It’s the end of Isis Maru’s first day traveling to the Capital City. Meadowlark is in her room, brushing out the tangles in her hair from helping on deck all day. Rysarian heads down to his room from the crow’s nest when the sun drops under the clouds. Phoenix is tiredly leaving the dining hall from a late dinner, ignoring Rysarian as they meet up in the hall in front of the rooms. Phoenix turns to her bedroom door when Quinn’s door opens up behind her.
“Uh, guys? It hatched.”
“Yay!” Rysarian says, rushing over. Phoenix turns to see Quinn standing outside his room, Rysarian excitedly standing beside him. Both were looking at Quinn’s arm where a large clear blue ball of slime was attached to the ink stained sleeve.
“It’s pretty big,” Phoenix says, leaning against her door frame. The slime takes up Quinn’s entire forearm.
“Yeah, I can’t get it off,” Quinn says, looking at it with a mix of curiosity and dislike as he shakes his arm. It wobbles and makes muffled gurgling sounds. “I can’t keep notes when it’s stuck on me like this.”
“I’ll get it!” Rysarian offers. “Here, I’ll take it,” he says, reaching out and pulling it off of Quinn with a loud sucking sound. Large bulging eyes stare innocently up at Rysarian’s face before it oozes between his fingers and suctions itself onto Rysarian’s chest. “I’ll keep you there, then.” He smiles and pats it, it gurgles happily as its whole body wiggles.
“What’s going on?” Meadowlark asks, sticking her head out of her door.
“It hatched,” Phoenix says, still leaning against her own door.
“Oh,” Meadowlark said, looking at the bluish clear blob on Rysarian’s chest. “Is it, like, alive?”
“Of course it is,” Quinn replies. “Should we give it a name?”
“Morph,” Phoenix answers immediately. “Name it Morph.”
“Sounds good to me,” Rysarian adds, looking up at the other three while poking the ball of slime on his chest and it jiggles, giggling. “Morph?” He asks the slime. It looks up at him with its large eyes and makes a cooing sound. “It likes it,” Rysarian tells the rest of them definitively.
“It’s kind of pretty,” Meadowlark says, stepping closer to it. It’s eyes move on its amorphous body to watch her. Small squelching noises sound as it adjust itself while still attached to Rysarian’s chest. Meadowlark grimaces and pulls the hand back that she was going to touch it with, remembering that it was called a slime for a reason. She reaches out the brush that was still in her hand and pokes it in a form of petting. It wriggles away and mewls grumpily at the rough side of the brush. “Oh, well, okay,” Meadowlark says, pulling back.
“Well I have things to do,” Quinn says unceremoniously before heading back into his room.
“Yeah, it’s getting late, I’m going to bed,” Phoenix says, ducking into her own room.
“Yeah, me too,” Meadowlark says, going back into her room. Rysarian tickles Morph and heads to the kitchen to get it some food before going back to his own room.
The third day had them seeing the wall of the city in the distance around late morning. By early afternoon they were hovering close to the ground within quick walking distance to the gate outside the large outer wall.
“We can take the smaller boat in and park closer,” Meadowlark tells the Captain. “You didn’t have to park the ship.”
“I’ll be taking some of the caravaners in and we’ll be going through the trade districts. Some of the people on here are wanting to buy things and others have some things to sell,” the Captain explained.
“We’ll walk with you until we have to split ways, then,” Phoenix says.
“I’m the only one who needs to go to Mid-City,” Quinn speaks up. “The rest of you could stay with them and walk around the trading districts.”
“Will they have monkeys?” Rysarian asks, walking up beside Quinn.
“They have everything,” Quinn replies. “For a price, of course.”
“Yeah, yeah. I just want a monkey,” Rysarian says, heading off the boat to where Meadowlark and a couple of the crew were already waiting.
“We’ll probably follow you to the middle of the city,” Phoenix tells Quinn. “I’m wanting to study something, and your guild might be the best place.” Quinn shrugs and they head off with the other crew members that were going.
