Sunlight cracked dimly across the barren sand wastes, long thin shadows stretched far across the flat lands and shadowed the scattered shrub life. As the sun rose, it shadowed a group of figures looking deep into a near bottomless void.
"Are we really going through with this?" One asked, tightening the grip on his purse; another looked at him and bit her lip to an answer. Another more confident in answering replied,
"We've made it this far." He said, taking a long and deep heavy breath that echoed through his chest, grabbing hold of the first person's free hand; "Traveled across oceans and continents just to make it here. No sense turning back now..."
"It would be fruitless to end our journey here. To say the same there is a likelihood we may not to return." The woman held tight to the the arm of another.
"If we do this, there's no tellin' what's down there." One quipped, shaking heavily. His worry cut as the group held hands.
"On the count of three, we all jump, agreed?" The voice of a fifth much more softer and sad. A sixth beating her wings in confidence and fear. The group looked at the endless chasm below, the gravity feeling much heavier as they stood closer to the edge, they then turned to look at one another, nodding with determination and fear.
"Ready?" They all said in unison, holding hands tighter than ever before. The count began.
A midsummer evening glowed across the plains that wrapped across the Northern coasts that bordered the continent of Trinicia. The North West towns of Sumfront and Windrix preparing for night as lanterns were lit across the cobbled streets and laborers returned to their townhouses. The docking town of Fallix resumed the mid-shift of their labors, imports and exports as well as immigration regulations and boat construction. Soldiers readied for nightly patrols, leaving their Flats which created the walls that protected the three towns. The lake that separated the towns from the Southern Moring Forests shone brightly with reflections of light that cascaded from the two moons that settled among the starlight.
Out of a dark alley, a young disheveled man brushed his fingers through his matted chestnut hair that concealed his dark face. Brushes of coal stained his tan skin, through his tired hazel eyes he looked towards the night sky, pure jewels to behold. His scrapped clothing blew in the cold breeze as he laid back to rest, using his near empty satchel as the only comfort he could afford.
"Maybe leaving was a mistake..." He thought, as the earlier delusions of dreams passed through his tired mind. As he drifted to deeper sleep, his dreams became more vivid and lucid. He saw fortune untold, seas of gold and silver, light of diamonds and moons of sapphire. In his next dream, he saw the ruins of a castle, an old yet powerful book hidden beneath a spiral staircase. The third dream was him in a dark room with two crystals in his possession, he could hear them screaming. Lastly, he saw a light pierce through blood red darkness, angelic feathers draped over his shoulders as the light grew and engulfed him. Then he awoke. The morning light piercing his slumber and stinging his eyes, wiping the sweat that stung his brow. A few coins of pity scattered at his side by considerate strangers. Enough for a small meal and drink, at least he wouldn't go hungry.
The young man continued to ponder over his dreams as he ordered breakfast at a nearby tavern. A crowded social bar and restaurant apparently famous for their early morning meals, not many places to sit. In the far back corner of the tavern was an open booth, the opposite seat taken by a single young woman more interested her book at hand than the meal gaining cold that stood near center of the table. Surely she wouldn't mind. The young man carefully sat down across from her, taking small bites of his food and frequent looks. The woman was young natured in face, with peach skin, blonde hair, blue eyes, and red lips. Her hair brushed back with thick strands draped in front of her ears and her shoulders. She wore robes of a librarian, or a text mage, and had a pair of thinly rimmed glasses resting across the tip of her nose.
"You know that food is for eating, right?" He asked, unsure if he should expect a reply. The young woman closed her book with a brief stare of annoyance before presenting a calm glance to the stranger before her.
"I can eat my food at the pace I so well desire, stranger."
"But...your food is getting cold. That doesn't sound good. Want to trade?"
The young man presented his plate, the food still steaming from heat, the woman hesitated before offering to trade.
"Name's Thisa. And you?"
"My name is Hana Jima, apprentice advisor to the Windrix Library of Inquisition."
Hana patted her lips clean between each bite of food.
"I am to presume you are either homeless or from a far away village."
"A bit of both" Thisa gave a quiet look, "I was a slave from Villex Island. One of the miners for coal and ore."
Hana sat back, a peak of interest on her face.
"I would not have guessed. Typically, the slaves who work on Villex Island are retired soldiers of the Altarian Province seeking work to occupy their lives. Yet you aren't the proper build nor age to verify you lived their."
"Well...my parents were both slaves, citizens of Sumfront and Windrix respectively, They died around my birth and I was raised into labor."
The two became quiet, and quickly tried to change subject;
"Have you heard of the inquisi--"
"You ever heard of a ratty old book in a worn down castle?" Thisa interrupted, Hana fixing her glasses as she attempted to ignore the fact she was cut off. Her slight face of annoyance attempting to change to a face of interest.
