Chapter 13: Proving Grounds

Chapter 13: Proving Grounds

A Chapter by Sairek Ceareste

 

 

 

 

Sairek knocked on the metal doors of the monastery with his staff, still holding Cyial’s hand with his left, keeping the boy close, who stood beside Sairek. He had calmed down his crying a bit, but still sniffled his nose every so often.

 


It did not take long for the doors to open. A male opened the door, dressed in the same kind of robes Cyial wore, but of course, fit his size. The colors on the robe were also a different, a clean white cloth instead of Cyial’s pale yellow.

Unlike Cyial, he also wore no gloves, and wore a hat that was like a cone, pointing upwards on his blonde hair. The man frowned, seeing Cyial, Sairek could see inner hatred in the mans' brown eyes. Sairek responded to the look with a tense look of his own directed at the man.

 

"...Trying to con the Prince now, are--" The man began.

 

"Silence. Do not, even start." Sairek interrupted the man in a raised voice that rang his authority. "Don’t assume things so blindly that you don’t even know, Acolyte. My patience has already been tested once just a moment ago, and I assure you it did not end well to the person who had tested it." Sairek lowered his head a little bit, but his eyes still locked onto the man’s own. "I wish to see the Abbot of this here Monastery. We and him will have some many important things to discuss about once he hears them..."

 

"I refuse to follow orders from anyone who would want to side with a demon..." The Acolyte answered flatly.

 

Sairek released the tense threat he had in his eyes, softening them up a bit."...How bold of you..." He whispered under his breath. His voice rose up to normal volume again as he continued. "However, I believe your Abbot keeps Cyial, does he not? I am sure he sides with him. Does that mean you do not follow the orders of your Abbot as well? I assume you do, or else I am pretty confident you would have been discharged from the Monastery by now; which I assure you, I can do if your Abbot doesn't. I told you, my patience has already been tested. I suggest you think wisely about what you say Me. As much as I truly do disagree with the system, your opinion is moot when talking to me. Only my opinion matters and I will use that rule if I need to if you refuse to do something as simple as obtaining me the Abbot. Do you understand?"

 

The Acolyte stared at Sairek for a moment. "...If I get the Abbot... will that rid of this demon from our holy building...?"

 

Sairek didn’t respond to the man’s words verbally. Rather, the child began slowly lifting his staff into the air.


"Last warning." Sairek cautioned. "If I slam the opposite end of my staff into the floor, you will be out of here, even if I have to haul you out my self. Get. The. Abbot."

The mans' eyes glanced at the staff and quickly turned around, and began walking off. Sairek lowered his staff back to the floor slowly and motioned the two to walk inside.

 

"...What was you going to do...?" Nayleen asked a little cautiously.

 

"I was going to discharge him of his title, but thankfully for his sake, he decided to listen to me..." Sairek muttered, as he looked down the hallways of the structure. His eyes half closed as he let out an exhausted sigh from the recent events. "Something is defiled in the monastery and I do not like it... I feel like there is a source to all of this hate on Cyial. I know we need to hurry to Yggdrasil, but I cannot ignore this act without at least investigating... Even with me as the Prince, I can't seem to order anyone in this city at all..."

 

"...The teachings we learn in the Monestary do say that all demons are bad... They only have learned to hate me... Father Abbot has been trying to change it, but he is forced by law to continue to teach as such..." Cyial whispered quietly as he looked down to the floor, and Sairek glanced down to Cyial. "Then I will attempt to change that... somehow. But it may not be today, and it may not be this month. I don’t have that much authority. Neither does my father.  It has to be discussed, voted on and all that political junk. It will take a while, but we will do it somehow for you, Cyial and others who may be suffering like you. Not all demons are bad, as far as I can see, you are living proof of that. It's selfish to believe all demons are bad, but all humans are good. I know for a fact all of us certainly are not."

 

The little Acolyte smiled a little at Saireks' words. Suddenly, a loud sound came from the closed Monastery doors behind them. The three of them quickly spun around, and Sairek pushed Cyial back behind him as the doors swung open. Sairek’s eyes narrowed as he saw a rather old looking man staring at the door. Cyial pulled away from Sairek’s hand, who let go when he felt the tug. The child ran to the man.

 

"Father Abbot!"

 

The man bent down to his knees, as Cyial jumped into him as the two embraced for a moment. Sairek couldn’t help but blink as he turned around where the Acolyte walked off to. He blinked and then gritted his teeth in anger.

 

"Oh, that sneak! He wasn’t getting the Abbot, he was running away from me!" The Prince hissed. He began stomping off towards the direction the Acolyte walked away from, but was stopped by Nayleen's hand that came and grabbed his hood. Sairek let out a choking noise as he struggled to step back before turning back to Nayleen who was just shaking her head.


"But... Nayleen...!" Sairek began.

 

"Now now, calm down." Nayleen reassured the Prince by putting the hand on his shoulder. "The old man is here now, that is what we came for, right? Just be glad you made the guy worry. Discharging him won't resolve anything of how he thinks. He may just blame it on Cyial and may resent you even more for it. Don't make enemies for no reason, Sairek."

