The Search for Knowledge – Prologue

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       Village life was hard. Despite all the amenities magic was able to provide, living in a small village was very difficult for the average citizen. They were not wealthy enough to afford many of the magical technologies that made daily life easier. Most of the time there was no barrier sage willing to live in such a small, filthy place. This meant that monster or animal attacks would happen more often than in a city. However, villagers knew the names of almost all those who lived in their community.

       Parents knew other parent’s children, what they usually got up to, and what they all liked. Children knew whose parents were whose, who had the best toys, and where the hangouts were. They especially knew if something was wrong, or someone is missing. If a person in the village was considered odd, they knew to stay away from them. Toley was one such person.

       Toley’s coming of age day was today, and he had transitioned from boy to man. He could not wait to leave, and most of the villagers couldn’t wait for him to leave either. They all knew that as soon as Toley was an adult that he would sign on as an adventurer with the guild in the nearest city. Every single one of them wished for him to be gone from the village as soon as possible, for no particular reason other than that, despite living there his entire life, he was still an unknown to them. All they knew was that his adventuring parents had passed away and that a strange woman came to raise him in their stead for ten years. When the woman disappeared Toley started training himself relentlessly, never associating with anyone the entire time the two had been there. All attempts at a conversation while the woman had been there had been brushed off as annoyances, and Toley always seemed too busy training himself to bother with playing with the children of the community.

(Epik: This whole paragraph caused me physical pain, so good luck.)

(Author Rox: We both spent like 20 minutes trying to figure out whether “At” or “In” was appropriate for the guild hall line.)

(Epik: 20 minutes? You mean 2 hours?)

       Even for a young man, he looked particularly young. The only thing that kept him from passing as an eleven-year-old, was the fact that his body was highly toned, as well as tanned from constant daily training outside. He stood tall for his age, with short spiked blonde hair and hazel eyes. He wore a brown travel cloak, a white cotton shirt, and brown travelers’ pants. Like the rest of his items, he also wore a pair of tan travel boots for the road he’d be traveling shortly.

       The moment had arrived. He packed his travel bag with necessities and what little else he had that he cared about. A necklace memento left behind by his parents and an old note from the woman that raised him as well as an obsidian dagger with a strange design on it. However, before he left, he had one thing left to do. Upon leaving the hut which he had called home, he lit a torch with a simple spell and threw it onto the wood floor of the hut. He stood a distance away watching to make sure that it lit the wood on fire, and stayed a bit longer to take in the sight of his home burning. After a while he sighed and turned to leave, standing as tall as he could before leaving the village forever and making his way towards the city of Nil. Even if he wanted to, there was nowhere left to return.

 

– – – –

 

       “And stay out!” Yelled a large, burly tavern keeper as he tossed a half-drunken elf out of the establishment. He stood for a moment and watched as the woman landed on the ground with a thud before rolling along the cobblestone ground for a short distance. The elf woman stayed motionless for a moment, then groaned loudly in protest to the pain she felt from the landing. The tavern keeper yelled once more, “If you ever come back, I’ll call the city guard!” His face red with anger, looking something akin to a tomato if it had grown facial hair.

       The elf, by the name of Feera, lay for a few more moments to sober herself up a bit before sitting up with another groan. “Ugh, why was I the one thrown out?” She said to herself, her voice almost naturally alluring, “All I did was beat up a few brutes who were hitting on me. It’s not my fault they were as weak as the tables they landed on.” She continued to herself as she stood up and patted the dirt off of her clothes.

       She was a gold rank adventurer who specialized in infiltration and other sorts of espionage. With her birth talents, she was basically custom made for it. Perhaps she could have made it as an exploration or recon team member in the Elf Royal Guard, but that required pedigree or connections to get into, neither of which a street urchin like her possessed. Signing on with the guild, however, was free, and didn’t require teamwork. That said, she had hit the glass ceiling of solo adventurer work, not that she did not make a decent income.

       “Maybe I should actually consider working with a team…” She thought out loud like before, and paused to think about it.

