I woke up the next morning. I had forgotten that Clara and Cliff had shared their bed with me.
It is hot with them on top of me.
Cliff woke up first. He seemed embarrassed to be clinging on.
[ Sorry! ]
[ It’s okay… ]
Clara woke up groggy.
She’s cute when she rubs her eyes and yawns like that.
[ G’morning. ]
Cliff sat up and hid his face.
[ Laelia, what do you want to do today? ]
[ Hmm, I had a lot of dreams last night. I think those were part of memories. ]
Clara clapped her hands together excited.
[ That’s great! ]
[ Can I see the village? I want to see how things have changed in 500 years? ]
[ That’s a good idea. ]
We three turned to look at the man.
[ As long as you have breakfast first. ]
We all nodded our heads. Me the most.
[ I can’t imagine how long it’s been since I’ve eaten anything! ]
I walked into the village with Cliff and Clara. They lived on the outskirts because it was their father’s job to protect the village. When we got their they seemed to be a bit of a commotion.
Who is he?
In front of the circle of townsfolk stood what looked like an official. He was dressed a little too nicely though for what seemed to be a tax collector. There were two knights besides him.
[ 80%! If we hand over 80% of our crops as tax we won’t have enough for all the families! ]
[ None of us heard of this before today! ]
[ This is completely unfair! ]
The civil official sneered at them.
[ The law is the law. Hand over your crops peasants, or else. ]
The knights drew their swords.
Cliff ran ahead.
[ Stop that! ]
They turned to look at him annoyed.
[ Cliff Hilm, what are you doing interfering with official matters. ]
Cliff looked at the official with disdain.
[ Official matters! What sort of law is this! The Marquis wants to take without thinking of his people! ]
Cliff seems really righteous.
[ What the Marquis thinks is none of the business of a brat. ]
He waved the knight forward. The soldier swinging his sword.
[ Cliff! ]
[ Boy! ]
[ Cliiiifff! ]
The last one seems to be from an admiring village girl…
I raised my hand. Water appeared all around the knight locking it in a cage. A handsome black-haired man appeared.
[ Vile worm, to think you would show such a sight to Laelia. ]
Everyone looked on at the scene shocked. The Tax Collecter most of all.
[ What trickery is this! ]
I walked forward.
[ I won’t let you hurt Cliff. ]
He looked at me with first agitation and then greedy eyes. The water spirit growing angry. A blade of water appearing by his throat.
[ How dare you have such greedy eyes. ]
He looked at the spirit in fear.
[ You! What are you! Don’t you know I am an official of this Kingdom. ]
He narrowed his eyes.
[ Ignorant, worm. I am the Old One Alskare, the Stallion of the Queen of Spring. The Water of the Mountain Valley. This child’s protector. ]
Everyone looked confused. Cliff smiled smugly.
[ Don’t you know, Lidge. The Old Spirits of the Mountain have awoken. Laelia here is a human child that came to see what has become of this world after so many years of isolation. Offending them is the same has bringing disaster upon the country! ]
Cliff, you shouldn’t lie like that. Twisting words is fine and all but the fairies could get mad about it, you know?
The official started shaking and pointing at Cliff.
[ You brat! Stop lying! There is no such things as the Old Spirits of the Mountain! There’s no way anyone could befriend such a high ranking monster! This is some illusion! A trick! ]
[ Monster. ]
I ran forward and tugged on his sleeve.
[ Alskare, no. ]
He pat my head gently.
He always has such warm eyes.
[ Don’t worry, little one. ]
All the villagers started shaking.
Cliff,,. why do you look like you’re admiring him and Clara why did you give him a thumbs up!
[ Knight over there, you will need to carry two heads back to the Marquis. Tell him the price of lying to the villagers and showing aggression to the Children of the Mountain Valley is a grave crime. If he seeks to try these acts again or come for the village in which this little one resides there will be blight on these lands. ]
The water rushed forth and cut off the official and the earlier knights’ heads. Everyone started to tremble as the water carried them over to the remaining knight.
[ Go, fool! ]
The knight ran away screaming. Alskare knelt in front of me.
[ Little One, may you be forever free of such vile stains. ]
My face turned red. He was a little too handsome.
[ Alskare… ]
He looked up at Clara.
[ Yes, girl. ]
Clara bowed repeatedly.
[ Thank you very much! ]
Alskare smiled and stood up. He walked over to her and pat her head.
[ Girl, I am surprised to see such a pure heart remaining in the human folk. The Earth Spirits seem to be very attached to you. Quite a few of them wish you could see them. ]
He snapped his finger. Three Earth Pixies appeared around her.