 

"B-But..... Oh, plehhh....." Sairek let out in annoyance. He hated letting people escape him like that. He sighed to Nayleen. "...Fine... but if I spot him again, he's mine." he finally let out, before turning back to Cyial and the Abbot .

 

"My my, you met the Prince! What a lucky find for you Cyial!"

 

"Prince Sairek doesn’t mind who I am, Father Abbot! Neither does his friend Nayleen! They were both very nice to me. Prince Sairek told off the bad guards when he saw how they were treating me."

 

Sairek looked at his boots and blushed slightly while letting out a nervous chuckle.

 

"Oh, what is wonderful news, Cyial! I told you there were others out there who would care. And for one of those people to be the Prince? You are indeed blessed my child. The Tree sees your good deeds!"

 

Sairek and Nayleen continued to watch the two. Watching the back of Cyial, his eyes wandered to the bottom of the child’s robe, where there was some odd movement. He blinked a bit in amazement, when an iron tip came out from under the robes and then a thin string of black after that. The object began almost wagging in a sort of way. Sairek realized that this must have been Cyial’s tail the guard had been referring to earlier.

 

“So, what may I ask that our fair Prince may be doing here in Lamen?” The Abbot asked, standing up now, as Cyial stood at his side. They held hands, like child and father. Sairek nearly got lost in the thought of his own father and him, but managed to shake the way the memory to respond to the question.

 

“Monasteries are responsible for the worshiping and well-being of Yggdrasil, correct?” Sairek asked.

 

“Yes, you are right, Master Apprentice.”

 

Sairek shifted more into his formal stance as he paused for a moment, and then spoke again. “Well, then we may have a proble.… I don’t know how or what, but the signs of something negative happening to it are starting to show. The Ethereal in the air is severely dwindling; It's reaching below records before from what I could tell. Nayleen and I have set out to check on the tree, to see if there’s anything we can do… but we don’t know what we can do if there is something wrong... How do you fix or cure Yggdrasil? We don't know the answer to that.”

 

Sairek took a few steps closer, looking up to the father with almost pleading eyes.

 

“Father, we need some sort of information. We’re running into this blind… we don’t know what to do in this situation. We don’t know why the tree is dying, if it’s just happening in a natural occurring way, thinking it was perhaps an eternal being, or someone or something is causing the problem… We need to know of a way to treat the tree because it's starting to become conclusively evident and we have no idea what to do about it."

 

The Abbot was about to answer, he even opened his mouth to do so; but then there came a loud bang on the door. Nayleen and Cyial jumped at the sound, as Sairek turned to the door. The Abbot turned back to Sairek, and the child motioned him for the door. “Your response doesn’t need to come so soon. Open the door.”

 

The Abbot nodded, moving his way towards the door, Cyial stood still where he was. The Abbot slowly began opening it, before it was flung open. The Abbot was pushed aside as the guard Sairek had told off before stormed in and began striding his way towards Cyial. He raised his fist, before throwing it down towards the young Acolyte who yelled out in surprise and helplessly tried to shield himself from the attack by hiding behind cover with his tiny leather book.

 

Sairek dived forwards just in time, holding his staff in two hands and blocked the gloved fist with his staff. Sairek clenched his teeth in anger, as did the man. The man pushed with his fist, as if expecting Sairek to give way, but the child held his ground, although the man managed to push enough that Sairek grunted and was forced down to one knee.

 

 

“Gh…What’s wrong...? Has a soldier been matched by -- an eight-year-old...?” Sairek taunted in a flat tone. The man clenched his teeth tighter, and Sairek let out a grunt in effort as the man pushed his fist down harder. Sairek refused to give away however, despite the heavy inhales and exhales he was exerting against the mans' strength. After being locked for a few more seconds, the man finally pulled away, only to swing back with another powerful punch. Sairek barely had enough time to shield himself with his staff from the initial punch, but the power of it swept him off his feet, slamming his back against the wall. Still, he kept the fist locked with his staff as he held out both of his hands with the weapon.

Sairek looked to his left side catching Nayleen about to make a move. His eyes flared up angrily. "Don't!" Sairek shouted at her, whom flinched with uncertainty. Sairek lift his feet up from the floor; sticking to the wall from how powerful the man was pushing him against it. Sairek kicked with both feet on the man's stomach, making him gasp out, letting go of Sairek, the Prince dropped to the floor. Sairek cried out in fury as he planted his left hand on the floor, and threw his legs out in a low kick, knocking the balance off of the man's legs, making him nearly collapse on the floor. He recovered, but by the time he did, Sairek was already standing on two feet. Sairek shouted out "Balinzer!!" in anger, quickly advancing on the man who couldn't defend himself. Sairek swung his staff from the right to the left, smashing the man's face as the head of the staff was lit up in flame. Sairek brought the staff back, swinging left to right, smashing the man's face again. Once again, from right to left, but at a more downwards angle, forcing the man's body down, Sairek flipped the staff tip back up to smash the man's jaw, lurching him upwards. With one more yell of fury, Sairek chanted out "Ethirul!", as the stone wall of the monastery suddenly shot out, smashing the man in his stomach, and then the stone floor rose up too, smashing the man up in the air. Sairek let out one final cry as he shouted one more time "Balinzer!" as the flame on his staff erupted brighter, Sairek smashed the man with a thrust in his staff, in a jet of fire propelled out launching the man back and towards the Monastery door. The man let out groans of intense pain as he lay crumpled on the floor clutching his stomach with one arm and his face with another.