      Feera was an elf with silky black, waist-length hair. Like most elves, she had at least one unnatural looking trait; her neon green eyes. Her facial features were as sharp as the daggers at her hips. Simply put, she was elegantly beautiful. Her skin was pale as the moonlight that she stood in, and she wore tight-fitting black clothes which further highlighted her other assets. She stood around the average height for a fully-grown woman, and her body was very slender because of her elf heritage. She stood there for a few moments, trying to decide what to do before shrugging her shoulders. She made her way to the eastern town exit towards the nearest city, Nil.

 

– – – –

 

       Nil was bustling with people going about their daily business in the sunny morning. Fishmongers calling out their daily catch, produce stores advertising their assortments, and other shops doing all they could to catch the attention of possible buyers. The city felt alive to anyone who had a moment to simply stand and feel it. A few places stuck out, however.

       The blacksmith section of the city, where there were no shops or homes aside from those of blacksmiths and their families. All of them specializing in one thing or another, of course, attracted the eyes of anyone who used weapons. Being only a few years after a major war, it was more common to see people with a weapon at their side than without, so business was at an all-time high. Guards, trainees, adventurers, and mercenaries always crowded the area with some kind of steel-related need. However, most of them had a preferred blacksmith.

       The other two places for obvious reasons came as a pair. The Adventure and Mercenary guilds were always busy. People go in and out at any time of day or night signing up, registering groups, searching for groups, getting their abilities rated, checking posted missions, or returning triumphantly from said missions. There was always something going on, especially given that the buildings were traditionally directly next to each other in any given city.

       One such man now entered the Adventurer guild with some minor hassle due to the number of people in the area. He slightly regretted showing up at a time he knew would have a lot of people, but he wanted to get his business done sooner rather than later, otherwise risk getting a “vulture.” A quest that has been on the board for weeks, or months, without being resolved due to some undesirable trait. Some common such traits include high mortality rate, assassinations, low payouts, and other similar things.

       The man was known as Rox. He had a few unusual features that distinguished him from a human. His hair was a deep purple color and very short in the back while having relatively long bangs that he let hang down in front to the side of his face. His eyes were a piercing yellow that seemed to stare through someone, rather than at them when he looked towards a person. His skin was very pale despite being in the sun quite often, and his face was elegantly handsome. Rox wore all black clothes that were easy to move in and hid his body’s movements. He had on a black utility cloak that wrapped around him loosely, underneath that he had a tight-fitted vest made of a soft, yet durable material with large white buttons going up the side of it. On his arms, he also wore detached loose sleeves from his elbows down to his wrists. He had loose-fitted pants, and light shoes that looked like they were just leather wrappings, however, this allowed him to be less noisy when it was necessary. He also had two swords at his left waist, both similarly black on the handles and lacquered sheaths.

       After a few moments of searching the board, he settled on a quest with a deep sigh. He grabbed it off the board to claim it and stuffed it into one of his many pockets hidden inside of his cloak. Now that he had found a quest, as much as he disliked the contents, he figured it was time to get registered and tested as an adventurer in this city. To do so, he stepped up to the waiting area to one of the windows with guild representatives behind them. After a few moments, a friendly female voice called to him, and he stepped up to the window.

       “Hello, how can the guild help you today sir?” A woman said to him from the other side of the window. She wore an official-looking green button up blouse that had gold pin buttons going up the left side of it. The long skirt of the uniform had similar buttons on the opposite side with a stylish pattern folded cloth going down the left and right sides of it. The lady herself was a dark elf with blonde hair and red eyes. She had the classic feature that only dark elves had, the long pointed ears, and soft facial features making her look like a young girl rather than a woman of at least two hundred years old.

       “Hello Ma’am, my name is Rox, and I heard that if I want to take quests for things other than gathering, I had to register here and take some sort of test?” He said to the representative in response.

       The woman’s ears perked up, “Of course sir! Please meet me at the door at the end of the windows to the right and we shall get you rated and placed right away!” She said seeming almost overly cheerful over this.

