The Stranger To Town
The town had been rumbling on about a woman who had come riding into town yesterday. The town was used to the rich families coming to visit their summer houses and merchants coming to sell supplies to the local goods store, but those families and merchants had been coming for years so the town did not get many new people. Adrian’s father ran the local goods store in town and her mother ran a barn that took care of the summer family’s horses year-round. The town also had its own apothecary store carrying plants for potions, healing, and magic. There was also the post office where crystals imbued with magic transported letters and mail all over the country. However most people here were farmer and everyone took care of the other even if it was Adrian’s father looking the other way when Adrian stole some flour to give to a family in need from the store.
The sun was setting when Adrian came in from fixing a fence by the back of the property. She could hear the sound of the knife on the cutting board as her mom started preparing for dinner. Come in through the back of the house shaking off the cold night chill that had lingered as winter fell into spring she saw her sister on the kitchen table. Her sister, Kate, might as well have had her nose pressed to her paper with how close she was to it. Kate’s brows were knit tightly together as her pencil flew across the page writing down equations and solving problems. Kate and Adrian’s father, William was sitting across from Kate with his own pencil in hand as he went over what was sold and bought today at the store.
“Still trying to take the magic out of the world” Adrian asked as she strolled over to help her mother, Isabell, with cooking.
Kate’s pencil stilled and her shoulders rising as she took in a deep breath. “We have had this conversation before Adrian I am not trying to take the magic out of the world” she tried to say with patience even though Adrian said the same thing every time she saw Kate working on equations and such. “I am just trying to stop us from being so reliant on magic, you know this” Kate said getting louder.
“Alright...” Isabell said loudly with a pointed look through Adrian’s way. “You know your sister is just trying to learn and help people so stop riling her up about it every time”
“Sorry” Adrian grumbled out, “your right...” she huffed as she waved her knife around trying to figure out what she wanted to say. “Most people can do small magic like starting a fire, but not big magic that allows for water coming right to the home instead of going to the well every time they need it, and big magic is expensive.” Adrian sighed “I get that what you are learning and studying, you know engineering can help fix those problems, its just... I think... you know...” But Adrian couldn’t seem to find the words to explain what she was feeling. “Forget it... I’m glad you are studying hard so that one day you can help people”.
“Adrian, can you start the fire tonight” Isabell asked knowing that the little act of magic always cheered Adrian up.
Adrian turned around and bent down to open the stove door. There was already wood in there, Adrian only knew the small fire magic that needed wood to burn, she didn’t know how to create a flame that didn’t need fuel. She stuck out her hand and whispered “Ignis”. The flame started on a small piece of wood before slowly spreading until the crackling of wood could be heard. But it wasn’t the creation of fire or the warmth that it brought that put a smile on Adrian’s face. It was the feeling of the magic running through her veins and out of her fingertips in almost a ticklish way that brought a smile to her face. This feeling of magic was something that Kate’s math and physics would never be able to recreate.
Adrian could still remember when she was 7 and her mother told her the spell and said that she could try it for the first time. She sat in her mother’s lap outside as her mom whispered Ignis into her ear, hand stretched out towards the wood in front of them. She remembers that to her the fire looked alive as the spell took hold and spread the fire. Her mother then whispered quench and closed her hand, and the fire went out. After a few seconds Isabell prompted Adrian to try it herself. However, when Adrian tried the spell instead of a small flame creeping up the wood the pile burst into flames as soon as Ignis left her lips. Adrian’s mother and father were quite surprised at the massive flame burning, happy but surprised. Usually, it took a few tries to people to get it and usually it did not result in a massive flame erupting. Isabell then explained a little more carefully for next time that Adrian should concentrate on a small piece of the wood igniting instead of the whole pile of wood or else the flame could become uncontrollable.
However, Adrian was barely listening to her mother. She looked in awe at the fire in front of her and then back to her hand barely able to believe that she was able to do that. She remembered the warm feeling running down her arm and out of the tips of her fingers as she cast the spell and she could not wait for the next time she could use the spell. Even if she would only be able to do small magic, she would treasure the small magic that she could do.
Adrain was pulled out of her thoughts by a knock on the door. She looked around the room to see if anyone was expecting someone to come over, but they all looked just as confused as she felt. Knock... Knock come from the door more insistent at this time. Adrian shrugged her shoulders and went to go open the door. The first thing that she noticed opening the door was the glowing light hovering in front of her almost as if it were looking at her, examining her. “Excuse me...” It was then Adrian noticed the women behind the ball of light.
Her hair was silky black glowing in the setting sun light. The stranger had on well worn brown pants and shirt made for traveling. Her cloak pulled around her was a deep forest green with faint silver trim. As Adrian tried to focus on the trim it looked like there were letters stitched in but it was like they were forever moving. “Excuse me...” The lady said again.
“I’m so sorry, good evening how can I help you Miss...” Adrian asked a little embarrassed.
“Lady Elysian, from the lands of south guard” Lady Elysian said introducing herself, “This might sound odd, and I am sorry to disturb your evening but I was wondering if I could come in to talk to you about something” Her voice was gentle.
“Umm...” Adrian looked over to her family.
“Of course come in” Isabell said, waving in Lady Elysain with a warm smile on her face, “ You must be the traveler everyone in town is talking about. My name is Isabell, my daughter Adrian who seems to forget her manners at times” Adrian blushed and cast her eyes down a little embarrassed but knew her mother was just teasing. “My other daughter Kate” Kate stood up and held out her hand to shake Lady Elysians, “and my Husband William” William also stood up and shook Lady Elysians hand.