 

Sairek stood, legs bent in battle stance, panting from the furious combo of attacks he just dealt. His emerald eyes practically radiated in anger. “You really do need to grow up.” Sairek said through clenched teeth and pants. “Attacking the poor child now? You dare call him a monster who would harm others?! Look at what you're doing yourself!"

 

Sairek paused, as he watched the man slowly crawl himself onto his feet. Still clutching his stomach. The hand on his face slowly lowered. Sairek's eyes ignited even more intense in anger as he saw the man smirking.

"Your insults are so lame Prince... I couldn't even get angry at them if I even tried... Maybe you should study up on how to insult your opponent." The man retorted in a cool, sly tone.

Sairek's eyes narrowed in baited anger. His words came out in a low hiss. "If you ever try to harm one of my friends again... I will kill you..."

"It's not the stupid Incubus I'm after anymore."

The man soon began to remove his right hand glove. He then threw it towards Sairek, who raised his left hand and caught it. His eyes stared down at the glove for a moment. He could not hide the look of surprise that was in his eyes even through all the anger within them.

 

The man waited, before Sairek stood up more straight, and than reached over with his left hand, beginning to slip off his own right hand glove. He stared at it for a second, before his look went up to the man. He moved his staff to his left hand with the man’s glove, as he then threw his own glove with his right at the man. He too, caught Sairek’s glove.

 

“…Where…?” Sairek said in a raspy tone; one that was holding back a load of heated anger and hatred right now.

 

“Outside the gates of town. Two hours.”

 

“Normally one would wear each others gloves. But neither of ours fit, and I wouldn’t want you to be dead from being attacked if people saw you with my glove… I suggest that we return each others' gloves back.”

 

“Fine.”

 

Sairek tossed the man his glove back, as the man tossed Sairek's own. Both put their respective gloves back on. The man soon turned around, storming out. Sairek only stared at the door. Hatred showed in his eyes.


"...It can never be so simple, can it..." The boy spoke out, more in a statement than a question. He spoke in a quiet mutter.


“Oh dear, oh dear…” The Abbot let out quietly in a whisper. Closing his eyes and shaking his head.

 

“Wh… What did you just agree on…? Nayleen asked Sairek quietly. She walked over to him, seeing the boy was shaking a little as his gaze dropped to the floor at his own feet. She put her hands on his shoulders which seemed to calm him down a little.

 

“…A duel…” Sairek answered after several seconds. He swallowed hard, and then spoke again. “…It wasn't to the death, but it may as well be... It's for my Title. If I lose, he gets the title as Prince and then my execution could be offered, by his word.”

 

WHAT?!” Nayleen shrieked. She moved in front of Sairek. The boy’s gaze looked up, before he let a shout of pain as a loud smack was heard. Sairek stumbled over to the right as a hand imprint remained on his left cheek. Sairek’s left gloved hand lift up, holding it against his cheek. He then let out a yelp and squeezed his eyes shut as Nayleen grabbed him and shoved him against the wall.

 

“Nayleen, please!” Cyial pleaded to girl. Who seemed to ease up a bit on Sairek who opened his eyes partway to stare at the girl.

 

“Why in the HELL would you accept a duel like that!? He is a grown man Sairek, a skilled fighter, despite how much of an a*****e he is! You may be a Prince but you are only learning the adept stages in combat! You will most likely be killed!

 

“I know…” Sairek admitted quietly in response to her loud yelling. Sairek pushed against Nayleen a little bit, and she backed up in response. Her face wore a guilty expression that she may have hurt him. Sairek sighed, closed his eyes and looked away from her. “I know it is a stupid decision Nayleen… but I was not left with any choice!”

 

Sairek turned his head back to her, but couldn’t bare to face her to see the hurt expression she wore. So he turned his head back down to his boots slowly. “…No Prince has ever refused a duel to the death before… and the reason to that is because to do so, means that your authority would mean nothing… If I declined a duel… if I show any weakness as Prince, then everything can go bad really fast. If I denied the duel, he would be allowed to have his way at Cyial… It may mean that anyone who would want to harm Cyial would have their way unless I dueled them to show I mean it. Who would stop if I wasn't willing to do anything to prevent it? I cannot let that happen…”

 

He closed his eyes again, walking away from her, as he opened his eyes, walking towards Cyial, who was nearly on the verge of crying again. Sairek stopped at Cyial’s side and turned around to face Nayleen. “…In a duel, you fight to fight for what you believe in… He believes Cyial is a monster that should be killed. I believe Cyial is a good-hearted person who doesn't deserve this hate and should therein have the right to life. I am not going to let that b*****d have his way. Cyial helped me; now I will help him. I would be a coward to not protect my friends despite how stacked the odds against me. I told father that I need to find something worth protecting or I cannot live and learn to grow. I think I've finally found it.

