Ignorance is knowledge
Ignorance is knowledge
"He'll be down in a minute."
Colloyd stirred from his uncomfortable slumber at the sound of his Dad's voice a bit louder than normal.
"Would you be opposed to myself adjusting his bed time routine?" came the voice of the professor.
His dad let out a laugh. "If ya can get my boy up at the crack of dawn, maybe I should take parenting lessons from you in the future!"
Colloyd rolled his eyes. Travelling with the professor was already sounding like a barrel of laughs. He couldn't hear Gesea's voice downstairs and his stomach sank. He had known she wouldn't convince him but a small part of him had still hoped. He thought back to their previous night and to Marble. He had to talk to his dad about making a key crest. When he was done he could always just go to the village and give it to Gesea to give to Marble on her next visit. With the professor downstairs though he would never be able to get away with asking and not getting a double lecture. He didn't want to get Gesea in trouble either.
Sighing, he pulled out a strip of parchment from his small bedside drawer and grabbed a finely sharpened pencil from the pencil jar nearby. He set to work in scrawling a detailed note, filled with at least half a dozen apologies and slipped it into the back pocket of his favourite pants with suspenders that were hanging up on a hanger near his balcony window. Casting one last glance around his bedroom, he nodded to himself and proceeded to quickly get dressed. Once he was done, he cast one final glance around the room before turning on his heel to head down the stairs to the kitchen and living area.
The first eyes he met downstairs were those of his professor. "What?" he asked, noticing his stare. He looked at himself. He hadn't put his jacket on the wrong way or got his white scarf caught in any of the buttons.
Kraine glanced away and blinked. "My apologies. I was just thinking about how you really don't look like a Chosen."
"Really? What does a Chosen look like?" When Kraine cleared his throat to begin he decided to interrupt to save his sanity. "Actually, maybe we should save the conversation for when I'm bored out of my mind." Still facing the two adults, he discreetly pulled the letter he'd written earlier out of his pocket and placed it on the kitchen bench behind him. "Is Gesea coming?"
"I'm surprised you need to ask," the professor said. He gazed somewhat curiously at him then. "She didn't seem as upset about not coming with us this morning though."
Colloyd thought back to the ranch. That had to be why. Of course she wanted to stay and give Marble the Key Crest his dad would make for her. She was such a mature kid sometimes, always seeming wiser than her twelve years and short stature would normally have suggested. She was a prodigy though. He glanced at the professor as they said their final goodbyes to his dad and wondered whether intelligence was common among elves. Even more curiously, he wondered whether magic was a given gift.
The first half of the day passed slowly as they made their way through the lush valley and away from the only life Colloyd had known. His teacher kept stopping and taking a red coloured book from his cloak with a pen connected to a string. He would write what looked like a few words, nod to himself, then put it away before continuing on ahead and telling him not to dawdle. He tried to be patient and not let it grate on his nerves, thinking to make the most of the scenery before they reached the desert. The professor had said he wanted to make it to the desert town of Triet by nightfall, but as he looked off into the distance, he found it pretty hard to believe the climate could change so drastically and that a desert was less than a days travel away.
"Colloyd, do you think you have the strength to complete this journey?"
When they reached a quiet little hamlet known to most as the Iselia House of Salvation, Colloyd couldn't help his surprise when the professor actually formed a whole sentence toward him that wasn't a barked order. He crossed his arms. "I must and I will, for the sake of the world."
"The last Chosen failed on her journey. Does that worry you?"
Though Colloyd shook his head at the question, Kraine saw the truth in his eyes. He sighed and paced back and forth in front of him as the boy took a break on the steps. Colloyd tilted his head. "What's on your mind Professor? You don't need to be worried about me. I learned a lot about being a Chosen all through my childhood." He had a wistful expression on his face. "Professor Ka-Fai taught me a lot about my journey as the Chosen. He told me that there wouldn't be anything to worry about and that meeting with Origin would save the world."
"He did, did he?"
"Professor," Colloyd laughed a bit. "You always sound a bit jealous when I mention him."
"Absurd," Kraine denied, stiffening his back and stopping to glare at him. "I simply dislike that he did not educate you with all the facts. You will meet with Origin when you ascend to heaven. Do you not realise what exactly ascending to heaven means?"
"Of course I do," Colloyd answered, a bit softer this time. "One life for the happiness of the world is a small price to pay of course. It is my duty as the Chosen and as the son of an angel."
Kraine didn't answer and averted his glare elsewhere.
