Clenching his right hand, he willed mana into his arm and then solidified it into his fist. He had done similar exercises hundreds of thousands of times before.
A hot burning sensation. He slowly unwrapped his clenched fist and the sensation escaped his hand, coalescing into a shiny sphere hovering above his palm. With a thought, the sphere shattered into pieces and ignited. The flames, as if alive swirled around his hand and up his arm enveloping it all the way to the shoulder. With another thought, the gauntlet of flames jumped into his left hand and transformed into an ethereal knife of flames. He grasped the small knife unperturbed, and swung it at a piece of stick he had found the previous day. The sword seared through the stick in a flash. The stick burst into flames and within seconds, was consumed, leaving only ashes. With a final thought, the fiery knife morphed back into flames and jumped onto the ashes consuming it before finally vanishing, having served its purpose.
Looking around the room, he spied one of his books that had been blown away in an earlier exercise. With a single thought the book lurched up and flew straight at him and stop within arm’s reach. He plucked the hovering book out of midair and looked at the title, before willing it to a bookshelf decorating his room. He did the same with various items that had been throw amok around his room.
‘Well, that should be good for now, Breakfast should be ready soon.’ He thought to himself as he opened his door and went downstairs.
“You’re up early as usual. What’re you planning for today?” Adalina asked, seeing her son coming down from the stairs.
“Thought I would go and peruse the selections of that new bookstore, and see if there’s anything of interest.” Kaidus replied, moving to the table.
“GU Mooning Gai!!” a small high pitched voice calls out to him from one of the chairs.
“Good morning Anise.” He replied, petting his sister’s head.
“Where’s dad?” he asked after noticing that breakfast was only set up for three.
“Lord Varath sent a messenger earlier, it seemed urgent. Go ahead and eat without him.”
“I see… hopefully it’s not something serious.”
“It’s probably fine. Don’t worry about it and eat your breakfast.” Adalina reassured him.
“Gai! I shaw a biig burd yeshtadhay!” Anise called out to him.
“Really? How big?”
“Dish BIIG!” her face beaming, Anise threw her hands up to show him the size of the bird.
“Wow, that’s really big!” he played, trying to sound enthusiastic.
“WIGHT? WIGHT?” she spoke excitedly.
“You know, the knights are having a demonstration later in the plaza. Don’t you want to go watch?” Adalina asked him.
“Maybe if I have time. I still have to go to the library and see if they have books about the corvine viper that was on display the other day.” He replied before taking another spoonful of steamed mulse with chopped honeyed nuts.
“NYITE! I wonna go watch nyite!” Anise butted in
“Be a good girl and eat your breakfast Anise.” Adalina scolded
“Wow this is great mom, the mushiness of the steamed mulse really goes well with the crunchy texture of the nuts. This roasted qorkos is great too, was this what dad brought home yesterday?” he asked before taking another mouthful.
“Yes it is. By the way, on your way to the library can you drop off this letter for me?” she asked, taking out a folded letter with a wax seal on it.
“Yes of course.” Kaidus answered as Adalina handed him the letter.
“Will you be taking Anise to watch the demonstration?”
“She seems like she really wants to go, so we’ll go watch it for a while. What about you?”
“Well, if I get done early, I’ll stop by.”
Breakfast done and over with, Kaidus was sprinting through the streets of the 3rd ward.
‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’. The words at first sounded strange to him, but he had eventually gotten used to it over the years.
It has been six years since they settled in that cozy three bed room house in the 3rd ward.
Adalina had been helping around the market district doing part time jobs initially. Troyle asked her many times to stop and take care of the house and him, but she had wanted to help in her own way as she had always done, so Troyle relented. It wasn’t until Anise was born that she eventually gave up her busywork and became a full time mother to both Anise and him.
Troyle had found work as a patrol, and eventually moved on to become sword instructor for Lord Varath’s son, after having placed 2nd in an annual arms competition three years ago. His currently job was as a body guard for Lord Varath, with the occasional sword training for Lord Varath’s house guards.
Anise was born two and a half years ago and was now in the process of imitating people and learning how to talk. She was born a normal child unlike him, and has dark red hair with beady brown eyes.
Before Anise was born, he had wavered between his family and memories, causing him to become reclusive and secretive with his abilities. Having his own room, he had obtained the privacy he needed to experiment and hone his magic. Every morning before he was taken to work with Adalina, he would push what limits he could with his growing body, and attempt to perfect his control of his powers. The practices had been guarded with vigilance in fear that Adalina and Troyle would start to dread him if they knew what he was capable of, it was not until Anise was half a cycle old that they found out about his capabilities.
That day, Anise had woken up in her crib and was crying while Adalina was still in the kitchen making breakfast, he overheard her through the walls while practicing and went to check on her. Uncertain about how Adalina always quelled her cries, he tried talking to her – but that had not work, he attempted to pick her up but he was not physically strong enough to do so. Without thinking about it, he conjured two small balls of light in the air and danced them above her to distract her. The ploy worked, but Adalina discovered it.