 

Sairek gripped his staff tightly. His anger growing as he thought about it. He shook his head to try and get rid of it, but failed and it continued to rise. “…Bloody ostentatious b*****d, I will kill him…!” The Prince hissed through his mouth. “Never had I had to put up with a person who has made my blood boil like this before… this is more than just being annoyed… this is absolute hatred. He has insulted my beliefs… he has insulted my authority and my father… I will not suffer this insolence quietly!"


"Is your pride worth risking your life?!" Nayleen argued at him. "What kind of stupid rule is this? We never had anything like that in Kior! No duels were to the death!"


"...Trust me, I hate it just as much as you do Nayleen... There are some things I disagree with that I have tried to persuade father to change, only to have failed... But I have no intentions, not even for a moment on losing. I will win this. I have never felt as determined to do so in anything else before than this..."


Nayleen let out a frustrated sigh. "Urrrgh.... I guess we can't change it now... what's done is done and I think I should know by now that once your mind is made up, that decision is set..."


"Hrmmmm..." The Abbot soon let out all of a sudden, as Sairek turned around to face him. "Quite an interesting state of affairs, you know Prince. Princes have been challenged before in duels, but never one as young as you. Despite how determined you are, I unfortunately don't have full confidence in your abilities -- if you forgive my saying. Ah, however, I do know something we can do to help you prepare. I am pretty sure it will help you with your current ordeal and for future endeavors along the way with your quest to reach Yggdrasil."


'What do you mean?" Sairek questioned curiously, stepping forwards as he looked up to the Abbot.


"Oh, I know!" Cyial soon called out, moving over to the Abbot. "You're going to preform a ritual on him, right Father Abbot?"


"Ah, you are a bright boy, Cyial. That is exactly what I am planning to do." The Abbot said smiling.


"Ritual?" Nayleen questioned, turning to Sairek. "I thought all if not almost all rituals had to do with some sort of deal? Wouldn't that be dangerous?" Sairek had to admit, he was confused as well.


"Not for Sairek. You see, the Ritual we are about to preform is making a pact deal with Yggdrasil. However, Sairek already has a piece of Yggdrasil with him. No deals will need to be made for this ritual. We will be doing two things: The first, is that we will be preforming the ritual on the staff itself. We will simply be asking Yggdrasil to be giving the a piece of itself a little bit of power boost. No offerings will need to be made, no danger shall be involved, the ritual is completely balanced as it is. After all, the only one involved with the dealings of the ritual will be Yggdrasil itself, and Yggdrasil cannot harm itself, you see? Even if we were to mess up the ritual, we would still be safe from any harm coming to Sairek or anyone else.
"After we do that, all we need to do is tune Sairek's body with his own staff. He shouldn't be separated from it anyways, so this shouldn't matter much. You see, even a root of Yggdrasil will still live; it is possible to tune one's body with the staffs' life force; this will make it much easier for our Prince to draw Ethereal in the air. He may even gain the knowledge of a couple spells if he obtains some of the trees' wisdom that he should hopefully learn from the ritual we will be preforming on the staff itself. Preforming the ritual with Sairek's life force and the staffs will also be risk free, because that will only be a simple web for that part. Even if we mess it up somehow, we can simply remove the web, and then try it again."


"...Of course!" Sairek exclaimed. "I see it now! We're not going to boost my power, but just make the staff more powerful in itself. It's like borrowing a bit of Yggdrasil's power from the main tree and putting just a tiny fraction of that into the staff itself." Sairek couldn't help but smiling at the almost freely given power boost he was going to get. But he did have a few questions. "What would happen if something happened to my staff, wouldn't I die? And if I died, wouldn't Yggdrasil die as well?"


"It is a light fuse only momentarily for transferring the power. It will not become embodied into the same being." The Abbot explained. "Since you and the staff both have Ethereal energy, that will be the parts we will be fusing when we preform magic on you after the ritual with the staff. If the staff was to be destroyed somehow, when it completely perished, you would lose all the Ethereal energy in your body. Now, we do need Ethereal to live, that much is true. However, a body can live without it for at least a couple of hours before the effects start taking place, which even with that, you would still be naturally drawing it in so the effects would only be very short term. You would feel weak at first, but your body should naturally recover from just breathing it into the air. Besides, to destroy the staff would be nearly just as hard as destroying Yggdrasil itself other than slowly grinding the entire thing away. It took months alone just for your father to carve just the slightest tip of the root and then shape it as it is now.
"Now, as for you dying, this would only effect the staff. The staff could easily draw the energy again by itself, but I'm sure if you were dead that it would not really be much good to you anyhow... now wouldn't it?"


"Interesting..." Sairek muttered in amazement.


"...More like confusing..." Nayleen sighed. "Your kingdom may have most of its power from the use of magic, but my kingdom is more simple. We only really fight with steel and iron. Magic is not our strong point in combat for sure."


"The ritual usually takes a couple of hours, I know a bit how it's preformed; we should be able to get it done before the two hours. It would be best if we start preparing it now." Cyial stated in a quiet voice to the Father Abbot.


