Land of Laetras was once full of life and mystical beings ranging from curious faeries to devious nagas. One would think it was a never ending forest, for as far as your eye could see it was covered in trees all shapes and sizes intertwined with each other, trying to outgrow one another. Such was the view from the hills surrounding the land which were trying to suppress the growth of the forest from spreading. Hidden between the thick trees were rivers the color of aquamarines and sapphires and the whole land was absolutely brimming with life.
However, throughout the years a new species of creatures had settled in and began destroying all life within. The forest grew thin, the land lost it's green, the rivers and lakes became fully exposed and turned grey, the swamps harboring many creatures disappeared. It's hard to fathom something can easily bring so much destruction, yet it seemed the humans within didn't care for anything else but their comfort.
Land of Laetras, once a forest full of life, was now a desert.
The change was so sudden that not many creatures within survived. Those that did, fled the land. Those that stayed and were thought to bring danger, were hunted down. Along the years hunting of mythical beings became almost a sport, a way of showing bravery and impressing the women. However the land no longer harbored myhical beings; no faeries, no dragons, no trolls, no serpents or griffins.
Although the land no longer held much life, it was adorned with four beautiful cities.
The biggest city and known to many as the capital is Veronthas, it's towers reaching out for the sky and the walls protecting everything within are as high as mountains, adorned with crystals of different color. The walls were made so delicately, most called it a masterpiece and none dared to rob it of its crystals. In truth, the wall was more beautiful than everything behind it. No palace within could outshine the walls beauty and that is what the city of Veronthas was known for most.
The second largest city on the land of Laetras is Vesoilas. Althought compared to Veronthas it looked quite basic, Vesoilas was a special place. It was known best for magic that was learned within, however not many have the chance to learn it or even see it. Next to Vesoilas grew a forest full of blood colored leaves known as Ersa's Haven. Although the wood was useful and said to have magical properties, the trees were rarely cut down and the forest is strictly protected. It were the only place rumored to still be home to magical creatures.
The third city to adorn the land is Glodenhal, a city built within the hills with an opening to the wide sea. It is the city of traders, full of bars and brothels and big squares to set up a small shop for the day. It was the city of wonder, where many came to hear stories of bards and travelers, a place to learn more about the world.
Fourth city is Iranthos, and although its known as the oldest city on the land of Laetras, it was quite small compared to the other three. However many kings and queens gather yearly for a council from the land and much further, for this city is ancient and thought of as holy, where no war may ever break. In the middle of Iranthos is the temple of Rakhannos, the god of peace. The temple is made of white marble, skillfully carved and adorned with diamonds and gold. The very top of it though, has a statue of the god Rakhannos himself made out of obsidian with incredible detail, although not many can see it for it is very high on the temple.
However our story doesn't start in either of these big cities, but in a hamlet called Arval, near Ophios lake which still holds a hint of sapphire within the depths. The land around Ophios was faintly green and there grew a few taller palm trees and some crops, but everything else was covered in sand. Such was life in the land of Laetras now.
The hamlet consisted of 6 main buildings and a few houses all surrounding the square together with smaller farms, which survive the burning heat thanks to a few magical artifacts bought from traveling merchants which come every two moons. The square is fairly small but in the middle of it is a well made of glossy stone and a tile roof. Most of the buildings are very basic with thick adobe walls and tile roofs. Those a bit wealthier have porches and fencing, however everyone struggles the same when solvitus approaches as living in the desert becomes unbearable due to the heat.
Ergus was leaning against the wells cool stones when he heard his grandmother Vela barge out of their house, slowly making her way to her grandson, looking upset. Her gray hair was messily tied up, she was dressed in light cloth covering her sagging chest and linen pants with brown sandals. Even though she was over eighty years old her green eyes still glowed with energy.
"Oi, sit yer ass up!" Vela suddenly called out to him causing peoples heads to turn from within the houses. "Whadya think yer doin'? Solvitus is upon us next moon and 'em cursed merchants still haven't come our way. If 'ey thought to skip us 'cus the travel is too long, we ain't gon' survive solvitus, especially with yer lazying around!" Vela lifted up her fist as if getting ready to hit him.
"Gran, we won't survive even if I help around our small farm. We got nothing without the merchants." Ergus shrugged. "They have to come."
Out of the butchers building walked out the sweaty and bald butcher himself, Gleno. He was in his mid forties, the mans eyebrows were thick, his face covered with a copper beard. The man seemed amused by Ergus' situation.
"Aye, the boy's right, Vela. Each year 'ey keep turnin' up later 'nd later. Either the roads gotten dangerous or we're no longer a good stop for 'em. Ye can't blame 'em, 'ey comin' all the way from Vesoilas."
Ergus's grandmother turned to him, frowning.
"Our artifact's magic is runnin' out. Our crops can no longer handle the heat, they're dyin' faster than growin'. We got no food, nothin'. We both know, Gleno, we can't live off yer cows, we can't afford 'em, ain't got the luxury." She spat to the ground. "I can bet me head the boy I call me rotten son won't return and if he does, it won't be with anythin' useful. Ever since my daughter-in-law passed, his head's full of dreams."
Gleno threw a quick glance at Ergus.
"We can make a deal. I'll keep ye well fed if 'ey won' turn up by full moon. Come with, Vela." He waved for her to come into his shop. Vela stood there for a moment blank faced, her anger all gone. She then nodded and followed him inside.
Ergus frowned. No-one keeps secrets here, yet it seemed there was a need to hide some information. Considering this was about his family, it looked unreasonable to leave him like this.
Something about such actions was making him nervous. Trying to brush it off, he stood up and made way back home. Inside he found his little sister Anla braiding her golden hair in front of a dirty mirror. His sister was thirteen years old. She was wearing a brown short dress, her skin was beautifully tanned. Anla's eyes caught her brothers stare through the mirror. She turned around and smiled.
"Have you seen Nitus yet?" Anla looked excitedly at her brother, waiting for his answer about the boy she fancied. Ergus shook his head.
"No, not yet. I'll bet he's still sleeping. Though I don't know how anyone can still be, after our gran called out to me. Turned everyone's heads around." His lips curled up slightly. Anla returned the smile, but quickly it turned into a pout.
"He's as lazy as you. To think our home will depend on men such as you." Anla sighed and turned her back to Ergus. His brows furrowed.
"Gran's a bad influence on you. You should know better than to say this." He came up behind her and lifted her into the air making her squeal out of surprise.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" she yelped.
Ergus put her down softly and smiled. She turned back to the mirror and they sat in silence until she finished braiding her hair. He watched her fingers move skillfully between the locks of hair. Many had told him Anla was a striking resemblance of their mother, however he barely remembered her.
"Do you think father's coming back? This is the third moon he's been gone..."
He could see how much the thought upsets her, yet he knew he couldn't lie to her.
"I don't believe so. He's never been gone so long, plus he took so much from us. But don't worry, the three of us will do just fine. Solvitus might be harsh this year, but the following arotus should be calm and nice, our seer predicted it."
There were tears swelling up in Anlas eyes, but she quickly brushed them away, turned around and hugged Ergus.
"You're right. these four moons of solvitus will strengthen us and afterwards everything shall be a breeze, with or without the merchants from Vesoilas to aid us."
"How could I not when it's all our gran speaks about? Plus, Nitus' father seems to be worried as well. I pray daily to Ersa so we would pull through." Anla smiled once more before she let go of her brother.
However as Ergus turned to leave their hut, a feeling of unease awakened within. As if a warning, his head began hurting slightly, but as soon as it all began, it passed.