Requiem of Souls Chapter 1

Wandering Souls

By Artificer Urza

It was two years after the fall of DeathEvan. With the death of its leader Habaruku, the destruction of its mother church Everai and its largest cathedral Bando, the St. Evans religion had dwindled to a few small churches and some die hard, fanatical, doom-saying prophets.

Three figures had become prominent in history at this point: Karn, a thief who was trying to make a city out of the refugee town of Fort Cott; Bo, a forest fox-man who was trying to forge a farming community with his partner McNeil and last there was the mysterious wanderer, a man who appeared suddenly one year after the defeat of DeathEvan and had been traveling toward Windia. He had always helped those who have met him if they were in need, and they all said that he had a great sorrow in his eyes as though he had lost that which was most precious to him.

It is this wanderer who now found himself at the royal Windian Graveyard, in front of a particular grave, which he had not visited in a long time. He was old; it was obvious by his long white hair and beard that he was passed the best years of his life. His faded red cloak was covered in decades of dust from the road, his tunic and trousers worn after more than a lifetime of use. Strangely his armored boots and chain-plate armor still gleamed as though new, the draconic designs highly detailed and impossibly well crafted. But most odd was the ring he wore: besides a nondescript wedding band there was a ring with the royal Windian symbol of a bird in flight, a ring which had been enchanted so that none save a member designated as part of the royal family could wear it.

"My time is almost up, I can feel It." the Wanderer whispered, "It will be nice to see you again, my beloved." he said as he smiled at the grave marker.

"One last adventure, one last battle against the darkness and then I can finally rest." he stated as he touched the carving on the stone made in the image of one of Windia's most beloved queens.

"Of course I'll look after the boy, he is kin after all and his friends too." he responds as though one of the living has asked him a question.

In silence he took up the sword he had laid at the foot of the stone, it was fashioned with its crossbar in the form of dragon wings and the pommel in the shape of a dragon's head. He stood at attention and saluted the gravestone.

"Honors to the dead!" he said, his voice still strong after so many years, then he smiled and whispered; "I'll be with you soon, keep Sara company until I get there OK?"

As he exited the graveyard he was saluted by the guards and was met by the current living queen of windia.

"I trust that you found your stay enjoyable, sire?" the queen asked as the Wanderer had merely presented the ring on his arrival and had not given his name.

"Thank you for your concern." The Wanderer said "Here, I have some elixir for the king. It was used to cure someone with similar symptoms a long time ago."

The queen was shocked, for she had just been presented with an elixir that saved the life of a Windian king four hundred years ago and the brew had never been seen since, save that it was so rare that it was easily recognizable.

I should talk to people more often, it's becoming more awkward to talk to anyone these days, the Wanderer thought as he exited the castle.

He paused, noticing that he had been overshadowed and looked up towards one of the towers, the source of the shade.

"Well I'll be damned!" he chuckled seeing the Great Bird spreading her magnificent wings.

He spotted a figure with the bird and waved up at them, laughing slightly for the figure had turned away having seen him, and he does likewise for he saw no other reason to remain.

***********

"I forbid it!! You can't just leave your son here and go on an adventure! It's irresponsible!!" Ganer raised his voice to repeat the same argument that had been going on for days now.

Ryu sigh and closed the door; it wouldn't do for his year old son to awaken since he had just fallen asleep.

Let Katt argue with him this time, he thought as he placed his son in bed.

Named Ray after the man that had helped them so often, a man he considered almost a brother, the child resembled nothing like his father. The child had begun to grow orange fur, taking after the woren clan blood of his mother.

Maybe it's a good thing he doesn't seem to have any dragon's blood in him, it'll spare him what I went through, he mused as he left the room hoping to settle the fight between his wife, Katt, and his father, Ganer.

"... Bow found Yua, he can go get her back!" Ganer said an almost desperate note in his voice.

Oh boy, here we go again, Ryu thought as he entered the room. "Yua won't go with Bow, she doesn't know him. She does, however, know me. Besides, I always went to go get her when it was time for her naps when we were kids." Ryu said out loud.

"Well then, I'll go, she knows who I am!" Ganer smiled triumphantly.

"Not likely jichan*," Katt smirked, "You were never in the best condition even when you were young, your eyesight's never fully recovered since we rescued you from Everai, and Dr. Kay is not going to let you out of her hospital. So just forget about that idea."

"Well then you, at least, should stay here, you are the boy's mother!" Ganer eyed Katt critically.

"Oh? And who's going to keep Bow from getting Ryu into trouble hmmm?" Katt purred as she leaned back against the all.

Oh Ladon in heaven, she's enjoying this, Ryu thought rather startled at his wife's amusement.

"You said all of the old group was going, right? So what about that Bleu woman, from what I understand she's old enough to hold Bow and the rest in line" Ganer stated as he crossed his arms, clearly disliking the fact that Katt was beginning to mock him.