"A ratty old book?" She asked, attempting to be sincere. Thisa couldn't resist but to continue;
"Yes!" He exclaimed; "It was hidden in a staircase of this old worn down castle. Normally I don't recall the dreams I had, but several of my dreams I had I remember so clearly!"
Hana gave a smirk and decided to amuse Thisa, she herself not believing in dreams. Reaching into her endless bag, Hana recovered a book titled;
"Modern Architecture Appendix Volume II, by Therus Oreson"
She began to peer through the pages, Thisa hovering over the table to see. Hana looked at Thisa with a glare;
"Do you mind?"
Thisa slowly retracted and slumped in his seat, then began playing with the silverware. Hana peaked at Thisa from the top edge of the book, adjusting her glasses.
"Now. Describe this castle..."
Thisa proceeded to describe what he could of the castle. Tall worn spires, dragon-shaped gargoyles perched across the upper ridges. The windows arched to a peak, the keystones inlaid with a red metal. The bricks were dark and ashy, the mortar black and thin. The stairs were flat and a medium with, a torn carpet of red and gold patterns. Thisa finished his description with an intense look of ponder in his eyes, Hana scoured the tome for the closest match she could find. With page after page, a look of defeat slowly sank into Thisa's face. Hana saw, and became more determined to keep her new acquaintance happy. She eventually halted to a page, creasing her finger along the narrow border. Seven hundred and twenty six pages in, Hana found a match.
She turned the book to Thisa, his face lit as he saw the castle in his dreams before his eyes.
"That's it!" He exclaimed, Hana fixed her glasses;
"Are you satisfied?" She inquired, Thisa giving a cheerful answer of confirmation and taking the book out of Hana's hands. Hana replied with a small scoff and stood up in her booth.
"Well, Thisa, you appear to have what you need. Return the book when yo--"
"Wait--" Thisa cut in, carelessly dropping the book with a thud and holding his hands up to signal a stop. Hana gave an impatient but empathetic look.
"Come with me?" He continued, unsure if Hana would accept his offer.
"I am not going to partake in a scavenger hunt to a castle in the Karthaan Wastes to find an imaginary book you assume to exist through a dream."
"Why not?" He begged for a proper answer;
"A dream is but a fantasy to delude yourself from a life less satisfying. They are not prophetic, nor credible, under any given circumstance."
Thisa's face darkened as Hana continued to banter;
"As such, I will not go several hundred thousand miles to a long dead continent just to amuse your fantastical whims."
Hana's angered expression turned sympathetic as Thisa looked away, his fingers toying with the corners of the book's pages.
"Instead..." She sighed, her glasses collapsing back to the tip of her nose;
"I will go to my apartment above the library, and I will proceed to package my belongings for a very long trip..."
Thisa smiled, holding the book as he stood and left the booth;
"You better return to my apartment with me, you need to bathe, after all."
Hot water trickled from the flowing faucet in the apartment bathroom, filling the ceramic tub. Thisa sank his weight into the water, suds cascading over the rim. He relaxed and soaked his hair, allowing the running water to flow over his forehead. Hana changed her wear. Donning a thinner and tighter robe, a long trailing coat, and travel boots. She packed her bag with extra clothes, books, and nonperishable food. Hana then picked up her telegram and ordered a new set of clothes for Thisa.
The new clothes arrives just as Thisa left the bathroom, towel hung around his waist. Hana presented him the clothing whilst averting her gaze.
"I purchased a new set of attire for you, a complete set. A courtesy for the both of us."
Thisa took the clothes and smiled,
"Thanks!" He then returned to the bathroom to change. A dress shirt with copper buttons, cargo overalls, and a sturdy leather vest. He dressed quickly and informally, leaving his vest open and overall straps loose and hung. Hana expected better, and as Thisa left the bathroom she breath with a sigh of annoyance.
"I expected you to dress more properly."
Thisa laughed and began to depart out the door;
"Well, should we get going? You packed, right?"
Hana gave a single polite nod and adjusted the strap across her chest.
"I have also brought my purse, which has enough Eos and Lumos for the fare.
" Right. How much is fare? And to where?"
Hana presented her purse, showing the wealth she kept inside;
"In order to make our trip to the Karthaan Wastes, we first need to travel by ferry. This will take us from Fallix to the port town of Solais. Afterwards, we will depart West towards the old Dramokan camps, where we shall take a small ship to the island of Mokoro. Lastly, we tread on foot to the South Western Karthaan Outpost to acquire a flight to the Karthaan Wastes. In total, we will be on this journey for an average two months."
This is a story I've been working on for twelve years. This is the opening chapter for the first of the last three books in this story's timeline. Any back story information will be written while the story progresses, so no prologue is needed. If the story appears choppy or rough, it's supposed to. You'll find out why once the book is complete.
There might be errors in grammar or missing words, that's solely because my tablet has issues copying and pasting long areas of text.
Edit: Feel free to comment and criticize.