The group of adventurers walk with the caravaners and the Captain through the small open gate on the side of the large closed gate in the outer wall. They walk along the path beside the wide road through fields of farmland.
“Wow,” Phoenix says, looking the nearly two mile stretch before them to where the large inner wall was. The different crops stretched out on either side of them, some with a number of people walking through them.
“It is rather amazing,” Captain Charlotte agrees, walking beside Phoenix. “The farmland circles the entire Capital City. Within the outer wall, the city is almost self-sustaining.”
“The city is in that wall?” Phoenix asks, nodding towards the one in front of them. “Or is there another buffer area?”
“The city itself is built with some buffer areas. When we walk into the city, no matter which direction, we’ll be in the slums. That’s where the garbage and sewage are put before they’re taken out of the city or otherwise dealt with,” the Captain explained as the walked. “Workers of those systems live in a ring just within that, then the farmers. After that, there’s a ring of stairs that lead up a couple feet to where the merchants and artisans live and where the trade districts are. That’s where we’ll be heading. If you’re heading to the mage’s guild, though, you’ll head to the center of the Capital. It’s another small flight of stairs up and the only thing more central than the guilds and schools are the nobility and the castle. The castle is on the highest ground and it’s designed to be seen from any point in the entire city. You might have seen it when we walked through the first wall, but we’re getting too close to see it now.”
“How old is this city?” Phoenix asks.
“Old enough that we’ve forgotten the original name of it,” Captain Charlotte replies with a sigh. “Most of the buildings have been rebuilt multiple times, though the mansions and the palace in the middle have stayed the same, mostly, since they were well built with good stone that fit together well since the beginning. The further you get, the more cobbled together the buildings look.”
The conversation ended as they neared the inner wall and walked through into the outskirts of the city. The boisterousness of the crew members didn’t dim in the slightest despite the heavy stench in the air. The group was able to see the tip of the tallest tower of the castle in the distance and they headed towards that through the lower end of the city and up the stairs to the trade district level. The Captain nodded a goodbye at Quinn, Rysarian and Phoenix as she, Meadowlark, and the rest of the crew split ways, the three continuing towards the castle tower and up another set of stairs. The buildings around them were obviously a step up in construction from the trade districts and there were more spaces between them, making the area feel more open and less crowded and frantic.
This was when Quinn started taking side streets that curved around other buildings, making turns that the others felt like he was going in circles and Phoenix, Meadowlark, and Rysarian shared looks, hoping that Quinn knew where he was going. Through another side alley and they were back at the road again. On the other side was a group of six or seven buildings made of sparkling pink granite, large slabs of white granite were place one after the other on the ground to make a path through the buildings and towards a central building that had a four sided clock tower that could be seen from anywhere around the buildings.
The group crossed the road and followed the white stone path into the middle, where a large space of the white slabs were laid out to form a courtyard. Boxes of flowers were evenly spaced with white sparkling benches around the edges of the square. People of various ages and races walked around in brightly colored robes, though ones in the same color of robes would be grouped together, chatting or studying. Occasionally there would be an individual who would walk through, a nose in a book, yet somehow not run into anything. Most of the people walking around seemed to have a place to go and within a minute, there were only a handful of them left in the courtyard.
Rysarian and Phoenix follow Quinn to the central building with the clock tower and through the large oak doors into a long, open room. The walls were the same polished sparkling granite and the floor was the same white, but with a long thin carpet leading from the front door to a desk several feet in front of them. Large, soft looking chairs and couches were on either side of them as they walked in. Quinn walked up to the front desk without hesitation as the other three followed behind slowly, looking around the elegant room.
“Yes, I have an appointment,” they hear Quinn say as they catch up.
“Perfect, I’ll let him know that you’re on your way up,” the receptionist replies with a small wave of her hand.
“When did he make an appointment?” Phoenix asks quietly.
“That what I was thinking,” Rys responds.
“Probably that strange small creature that brought him the letter did it for him,” Phoenix muses.