"But Professor Ka-Fai also said something to me right before he left Iselia," Colloyd said, his face brightening up again. Kraine gazed at him, the glare from before gone and a concerned frown gracing his features. He continued. "He said that while the Chosen within me may not be able to avoid destiny, the other side of me can certainly try and will most likely succeed. I think he meant that I'm not just the Chosen. I'm also me."
"Your old Professor seems to be quite the eccentric one," Kraine replied, walking away from him. "Come. We've wasted enough time dawdling here."
"Man it's sooooo hot," Colloyd complained with an exasperated sigh and a pant. He glanced at Kraine, who didn't look bothered at all by the extreme heat. It didn't seem that he would get much sympathy from him. "Let me guess," he muttered. "You travelled through here before and you're used to it?"
"Not at all," Kraine replied. "But compared to how fascinating the thought that all of this heat is the doing of Efreet from the ruin of the old town of Triet just to the north-east of here, this actual heat is nothing."
"Uh.. So what you're saying is basically ignorance is bliss?"
"Not quite," Kraine responded. "Ignorance is knowledge is what I am saying."
"That doesn't sound like a very good life lesson."
"Isn't it?" Kraine raised his eyebrows. "Being ignorant to knowledge that is fed to you from your enemies can sometimes give you the upper hand. If they don't believe you are wise to their motives, they are more likely to give you hints of their plans."
"But how would I know that I am learning more if I am ignorant?" he questioned.
Kraine heaved a sigh. "Never mind. Keep your eyes on your footing. I can see Triet up ahead."
It was only a couple of hours later that they finally set foot in the desert oasis of Triet. As soon as he could, Colloyd darted for the shade of the nearby travellers lodge and heaved a happy sigh. He waved to Kraine to join him but noticed that he was distracted by a small market stall of old looking trinkets. A strange grin came to his face as he picked up one that looked like a replica of a temple and despite his relief from the desert sun, he sauntered over to take a closer look. The professor didn't take much notice of him though and he quickly got bored and headed over to a shop that sold various armour and weapons.
He saw a green chakram hanging up next to a sword and felt a bit disappointed. He hadn't left home with all that much and what little money he and Kraine had together would need to be spent on food and gels. The shopkeeper saw him before he could back away and leaned over the counter to him. "Can I give you a hand at all?"
"No, no, I'm just looking thanks." He stepped away but the shop keeper had a disturbing twinkle in his eyes and made his way around the stall, holding his hand out to him. "What were you looking at young man? I see you are a swordsman."
"Dual wielder, actually," he corrected accidentally and instantly regretted it. He shook his head and took another step back. "I'll be going no-whoah!" He lost his footing and fell backward and straight through a thinly wooden planked hut of another merchant. There was a commotion all around him suddenly and he found himself being pulled out of the rubble by Kraine.
"Are you alright, Chosen?" he asked. Fits of whispers erupted immediately. It seemed everyone in the near vicinity had heard. Colloyd glared at Kraine, having expected that the professor of all people would know how important it was for the Chosen to keep a low profile.
Evidently, they managed to get away without anyone asking for their names or details to repay the damage. A smirk playing on his lips, Colloyd realised realised why Kraine had so carelessly let his identity slip. With how low their funds were, they wouldn't have been able to eat if they had needed to repay anything. His stomach let out a growl before his thoughts could turn into guilt. When Kraine looked at him at hearing the sound, he felt his face starting to heat up. With a shrug and a grumble, the professor placed one hand on his back and pushed him forward through the town until he stopped dawdling.
They found a food stall just past a small lake of clear blue water. Just as Colloyd was examining the various items available, a loud and familiar bellow of a howl sounded from behind. He whipped around and sidestepped just in time to watch a green and white haired dog tackle the professor to the ground with such force that a billow of sand was sent flying up into the air and showering back down onto the fruits and vegetables nearby. They were in luck though. The shop owner didn't seem too concerned and altogether appeared more curious about the huge creature that was currently pinning Kraine to the ground and licking his face like his life depended on it. "What is that?"
"Oh that's Noishe. He's my dog." Colloyd pulled him off of the teacher-swordsman and offered his hand.
Kraine rolled his eyes and simply sat up to look at Noishe. The dog whined and backed away before Kraine offered his hand out. Noishe gave a happier whine and nudged it lovingly. "It is good to see you again Noishe," Kraine said. Seeing Colloyd's confused expression, he sighed and got himself up off the sandy ground. "I once had a pet, long ago. Noishe reminds me of him."
"Ah!" Colloyd looked at Noishe and tilted his head. "Wait, what's that in your collar?" He reached for the dog and looked closer at the leather collar he wore. A wooden figurine was sheathed inside it. When he pulled it out to take a closer look, he dropped it in surprise.
