Soon...once knowledge and power are gained...
Who are you? What do you mean?
Soon...Chaos and destruction shall consume the world. Only with knowledge and power can the undead be tamed.
Chaos?! But the undead haven’t been sighted for at least a century! When is this supposed to happen?
I woke from my sleep. What was that about?
"Hey, you brat," Ace called out, "if you don't get ready soon, we'll leave without you!
"I'm coming!" I scrambled to my feet and rushed over to the horse where Nocturne awaited me.
"The adventure life too difficult for you?" he joke as he offered his hand to help me onto the horse.
"N-no, it's not! I can handle it just fine."
Nocturne looked closely at me. "Are you sure you're alright?" he asked with concern.
"Uh, yeah, just a weird dream," I dismissed his worry. "Anyways, we better catch up with everyone else before they leave us behind."
"Of course, milady," he smiled.
Just a weird dream...I hope.
We continued on horseback for the entire day. Only stopping for short breaks to let the horses rest and to replenish our water supply. The view was still as wonderful as I first entered the forest. Our path allowed us to remain alongside a river which made our travels much more convenient. Soon enough, it became dark and we decided to set up camp once more.
"Stella, Aeris, I found a spring behind those trees if you wish to bathe," Nocturne spoke.
"Thank you, Nocturne. That would be wonderful," Aeris replied. We both followed Nocturne as he led us to the spring.
"Call me if you need anything," he said as he was leaving. "I'll be standing by on guard behind that tree," he pointed and then walked away.
"Ah, I didn't think I'd actually get a chance to bathe until we reached the Kingdom of Sapientia!" I exclaimed.
"Yes, nature is full of great wonders," Aeris added.
We both began to undress and entered the spring. The water on my skin felt amazing. I could feel my muscles relax as I sat in the water, only leaving my head above my nose outside of the water. I looked at Aeris. She had a beautiful figure; nice curves and nicely-sized breasts. I felt at my chest beneath the water as I could only be a bit jealous at Aeris' beauty. It's a good thing she's a kind-hearted person or else I might have disliked the only other female noble!
"So, Stella," Aeris spoke, breaking my train of thought, "please tell me what happened when you were in the Northern forest since you and Nocturne were the only ones to actually encounter the magic."
I raised my head from the water as I gathered my memories. "It was strange. That magic didn't have any visibility in the area. From what I saw, there didn't seem to be any wounds or scars on the deceased animals. And it seemed as though the animals had decayed very quickly."
Aeris became deep in thought. "That magic must have had some miasma properties. For it to be able to do so much damage in such a small amount of time must mean that the owner of this magic is quite powerful indeed."
"Yes, that's why we must put a stop to that person as soon as possible."
Suddenly the sounds of the bush rustling caused me to cry out in surprise.
"What's wrong?" Nocturne asked as he jumped out from behind the trees.
"Something's over there," I pointed the bush on the other side of the spring while using one arm to cover my chest.
Nocturne unsheathed his blade and cautiously walked over to the bushes. The leaves rustled even more as he got closer. As soon as he got near, a small rabbit darted out underneath the bush and hopped to the other side of the spring, disappearing back into the forest. "Just a rabbit," he sighed in relief as he returned his blade back into its case. "You both should get out of the water soon in case there is something lurking in the woods."
"Then you better leave so we can put some clothes on, you pervert!" I yelled as I splashed water to his face.
Finally, Nocturne began to realize the situation before him and his face began turning pink. He quickly wiped away the water on his face, "I-I'll be over behind those trees," he said, embarrassed, as he made his leave.
Aeris giggled as she stood from the water, "my, still so innocent, isn't he?"
We eventually reached the Kingdom of Sapientia midday the following afternoon. The town was bustling with people on the streets. There were many citizens who were heading towards the church. There were even some people who were closing their stores just so they could go visit the church for a period of time.
"Why is everyone going to church at this time of day?" I asked.
"The citizens do not go to church for their religion, but for being educated," Aeris informed. "As the Kingdom of Sapientia is well known for their admiration of knowledge, the priests of the church offer knowledge to its citizens."
So either, the people in this town are "know-it-alls" or they don't have a wide range of knowledge... I looked past the church, not paying much attention to the citizens staring as they passed by, and noticed that there was a tall structure. It was taller than the church and almost as tall as the castle. What's over there?
"Stella," Ren said, "I can feel it. The source of the power is coming from that building," he pointed to the direction I had my head turned to.
"That's the grand library," Aeris noted.
"Then we know where we need to go," Ace spoke. "Idling around here won't do us any good." We all nodded in agreement and we set off towards the grand library.
At the front of the library was a sign hanging on the door's handle. The sign warned: "Caution, mysterious happenings. Enter at your own risk". As we entered the library, the entire building was eerily silent. Not a single guard or caretaker was in the library. Most likely the citizens were terrified of unexplainable events which occurred due to the presence of the magical power. All that remained inside was the endless rows of wooden shelves housing numerous books. There were even shelves which lined the walls of the library. Its shelves reached so high that the bookcase had a ladder which could be moved throughout for people to reach their desired literature.