Quinn turns around to look at them. “You don’t have to go with me. Actually it’s probably better if you don’t. I’m just going to go talk with the professor and make sure they have enough safeguards for the sword.”
“How long will that take?” Rysarian asks.
“Around an hour or so, depending on how quickly this goes and if they need help,” Quinn replies.
“Monkey, here I come!” Rysarian calls as he turns and heads out the door. Phoenix shakes her head at him and Quinn heads off down a hallway to the left.
Rysarian heads out of the building and tries to talk with students that are walking past him. “Excuse me, I’m looking for someone who can improve my weapons?” he tries to ask one of the older looking students walking by. He’s ignored. Others see him and avert their eyes, going around him. “I’d pay you if you could help- If I could just have a quick- Excuse me, I-” but no one would listen to him. He gives up and heads outside of the mages guild, glancing up and seeing the castle tower and heading in the opposite direction. He should eventually get to the trade district again.
“Is there a mage historian around here that I could talk to?” Phoenix asks the receptionist at the desk when Quinn and Rysarian are gone.
“Uh, yes, there is,” she replies, looking up at Phoenix. “There’s a professor of magical histories here at the guild. Are you a student here or a visitor?”
“I’m a visitor, I just have a couple questions about something,” Phoenix replies.
“Well, I think he’s in class right now, but if you don’t cause a commotion you could slip in. The class should be over in half an hour.”
“Okay, where is the classroom?” Phoenix asks, then adds, “And where would your library be?”
“The class that he’s teaching now is in the Loriette building, in classroom 153. To get there, just walk back outside and turn to your right. You’ll see a building and behind that one is the Loriette building,” the receptionist explains. “The library is actually part of this building. If you head to your left over here, go up the stairs to the second floor. Go down the hallway to the back of the building and that will take you to another set of stairs that will take you down to the basement, which is where we have our main library.”
“Thank you for your time,” Phoenix says with a nod.
“You’re welcome. Come back if you have any other questions.” Phoenix goes down the same hall that Quinn had gone through, large glass windows on the left side letting in the sunlight. She followed the directions of the receptionist to the library. As she goes down the stairs to the basement, there’s an archway that leads in. When Phoenix steps through the archway, like a strong wind blew over her skin, but there was no sound of it. She doesn’t understand and she passes it off as a weird thing of the mages guild as she feels a little nauseous.
Phoenix looks around the room and stares in amazement as she realizes the expanse of it. A six story room with huge windows along the sides with brilliant light is streaming in. It doesn’t look like the basement. “There are lots of books,” she says to herself, looking around the room. She glances around for someone who could point her the right direction for the ones she’s looking for. There seems to be another reception area in the center of the very large library. Phoenix walks up to the receptionist desk. As she approaches, there’s four older women with graying hair and spectacles. One of them looks up at her when she approaches,
“Do you need any help?” one of them asks.
“I’m looking for a book about the history of Silvershard. Before he was a god, preferably,” Phoenix says awkwardly, feeling nervous and overwhelmed.
“Okay,” the woman says. She looks through a strange system of cards and papers. “Alright, here we go, we have a few books in regards to Silvershard. More myth and legend than anything else, of course. But what you’ll be looking for is in the history section. That’s section ‘H’, crazy how that works out, but in there you’ll be looking for the books Leonis Empire, as well as The Myth of Silvershard, and then Mythology in Regards to Silvershard.”
“Okay thank you,” Phoenix says and she goes over to section H to look for the books, repeating the titles to herself. She looks through and finds the three books surprisingly easily and takes them to a desk. She flips through the books, looking for pictures, hoping to see one that was like the carvings she saw. There are different sketches and drawings, different symbols and depictions of Silvershard. She recognizes Silvershard’s symbol, but she expected that. There weren’t any depictions that looked like the carvings. She flips to the table of contents of the books, looking for something that had to do with the carvings of what she saw. The History of the Leonis Empire didn’t seem to have much information on Silvershard himself, it was mostly about .
