The tent was big enough to protect us from the rain, should there ever be any, as well as bugs or small creatures that we should be looking out for. Then I headed for the opening in the tent that leads to the outside. This was Crater Lake, and with a history of having been struct by a large meteor, who knows how long ago, it was a sight pleasing to see. This is our second day here. Its walls were the size of small mountains, and it perfectly surrounded the lake in almost all directions with a large body of water in the middle, seemingly coming from deposits of ocean water not too far away.
“Master Lee,” said Aril while walking over to me from the campfire she made and also had something cooking over it, “you’re awake. Would you like to eat your breakfast?”
She didn’t have her normal wear of clothing, and instead had on a swim suit. Liel Olivar Charles Winser, my name ran down her arm with my family crest carefully digging on the back of her hand. I look at mines, too, Aril Islahn, it’s hard to believe that happened a few weeks ago.
“Thank you,” I said as she hands me the meal. We placed logs around the fire to sit on, and so Kalh and Sophie were there enjoying what Aril cooked for us.
When we finished I had Sophie, Aril and myself head over by the lake. We stopped and pointed our arms towards the lake and practiced lifting the water.
“As high as you can,” I said. We had done this the two nights before when we arrived, but we couldn’t see the water because of how dark it was out. This will be our third attempt. The purpose of this was to see how much control we had over water. We lifted the water, mines was the smallest, but Aril’s was as big as a bathroom tub that also swayed around almost uncontrollably. Sophie, however, was struggling to even shape the water into a ball.
“Keep it going,” I said. Mines was no longer in view as we lifted it upwards, and Aril’s was now just barely visible.
“I can’t,” said Sophie. “It’s too hard.” Hers was a few feet above us.
In the mean time, I stopped feeling my magic reserves being used up, as I could no longer see the water I lifted in the sky. The answer I was looking was answered. So long as I can see it, then I’ll be able to use magic on it. Meaning that if there is a wall, or something obstructing my view, then I’ll lose all control over the magic. Probably.. I’ll need to test this theory later.
“Just imagine tiny, very tiny particles of water and lift them up,” I said, and it was that simple, something that Aril caught on to very quickly. Sophie used most of her magic last night just trying to hold its shape. I really do believe that knowing about science will help in learning how to use magic.
A second later and we were being hit by light drops of water, the same water that I had lifted over us. And thankfully, we were wearing our swim suits for this occasion.
“Okay,” said Sophie, though the results were somewhat the same as before. Then heavier drops of rain were falling on us, these were from the water that Aril lifted. We did this for an hour on and off.
“That’s more than enough,” I said. “We can stop and play for the rest of the day.” The first thing Sophie did was run to Kahl, who was off buidling a sand castle on part of the lake’s sandy shore. Sophie started making her own castle with magic. She’s really a kid, but she has the right idea by practicing her magic whenever she can, even if it isn’t intentional. I walked closer to the lake water.
“Master Lee,” said Aril. I started parting the water beneath my feet to make a divide between them, a space where there was no longer water and we started walking in a straight line.
“It will be fine,” I said. Swimming isn’t a problem for me. “You can swim right?”
“Yes,” she said. We heard a loud bark from behind us and Selsie looked to what I was doing. She got up on all four legs and seemed as if she wanted to follow but hesitated as we made our way deeper into the lake. If something bad goes wrong, we can just swim up, but if Selsie can’t swim then she definatelly can’t come.
“Selsie, stay and look after those two,” I said. She barks back at me, probably confirming that she understood the order and started walking to them.
The lake waters were very deep, so we made sure to only walk by the edge, so long as a quick swim up was always a solution. After a moment, the water I was pushing away with magic no longer formed a wall, but a ball of air that surrounded us, carefully keeping the water away. The lake ground had this nice wet texture making contact with our feet, it was cold, too.
“It’s beautiful,” said Aril. Fish were swimming just a few feet away from us in what was the different hues of blue in the lake waters, while other fish quickly dispersed away in all directions. The light from above us shined through, making the fish that were even farther away now visible, some of which were quite large but showed no interest in coming closer.
“Tell me if the air becomes harder to breath,” I said, and Aril nods.
