The Second Wind of Heroes (IC)
2 years ago, the beautiful Queen Catherine II, brimming with potential and great expectations, would fall ill.
It was a illness she would never recover from.
Despite the best assistance from the Healer's Guild and other talents that the royal court could find, she would, eventually, pass from this world. The queen fought her illness for months, though almost everyone knew that every single breath of hers brought her closer to her end. The nobles and the armies despaired.
At the same time, rumours abounded about a bandit king that called himself Kaganax. Surrounded by motivated men, they would storm the palace unhindered by the depleted and demoralized royal guard. Legend has said that Queen Catherine died the moment Kaganax entered the throne room, as if some sort of final dignity for her. No one knows if that is true.
The Chancellor at the time, the late Duke Walton Ferdinand and father of the current chancellor Francis Ferdinand, was but an old man when he stared down Kaganax, holding the crown of Empora that Kaganax very much wanted on his head. He threw it on the ground, shattering the golden symbol of royalty, and then knelt down in front of him, awaiting death. It was his audacity that gave Kaganax some twisted sense of respect of him, and that saved Duke Walton's life for that moment.
Of the remaining generals that were in the palace at the time, General Kroitz Neumman, General Reid Caval and General Leland Connall decided to serve the tyrant-king. General Maria Orsini refused to, but was killed by Kaganax's forces as she tried to escape and raised into undeath. Though as the people despaired at a random man suddenly seizing the throne for himself, the events Kaganax brought down on the Kingdom of Empora would bring about the greatest tale of heroism of the ages.
Adapted from Chapter One: The Tyrant King from "Gladius: A Hero's Tale" by Marise Fair.
Now, it looked that the city of Lorezen had rebuilt quickly, perhaps even expanded, despite its recent history. In the past, it was only known as a small town that served as a rest stop for traders between Beval, the capital of Empora, and other trade centres of the nation. However, the quick ascent and assertion of Kaganax's power soon drove the tyrant's armies to take control of Lorezen from its local, independent governors. An unknown apprentice of the dying legendary strategist, Jonathan Jackson, righteously took command against Kaganax's forces. Kaganax's army was ten times the size of Lorezen's militia. There was no doubt in anyone's mind at the time that the token force and their futile resistance would soon be nothing more than a memory. However, the apprentice who took to the fight for peace went by the name of Gladius. The First Battle of Lorezen was about to begin.
He faced an impressively armed force commanded by General Leland Connall. Connall was known for his quiet, low-key competence by almost everyone in the nation. But any sane man, including General Connall, would have thought the battle would not be eventful. However, the invading forces were annihilated after a risky operation launched by Gladius killed the general. Though the town was abandoned after their victory, it was later reoccupied by the Rebellion a few months later when they took it from the tyrant's armies after the Third Battle of Lorezen. The 'Lorezen spirit' now referred to a level of tenacity that invoked the very idea of the impossible battle that the Rebellion fought and won.
Another unnoticeable man at that time was the late Ramza Pavel. A young mercenary that was visiting Lorezen at the time, he found himself next to the soon-to-be legendary hero planning for the battle against General Connall. Though he was said to have spoken strong and forcefully against resisting Kaganax, Ramza took his place alongside the Rebellion and would fight even harder than those who believed that the gods were on their side. It was a great pity that he would never live to see the peace that the heroes would create.
Adapted from Chapter Two: The First Battle of Lorezen from "Gladius: A Hero's Tale" by Marise Fair.
Raki recalled being in Lorezen once. 20 years ago.
During the reign of the King Peter X, father of Queen Catherine II and Queen Lucrecia I, when Lorezen was merely an afterthought of a resting stop on the road to Beval, he had a little scuffle with an old man in the town about mana potions. He could not remember the man's name, but when he passed by a booth selling mini-portraits of famous figures and recognised one of the faces, a thought went into his mind.
Did I actually punch General Jonathan Jackson in the face?
He did not expect to touch history in the strangest of fashions. Maybe he did meet one of the heroes somewhere on his path, he pondered.
In a city so big, it dwarfed all memories he had of the small hamlet 20 years ago that called itself Lorezen. Tiles replaced the earthern paths of the past. Brick buildings occupied the places wooden houses once stood. The noise of the marketplace was a jarring difference from the quiet past he knew. Where local trademen hawked their wares, massive numbers of shacks and shops with foreign goods and foreign shopkeepers lined Lorezen.
"This Gladius certainly has changed Lorezen," mumbled Raki. Dodging a pair of kids running in the street, Raki stepped in front of a door of a strange building. The door was engraved with the stylised image of a scroll with illegible text. Beneath the image, the words 'Quest Office' were engraved in fine curved writing.
Quest Offices were a recent innovation by the Four Guilds after Kaganax's defeat. Though the kingdom was saved by Gladius, much work was needed to rebuild the kingdom to its glory days. The armies of the Rebellion, the kingdom, and even the Heroes themselves were massively taxed by the immense goal of repairing Empora, and so the guilds stepped in with a system to hire freelancers. Quest Offices spread the news of any 'quest', any sort of job that requires specialised skills or just talented folk, to all the cities of Empora through the use of magic and the occasional courier. Though the guilds would take a significant cut of any quest reward, along with its requirement of an 'administrative fee' from all interested quest-takers, Quest Offices did their task of matching the right person to the right job very well.
He pushed in the door, and looked inside. In the other Quest Offices he visited, even in the cities of Curae, Misra and Clarenden, it was usually a simple, if well-decorated establishment with an atmosphere not unlike a bank.
Where the Rebellion began did not disappoint, but blew expectations away. Bright chandeliers lit the red carpet that covered the entire floor. Men and women sat at dining tables draped in tablecloth, enjoying meals from luxury dinners to the bare-bones of bread and water, as waiters dressed in tuxedos worked the floor serving the customers. The long, marble counter sitting at the other side of the room was the only reminder that this place was a Quest Office and not a restaurant.
"What the hell?" Raki muttered incredulously. He never liked food, only ever eating it to fulfill his human masquerade. The strange, squishy feeling between his teeth, along with the need to swallow ever single bite, seemed so tedious to a magic eater. Mana potions were all he needed, and normally all he drank.
He made his way to the front of the counter, in front of a well-dressed woman in a tuxedo. The short woman with red hair certainly looked boyish, but the tuxedo did not hide her feminine curves and 'assets', or so they called it.
"How can I help you, young sir?" she asked, bowing.
Raki's attention, at first directed towards the young woman, went to the blonde young man beside him. He was writing something on a piece of paper, and though the left side of his body obscured most of the paper, the word '500 platinum' was as clear as day to his eye. The magic eater slid stealthily towards the stranger, bending over to take a peek at what he was writing.
Dropping his quill pen to the side of the paper, Micah turned leftwards and smiled.
Reward: 500 Platinum
Requester: Micah Gelbschild
Save a mermaid from the village of Danvers. She is about to be sacrificed for an annual celebration to bless their crops. Her name is Ariel.
Bring this mermaid to the docks of Lorezen at midnight. Try to minimise casualties if you can.
"Wha-" Raki stepped back, half in surprise. The other half felt a strange aura radiating from Micah, entering his body.
He's scanning me?
Grabbing the piece of paper, Micah shoved it in Raki's face. "You're up for the job, one-eyed boy! Did you serve in the navy?" The question, tacked onto Micah's cheerful demand, only served to compound Raki's confusion.
Raki's face twisted into an expression of 'Eh?'.