“The Leonis family was the ruling family of an old empire, the actual name now long forgotten, sadly as it happens with many older civilizations. Now only referred to as the Leonis Empire, as that is the name of the ruling family we know of. The God Silvershard is thought to have been a prince of that family near the end of the rule, however many believe he actually belonged to a branch of the family that had been outcast from the area due to meddling with dark magic. Despite the tragic ending of their rule, the Leonis family accomplished much in the 250 years that they held the throne. When the first King took the throne in…”
Phoenix put that book down. If it couldn’t even agree on one simple fact, it probably didn’t have much that was useful to her. The other two aren’t that helpful with concrete details, either as she flips back and forth between them. They both have the air of ‘This is a myth, not a history.’ ‘It happened 600+ years ago.’ ‘This is really old stuff.’
“It is commonly believed that Silvershard was a wizard that led a group of adventurers well known as the Wolf Pack that traveled and rid small towns of troublesome monsters. They were called this because Silvershard would wear a wolf skin cloak that would give him the strength and power of a wolf.”
“As a human, Silvershard was raised by a pack of wolves. He was given the magical powers of the moon when he protected the Mother of All Wolves from being hunted and killed by a clan of half elves that wanted to use her pelt to make a magical cloak for their leader.”
“The Wolf Pack was asked to help one of the towns with a demon, only known today as the Horned One. Silvershard was believed to have treated this demon as his natural enemy, seeing the demon as an elk and himself as a wolf.”
“When the Mother of All Wolves was threatened again, this time by the Black Witch, Silvershard led all the wolf packs into a battle against the Witch’s dark minions. Silvershard, using his powers of the Full Moon, banished the Black Witch’s darkness. However, as we can see in the monthly lunar patterns, the Full Moon fades. As did Silvershard’s magical defense against the Black Witch. At the time of the New Moon, and only on that exact night, did the Witch surpass Silvershard’s ability. However, her reign of darkness did not take hold of the world, as the wolf packs fought her while Silvershard recovered. The stars in the night sky show how many of those valiant creatures gave their lives to stave off the chaos that the Black Witch yearned to cast onto the world. The sacrifices of the wolves were not in vain, as Silvershard grew stronger with the waxing moon and banished the Black Witch into her own world of chaos and misery. Now we have the night sky to always remind us of that great battle to keep the world in balance. The war continues between the dark minions in her world and the Light Wolf Guardians of ours.”
As Phoenix closes up the books, she doesn’t remember where they go. Looking around, there are various books laying around on the other desks and she decides to leave the three books there. She looked around the library again to orient herself and remember where the door was. The librarian that talked to her before walked up to her before she got more than ten steps.
“I found another book that might have information that you might be looking for. It has some stuff, not so much history, but it’s more myth and some prophecies. Ramblings of old prophets, but you might be interested,” she says, offering an old, thick book to Phoenix, who takes it gladly and flips through the messy, handwritten pages.
“I would love to, could I possibly check it out?” Phoenix asks
“Well, we can’t let you check it out, to make sure that we can keep our books,” the receptionist says. “Since you’re not a student.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it. You can put it on my card,” Quinn’s voice breaks into the conversation. He’s standing just a couple feet away, his bag full of papers and books. He was holding several books in his hands to check out himself.
“Thanks Quinn,” Phoenix says. The receptionist smiles as Phoenix hands her the book back to check out and then Quinn follows the woman back to the desk for the checkout process. Phoenix sticks by Quinn as he finishes up and helps carry the books out of the library. Phoenix grimaces as they walk out of the archway, not immediately seeing two of the mages that are walking past them until they talk.
“Oh look! It’s Quinn! The ‘wizard’,” one says loudly to the other.
“It is!” the other one replies in the same mocking tone. “Hey, Quinn, do have more information about the path of magic, or whatever it was?” he asks as they pass. Quinn looks down, pushes his glasses up his nose and ignores them. The two mages laugh as they walk into the library and Phoenix doesn’t ask about it as she follows Quinn out of the building. They walk for a while, out of the guild area and back down to the trade districts.