[ Hello~ ]
[ Play, play ~ ]
[ Clara~ ]
Everyone looked at the scene shocked. Clara broke out into smile.
[ Ah… Hello! My name is Clara! Thank you for being here! ]
The three pixies giggled and clung on to her. Cliff looked on jealous. Alskare looked at him conflicted.
[ Boy, there is no need to be envious of your sister. Your heart may not be as pure but for a human it isn’t so bad. I would, as thanks for my Little One, show you the love of the Wind Spirits but this land is still suffering the blight. They would get sick appearing here. ]
He looked at him shocked.
[ Blight? ]
Alskare turned around to the village people.
[ Humans, if it was up to us Children we would remain in the Mountain Valley. However, this Little One has asked to see the world. For treating her with a kindness we have not seen in hundreds of years I shall give you a gift of gratitude. I will tell you a truth of this world. Come, sit. ]
He snapped his fingers. Rows of logs appeared for them to sit. The villagers awkwardly walking over to sit. They seemed both terrified and curious. Cliff eagerly took Clara’s hand and led her to one of the logs. I moved to sit down besides them. Alskare turned to point at the Mountain Valley and the Forest of Mist.
[ In the beginning of time there existed nothing but a spark. A ball of energy that existed in nothing but a void. One day, out of nowhere, as if a desire for life could just be born, the energy split into six unique energies. The first spread and became solid. From it sprouted life, it is the land we live on and you people who inhabit it. Four of the energies took on a form. It is these beings that later became known as the Prophet of Summer, the Mistress of Winter, the Priestess of Autumn and the Queen of Spring. ]
Cliff raised his hand.
[ What about the sixth one! ]
Alskare seemed to suddenly look away longingly.
[ The sixth one was what remained of the original spark. The four leaders of the Children of the Mountain Valley only knew that this energy was the last residual part of the beginning. It was so powerful and precious that it would only become what it was meant to be thousands of years after the rest. We call it the Saintess of the World. The being meant to connect us all. ]
Clara raised her hand shyly.
[ What did the Saintess become? ]
He smiled sadly.
[ The Saintess exists only to connect the five other beings. As each being is responsible for maintaining life itself. The Saintess is responsible for each of the beings and if need be sacrificing itself to prohibit an end. To this day, the Saintess exists in the deepest part of the Mountain Valley. We have seen her take on a female form, but she is asleep. ]
One of the villagers timidly raised his hand.
[ The Saintess, if she wakes up does that mean the world is over? ]
Alskare shook his head.
[ We don’t know, but we can assume. What woke this Little One from the dream we had her in was the impending threat of the end. ]
Everyone looked at each other panicked. Cliff standing up.
[ What do you mean the end! ]
He spread his arms.
[ This world goes through cycles of destruction and creation. You humans seem to have become the major force in changing this world. However, over the years this ability to control has made so many of you greedy. Those of you who once knew of us and the truth of this world turned away for more. Our rulers decided to shut the Mountain Valley away from your world and just watch. Yet, you people have only gotten worse. ]
Alskare narrowed his eyes.
[ The first’s energy has been damaged so much it is at the risk of permanently dying. ]
They all gasped in shock. Mothers clung their children and elders clung on to each other. The Village Head trembled,
[ What do you mean the world is dying? ]
[ When the first energy became the land and the four other energies took forms as it’s leaders the purpose of the world was set. The first’s energy circulates all the energy of the world. The rulers and their children each are in charge of a part of its functions. The Children of Summer are the Children of the Flames. Their energy creates the warmth, the shelter, the products of crystals and light from their energy. The Children of Winter are responsible for ice, cold, the change of seasons, the process of renewal. The Children of Autumn are responsible for the Earth, the cycles of nutrients and the strength it can bring. My Queen and the Children of Spring maintain the cycle of life itself. The thing you call mana is the energy system my Queen rules. All of this was born and there shouldn’t of been a problem. ]
His eyes narrowed and water whirled around him to show his anger.
[ But somewhere from the hearts of you creatures an idea called corruption was born. In the cycles of this world you spread corruption that disrupts not only the very land itself but those who manage it. Our kind becomes corrupted. The energy they spread is like a disease to the land. It pulls the energy from the land towards its self. You created the concept of a drain that had not existed before. And now after all of these years, you have created a drain strong enough to endanger the life of the first’s energy. Even we don’t know if we pour our energy into the first if it will remain. ]
They all looked like they had just gone insane. No one wanted to say anything.