Pushing the water away was easy, and not so exhausting as long as I didn’t force it to change into something else, like steam, or make it do anything more complicated. With that, I should be able to keep using whatever magic reserves I have for a decent amount of time.
“Also,” I said, “I’ve been meaning to ask.”
“What is it, master Lee?”
“I know very little of you,” I said.
“Then I’ll start–I had a mother and father, of course, but they passed away while I was still very young and I was sold into slavery by my uncle after that.”
“…” I didn’t know what to say.. We kept moving inside the lake.
“I met Zeyl a few years later when I started working at the inn,” she said.
“So you’ve been working at that inn for a long time now?”
“Yes,” she said. “Zeyl would always visit once or twice a year and stay for weeks at a time. That’s really all there is about me.”
“Have any likes or interests?”
“I like Talician culture,” she said. “Mostly because my mother is half.”
“Talician, she’s half Talician born and half Sharian.”
“So you’re a quarter Talician. That’s surprising,” I said. Aril let out a chuckle.
Back in my world, it wasn’t strange to find people who were of mixed blood. In fact, I’m sure the larger population had mixed blood, so someone of pure blood would be more surprising.
“For the most part, but as you can see,” she said, “the color of my hair is only a light brown. Nothing near the common colors of Talicians.” Her eyes, too, weren’t close to being the dark purple that my eyes are. They are more of a brown, yellow color.
“Do you have a family crest?”
“Not that I know of,” she said. “Only the wealthiest families of Talica can ask for a family crest from the Queen herself, and she will then choose one fitting for the family.” I signaled Aril to take it from here, to force an area around us and keep the pocket of air in following at our pace.
“Just make sure that it doesn’t collapse suddenly,” I said, to which she nodded. Aril then places her hands towards the water around us and it widens considerably from her lack of control and much larger magic reserves. “Make it smaller or you might tire yourself out.”
“Yes,” she said. We kept walking inside the lake with myself leading the way. We could walk to the center, but then it will be an uphill battle getting back to the surface without swimming, that, and the water isn’t so clear that I can see how deep the lake really is.
“So,” I said, trying to get back on topic, “I just want to make sure you understand something.”
“Yes, master Lee?”
“We might be connected by a contract,” I said, “but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something you want. That means that you don’t have to treat me as some sort of… superior, master, leader, or even prince for that matter. You’re free to do as you like, to live your own life, and go wherever you want.”
“… I appreciate the sentiment, master Lee,” she said. “But I want our current relationship to stay the way it is because… that is all I know.”
“…Are you sure?”
“Yes,” she said. “For many years now, I’ve only known how to serve others. I don’t have much that I own except for a few books that master Zeyl has given to me over the years, and I don’t really know about things I like other than the curiosity I have over a country that I have never once visited.”
“I like you,” she said, though the meaning isn’t the same as the one I thought of for a moment. Sometimes I forget that I’m in a child’s body, so a confession like that surely doesn’t share the same meaning. “Specially now that I’ve received permission to use magic, but don’t get me wrong, master Lee.”
“I’ll have you know,” she said, adding her usual laugh, “that if you weren’t someone worthy of being served, and that if the contract weren’t one of blood, then I would have tried to escape… even if it meant the need to kill you.” I felt that she was joking and just in case, I looked back to her. She was smiling, and it was the kind of smile that I should not disappoint so easily.
“..Make sure to let me know if I stray off the righteous path,” I said jokingly.
“Of course,” said Aril, who continued to smile.
We headed out of the lake a while after and walked ourselves toward camp, where the rest of the group was. We had lunch as it was nearing the middle of the day, and as expected, we had fish that cooked over a fire. Something we might end up having for dinner as wel, but served differently and with a mix of spices.
“Master Lee,” said Kahl. He was sitting beside me over the fire along with his sister. “Sophie said that she wants to learn how to make fire with her magic.” Kahl referred to my use of fire in creating the camp fire. I am conflicted to teach it to her.. since she’s still very young and doesn’t completely understand most of the concepts I’ve taught her. That and I’ve been conditioned as a child not to play with fire. Though that was in the previous world.