“I think Rysarian is this way,” Phoenix speaks up, feeling confused, but somehow knowing that she’s right.
“It’s probably the bloodbond,” Quinn replies without any other explanation. Phoenix shrugs and they follow her feeling, finding Rysarian at a magic weapon’s shop.
“But where is the cheap stuff?” Rysarian asks, examining a cloaked dagger.
“There’s this Distance weapon,” the shop owner says, frowning at him.
“That’s still too expensive!” Rysarian complains.
“Magic isn’t cheap!” the shop owner replies. “If you can’t afford it, don’t waste my time!” Rysarian puts the cloaked dagger down and walks out of the store, almost running into Quinn who was watching him.
“Oh, hey,” Rysarian says. Phoenix looks at him and puts a hand to her head.
“Please don’t tell me that monkey is yours?” she asks, looking at the small brown furball on Rysarian’s shoulder. It chatters up at her and waves his fist, climbing up onto Ryarian’s head to be eye level with the dragon to show his teeth. Rysarian grins.
“He’s perfect, isn’t he?” Rysarian asks, gently grabbing him and putting him back on his shoulder. The slime that has been on Rysarian’s chest the whole time looks up at the monkey, happy to be able to see it again, and gurgles at it. The monkey chitters back.
Phoenix groans. “Just keep it quiet,” she tells him.
“I’ll make sure that it makes a lot of noise at night,” Rysarian says casually as they walk off again.
“I will smash it,” Phoenix threatens. Rysarian ignores her.
“What should we do now?” Rysarian asks Quinn.
“We can find a quest board,” Quinn replies, leading the way.
“Do we feel like doing something for other people?” Rysarian asks, petting his monkey and rubbing the slime at the same time.
“Do you feel like getting paid?” Phoenix asks sardonically.
Quinn explains that there were several quest boards around the trade districts and any time people would stop and take one or post new ones, the others would be magically updated as well. “They’re pretty easy to find,” Quinn says, pointing at a large group of adventuring type of people that were talking, bragging, drinking, comparing swords, and grouping up together. Rysarian thinks about what it would be like to steal things from people, but decides not to risk it when they pass two very large men that were comparing their swords, both longer than Rysarian was tall.
“I thought you guys would get here eventually,” Meadowlark greets from her spot on the side of the quest board. The other three greet her and they look at the quests. “They seem to be organized by danger level,” Meadowlark says, pointing at the a paper about eye level. “This circle shows a different color and the colors seem to be grouped together.”
“Look!” Rysarian points to one about two thirds of the way up. The others look. “It’s a bounty for Admiral D’Mire.”
“Yeah, I saw that one,” Meadowlark replies with a frown. “That’s why I think the hardest ones are at the top.”
“Let’s look lower than that one,” Phoenix says. They look and debate about the different types of quests. Bounties, retrieval, distress, protection, everything anyone could think of.
“I think any of these would be within our skill range, but still worth our time,” Quinn says, pointing out a row of quests. “These ones here seem to have higher rewards for the level, too,” he adds, tapping three of them.
“What kind of quests are they?” Rysarian asks.
“One is submitted by a village saying they’re dealing with a group of radicals,” Meadowlark says, reading the quest and explaining it to the others. “We’d have to talk to the village chief for more information. This one is about finding a hidden library for a specific tomb. It’s in the middle of the desert and we’d have to find a camp of nomads at the bottom of a mountain. There are directions to it, of course. And, let’s see, the third one is asking for assistance because a man’s daughter was taken. It says that they’re looking for someone with a certain set of skills. We’d need to contact this man named Niam Leeson.”
“Which one would we like to go with?” Quinn asks.
“I’d say either the radicals or the library,” Meadowlark says.
“I’ve had my fill of libraries for a while,” Phoenix says. “Let’s go deal with the radicals.”
“Sounds good,” Quinn says, pulling the paper off the quest board. “Let’s head back to the ship, then. It’s getting late.”
The four head back through the city and across the farmlands as the sun approaches the horizon.