"Yes, yes. That is true. We should act now if we are to do it... with how long rituals tend to take, we are strained for time as it is, yes indeed." The Abbot confirmed, turning to Sairek. "If we have your permission, Prince?"


Sairek did not need any further encouragement to nod his head. "Okay. What do I need to do?"


"Just follow me and Cyial for now," The Abbot said. Before beginning to walk down the halls, with the small demon Acolyte boy who trotted beside him and motioned with his left hand for the other two to follow. Nayleen and Sairek walked after them close behind. Sairek was glad that Cyial seemed to be far more energetic and positive in his responses now. He certainly looked happy just being near the Abbots' presence.


The four of them went through a few halls before going into a large room. There was a glass window up above in the ceiling which the light shone through on an altar.


"I will require you to give me your staff until the ritual is done. As for now, since you would have nothing better to do other then wait and ponder upon the duel you accepted, I suggest you go to the library for the answers you came here for. I cannot promise the books will yield to anything, but it is a worth a try, no?" The Abbot suggested.


"I suppose. That said, do you know something yourself about curing the tree first yourself?" Sairek asked.


"Mmm... a little... but not enough to know what to do in a situation like you speak of I am afraid. If you can't find anything, I will tell you what I do know so you coming here won't be empty-handed, I hope. Oh, and one more thing,,." The Abbot turned to Cyial as he continued speaking. "Did you bring the bottle, my child?"


"Yes, Father Abbot." Cyial answered, digging into his robes, he soon pulled out the bottle of Ethereal water Sairek and Nayleen had watched him fill at the cave.


"Ah, excellent. After you show our guests where the Study Hall is and coming back to help me with the ritual, would you mind concocting it into the usual medicine? I have a feeling these two may need it for the long road that awaits them."


"I will," Cyial responded with enthusiasm.


"Good good," the Abbot replied with a wide smile at the child. Then turned to Sairek. "Now then, the staff?" He asked. Sairek nodded and held out the staff for the man to take with both of his hands.


"Ahhh, a Yggdrasil staff... it has been ages since I've held one of these before..." The Abbot mumbled to himself.

Sairek couldn't help but feel a small part of himself gone without his staff by his side. He only had it for a couple of years but he rarely let it out of his sight. It felt weird to not have it held by his side. It didn't feel as bad when somebody in the castle had it because he knew for sure it was in a trusted safe place. As much as the Abbot proved to be nice and positive, he still was a total stranger.


Cyial quickly wandered over to where the other two were. "Sairek, Nayleen, please follow me," the child let out and then began quickly moving himself down a different hallway. Sairek and Nayleen glanced at each other before Nayleen gave a quick shrug. Sairek turned back to the Abbot.


"Thank you for your help. I really do appreciate it." Sairek told him sincerely, before moving to follow Cyial so he wouldn't lose him. Nayleen followed quickly behind the Prince.


The Acolyte lead Sairek and Nayleen through many halls, Sairek's curiosity rose when all the halls seemed to be empty of anyone else.


"Where is everyone? This place is nearly completely empty" Sairek asked curiously.


"Today is relaxation day. Only very few come in. Most of the Monastery's staff are actually just kids, although I am the youngest out of all of them it would seem. There are some adults here and there but they are scattered. The Monastery at times also acts like a daycare if parents don't have a place to keep their children while they may be away from their homes."


"I see. So the Monastary in a way is almost like a daycare school." Sairek commented as he gazed at a beautiful stained glass window. There was a figure in the window, and then realization clicked. It was actually a picture of his grandmother. His grandmother and grandfather had both passed away long before he had been born, but their deaths had been great. They had lived together a long time and grew old together. It was actually Saireks' mother that had to take the line of the throne since there was no male heir, at least until his mother had married his father, which gave him rights to become King with her permission. He thought his mother must have been pretty selfless, for she willingly stepped herself down to allow his father to have full access to the kingdom. Then again, they had both ruled together, working as a team.


"Yes, pretty close." He soon heard Cyial say, realizing he had been lost in thought. "Aside from Acolyte classes of course for us kids. Oh, we're here."


Cyial opened the door they stood next beside and stepped inside where he held the door open for the other two, inviting them in. They both stepped in and looked around the room, as shelves filled with many books of different sizes were in the room. Nayleen looked impressed. Sairek however was not. The library at the castle was much bigger. This was just a miniature version compared to his favorite room at the castle. That didn't mean however it wasn't large though. Sairek crossed his arms over his torso as he looked around at all the different books. There were sections that marked them from difference subjects. Some about geography, other bits of other pieces of science, like astronomy or different studies of different species of animals. There was also some literature, ranging from children to rather large and long looking stories.


"I wonder where we should start looking..." Nayleen questioned to herself, although out loud.


