The Search for Knowledge – Chapter 1

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(Rox: Chapter 2.)

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       Two people stood side by side overlooking a large courtyard from the balcony of an equally large mansion. Trees lined both the eastern and western walls, meticulously trimmed every day so that they would look identical to each other. There was a long, slender reflection pond trailing up the center of the nearly four kilometer-long space of the yard, and not much else between the water and trees aside from neatly trimmed grass.

       They were watching like hawks as adventurer after adventurer, as their quest had instructed, entered the private property. One of the two was a very tall, muscled man who had the regal look of a knight, but gave off the air of a gruff mercenary. He went by the name of Sheeron. Standing next to a young girl while trying to look intimidating, he had a large two-handed mythril ax on his back that was nearly as tall as he was. He had brown hair, hazel eyes, and a cleanly shaven face that had quite the stern look on it. He was olive skinned, and wore an expensive looking red shirt with white pants. Over his heart, he wore a badge of three water droplets overlapping each other with a gold trim, showing that he was one of the armed bodyguards for the powerful “Aqua” family, one of the seven great families blessed by the gods.

       The Seven Families were the only families in the world who had a magic bloodline. The Mediator Gods had blessed seven humans with their own power. Nihil, Fira, Creator, Aqua, Aero, Somnus, and Illusia each chose one human family to bless with their power. Having even the thinnest of blood relations to one of these families guaranteed an ability level in the corresponding element. So if someone were of the Aqua family, they and their children would always have ability with water magic. They would also easily be able to train that magic to higher levels, becoming quite powerful, possibly even reaching levels that a Virrat could not even read.

       Contrasting Sheeron, the young girl was comically small, barely coming up to his chest. She had wavy, lavender hair that went all the way down to her thighs. As she watched the adventurers flood into her front yard, her lime green eyes shone with an intelligence beyond her young age. She looked quite delicate, given her slender figure and pale skin common to half-elves. Her clothes were almost synonymous with “rich girl”, wearing a floral pattern summer dress made of woven mythril and what looked like casual dancing flats for shoes. Her name was Kara Aqua, and Sheeron was her guard.

       “I don’t see why you need to hire adventurers for such a simple job, you’ve already got me,” Sheeron said with a gruffness to his voice, sounding much older than his twenty-five years. “This seems like a waste of both time and money.”

       “Hah! You’re hardly reliable enough.” She said dismissively. “Besides, as a member of the Aqua family, it’s my job to allow the masses an opportunity to work a job for someone they admire like myself.” She spoke with confidence, like one who had never met someone who could best her during her life while also being raised to think exactly that. “It would be quite unfortunate if I could not offer a chance to even one of these poor, hard workers.”

       Sheeron let out a deep sigh and spoke with obvious annoyance, “If your family wasn’t paying me to protect you, I wouldn’t let any of that slide.”

       “Not that you could. Even if you used to be a member of the royal king’s guard, you’re weak.” Kara stated flatly, as a butler brought her a stack of papers. The guild rating pages of the nearly two hundred adventurers gathered.

       “Someday, that attitude is going to bite you, and I hope I’m there to see it.” The man said, his annoyance turning to clear disdain. The two of them had never gotten along, but it had been worse ever since Kara had put up the quest for extra protection during her travels. Making Sheeron think that she did not trust his fighting ability in the slightest, which wounded his pride.

       “Yeah yeah, anyway, the guards are closing the gates so it’s time to get started. Maybe if we’re lucky I’ll see someone with raw talent who I can teach to, someday, be as great as I am!” Kara stated with clear, childlike excitement and arrogance. As she spoke, she looked through the guild ranking papers in her hand, dismissing the conversation altogether.

 

     – – – –

 

       Rox looked around the courtyard at the mob of adventurers that had shown up for the same quest as him. It was a simple request from a young girl of the Aqua family, to protect her while she traveled the world in search of knowledge and magic artifacts. The pay was excellent and the risk was low, however, only adventurers ranked gold or below were being accepted. He had wound up with a bronze rank, which put him in the required range. Having all level zeros seemed to have paid off unexpectedly well. Nobody knew why, but many of the lower ranked adventurers like himself were thanking their lucky stars as they arrived at the waiting area.

       As he thought about it, the young Aqua girl stepped up to the edge of the balcony and spoke loudly to everyone gathered.

       “Hello and welcome to everyone who has gathered here today for my quest! My name is Kara Aqua, an orichalcum adventurer and level five water magic user.” Her voice carried surprisingly well, and the announcement of her name with her magic level immediately silenced the chatter that had been going on between everyone. “This turnout is much larger than I had anticipated, and unfortunately you cannot all come with me on this quest. So, I will be naming two of you that I have chosen based on the abilities on your guild ratings. My criteria are mine to know, however, I will say that I chose them based on my own personal preferences for the quest, it does not mean those chosen are any more skilled than you are.” She paused for a few moments to let the meaning of her words sink in, that essentially the best or strongest wouldn’t be chosen, simply those that she wanted would be. She then took a few steps back to make space for the next speaker.

       The bodyguard beside her stepped up and spoke with a booming voice and stern tone, “My name is Sheeron Pankton, mythril rank adventurer, former royal guard, and personal bodyguard to Miss Kara. I will also be choosing one applicant to join us, your pay will be less, however, you will be trained directly by me as a future Aqua family bodyguard. I have chosen multiple people, so if my first choice declines the position, I will be asking the next in line.” Having spoken his piece, he stepped back and took a position behind the young lady while saying a few words quietly to a butler.