"Oh, sure she is serious... But only when it comes to important stuff like saving the world." Katt smiled slyly "And if you're going to mention Sten or Jean because they're royalty, I'll remind you that they're both ditching their responsibilities to join us."

"Sten's royalty?" Ryu asked, slightly surprised.

"Yeah, he's gonna marry that Highland princess remember?" Katt turned to Ryu, mocking how Ganer took the situation seriously.

"Don't change the subject!!" Ganer yelled, coughing and regaining his composure, he tried again: "What about that Windian girl, Nina or that Plains Clan fellow, Rand?"

"No offense to Nina, but she's a mouse, she won't raise her voice or object to anything. And Rand.... well, he might have, once upon a time, but after his mother died, I think he devoted himself to his earth god Namanda, so he's gonna be the healer of the group and not gonna fight unless he has to." A note of sorrow had crept into Katt's voice at the last; she knew what it was like to lose parents when they were trying to protect you, so she could sympathize with Rand.

"Ahh, I see. What about the grass man? He looked very serious to me." Ganer was one of those who were able to speak Rand after the funeral, due to his experience with the loss of loved ones and so treated the subject carefully.

"You mean Spar? We weren't been able to find him after Township crashed on Gate so we have no way of contacting him. Look dad, we're wasting time. Bow saw Yua getting on the ship nearly a month ago. Bleu said that she knew where she was headed and that we could only afford to wait a couple of months before we would lose the trail completely. If you're worried about safety, I talked to Sylvia and the Rangers guild will be glad to help guard the city." Ryu stated, tired of the argument.

"I still don't like the fact that you're both leaving. But I understand how you might think it necessary. Just be careful alright, I don't want to lose any of you again." Ganer sighed as he relented to the couple's whishes.

Ryu smiled as Katt engulfed her father-in-law in hug. Ganer seemed surprised at this display of affection; he hadn't realized she wanted to go on an adventure that badly.

***********

Nina admired herself in the mirror, it was still a little weird for her to see herself with white wings but she would get used to it. What she couldn't get used to were the dresses she had to wear as a Windian princess, she almost wished that Yoji, her magic instructor, could have come up with an illusion for this as well as the one for her wings because these dresses were just uncomfortable.

How did you stand it Mina? She wondered.

She was happy to be going on this voyage with her friends; no more need to disguise her black wings, no more dull dinner parties, no more nobles coming to court her. As long as she was with her friends she could accomplish anything. She decided that perhaps she should say good-bye to her sister, as she walked to the balcony where Mina usually nested at this time of day.

Mother has a guest Nina was the telepathic voice that greeted Nina from the great bird on the tower.

Nina marveled at the harness device that Bleu had given them so they could communicate. It made things so much simpler sometimes.

"Not another suitor I hope." Nina sighed, "If I get one more noble looking for my hand in marriage, I'm going to leave and never come back.

Oh, now don't do that. If you leave I'll have to marry one of them, Nina just had to laugh at he image of one of those stuck up nobles walking down the aisle with the renowned Great Bird of Windia.

Seriously though, I think this visitor was a little too old for us. He seemed quite distinguished though. The weird part is he went straight for the royal graveyard and didn't come out for three days. This caught Nina's attention.

"But, isn't that area restricted to the royal family?" Nina asked, intrigued at this breach of court decorum.

Yes, but apparently this guy had a royal windian ring. And not just any ring, but one from four hundred years ago during the reign of queen Nina Heir Winlan. Mina was growing more excited; as she was telling Nina her wings began to spread.

"How do you know when the ring is from?" Nina interrupted.

You know that all royal rings have a design unique to their reign, right? Well Macotti, one of the guards who saw the ring looked it up in the library and found it. He also found that the reign after that queen Nina was the reign where the Winlan kingdom fell and the Legend of the Black Wings started. There were only two rings made during the queen Nina's reign: one for her and one for her consort. Nina paused to think about this.

"I wonder how he got that ring?" She mused aloud.

You could ask him. Mina said pointing with her beak.

Nina turned, a bit startled, and saw him. They were low enough to see a lot of the details of his face. To Nina he seemed almost familiar. From the way he held himself he seemed to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. Then she felt it: an indescribable power that felt like Anfini, the power Ryu used against DeathEvan, except there was a difference. She turned away because the difference as much as the similarities between this power and Ryu's power disturbed her.

What's wrong? Mina asked worriedly.

"Nothing.... um say, I'm going to be leaving soon. My friends and I are going to cross the Outer Sea and I wanted to say goodbye." Nina said hurriedly to get the odd feelings out of her mind.

Across the Outer Sea? Why in the gods' names do you want to go there? No one has ever returned from there. Sis, are you crazy? Mina asked, shocked that her sister would even consider such a dangerous course.

"You know my friend Ryu right? His sister apparently left on a ship in that direction and I wanted to help them look for her...." Nina continued to speak, not so much as to convince her sister of her need to leave as to dispel the feelings of dread and familiarity that man produced in her.


Chapter 2

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