"Well, studying is what I do best." Sairek stated proudly. "There's only been a couple things that I have been curious about and haven't been able to find..." He mumbled, wandering over more into the room and stared at a few shelves. "For a start, look over in that book shelf over there..." Sairek freed his right arm, as he pointed to the shelf he was talking about. "Bring anything that says something about either Ethereal, or Yggdrasil on the front. I will sort through them myself from there. Set any books you find on that table over there." He then pointed to a table that was nearly in the center of the room surrounded by the bookshelves. "I will get rid of the stuff inside my jewel, it's becoming a bit heavy now and I think it could use a bit of time to recharge. After that I will look for books as well." He said as he turned around and began looking for the most spacious corner in the room before he soon suddenly stopped. Stepping back he turned around and looked at Nayleen. "Oh, and Nayleen...? Remember, Yggdrasil only has one 'S' in it, not two..."


"Ha, ha... You're funny." Nayleen snorted at him but smiled as she walked off, going to do Sairek's request. The male child looked around the room, easily finding an empty corner where he did his usual thing as he released all of the items they brought with them into a pile. He let out a sigh of relief. He always felt good being rid of all of the stress, he felt many times lighter. He didn't stay idle for long though, he moved away from the pile, moving over to a specific bookshelf that caught his eye. Sairek pried off of his gloves, setting them on the table he spoke about while moving towards the bookshelf. When he reached it, his fingers went up, beginning to trace books as he read the titles of the books on the sides quickly. Every book that didn't interest him, he would quickly move on to the next. It was only his sixth book where he pulled out one, kept it in his right hand and then continued on. Eventually, Sairek pulled more books from the shelf, putting them on the table. He only searched one row of books, but had already collected four. The Prince believed that would be a good start, and soon opened one, beginning to flip through the pages. His eyes moved from left to right as he quickly scanned the words in the book, looking for something that would interest him on what he was looking for.


Around five minutes later, Sairek put his finger where he was looking at in the page as a marker to remind him where he was as he glanced up to Nayleen who came walking towards him. Her hands full of different books, she dropped them in a pile on the table.


"Now what?" Nayleen asked him.


"Now, I... uh... read all of them, I guess."


"You plan to read all of these in two hours?"


"No, I am going to scan them all. See if there's anything I can find that may be related. Those I see that could be potentially useful, I will put away for now and have a more detailed look at later. Those that aren't, I simply won't bother with and will return them to the shelf."


"Well, we are staying in Lamen tonight, but what about tomorrow?"


"We will be staying here tomorrow too. I have yet to visit my mother, after all. Also, I know I won't be able to sort through all of these books by just today. We can risk a day of travel to rest and try to obtain some information on what we need to do."


"...Then what do I do?"


Sairek shrugged. "Get some rest and relaxation?" He spoke in a quizzical tone, but it was still a suggestion. "You did travel a long way here, let alone you now needing to walk all the way back with me. Even all I can really do right now is read. We're waiting on my staff and then the preparation of the second ritual that I will take part in; there's not much neither of us are capable of doing until then but lying low like this."


Nayleen let out a long sigh. "What a boring wait..." She muttered which caused Sairek to chuckle. It didn't seem like Nayleen was one to loiter around. She turned around with her hands interlaced behind her head, and walked off to began scanning more bookshelves.







A little more than one hour had passed, and Sairek only finished scanning three books, midway through on his fourth, where Nayleen and him both looked up when they heard the door creak open. Sairek stood up when he saw Cyial walking towards him. Something looked strange about him for a second. It took Sairek a few seconds to click in realization that the child was without his book.


"The first ritual is successfully completed and the second is almost finished by now. You should probably come so we can begin the part that involves you Sairek."


"Alright." Sairek said, pushing himself up from the table, he began following the boy. "I'll get back to these books later. I hope no one minds the mess if they come in here... I probably won't be able to get to them for at least a couple of hours."


Sairek and Nayleen followed Cyial back to where they had left the Abbot. When Sairek walked up to the alter where he had given the Abbot his staff, his eyes rose a bit in curiosity, seeing powder sprayed everywhere in various drawings. Sunlight from the hole in the roof covered with stained glass shone in the middle of the alter but now at a slightly different angle from before. It must have been that the sun was now in a different position and was moving to late evening. Pretty soon it would not be shining.


The Abbot walked up to Sairek, holding out his staff for him. Sairek took it, looking at it to see if anything had changed, but nothing has from what he could tell, other than the comfort of holding it again.


"What am I to do, now? Sairek asked curiously.


"Nothing much. Just stand in the sunlight in the middle of the patterns, and I will do the rest." The Abbot explained. You may feel very slight sensations due to the magic, but it shouldn't be anything disturbing." Just make sure either you, or the staff do not step out of the circle. In fact, try to stand still as much as possible.


The Prince nodded, walking past the Abbot onto the alter slowly, as he soon stood in the middle of the sunlight. He squinted his emerald eyes slightly as the light beaming into his eyes felt uncomfortable. He opted to turn around to face Nayleen, Cyial and the Abbot.


The Abbot soon began to chant in a low mumble. Too quiet for Sairek to really understand. Sairek saw Cyial lead Nayleen to one of the many benches nearby, as they both took a seat to watch. Sairek couldn't help but feel a little apprehensive despite the Abbots' words that nothing would really happen in the worst case scenario. He didn't like rituals. He always stayed away from them whenever they were preformed; now he was in the center of a circle having a ritual cast on him in desperation to have the power to protect his beliefs and his friend.