She did not feared nor even scold him. Instead, she had smiled tenderly at him and thanked him for looking out for his sister. The action brought many things into consideration; they had given him another chance at life, they had loved and protected him, and because they knew he was irregular; had given him plenty of space to grow and learn on his own. Their attitudes had not been anything else but those of a loving parent to their child. Without any idea as to how long he had been locked in the void, nor what his new purpose was in this life, his fury filled memories were eventually overrode by new ones, changing his views of vengeance to one of redemption and a chance to start over.
“Where ya heading off to in such a hurry boy?!” a voice called out from one of the street vendors.
“Morning Mr. Feshonton!” he yelled back while still running towards his destination.
“Kaidus! Tell your mother we just got a new wagonload of frozen fish from Gorstir. She’d best hurry before they disappear!” another one called from ahead of him.
“She’ll be by later for the demonstration in the plaza, you should notify her then, Mrs. Arralton!” he replied to the old lady that owned the fish store.
Various other people called out to him and he replied in turn while running through the market district. These were all people who Adalina had worked for in the past or were acquainted with, and he had gotten to know them by always being brought along with her.
“Good Morning young master! How can I help you?” a merry shopkeeper called out to him as he entered the new bookstore.
“Good morning, would it be alright to browse your wares?” He asked politely.
“Of course, take your time. Let me know if there is anything specific you may be looking for. Even if it is not in stock, I may be able to procure it.” The shopkeeper said, also giving him a wink.
“Certainly, and thank you.” As he moved towards one of the many shelves full of books.
‘Wow, I didn’t even know a new edition was out.’, ‘oh, the library doesn’t even have this one.’, ‘this looks very similar to Pruguil V. Vonforrun’s work’, ‘battle rituals of the foraging scorpions, might be interesting’ Such were the thoughts going through his head as he inspected the numerous books.
Almost two hours and countless other customers later, Kaidus brought two books to the front desk.
“These two please.” Setting the books onto the counter.
“You’ve been in here for an awfully long time, find what you needed?” the shopkeeper asked.
“Yes, you’ve got many books here that I’ve never seen before. It was quite the dilemma choosing which.”
“That so? Let’s see… Inner workings of the Dorcon Imperial Court and The fall of Inguis: legacy of a religion… are these for your parents?” the shopkeeper asked.
“No sir, these are for me.”
“For you?” the shopkeeper observed him for closely.
“You… you’re seriously aren’t you? How old are you boy?”
“It’ll be my eighth cycle come next Alivai, so seven years old.” A straight forward answer. He knew full well the reading abilities of children his age, it was no surprise the shopkeeper was skeptical.
“Hmm seven huh… well, that’ll be 34 erns and 4 kuis for the both of them young master.”
“Here is 35 erns.” As he dropped 17 double bits onto the table and a singular metallic ern bit.
Scooping the bits up, the shopkeeper reached into a pouch and brought out three smaller darker metals bits and handed him the 3 kuis. He then tied up the two books together and handed it to Kaidus. “Thank you for your patronage.” The shopkeeper said with a smile on his face.
“A second, young one. How about a deal?” He called as Kaidus was about to head for the door.
“Let me know what you think about the Imperial decree for male vs female fashion within Dorcon, along with your insights pertaining to the rise and fall of the Inguis church. You do that, and I’ll surrender you a book of your own choosing – for free.” The keeper said with a wry smile.
“Deal.” Kaidus replied with a grin.
The book stores within the 3rd ward knew Kaidus to be a voracious reader. He had started at the age of two and had gone through over seven bookstores and two libraries borrowing and devouring books that interested him. As a child who was taken wherever his mother went, he had spent those days reading to satiate his curiosity and looking for anything pertaining to past history.
Being a new bookstore, the objective was to see if there was any books of interest, and luckily there was. But to also have the chance of obtaining a free book, Kaidus was overjoyed.
He had dropped off the letter at the delivery hall for Adalina, and is currently at the front desk of the 3rd ward library, asking about books with information about corvine vipers.
This sudden interest in the corvine viper was due to four days ago when the Ferrent Royal Knights had returned from an expedition to hunt a man eating creature in the eastern swamplands. The hunters had to bring it back via eight wagons, and he was immediately fascinated by the serpent. It was a species he had no recollection of – even from his old memories, and had never taken any interest in when reading any mentions about it, until he saw it for himself. Deep black coloring, fangs of blood red as long as a daggers, scales as thick and tough as chain mail, and the sheer size of it measured three buildings wide – or twenty three grown men – something that had never been recorded in any books he’s read. He had never seen anything like it before up close, and had spent at least an hour gawking at the behemoth trying to visualize the beast alive and hunting. The Knights had said that the hunt had required the cooperation of a respectable Malgin, two of his Rujal apprentices, along with a small unit of knights, and a squad of hunter and trappers who knew the swamplands. Even with the small army, they had lost 3 hunters, 1 trapper, and 4 knights to the beast, only managing to exterminate it due to the magical support of the Malgin and his two apprentices.