As the introductions to each other went around the ball of light that came with Lady Elysian moved closer to Adrian. It circled around her before coming to settle on her head. It was then that Lady Elysian turned to look at Adrian again. The sight of the ball of light resting on Adrian’s head seemed to bring a small smile to her face as if she were pleased. Adrian reached up to the top of her head and gentle grabbed the ball in the palm of her hand and brought it close to her face to inspect it. It must be some type of magic she thought. She wondered if it was Lady Elysian that created it.
“That is the reason I am here” Lady Elysian stated pointing at the ball of light now gently resting in Adrian’s hand, the light illuminating Adrian’s face with a glow. “I am an adventure and I have been given a quest. However, before I can start the quest, I needed to find the correct people for the job. An oracle conjured 5 balls of light for me to follow the people needed to complete the quest. That is the last light, and it has chosen you Adrian”
What the fuck? Adrian thought. Both her mother, father and sister looked at each other not knowing what to make of this revelation. Everybody knew about adventures. They would go on quests that were requested by kingdoms and oracles, to everyday people and towns who needed help. Some of the other races like Nymphs would consult their gods to be chosen as an adventure. Elves would spend many years looking at the stars and meeting with people all over before deciding to become an adventure. Dwarves had a proving ceremony that they could enter at 60 years old to see if they could become an adventure. For humans they usually just showed up wanting to try being an adventure. However, being chosen by an oracle was different, it made the question about whether to be an adventure more like a statement instead.
“Why me?” Adrian said pulling out a chair and collapsing into it with her hands in her head. “I mean... I don’t even know how to use a sword well. I don’t know big magic or healing or anything” she said starting to get frantic. I’m just me Adrian thought, plain old me.
“I know that this can be a lot to take in” Lady Elysian said looking Adrian, “For everyone” she added casting her gaze around the room to everyone. “There have been many adventures that didn’t have training or experience who turned out to be amazing. I don’t know why the light chose you, only that it did. I will try to answer any questions the best that I can though”
Right questions, Adrian could work with that. The more she knew the better she would be, the better the decision she could make. God there are so many questions though she though, are there dumb questions? Ok breath Adrian,start simple and then you can freak out later she thought. Simple, simple...
So they sat their Lady Elysian answer every question that Adrian could think of. The quest was requested by the oracle of the dead woods. The quest was to find an ancient artifact that would help prove that the king was the true king. There had been rumors about the kings Nephew wanting to take the throne and this artifact could help prevent a fight from ever happening. Adrian thought that an oracle interfering with affairs like this was unusual. The four others that the lights had guided Lady Elysian to had already agreed and signed the adventures pact.
The first was an elf from the deep sea who is an expert on tracking and amazing marksmanship. His name was Welkin and it will not be his first or even fifth quest. Adrian wanted to ask how old he was but assumed that even for someone who lived as long as an elf that it would be rude. The second was Ammil, a wizard. It was rare for wizards to become adventures preferring to help in other ways but apparently, she finished her training young and didn’t want to stay in the library all day or sorting of problems of other kingdoms. According to Lady Elysian she was only 5 years older than Adrian who was 20. The third was a dwarf by the name of Badan, apparently a bit of a trouble maker but one of the best trappers in the known worlds. Lady Elysian said that they are lucky to have him on board. The final fourth was Faicinn who is a well-known swordsperson. They are half Elf and half human.
As Adrian listened more about her possible travelingcompanions, she continued to compare her skills against hers and found herself lacking. The only possible thing she had for her was knowing all about apothecary. She knew all about edible plants, plants the healed, plants that poisoned, plants that had magic and more. But that skill by itself is not must as many of the plants that could be used to heal wounds needed to be used with magic to heal and she did not know any of that. She was pretty decent with the bow and knew how to maneuver in the trees so her feet never touched the forest floor. The learning process did leave a few scars but know if her family needed something caught for dinner, she could do it. Still, she did not know how these skills could be useful for an adventure. However, none of this even scratched the biggest question she had.
“I...” Adrian started “I don’t know how to ask this tactfully so I’m just going to bluntly say that the biggest concern I have about this is money”
“Adrian...” Isabell said slightly embarrassed.
“I know mom, I know it’s not polite to talk about money with people we just meet but we have to” Adrian sighed “We do well here, we are comfortable” Adrian said looking at Lady Elysian “but the equipment needed for adventure is expensive and I cannot in good conscience ask my family or anyone else to foot the bill needed. I love magic and honestly the thought of going on adventure even though I am sure I have no skills to offer sounds amazing, but I know that money runs the world and wanting to be an adventure costs money and money doesn’t come from a wishing well no matter how much we want it to.” The room was silent. “I’m sorry but I have to say no. Thank you for the offer though” Adrian got up from her chair and went over and shook Lady Elysians hand. “I’m not feeling hungry mom I think I’m just gonna head upstairs to bed.” Adrian turned her back and started up the stairs each step feeling like 10 pounds being added to her legs.
“Adrian” Isabell started to say.
“Good night” Adrian said. They didn’t try to call back for her again, however she heard the mumbling of talking travel upstairs. Adrian knew her parents would be trying to figure something out but as much as Adrian loved magic and its possibilities, she was a realist at heart. It would have been cool she thought, to have seen real big magic done by a trained wizard though. She closed her eyes as she laid in her bed, her dreams full of unbridled magic that she could only imagine and never see.