       Kara stepped back up to the edge of the balcony and began to speak again, “I will now announce the names of the two people I have chosen. If your name is not called, please do not leave for at least thirty minutes so that our servants have time to pull aside anyone that Sheeron wishes to possibly recruit as a bodyguard trainee.” She paused again to let them process the information before announcing the names, “Would the elf, Feera Greenshire, of the gold adventure rank and the elf, Rox Nihil, of the bronze rank both please make your way to the front door of my mansion to meet my personal butler. He will lead you to the greeting room where I will meet you once everyone leaves.”

       Hundreds of adventurers could be heard making noises of disappointment when she finished saying the names. A few of them cursed the gods for teasing them with a chance before taking it away.

       Rox did his best to stay composed and not look too happy in front of those not chosen as he approached the door indicated by the young lady, Kara. As he neared the door he saw that the other person, Feera, had already gotten there and was being greeted by the butler. She noticed him approaching and smiled widely, vigorously waving as he approached.

       “Hello there, Rox, I presume?” She said in a cheery tone, “Pleasure to meet you, I guess we’ll be partners during this extended quest. Let’s try to get along, yeah?” She put her right hand out for him to shake, which he did with a relatively strong grip.

       “Yeah, I’ll try not to slow you all down.” He said while letting go of her hand, which caused her to smile brightly. They then followed the butler into the mansion, which was quite glamorous inside. Everything seemed to be made of marble, even without the magic lamps lighting the building it probably would have seemed bright with just the sunlight given how much white and gold was around. Paintings of famous members of the Aqua family, past and present, lined the hallways and there was a chandelier in every room. “Ostentatious” seemed like an understatement.

       After what felt like an eternity of walking, they were finally seated in the greeting room, which only furthered the rich, stuffy atmosphere. There were two large, red velvet sofas with silver trims for seams. Each one had two decorative pillows in the corners which matched the sofa, and there was an obsidian glass coffee table separating them. Underneath them was a black rug that covered most ground, only the edges of the room exposed the bare marble flooring. The walls to the backs of the seating as well as the wall with the door from which they entered were bookcases built into the structure itself, lined with gorgeously bound books, most of which seemed to be magic books to some effect. The fourth wall was mostly a giant bay window, with a lovely view of all the disappointed adventurers waiting around the courtyard to see if they were going to be picked for the bodyguard trainee position.

       Rox made himself comfortable on the sofa to the right. He expected the female elf to do the same on the opposite sofa, however his expectations were betrayed. She plopped herself down next to him and leaned forward, putting her hands onto the table with a paper underneath her right pinky and ring fingers as she looked at him.

       “So, hey, you’re a bronze adventurer, right? What sorts of abilities do you have?” She said with a tone as cheery as ever. Rox then noticed that the paper under her fingers was a copy of her guild rating.

       “Oh, uh, here.” He said awkwardly while handing her his, which she snatched up like a child being handed some candy they had been waiting for.

       Feera handed Rox her own rating before looking over his page. He made sure to take a good look at what he would be working within the coming months.

 

Name: Feera Greenshire

Magic Ratings: Creation Lv2

Physical Ratings: Shadow Lv3 Camouflage Lv2 Eyesight Lv3

Guild Rank: Gold Rank

 

       “How is it possible to have eight abilities and have all of them level zero?!” She exclaimed. “What’s more, you have quite a few rare ones on here aside from the void element of the Nihil family! Actually, now that I think about it, the Virrats don’t usually display an ability as level zero, you either have it or you don’t… Aren’t you a strange one, Mr. Rox?” She was correct. Virrats normally don’t display an ability if it’s level zero because it would mean that they have no potential in that ability at all.

       “The guild master thought it was strange too, which is why he started me off at the bronze rank instead of copper.” He tried to explain, a hint of nervousness in his voice. He was not quite sure how to explain it either, seeing as he was not exactly a Virrat expert, nor had he been rated before. “I’ve only ever trained my body, I’ve lived in the Forest of Giants for my entire life until just a year or so ago.” Rox dropped the name of an isolated forest where most intelligent races dare not tread for fear of being hunted and eaten by carnivorous giants and other monsters in the area.

       However, before Feera could respond to the outrageous statement, the door to the room opened again and Kara entered on her own. After closing it behind her, she strode over to the opposite sofa with purpose and seated herself. She smiled at the two of them, her youthful face seeming as bright as the mansion had been.

       “Thank you again for coming, Rox and Feera. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, and I hope to have a fruitful endeavor with your help.” She said formally, folding her hands in her lap. “Now, let’s get down to business, shall we?”

 

(As promised! Chapter 1 for you guys. All chapters from now on will be one a week on sundays. I’m in the states, eastern time sooo keep that in mind^^. I hope you all are enjoying this so far, and I’m loving the comments so keep ’em coming. On the RTD discord I have a chat for this novel where I don’t mind answering non-spoiler questions by the way! I’ll even answer world stuff: Like how magic levels work etc. By the way, my editor is mad at me cause Elves don’t have pointy ears. ONLY dark elves do! :D)

The Search for Knowledge - Prologue
The Search for Knowledge - Chapter 2