Sairek noticed he was breathing a little bit heavier than normal from his apprehension and closed his eyes to try and calm himself some. He continued to hear the Abbot mumble. And he soon felt a light tingling in his right hand as it held the staff. It slowly grew up his arm and eventually engulfed his entire body. It felt like it had fallen asleep, except it wasn't easing away. It made Sairek feel uncomfortable and it was distracting. Thankfully for him, it suddenly disappeared, unlike how it gradually consumed him.


Then something else consumed him. It felt like his head had been split open, but without the sensation of pain. He suddenly knew a couple things he didn't know before. Suddenly understand just slightly how the Ethereal energy flowed. It came to him as if he had just figured out how a math formula was done by himself, a sudden realization. It was like such a feeling, but this feeling was greatly intensified, as he had come to sudden realization of many things at once he shifted a bit from the light burst of knowledge. He could sense the Ethereal in the air much further than he could just a moment ago not from himself, but as if his staff was an extended view of his eye sight, even though they were still tightly closed.


"And we're done." He soon heard. Sairek opened his eyes, blinking as he turned to the Abbot.


"Really? That quickly?" Sairek questioned the Abbot. He gave a quick nod. "How do you feel Master Apprentice?"


"I feel... great, actually! I suddenly know things about Ethereal that I didn't know before, like I suddenly understand some of its mechanics. I think I may even know how to use a couple of spells even! I may, or may not be able to actually cast them though, despite me knowing how they work; even with how the Ethereal conjures up to create that specific spell inside at least a Yggdrasil staff. I know a couple other things, but nothing about the tree unfortunately. It's more like an understanding on how Ethereal flows. It might help with my struggles in trying to draw it in though. Other than that, I don't really feel any different. Maybe while I'm researching for the tree, I can look up the names for these spells and I might be able to figure out how to cast them with a little effort. Right now I feel like I should know how to cast them, but as if I am forgetting a step and I should know how to cast then... almost as if I should know the answer, but I don't... nothing is coming up."


"Well, being able to cast spells easier should help you in any case." Nayleen replied. Then muttered: "...'Cuz you're gonna need all the help you can get."


Sairek turned to her, smirking slightly. "Have a little faith in me. I've impressed you once before, have I not?"


"Yes, except that was just a thug. Despite how much of an a*s this guy is, he is a properly trained soldier. There is a difference, Sairek."


The child shrugged a little. "Well, considering most guards go through the same program, which I know of since my father is the one who has made it so, let's just say that there is only but a little room for me to be surprised. While our country mostly houses mages, that is not the entirety of our force. This guy cannot handle magic, and no iron he wields can best my staff in melee combat."


"Well, if you are committed to this Master Apprentice, you best be going. It's very nearly time. If you don't make it there in time, then it could end very badly." The Abbot said, and Sairek nodded in agreement as the man continued speaking. "We will come with you of course. Even moral support can help turn the tides of a battle." Sairek nodded once again, glancing at Nayleen. "Hear that? Moral support." He asked in a teasing tone.


"Psh... Whatever, 'Prince'." She retorted back.


The four of them walked out of the Monastery, with Sairek taking the lead, as they walked along the streets, the sky was becoming dark with night, as the moon was slowly rising past the walls of the city and the sun was now nearing the horizon. It was only a short walk from the Monastery to the city walls. Sairek looked up as he saw the ostentatious guard standing at the door, with another guard there, different from the one before. Sairek's face turned into that formal one that showed he was indeed second in command of the Kingdom which they lived in; he wasn't about to let that slip from him, despite how much he despised it at certain times.


"I was expecting you to arrive around this time. Very good timing, Prince." The soldier applauded, although the compliment was a rather empty one.


"I said I agreed to the duel, so here I am." Sairek said in a flat expression.


"Along with your damned demon friend and the overly protective Abbot... Are you sure it is wise to bring them with?" He said with a mocking tone of voice.


"Did you come here to duel me, or did you invite me here to simply throw empty insults at my friends?" Sairek questioned calmly.


"Now now, my Prince. Patience is a virtue, you know."


Sairek's lips formed into a sly smirk as he spoke just below normal volume, in a teasing tone. "Perhaps... I suppose Yggdrasil itself however just wasn't patient enough for your soul it would seem since you had the ill fate of being inside the womb of a b***h. I assume as much with your lack of discipline."


The mans' eyes widened and he gritted his teeth in anger at the insult Sairek threw at him. His hands balled up into fists as he stared at the Prince who tilted his head to the right slightly, a smirk across his youthful face. It was another taunt Sairek was throwing at him to make him lose his cool.


"...You're dead... At least you will get to see your mother again, boy..." The man muttered at Sairek, before spinning on his heels, slamming the door to the wall open. It slowly closed behind him leaving Sairek to stand there, the boy's confident smirk faded away since he had no reason to keep it anymore.


"Haha! You're really good at telling people off." Nayleen applauded excitedly. "Did you see his face? About to burst in anger!"