Alskare you are laying it on a little thick…
Clara stood up.
[ Alskare! I want to help! ]
His anger faded and a sad smile appeared on his face.
[ Girl, your spirit is a precious thing. If more humans were like you maybe the world would not have ended up in this state, but the world is in this state because of the people in it. Enjoy your life. May the Blessings of the Queen of Spring ensure you happy days. ]
Beautiful water streams moved towards her and whirled around her. A beautiful design was created before dispersing in sparkling mist. Everyone looked on in awe. Cliff clenched his fist in determination.
[ Wait! Laelia is human! You trust and love her! ]
Oh, that is true…
[ Laelia is an exception. She was found as a child on her deathbed in the forest. Some miracle allowed her to cross the boundary into the edge of our lands. Our Queen and her procession themselves stumbled on her. By the Mercy of the Queen she was taken into the Springs to be purified and left to slumber in the Gardens. Her body has become blessed by the Mountain Valley. She is human but she is also now a carrier of the energy of Spring. ]
They all turned to look at me. I looked away embarrassed.
I didn’t understand how that is what I am…
Clint stepped forward. A large broadsword was in his hands.
When did he get here!… That is a strangely nice sword?
[ Old One, your precious Little One wishes to see the world, doesn’t she? ]
Alskare turned to look at him, surprise in his eyes.
[ Man beloved by the Spirits of Flame, what is your point? ]
He stuck his large sword into the ground.
[ She currently wants to stay here with us. Why not watch this village as you watch over her. It’s true many humans aren’t different then how you say we are. However, there are many of us who are different! What we have that you do not is the ability to change and grow at a quicker pace. Let us show you in this village what we can do with the truth. While, Laelia is here let us try to do things right. ]
He cracked up laughing.
[ You want to prove that man kind can be trusted. ]
Cliff walked over to him.
[ Maybe not all of us, but this village is! We just met Laelia but we love her! ]
His face turned bright red.
Ah… Cliff, I don’t feel that way.
[ Interesting. To think our Little One would find such an entertainment. ]
Alskare looked at the pixies flying around Clara.
[ Alright, for us the passage of time of this village is so miniscule. As long as Laelia is happy and safe I shall ask some of the younger ones to watch over this village. See if you can learn the old ways. ]
A wall of water appeared besides him. Out walked three creatures: an Earth Fairy, a Water Spirit and an Elf.
[ These are children of Earth, Water and Wind. Although young, they are deeply connected to the energies of the world. Let’s see what you can learn from them. ]
The villagers all bowed at them. Quite a few of them were looking at the beautiful creatures with sparkling eyes.
Alskare knelt down in front of me again.
[ Enjoy the world, Little One. ]
He disappeared. All the villagers ran up to me.
[ Thank You! ]
[ Laelia! ]
[ Tell us about yourself! ]
[ Is that real! ]
I ran behind Cliff.
People are scary…
Clint looked at the villagers.
[ Guys, we need to talk to the Spirits first. ]
They all turned to look at the spirits. The Earth Fairy nodded his head.
[ I am a Child of the Old One of Earth, serving the Queen. It seems I have been asked to explain the working of the Earth and the proper care for the soil. ]
He looked around and frowned.
[ Humans, the land is crying. We have much work to do. ]
The Water Spirit nodded her head.
[ I am a Child of Alskare. Father has asked of me to appraise the waters here and your hearts. It seems the water is in a sad state as well. ]
The Elf looked around at the people and smiled.
[ You may have heard of us before. I am an Elf. We are the Children of Spring and those connected to the energy of the first itself. I have been sent here to check over your crops and lifestyle. Laelia needs to be as comfortable as possible. ]
All the villagers still had sparkling eyes at them. The Earth Fairy looking around.
[ Where would you all like to start first? ]
The Village Head shook his head to come back to reality.
[ Can we start with the gate or the fields! ]
All three nodded their heads. The Village Head turning to look at me.
[ Laelia, Cliff, Clara please come with us! ]
The Earth Fairy looked at Clara and smiled.
[ Come here child. ]
Clara nodded her head and walked over. He ruffled her hair.
[ Come, stay by my side. Your presence is soothing. ]
The Elf waved Clint over. He nodded his head.
[ Laelia. ]
I ran over to the Water Spirit. She was very beautiful in her human form. I took her outstretched hand and we all walked towards the village gates. Clint looked at the forest worried.
[ What is happening in the world for such forces to appear now. ]