergy. Yet, for Wizar and Sizar, it was subdued. They spoke briefly and he had held her until they passed beyond the cistern and muck. They they walked with linked hands not hardly thinking sometimes that they were doing it. The whispers started and they had to bring it to an end consciously.
They talked about it once and decided to revist it when they got back to the city. The visit to the city ended up with them seperated as the tale was told again and again to each of the heads of the city and a visit to the current ruling council and the Lord King himself.
Sizar was there for him when he got back, "It's time we talked."
"Oh, what?" Wizar said still laughing as he left the current retinue of mixed soldiery and clergy.
He saw the distant look and wide smile and his smile dropped to a simple one. The higher feelings he'd felt at being so revered dropped him back down. On this he couldn't even feel the ascention to the elders powers again and that linked through Sizar as he felt it.
"The right thing to do would be to discuss us," Sizar said.
"Sure, lets walk the gardens," he said but even Wizar didn't feel that was good, but he was torn between what would be recognition and the strength of the tie he felt now with Sizar.
"I was thinking more out of the way," She said.
Wizar nodded, "We need to go back there. We have not heard word what happened or if it was rebuilt.
Their goodbyes were resisted by high priests and other authorities in bad form. They would not hear of their departing too soon. Wizar and Sizar eventually had to sneak out of the city under darkness. Wizar glanced back once but he looked ahead again as they moved off.
The journey had them mostly camping off the path to avoid recognition at the inns. Wizar's magical senses now helped feel out sites for staying over night. It was also how he sensed some deep pulse and noticed some signs of ruin of the sites they camped at. The sites looked very similar to the waystations of the past.
At least over a week was gone when they reached the river and followed it up until the village was in view. It was midday and they quietly rode into town and stopped at the path to the Gamsa shrine. It was in disarray, full in ruins and the tree a hulk of what it once was. Wizar still felt enough energy to do it and with Sizar beside him slipped into the ruins and flexing and stepping around the rubble. Then when getting to the tree he touched it and the tree and rubble vibrated moving itself away and back together piece by piece.
Before the tree they both knelt and looked at each other and Wizar and Sizar in unison said, "Before the elders and all gods I join with you until death take me."