“You’ll have to work harder,” said Aril looking straight to Sophie, and in return, Sophie looked away. Aril sighed. I’ve taught Aril how to use the basic elements, and while she might have some difficulty, something I haven’t told the group is that they should be struggling much more than what they are going through. That’s how it was for most students in one of my classes with Krum. Most only know one, or at most, two or three elements.
I’m very much aware that the sciences that I know from my world are practically never taught in this world, or atleast from Aria. If I were to tell Krum about it, and in turn, if he were to teach the new methods, I’m afraid of what this could mean in terms of balance of power between countries. Then again, I might just be getting full of myself and this could turn out to be no big deal… I hope its the latter.
We played in the lake an hour later, and we’ll be here for a day or two before returning back to Aria. I checked on the horse we rented and made sure to feed him on fixed intervals.It’s ready for us to make a departure whenever we are ready. The carriage was near our camp, but we mainly used it for keeping our items in storage. The person we leased the horse from said the it wouldn’t run away, even if he wasn’t tied to something. So long as I kept the small stone tablet with me, he said, which smelled of something, but it wasn’t a bad smell. If the horse does run away, he said that things will be fine as long as I give him the tablet, or else there will be a huge fine in the cost of the horse.
We spent the rest of the day doing as we liked and having fun in the Lake. There was even a traditional Sharian game that involved a form of tag, but instead of tagging the person, we had to run to designated marks on the ground. It was fun.
Before sundown, however, we noticed something strange in the distance towards the forest. It was a trail of smoke very far away, but obviously visible because the smoke flew directly up.
“You don’t think it’s near here,” said Aril. The smoke appeared a few minutes ago.
“I don’t think so,” I said. “Are forests fires common in Sharia?”
“Not at all,” said Aril. “Sharia is a wet region all year round”
“…” We couldn’t see the trail smoke once the dark grew in. “We’ll see if it still remains once morning comes. If it spreads then we’ll have to think of moving elsewhere.”
* * *
Earlier that same day.
“Updates,” said Marth. We stopped walking through the woods for a moment. Deril put his hands on the ground and small worms crawled out and moved to his sleeves.
“Their group is still walking southwest,” said Deril in his usual accent. “Two of them girlys in the group is carrying a weapon. A lance.” This conflicts with the previous information I gathered. I thought for sure it was a staff. Realistically, it could be both. This means that the group can perform close quarters combat, as well as far cast their magic from a distance. I made sure to advise Marth on this.
“Anything else?” asked Marth.
“Ay” said Deril. “The little girl has an insignia from Talica, she’s definitely a Talician, so is one other in the group. One of the guards.”
“So two guards,” I said, “but what about the other persons in the group?”
“She hasn’t used any magic,” said Deril, “and I don’t sense much of it from her either.” We only spotted them a while ago, and we will have to keep an eye on them to collect more information before we do anything. If they are carrying offensive magic stones, then we simply keep our distance while we let the archers in our group do them in. We are a group of fifteen but only three of us are scouting ahead. The rest will follow from far in case something happens, and jump in when I send the signal.
“Is that what your little pets told you?”
“Ay,” he said. “They did, and I trust them.”
“Marth,” I said, “is their group even worth following?”
“They are Talicians,” he said, “they are always worth following.” We’ve only robbed a few Talicians over the years, all of which proved to be a big pay day. Even the recent kid we robbed was Talician. At best, we knock out their group and kidnap the girl… which reminds me.
“What does her insignia look like?”
“It’s a phoenix with a shield on its talons.”
“It doesn’t matter what it is,” said Marth. We ignored our leader’s comment.
“The two guards carry an insignia with a sword on its talon,” said Deril. Marth smiles once he hears this. Their group and the boy from before shared the same insignia. They might be out looking for him.
“It’s a good thing we spotted some Daramn soldiers around the area,” said Marth. Dahramn region is to the east of Sharia, but since Sharia and Dahramn are allies, soldiers from both region can often be spotted in the forests.
“Then you plan on directing them to the group we are following?”
“They’ll do the work for us,” said Marth.
“So you mean to share the loot with them,” said Deril.