Sairek looked back at her, softly smiling. "And that's his biggest weakness. That is why I will win this." He said, before turning back to the door, walking forwards. He pushed the door open, and the other three followed close behind. The same for the door that lead outside of the city, which two guards opened for Sairek this time. The child stepped out, and blink a couple times in surprise.


"...This duel will not be as inconspicuous as we may have had hoped..." The Abbot muttered behind Sairek, as the Prince looked around him. Several people gathered up in a large circle outside the city, staring at Sairek and the other three.

"Well, you got that right, old man." Nayleen mumbled.


"...Well, this is going to make wide news... If this man doesn't kill me, Father most certainly will." Sairek said with a light chuckle. He glanced back to the other three. "I suppose you guys may as well choose a spot and watch just like everyone else. Just make sure nobody tries to go for Cyial in any way."


"Good luck Sairek..." Cyial spoke quietly to him. It made Sairek smile a little before he walked slowly forwards towards the center of the circle people formed, his staff dragged along the dirt ground. Some moved out of the way to create an opening for him to walk through, before moving back to enclose the circle. Sairek soon stopped and stood in his formal stance. The man had a simple broadsword ready. He was holding it two hands, yet he had a second one at his waist. Sairek figured the man used the broadswords in either two-handed style, or one in each hand, depending on the situation he would need them in. There was still two disadvantages for him that was in Sairek's favor. One or two swords, he would still have to get close. The second was that if he chose to use two swords, his swinging would probably be much slower; which Sairek could use to easily counter the attacks. This would only limit the man to one style most likely. There was no way any kind of Broadsword would be able to penetrate his staff. He could easily use it to defend himself against such a style.


Most of the crowd was quiet, except for a few whispers here and there. Sairek wanted to continue his provoking tactic; and soon was the first one to speak out aloud.



"So, you were waiting at the gates so you wouldn't embarrass yourself in case I won the verbal battle, right?"


"You are so full of yourself--"

"With all due rights, I did kick your sorry a*s when you attacked me inside the Monastery two hours ago."

"Hah! I didn't even have a weapon--"

"And who's stupid idea was that? You underestimated me because I was a child and you were defeated due to your over confidence. Quit your quibbling and stop trying to rationalize your own actions. It was you who made the choice to be a fool, not mine."

"Hah, you can only make friends with monsters. You're a betrayer to your own father, boy."


"The scumbag speaks about friendship when he don't even have any friends himself... right? If you do, I urge them to show themselves right now."


Sairek waited for a few seconds. When nothing happened, the Prince let out a light chuckle as his eyes locked upon the angry glare the man's eyes were giving to him. "It would seem to me that I am correct." He stated in a taunting tone. He was pleased to see the man grip his weapon tighter in response. It was anger. Sairek continued his work. "But, why should I be surprised? I wouldn't expect a coward to have any. After all, do you know why you have made history today? It's because no man is pathetic enough to challenge a Prince while they are but a child, let alone commit treason, by trying to assassinate them with nothing more than a pair of fists!"


Voices in the crowd rose a little in response to this. The man was about to speak, but Sairek cut him off. "What fame would you get from killing me when I am only but a child? To prove a point? I think we all know here today that even if you do kill me, what valor could possibly be rewarded for murdering a child of the crown? Do you think that even if you succeed my title, people would listen to you? But do not worry. I will personally see to it that fowl acts under my father's kingdom will be dealt with severely. Your first mistake was questioning my authority. Your second mistake was challenging it. And your third, and final mistake was challenging me not as the Prince of this kingdom, but for the person who I truly am! And you will find that me as a person, I am far less merciful on some arrogant 'man' who attacks children than me trying to keep a hold of my family's laws!"


"You're dead kid... Dead I tell you... Dead!"


Sairek raised his left arm out, and with his hand, brought his fingers up, beckoning the man forwards to him in a taunt. A grin was on the Master Apprentice's face as the man shook in anger. Sairek was filled with an adrenaline he had never felt before. "You've judged me as dead already?" He asked in a teasing tone of voice. He flicked his fingers towards himself again, beckoning the man to him once more. "Man up for once. Come; fight me like the soldier my family has as so much gifted you to be, so that you too can be judged, plebeian."



© 2013 Sairek Ceareste


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Author's Note

Sairek Ceareste
Chapter last edited on: January 22nd, 2013

Changelog:

- Don't know -how- the second half of the chapter was no longer Arial text, but THAT has now been fixed
* Fixed the faded text too in doing so too
- Many typos have been fixed
- Some very minor description & dialogue changes (mostly refining the text)

Changelog [January 29th, 2012]:

- Changed the encounter with the soldier in the Monastery to be more than just him coming in and attacking Cyial once, and then demanding the duel. There is a little bit of a skrimish between Sairek and the man.

- This of course changes the back and forth dialogue at the end of the chapter a fair bit too.

- Changed the time to meet for the duel to 2 hours from 3; it works a little bit better with the time of day in the story

- Some typos fixes and minor words were changed for better descriptions

-

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Added on October 18, 2011
Last Updated on January 22, 2013
Tags: The, Ethereal, Elixer, Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Romance, Mystery, The Ethereal Elixer
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