Having waited for about fifteen minutes, the librarian came back with a stack of books.
Genealogy of serpents, Ground Vs Sky; the Drakalls Reign, Fhildon’s expedition into the unknown, yellow eyes of Kunsha …
And the list goes on for about thirty books. Anything that has any mention of the corvine viper seem to be in the books picked out.
“Now you know Kaidus, that you can only borrow three at a time.” The old librarian reminded with a lighthearted tone.
“Understood, Mr. Kliness.”
With the stack of books, he started skimming the pages to search for significant body of information pertaining to his subject. The majority of the books only mentioned the corvine as a subspecies of the Viper family, and no real information about how they breed, hunt, or live. A few of them had speculations about such things, but speculations were not what he was after.
After three hours of reading through the various books looking into the subject matter, nothing noteworthy was found. The best information he had about the corvine viper was pretty much what he has seen for himself.
Having left the library earlier than expected, Kaidus headed towards the plaza to catch whatever was left of the demonstration.
Passing a vender that sold skewered meat, he remembered that his breakfast had been at least six hours ago, and got himself a snack as he walked towards the plaza.
Arriving at the plaza, the place was filled with onlookers from all sides. Even the buildings bordering the plaza were full of people curious to see the abilities of Ferrent’s knights. Squeezing his way to the front like a child, he managed to claw his way into view of the spectacle. Two knights were about to duel, both using the standard short sword and shield. Then the voice of the referee went off, signaling the start of the duel.
One of the knight moves in with a diagonal slash, the other effortlessly brings his shield forward at an angle, and deflects the sword with ease. Using the opening, he countered with a slash from a low angle going upwards towards the other’s sword arm. Instead of hitting metal signifying a loss of the arm, the swift slice cut through the air. The first knight had already twisted his body and slammed his shield into the shoulder of the second knight throwing him off balance. With a quick low sweep, the first one easily took the second off his feet ending the duel. Everything had occurred within seconds of the starting signal.
The first knight helped the second up off the ground and they both walked back to a tent, the sound of thunderous applause behind them.
‘if that second knight had not aimed for the arm, but instead gone for a horizontal slash, the first one would have been forced to defend in that situation after having his sword deflected, then it might have been a better contest of skills. But in the end, that speed on the turn, utilizing that small opening when he had staggered his opponent with the shield slam, and the precise and swift low sweep at the weakest point destroying the other’s center of gravity; the other knight probably never had a chance in the first place.’ Kaidus had already analyzed the fight and was thinking about different outcomes if such actions had been taken in that situation.
A couple more duels came and went, two mages came out to showcase a display of magic that awed the audience, and a newly knighted young man demonstrated his forms that earned him his knighthood.
“And saving the best for last, a final presentation! BEHOLD!” the announcer called out.
A gigantic cage covered by a large sheet of black cloth was rolled into the plaza, seven knights and a mage came along and surround the cage. Kaidus could feel an ominous aura emitted from whatever was in the cage.
With an incantation from the mage, the black sheet shot up into the air, then vanished, revealing a scaly monstrosity almost filling up the cage it was in. A set of yellow eyes could be seen staring out at the onlookers from within the gray mass. Wings with razor sharp tips were thrashing against the steel bars of the cage, a long spiked tail had extended outside of the cage; whipping about. It was a Kalligor.
The audience went into an uproar over the sight of the Kalligor. The danger it poses, all but forgotten.
The majority of people knew that Kalligors are a vicious member of the Drakall family and are even known to possess some magic. They hunted all manners of creatures, including people. To have subdued one and captured it alive was quite the achievement.
“*KRUAACCCCK*!!” the Kalligor screeched from within the cage, causing people to cover their ears.
The seven knights immediate held up their swords invoking a sword spell and poised ready for combat, while the mage started an incantation to fortify the cage.
Laughter and cheers started pouring from the audience.
Kaidus could see that this was a display of the power of the knights; an exhibition displaying their mighty strength to garner the trust of the populace. A dead Drakall was one thing, and they had seen a few over the years, but a live one within their control; that was proof of their strength to dominate.
*Kraaaaaack!!* A cry from a distance.
The audience perked up and scanned around.
“KraaakK!!!!” the cry was getting closer by the seconds.
The expressions of the audience started changing from that of cheering and jeering to confusion and panic.
“KKRRAAACCCCK!!!” the Kalligor in the cage cried out again
*KRUACKK!!!* This time, the other scream was even closer than before.
“OVER THERE!!!” a voice called out.
People started looking around, first from the voice’s immediate vicinity, then slowly everyone saw it. A black silhouette up in the sky, ever closer with each passing moment.
“Everyone! Into the buildings closest to you, NOW! Knights! Assume formation! Those on the outside! Assist civilians to shelter!” an older knight commanded with a booming voice.
Panic ensued. In their haste to find shelter, people collided into one another causing each other to trip and fall adding to the chaos.
Before everyone had evacuated, a thundering roar erupted from above the plaza.
It had arrived.