Yin Part 1
Kings and Queens
If you were queen of pleasure,
And I were king of pain,
We'd hunt down love together,
Pluck out his flying feather,
And teach his feet a measure,
And find his mouth a rein.
-- Algernon Charles Swinburne "A Match"
It had only been a year after the second Mana Fortress War and the Mana Tree was beginning to regrow. The sapling grew in the ruins of the former tree, its slender branches bent under the weight of the eight seeds that hung from them. The seeds were bringing Mana back into the world and the sprites were able to return to their home in the Great Forest in the Upper Land. Also in the Great Forest, the castle of the dark elves was cut from the overgrowth that obscured it. To the surprise of all the kingdoms, the dark elf Empress Yin took control over her late husband's empire before any confusion could occur between Northtown, Southtown, and Gold City. The Empress had not been seen since her and Vandole's separation sixteen years ago and was, before she stepped forward to take control of the empire, rumored to be dead. Tragically, the eight Mana seeds were stolen two years after they appeared and the Mana Knight Lucius, the noblewoman Rosary, and Edgar the sprite were sent to the Upper Land to search for the lost Mana seeds.
Lucius sat under a tree, cleaning his sword. His eyes
scanned the forest, watching dots of luminous green dart through the trees
like the eyes of cats. Beside him were his companions: Rosary and Edgar.
Suddenly, an arrow shot out and buried itself by Lucius's left ear. It was
soon followed by two more: one next to his right ear and another just over
the top of his head.
"Whoa!" Edgar squeaked and ducked behind the tree. "Quick," he hissed. "We need Lucid Barrier!"
Rosary whispered the spell and pale aura surrounded the three adventurers. It seemed almost comforting in the strange land.
"What now?" Rosary whispered as a couple of arrows bounced off of the shield.
"We can only wait it out," Lucius said.
"They're so strange looking, Morbius," a dark elf girl
pointed at the sleeping adventurers with her bow. "Who are they?"
"Don't know, Rhianna," the second dark elf, a boy, rapped a fist against the Lucid Barrier. "This spell is strong -- she's good!"
"So we're dealing with professionals. . .he won't like this, you know," Rhianna said to her brother.
"Nothing pleases him," Morbius shrugged and kicked the barrier. "Hey, this is fun!"
"Stop it! We don't want to scare them further -- that kid has the Mana Sword!"
"So?" Morbius grinned.
"'So?!' You boob! He could kill us both! What do you mean 'so?'" Rhianna shrieked and hit him.
"Oww Rhi! Stoppit!" Morbius laughed and sat down under another tree and Rhianna sat down beside him.
"Dear Mana," Rosary said as she studied the two dark
elves. "What are they?"
"They're dark elves," Edgar explained. "They're subjects of Empress Yin, Emperor Vandole's widow. They used to live in an underground kingdom, but the activities of the Scorpion Army and the reawakened monsters caused them to move."
"You're right," Rhianna said as she sat up. "Almost."
"Who are you?" Lucius asked the two elves.
"I'm Morbius and this is my twin sister Rhianna," Morbius answered. "We've been searching for you three for a couple of weeks now."
"I thought that dark elves never left their Empress for long periods of time," Lucius commented. "Like ants from their queen."
The twins exchanged troubled looks. "The king's back in town with ideas for a new hive," Rhianna said. "And the workers aren't happy."
"'The king?'" Edgar repeated. "But, but Emperor Vandole was killed in the Tree Palace."
Morbius shook his head. "He survived and somehow managed to escape."
"And showed up at the castle doors asking for Empress Yin's forgiveness," Rhianna sighed. "Her majesty, I guess, still loved him and took him back in and now he's raving about a new Mana Fortress of some sort. He was crazy enough before, but now. . ."
"And she's never been happier," Morbius picked up where his sister had left off. "But I think he's just biding his time to push her out again and take over our people as well. Humans," the dark elf snorted. "Just take and take and take -- no offense though, noting present company."
"None taken," Lucius said and Rosary nodded. "So what's this about a new Mana Fortress?"
"We haven't heard too much about it, just a little about some sort of Mana beam and something called the Soul Machine. The Empress isn't even telling her personal guard anything," Rhianna shrugged. "So now we're just waiting for something, anything, that could give us a clue as to what's going on."
"But then it might be too late," Rosary protested.
"It's always too late when Vandole is involved!" Rhianna threw up her hands in disgust. "We're helpless against him. . . Yin's practically his doormat."
"So you two want us to stop him," Lucius said.
"Yes, us and all the other dark elves," Morbius nodded. "We're afraid of them together."
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