Kraine stared at it too, the colour draining from his face. "That is the present you gave Gesea. She wouldn't let it out of her sight for a second last night."
"But what's it doing here?" Colloyd asked, looking Noishe in the eyes again. The dog let out a whine and started running in the other direction toward the exit of the city. The Chosen and professor-mercenary quickly gave chase, waving behind themselves to the dazzled food vendor who had witnessed the whole scenario.
Noishe didn't stop running, but occasionally looked behind himself while in mid-stride to make sure they were still following. Neither boy or man said a word to one another, concentrating on keeping up with the dog and their own footing on the dunes of the Triet desert. Eventually they stopped outside a grey-blue facility in the shape of a dome and stared as each of their fears were realised. Colloyd could only think about the night before at the Iselia ranch. There was no mistaking the outfits of the two guards who stood in front of the building just ahead of them.
Colloyd looked at Kraine, who nodded. No words needed to be exchanged. They needed to get in and rescue Gesea.
"Gesea?" Colloyd called softly when he and Kraine slipped into the base after taking care of the guards. So far there had been no alarm. He guessed that they hadn't been expecting intruders. He looked back at Kraine, who was peering around a corner. "Should we split up?"
The professor looked hesitant before nodding. "We will cover more ground that way."
Colloyd went to run off when he heard his name being called. He turned to the professor and received a nod. "Don't die, alright Colloyd?"
It was such an odd thing to say. He knew his teacher meant well though. "Don't worry, I won't." He turned away and ran in the opposite direction to him until he reached a new hallway. Stopping to scope it out, he observed a couple of Desians who were walking back and forth. They didn't look very alert though. One Desian stopped at a cell amongst a row of them a short way down the hall and said something.
"You're not going to keep me in here for long you know," snapped a familiar female voice. "You Desians will pay for what you did to Iselia!" There was pretty much no doubt about who was in that cell.
"Oh shut up," the Desian standing there said in response before looking back at one of his co-workers. "Has Botta given us any indication yet as to why we need this little girl?"
The other Desian shrugged. "I think he's waiting for instructions from the higher up as well."
Colloyd rolled his eyes and waited patiently for the two Desians to disappear around the corner to run to Gesea. Her face lit up at the sight of him for a moment before a disturbed look crossed her eyes. Colloyd didn't have time to wonder what it was about and set to work on the cell door lock which kept her from leaving. He pulled out a small wood shaving knife and stuck it in the hole, fiddling around. Nothing seemed to be happening though. Desperate, he looked to her apologetically and hoped she had some ideas. The pink haired elf shook her head. "It's alright Col. I could have gotten out a lot sooner but I wouldn't have been able to actually escape on my own."
She stepped up to the bars on Colloyd's left and put her hands to them. He watched, stunned, as she bent them out of shape into a gap big enough for her to step through. Avoiding his gaze as she casually stepped out, she took hold of his hand, started running in the opposite direction the Desians would be coming from, and right through a metal door that whooshed open as they got close enough.
"That was close!" Gesea said, catching her breath. Too much longer and they would have seen her escape.
"I know," Colloyd said as he grinned at her.
She looked away. "I can't tell you about it right now alright? We have to focus on getting out of here."
"I know, I know..."
They looked around the big square room they had entered and had enough time to see some strange floating metal devices roaming the floor around them. Just as they were wondering what they were and whether they could avoid a fight with them, an alarm sounded overhead and a voice filled the room.
"SECURITY BREACH, SECURITY BREACH! INTRUDER ALERT."
"Do you think it's talking about us?" Colloyd asked Gesea, who slapped her face and led him to a gap in the middle of a room next to a weird ringed device that shone in the middle. Colloyd thought he could hear a faint electrical buzzing sound coming from it. He and Gesea had hid in the little hole and listened to the sound of footsteps coming to the room. The door they had entered from before whooshed open again and two Desian soldiers stepped in.
"They must have gone in further," one said as they circled the room. Buzzing blared from some nearby speakers, followed by the whoosh. Mere seconds later, the footsteps disappeared upon yet another whoosh as another door closed behind them.
When the two friends thought it was safe, they clambered out of the hole and examined their surroundings. The metal looking floating things that had previously been scouting the room now stood above two blue glowing platforms in the floor, buzzing as though they had been zapped with electricity. From the glowing platforms, a line emerged and joined together to lead to a door on the far left side of the room. The door was also lit up like a blue Chrismartel tree. Colloyd and Gesea shared a moments glance and nodded in silent agreement before heading for it. The door opened and led them into another hallway that branched off into a northern and a western hallway.
"Hey! I'm just going to check over here!"