"This place is pretty big. Let's split up," Ace suggested.
"Since I can't sense any magic, I'll just go with Stella," Nocturne spoke.
I looked at him with irritation. I don't need to be watched and protected all the time. "Whatever," I replied with irritation, already walking away from the group. Everyone then walked in their own direction. Nocturne, of course, followed behind me.
My feet led me to a large room with a dome-shaped ceiling. Books of various colors and sizes lined the walls. Ugh, don't these people ever get tired of reading? I walked up a few steps to a higher area. "I'll start searching here. You look over there," I announce as I pointed to the other side of the room for Nocturne to begin his search. He nodded his head and obediently walked away from my side.
I began searching through the shelves. There didn't seem to be anything which particularly caught my interest. Most of the books were quite uniform with one-another. They shared the same, worn-out looking colors of blues, reds, browns and greens.
However, my eyes soon caught a glimpse of something different within the walls of uniform books. A few shelves to the left of where I stood, I noticed a black book with a golden design on its column. With growing curiosity and interest, I made my way towards the book and pulled it from the shelf. The title of the book was written in beautiful golden letters which spelled out the word "Necromancy".
I gasped in surprise and dropped the book on to the ground. Necromancy is a form of corrupt magic which allows the user to use dark spells with the use of bones. This type of magic is forbidden because undead creatures are summoned using necromancy and mostly high-class undead creatures use this form of magic. But even normal humans with corrupted magic can eventually perform this kind of spell. This is dangerous. Why is a book like this here in the grand library in the Kingdom of Sapientia?
Suddenly, the book flipped open. The pages began flipping at high speed. A giant pillar of pages burst from the book. It formed a giant tornado of pages which began to surround me. I could feel my body being lifted from the floor. "Nocturne!" I cried out in panic. The pages moved about so quickly, blocking my view of the library. All I could see was the endless amount of pages circling me. I couldn't tell if he was coming to my rescue or not.
I heard voice coming from below me. I turned my head down and saw a dark, shadowy hand reaching up towards me from the bottom of the tornado of pages. "Stay away!" I screamed in fear as the shadow approached. I tried to get out of the tornado but my hands were mercilessly cut by the pages.
The dark shadow began rising up within the tornado. My vision began to lose its effectiveness. I could no longer see the ceiling of the library above me.
Do not fear.
I looked around me, obviously still unable to see. Who are you? I asked, but not response. However, despite being in the dark, I no longer felt afraid. Somehow, I felt comforted by this shadowy darkness. It was exactly the same feelings I had when I was back in the Northern temple. My breathing calmed and my body now relaxed in the swirling darkness.
Suddenly, small slits of light began appearing through the darkness. "Stella!" I heard Nocturne call out. The sound of his sword echoed in the tornado as he tried slashing at the fury of papers. But his efforts had little success. "Don't worry, I'll get you out!" he yelled as I heard a final slash. The tornado of pages suddenly calmed. I was finally able to see the entire room of the library. And then I began falling.
"Ah!" I gasped. I hadn't dropped on to the ground, but had been caught by Nocturne.
"Are you hurt?" his voice full of concern as he placed me on my feet.
"Just my hands when I tried to escape," I replied as I showed him my scraped hands.
He held my hands gently in his own and frowned. He then kissed my hands softly. "I'm sorry I wasn't able to protect you. I should have kept my guard up."
"Don't worry, I can heal this up easily with my magic," I reassured him. "Thanks for the save, though," I smiled.
Nocturne breathed a sigh of relief and returned my smile.
"Are you both alright?" Aeris asked. Everyone else had rushed in with her.
"We found the source of the magic. Though it seems to just be another magic-imbued item," Nocturne replied as he pointed his chin to the book on the floor. The book laid wide open. However, the only difference now was that there was a sword stabbed into the binding of the book, leaving the pages around the blade torn.
Ren walked to the book and hovered his hand to the item as he closed his eyes. "This is the source of the magic," he spoke. "You must have severed the magic when you destroyed the book."
"I guess that makes you a luckily-unlucky brat since you keep encountering the magic first hand," Ace snorted.
"Shut up! I'm not a brat! At least I'm useful on this journey."
"What? Don't call me useless!"
Nocturne sighed hopelessly at the both of us. "Aeris, perhaps you should go report to the Queen of Sapientia about the status of the library. At least now there shouldn't be concerns for the citizens to go to the library any longer.
Aeris nodded. "Yes, I shall go report to her majesty. The rest of you should go to the inn. We will rest there for the night."
As we began to leave, I couldn't help but look back to the Necromancy book which was now skewered to the floor. Surrounding the book was a mess of pages which were all scattered about on the ground. But the one thing which grabbed my attention the most was the opened pages of the book. The pages of the book were completely blank.