       Rox quickly did as she had asked, passing all the people and windows to his right until he reached the end where there was a door to the right of the window area. He then stood there and observed the people around him while waiting. Watching them go from the board to their respective groups, if they had them, then to the window to claim their chosen quests. Others walking around seeking to party up, and other similar such things.

       After a few minutes, the dark elf representative opened the door and gestured for him to follow her. Once he did so, she closed the door behind him and began to lead him through a long, well-lit hall. “My name is Nira, and I’ll be assisting you with your test and registration. You’re actually my first person to give a rating to so I’m a bit excited!” She said excitedly before continuing. “The other representatives all have fun stories for their first test, so I hope you give me a good one too! Hopefully, you’ll be super strong and I’ll be able to brag that I found a starter gold or mythril!”

       In the guild, adventurers were given ranks based on their power ratings and feats. The power ratings were based on their magic or physical ability levels that went from zero to ten. Zero is no ability at all, and ten being the level that a god would have in that ability or magic. The way this was measured was using a mass produced magic item called a Virrat, which would read a person’s aura and use creation magic to make a sheet of paper with the scanned person’s ratings on it. However the massed produced Virrats were only capable of showing up to the fourth level of an ability, anything higher would be displayed as a question mark. The only way to read higher levels was for an original Virrat to be used, which the only known one was kept at the guild headquarters in the capital city Hyperia.

       The guild rating themselves were copper, bronze, steel, gold, mythril, orichalcum, adamantium, and elementia going from lowest to highest. Like the names suggested, a starter gold would be an adventurer who started at the gold rank from the beginning. In most cases, new adventurers are novices and come in at the copper or bronze level, but every now and then someone will come to the guild trained already and start higher. It is extremely rare for people to start higher than steel, however, seeing as gold is the upper middle tier.

       Rox gave a cheery chuckle and smiled charmingly at her in response, “I will try to not disappoint you then. I would not want you to be the only one with a boring first rating story.”

       Nira’s cheeks flushed as she looked away, thanking the gods that they had reached the testing room before she could embarrass herself in front of the man. She quickly opened the door and led him inside, once again closing the door behind them. The room was all white and circular in shape, with a round concave roof while being perfectly well lit by magic making it impossible to gauge precisely how high the ceiling went. In the center, there was a strange structure, the Virrat. It was large, standing nearly twelve meters tall and a meter thick as well as wide, it looked like two triangles put together with a hole in the center of it. The Virrat was pitch black, smooth, and unnaturally cool to the touch.

       “Mr. Rox, if you would please put your hand on the Virrat and channel some magical energy into it, it will then give us your ratings. Simple as that.” Nira stated, for the first time sounding professional.

       Following the instructions that were given to him, he placed his hand on the flat surface of the object and funneled some of his magic power into it. After he did, he removed his hand from it and after a moment the Virrat seemed to shatter into dozens of pieces. The pieces floated in mid-air, equally spaced from each other forming a much larger version of the same shape, with multicolored magic power flowing between them all as if holding them together. The two of them could not stop themselves from gazing in awe at the spectacle, however just as suddenly as it had happened, it reversed. All of the pieces rubber banded back together as if nothing had ever happened. Nira then walked up to the Virrat and reached her hand into the hole at the center. Her arm disappeared into it as if entering another dimension and pulled out a black sheet of paper with a white handwriting-like font.

 

Name: Rox Nihil

Magic Ratings: Void Lv0 Lightning Lv0 Gravity Lv0 Air Lv0

Physical Ratings: Strength Lv0 Speed Lv0 Reflex Lv0 Regeneration Lv0

Guild Rank: Nil Guild Master Discretion

 

 

 

(Author Rox: Hiya guys! Thanks for reading the prologue of “The Search for Knowledge.” I hope you enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to posting more of it for you all… I’ll be putting up Chapter 1 tomorrow if the editing gets done, then I’ll be doing 1 chapter a week every week^^)

The Search for Knowledge - Chapter 1