Just as they were looking both ways and wondering which direction to go, Colloyd and Gesea heard the yells of more Desians. With little time to make a choice, they darted into the first door they saw. The room that welcomed them was quite different from all the rest. It was carpeted for one and felt more like a house than a room in a Desian base. Bookshelves full of books lined the walls and a few pot plants decorated otherwise bare areas. It smelled of furniture polish, but it wasn't overpowering.
"And just who are you?"
They whirled around to face a woman with striking electric blue hair, eyes just a shade lighter than a lime, a black and red cape that covered her shoulders, and armour that looked somewhat similar to that the Desians wore but of the same green shade as her eyes. Currently the blue haired bombshell didn't look very impressed to see them. Neither were either of them to see her though, to be fair.
"If you ask for our names, you should give us yours first," Colloyd responded. Gesea wanted to slap her face at his politeness, knowing that he had probably meant to make it a demand rather than a question.
The woman smiled before chuckling quietly into her hand. "Well I can't say you don't have guts!" She frowned and scanned him over again, her eyes expressing surprise when they fell on his exsphere. "Wait. Could it be? Are you by any chance.. Colloyd?"
"And if I am?" Colloyd asked, seeming to finally get the hang of the tone he should be using.
The lady grinned as she looked him over again, an interested sparkle now showing in her eyes. "I see." She turned her head to look to the door behind them. As though she had known it would, it shot open and a familiar elven looking man with a pointed face and spiky black hair filed into the room. He observed Colloyd and Gesea first before turning his gaze on the woman. "My lady, Kraine is on his way to rescue the Chosen and his companion right this moment."
"He is, is he?" The woman put her hand to her chin in thought before nodding to herself and completely ignoring the battle stance that Colloyd had taken. "I suppose it wouldn't do to let him of all people see me yet. I'll leave the rest in your hands, Botta." She looked at Colloyd with her stony green gaze and he almost shivered. "Don't forget about me Chosen. Next time we meet, you're mine." With a swish of her cape she left through another door on the left side of the room.
Colloyd looked at the elven man named Botta. "Just what do you plan to do with us?"
Botta didn't get a chance to reply because the door behind Colloyd and Gesea whooshed again, letting the professor into the room. As he stepped in, they saw Desians clutching wounds behind him, sprawled in agony on the floor. Colloyd grinned. The professor sure did know how to make an epic entrance.
Kraine eyed Gesea and then Colloyd. "Are the two of you alright?" They nodded and turned to Botta.
"It's you," the elf said, looking at Kraine.
"It seems that way," Kraine replied, tilting his head. "And you are?"
"It doesn't matter. I'll take care of you all right now!" He readied his weapon to show them his intent.
"Ready yourselves for battle," Kraine said to Colloyd and Gesea. They nodded, though Gesea looked a bit hesitant as she clapped her hands and made her axe on a stick appear as if out of thin air.
"And we will talk about this later," Kraine added quickly, readying his own blade as Botta charged at them. He ran at Botta a second later and met his blade. He overpowered the elf ..just.. and sent him stepping back to try and regain his balance before he was assaulted again. Colloyd charged ahead of Kraine, throwing the spinning chakram in his left hand at him and leaving a gash on his shoulder. While Botta stood, a bit surprised, he swiped at his sword. The elf was quicker than the Desians they had fought off earlier however and easily blocked the head on attack and pushed the Chosen backward with brute force.
He fell to the floor and Kraine quickly fell back to aid him before he was left vulnerable, letting Gesea who had been casting a spell the entire time release three molten hot fireballs at Botta. The man appeared to be experienced in the magic department though because he threw up a ball of green light around himself to deflect the magic before charging straight for Gesea.
Kraine met the parry before he even got close however, matching his strength with him once again. After a short time, Kraine pushed forward a little further. As he did, they all heard a loud crack and watched as the bright blood red sword Botta had been fighting with cracked right down the middle and shattered to the floor. Taking the elf assailants surprise to his advantage, Colloyd ran in and slashed his sword at Botta's armour, making the leather fall apart and to the floor.
Seeing his destiny apparently flash before his eyes if he kept up his assault to the three of them, Botta jumped back and looked at all of them. "Alright. It seems I underestimated your abilities." He dropped his sword to the floor, pressed a button on the wall behind him, and retreated.
"Quickly now. I've activated the escape route," Kraine said as he picked up the broken weapon Botta had dropped and turned on his heel to head for the door he had entered from. "We must get out of here."
Neither dual wielder nor super strengthened magician argued with his point and followed him as he led them out of the base through an unguarded location and out to where Noishe was waiting patiently.